Skip to main content

Poison Control for Dogs, Cats

By Alex Molldrem, DVM

When a pet is poisoned, quick and appropriate action is vital to your pet’s outcome. But do you know what to do? Here are four simple steps that may help save your pet’s life someday.

Image: ncn18 / Shutterstock

Step 1: Evaluate

Identify what toxin your pet was exposed to or ingested. Find the label, active ingredients, and the quantity ingested or exposed to. Remove any additional toxin out of reach. Evaluate your pet’s symptoms. Even if your pet is acting normal, toxin exposure may still have occurred.

Image: Triff / Shutterstock

Step 2: Call the Pet Poison Helpline (855-213-6680)

Once you have gathered, contact the Pet Poison Helpline at 1-855-213-6680. They can determine if the exposure is considered toxic, and if additional treatment is necessary. For ingested toxins, induction of vomiting is commonly performed, but can be contraindicated in some toxins (such as with hydrocarbons, batteries, corrosives, etc) or in some conditions (neurologic symptoms, respiratory difficulty, etc). For contact toxins, bathing with liquid dish soap is often necessary.

Step 3: Do NOT give anything unless instructed to

Many people will think they are helping their pet by giving home remedies they may have heard of before, such as milk, salt, aspirin, etc. Adverse reactions to these home remedies can sometimes be more significant than the toxicity itself. Stay calm and do not give anything to your pet unless instructed to by a veterinarian.

Image: bokan / Shutterstock

Step 4: Get Help

If further treatment is required, transport your pet to your veterinarian, or the closest veterinary emergency facility. Have someone safely watch your pet while driving in order to prevent distraction.  Some special guidelines may be necessary to prevent human exposure to certain toxins, such as zinc phosphide or flammable materials.


Source(s): Preventing Pet Poisoning Emergencies. Pet Education Series.VPI Pet Insurance and Pet Poison Helpline.

Image: Brent Reeves / Shutterstock

Help us make PetMD better

Was this article helpful?