Toxic Emergency? Take Your Pet AND the Poison to the Vet

Posted on by Kate Sheofsky

One of my favorite humor writers, Erma Bombeck, once wrote a column recounting the time her young son bit into a tube of paint and swallowed some of the contents. She and her husband rushed him to the emergency room, where a doctor conducted an exam. When asked what kind of paint their son had ingested, they blurted out “blue!”

I laugh when I read Erma’s tale of parental panic – who would offer such an irrelevant response? But then I think back to the time I had to take my dog, Riley, to the vet because he had devoured a pack of sugarless gum that contained Xylitol, an ingredient toxic to dogs. When the doctor asked me what kind of gum he’d eaten, I’m almost positive I said “winterfresh.”

To make matters worse, not only was my initial answer insufficient, but even additional information, like the brand name or manufacturer of the gum, didn’t immediately provide the details the doctor needed to start treatment. What he really needed was a list of the active ingredients that Riley had ingested. Luckily we were able to find the necessary information quickly, but had I brought the package of gum with me to the hospital it would have sped up the process of determining a course of action.

I asked one of our Banfield veterinarians, Dr. Chris Bern, about the importance of providing very specific information in the case of a poisoning, and he used rat poison as an example to illustrate his point. In the past, common rodenticides prevented blood from clotting, and caused animals to hemorrhage to death. Newer formulas, however, use different ingredients that can cause brain swelling or other symptoms. So without knowing exactly what type of rat poison a pet consumed, your vet has no idea what symptoms to look for or what treatment to administer, and that could result in a delay of treatment, or even death.

So if you find yourself dealing with a toxic emergency, don’t just take your pet to the hospital. Also bring in the packaging for whatever was consumed so your vet can review the ingredient list. It’s also good to have other resources at your fingertips, like Pet Poison Helpline. Their website offers comprehensive information about toxins, as well as safety tips. They also have a 24/7 phone line you can call in the event your pet has ingested something poisonous. There is a fee for service, and you’ll need to have the ingredients handy when you call, but the information they provide could prove critical in an emergency.

Being prepared for an emergency is important, but preventing one altogether is even better. You can review a list of common household toxins on the Banfield website and use this information to provide a safe environment for your pets.

About Kate Sheofsky

Kate Sheofsky is a member of the Marketing team at Banfield. Originally from San Francisco (Go Giants!), she now lives in Portland, Oregon with her dogs, Riley and Pico. View all posts by Kate Sheofsky →


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