HealthLinks Charleston May/June 2022

98 | www. Char l es tonPhys i c i ans . com | www.Hea l thL i nksChar l es ton . com THE MOST COMMON PET POISONS Your frisky kitten suddenly slows down. You notice around her mouth a bit of drool. Your faithful old dog vomits, refuses food and possibly exhibits tremors or twitching. What’s going wrong with your pets, and what, as a responsible owner, should you do? “Get them to your veterinarian as quickly as possible,” counseled Shannon Graham, D.V.M., an emergency medical expert at BluePearl Veterinary Specialty Care. “They may have been poisoned.” Dr. Graham was quick to note that there are many other diseases and conditions that can cause similar symptoms. Unless you have actually witnessed your pet ingesting a poison, a veterinary toxicology test will be the only way to be certain. Dr. Graham isn’t suggesting that some evil-doer intentionally poisoned your pets. She is simply referencing your observed irregularities in their appearance and activity levels and will obtain a thorough history to evaluate the risk of toxic exposure. And she is drawing on her knowledge and experience of inquisitive – and omnivorous – domestic pets ingesting substances, including some common human foods, that can kill them. “If you suspect that your dog or cat has been poisoned,” Dr. Graham continued, “a fast visit to your regular vet can determine next steps – whether your pet can be treated in the office or must be rushed to the nearest emergency care hospital.” In either case, the emergency care veterinarian said, “If you suspect poisoning and think you know what caused it, bring evidence to show your vet.” This can be anything from one of your own medicine bottles that your dog or cat has opened and eaten to the wrapper from a chewed candy bar to the label from a household cleaning product and more. If you have to guess, bring them all. Your comfortable home is literally filled with things that can be dangerous for dogs and cats. There are resources you can turn to for guidance if you suspect poisoning – the specialists your veterinary clinic or ER will call on as they treat your pet. They are the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center – 888-4254435 – and the Pet Poison Helpline – 800-213-6680. Both charge a fee of $65 for a consultation that will remain active throughout your pet’s treatment. Because prevention is always better than treatment, try to avoid harrowing and potentially life-ending poisonings by making yourself aware of the most common items your pet may ingest – check out the sidebar on the next page. “Human medications are among the worst poisoning culprits,” according to Dr. Graham. “A pill you or someone in your family takes every day safely can kill a pet. “Securing the lid of the pill bottle is a good idea, but remember that most dogs can easily chew through a plastic bottle to get what’s inside,” she added. Swallowing your pills can be perilous for cats as well, but your feline friends face additional dangers from many familiar plants. Even the pollen from the most deadly, including the H E A L T H Y P E T H A P P Y P E T By Bill Farley