The Water Bowl
Breed & Health Resources

Pet Poison Control Helpline 101

By Dr. Patty Khuly

cat laying in background with man looking at phone

You see your cat lapping up something that spilled from a bottle with a torn label while cleaning your garage on a Saturday and immediately panic. Is that toxic antifreeze?! Your normal vet’s office is closed, and the emergency vet will cost significantly more – who do you turn to? An animal poison control helpline, of course.

In this scenario, they ask you to take a photo of the bottle, even though the label is torn, and send it to them for review. After a short while, they confirm that it is antifreeze, but a non-toxic kind and your kitty is in the clear.

Why Use an Animal Poison Control Helpline?

Pet poison control centers specialize in remote poisonings and know exactly what to ask. They also have toxicologists on staff around the clock to make sure any specialized testing and treatment plans get forwarded to your veterinarian and followed to a T.

Pet ERs are trained to be thorough, but animal poison control centers are trained to be specific. This is a generalization, of course, but it tends to hold true.

When to Use a Pet Poison Control Helpline

  • Any time you suspect your pet has eaten or ingested a toxin. Don’t hesitate or use the internet to self-diagnose, call animal poison control immediately. Have evidence of poisoning (medicine bottles, cans, bags, jars, etc.)
  • If your pet is in distress (foaming at the mouth, vomiting, having seizures, shaking or drooling excessively, etc.), get your pet to the vet immediately. Take any containers of possible toxins with you. If you have someone with you, have them call poison control while on your way
  • If you’re at the animal hospital & haven’t called poison control yet, either:
    • Ask that they consult with a toxicologist at a pet poison control center immediately (demand if you must)
    • Call poison control yourself. You might get pushback on this, but know that it’s never wrong to use specialists, even if you have to hire them yourself

How Much Does Animal Poison Control Cost?

ASPCA National Animal Poison Control Center

  • Available 24 Hours a Day
  • 1-888-426-4435 ($65.00 consultation fee)
  • 1-888-299-2973 (for no additional charge follow-up calls)

Pet Poison Helpline

  • Available 24 Hours a Day
  • 1-800-213-6680 ($39.00 per incident includes initial consultation & follow-up calls)

There are others, but they’re associated with veterinary programs and aren’t always available. You can also ask your veterinarian’s office if they’re partnered with anybody or have their own helpline.

Here’s hoping you won’t need them!

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