Having your beloved cat or dog ingest poison is every pet owner’s worst nightmare. Acting quickly and having the right items in your pet emergency kit is critical! One of the most helpful things is to be prepared with emergency numbers! Keep the phone number of the local Poison Control Center where you keep your vet and Emergency Clinic numbers. Also keep the number for the National Animal Poison Control Center (NAPCC) (below).
National Animal Poison Control Center (NAPCC) [a not for profit service of the University of Illinois]: NAPCC has three telephone numbers for easy access. Help is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
(900) 680-0000 costs $20 for the first five minutes and $2.95 for each additional minute billed to your telephone. (800) 548-2423 and (888) ANI-HELP [(888) 426-4435]. These are credit- card-only numbers for $65 per case. (Only Master Card, Visa, American Express, and Discover cards are accepted. )
NAPCC veterinarians and veterinary toxicologists have up-to-the-minute information on toxicity levels, antidotes, treatments, and prognosis based on more that 250,000 cases involving pesticides, drugs, plants, metals, and other exposures in pets, livestock and wildlife. These specialists provide advice to animal owners and confer with veterinarians about poison exposures.
Visit the NAPCC website at: http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/animal-poison-control
Have this information ready when you call NAPCC:
Your name, address, and phone number.
If calling the 800 number, your credit card number.
The species, breed, age, sex, weight, and number of animals involved.
The poison your animals have been exposed to, if known
Information concerning the poisoning (the amount of poison, the time since exposure, etc.).
The problems your animals are experiencing.
What to do if you suspect your animal has been poisoned:
If you suspect that your pet has been exposed to a poison, it is important not to panic. While rapid response is important, panicking generally interferes with the process of helping your animal. Take 60 seconds to safely collect and have at hand the material ingested. Detailed information may be of great benefit to the poison control center and your vet as they determine exactly what poison or poisons are involved. Be as specific as possible (eg. not just “pesticide” but what kind and active ingredients, etc.), and a general idea of how much was ingested.
Items to Include in Your Pet Emergency Kit For Poisoning:
A fresh bottle of hydrogen peroxide 3% (USP)
A bottle of vinegar or lemon juice
Milk of Magnesia
Purge the poison – induce vomiting: If your pet has ingested poisons that ARE NOT CAUSTIC, getting your pet to vomit may eliminate some of the danger. DO NOT INDUCE VOMITING IF YOUR PET HAS INGESTED A CAUSTIC SUBSTANCE. ( eg: drain cleaner)
To make your pet vomit, give your pet household hydrogen peroxide (a 3 percent solution) — about one tablespoon for every ten pounds of pet. Draw the liquid into a syringe or turkey baster, tip your pet’s head back and squirt it toward the back of his tongue. Your pet should vomit within five minutes. If your pet doesn’t, wait 10 minutes and try again. If your pet still does not vomit, DO NOT give a third dose (giving too much hydrogen peroxide can be dangerous). DO NOT use syrup of ipecac, while safe for, humans it can be toxic to pets.
Neutralize the poison: If your pet has devoured a caustic substance such as drain cleaner or kerosene, DO NOT INDUCE VOMITING (the poison will burn both going down and coming up). Instead give your pet something to neutralize the harsh chemicals.
If your pet got into something alkaline — like drain cleaner — give your pet about three teaspoons of vinegar or lemon juice diluted in an equal amount of water. Again, draw the liquid into a syringe or baster and squirt it toward the back of your pet’s mouth. This will help neutralize the harmful effects of the chemical in their belly, cooling the burn.
If your pet got into an acid — by chewing a battery, for example, or drinking bleach — Milk of Magnesia will negate the acid. Give one teaspoon for every five pounds of pet. Absorb it with charcoal. Giving your pet activated charcoal, either in tablet form or as a powder mixed with water, will quickly absorb toxins from the stomach before they have a chance to be absorbed into the system. Even after giving charcoal, however, the original poison is still in the gut, so you’ll want to see your vet right away.
Even though activated charcoal is generally safe when used by a veterinarian and is sold over the counter at many pet stores, do not diagnose and treat your pet independent of veterinarian advice as activated charcoal can cause serious adverse reactions (including fatal respiratory obstructions).
Activated charcoal (sold in powder, granular and liquid forms) is used in humans and animals to treat poisonings and overdoses, as it binds to the poison and prevents its absorption by the body. It has become the primary treatment for poisonings because it is so effective. However, it is effective because it is powerful and therefore needs to be handled responsibly. If administered incorrectly, it can lead to pulmonary aspiration (which can be fatal). Additionally, for some poisonings (acid, alkali, petroleum and others), it can actually make the situation worse.
Can one overdose on charcoal?
By its very nature, charcoal does not lend itself to overindulgence. Because charcoal is neither digested nor absorbed in the gastro-intestinal tract, there is therefore no concern of overdosing on activated charcoal.
What is the dose for poisoning?
There is no clear consensus among those promoting charcoal in cases of poisoning, except that you can’t give too much. There are no definite dosages, but there are three recommended formulas (Activated Charcoal in Medical Applications 1995):
Age – 2 ½ to 5 Tablespoons (25gms to 50gms) for children
Body weight – 1 Tablespoon per 10lbs. (1gm per kg) body weight
Amount poison taken – 1 Tablespoon activated charcoal per 1/28 oz. (10gms per 1gm) of poison.
Adding a small amount of Bentonite clay can help thicken the charcoal and water solution making it easier to take. Bentonite is an enterosorption agent and a poison antidote in its own right.
Dilute the poison: If your pet is alert, giving your pet milk will help dilute poison while at the same time coating his stomach and mouth, helping soothe the irritation. If your pet seems woozy, however, don’t give your pet anything to eat or drink, because it could cause suffocation.
Clean the coat: Not all poisons must be swallowed to cause harm. Sometimes just coming into contact with them can cause damage or even death. Even products that are generally considered safe — like flea dips — can be harmful if the directions aren’t followed exactly. If your pet has gotten into something they shouldn’t have, immediately give your pet a bath to rinse off a topical toxin. Rinse the affected area with water for at least ten minutes, even before you take your pet to the vet. After the initial flushing, you can wash the coat with shampoo or dishwashing liquid to remove as much of the poison as possible. Even washing with plain water can help. Rinsing even 12 hours later will help decrease the concentration.
ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center, advises what items should be in your pet safety kit.