Taking care of toxicological emergencies!

"WHAT ARE YOU EATING NOW??!!" This phrase is uttered by MANY pet owners, especially during the early days of a new puppy in your home and/or if you own specific breeds (Labrador owners...you know I am talking to you!!). But, what happens if your pet has decided to eat something that is possibly toxic??



Yorkie carrying ziploc baggie of marijuana
Uh oh! This pup looks ready to party!

The very first thing to understand is this: Pets who are experiencing any sort of intoxication are deemed priority in our emergency hospitals. This means these pets are taken into the treatment area FIRST, before almost any other patient. It doesn't matter if you have been sitting in the waiting room with your lame dog or your snotty cat for an hour or more, toxin exposures and intoxication cases take priority.


Next, your veterinarian (or the emergency veterinarian) may recommend that you call an outside service, such as Pet Poison Helpline or the ASPCA's Pet Poison Control Center, BEFORE or DURING your travel to the veterinary office. These organizations have experts in veterinary toxicology and are definitely someone that we will want to connect with during your pet's case. Believe it or not, your veterinarian may not know the exact amount of Xylitol in those mints your pet just ate and that can impact how we treat your pet as well as the overall prognosis for your furry friend. Calling either Pet Poison Helpline or ASPCA Poison Control can improve your pet's chances for a full recovery!


This blog idea came about because of recent events at one of our local animal emergency rooms. In just a one hour period of time, three different pets, from three different families, presented with toxin exposure. To make matters more challenging, each dog had ingested a different toxin...one was chocolate, one was ibuprofen, and one was Xylitol. Here a just a few key points about each case:


Chocolate toxicity has been covered in a previous blog here at PetPalsTV. Dogs who decide to partake of these sweets might present with GI upset (vomiting, diarrhea) or they could develop a heart arrhythmia or even neurological signs (seizures). The most important thing to remember is that not all chocolate is created equal and some chocolates can cause severe problems with very small amounts.


Ibuprofen is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) that is an over-the-counter pain relief for humans. Unfortunately, our dogs don't metabolize this drug in the same way that we do and this can lead to significant intoxication. Bloody stools, dark stools, vomiting, abdominal pain, and even lack of appetite are all hallmark signs for an NSAID toxic dose.


Finally, Xylitol...we have discussed this on-air in the past, but the most important thing to understand about xylitol is that it is found in MANY human products, like gums, candies, and mints. Xylitol doesn't cause the pancreas to secrete insulin in humans, but it does in dogs and this leads to a profound and sudden hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar. Larger doses can lead to liver failure.



Animal hospital ICU ward
Animal Hospital ICU ward

We definitely hope that your pet never has to experience being made to vomit OR being separated from you because he or she needs to be hospitalized, but isn't it reassuring to know that you have your local veterinarians as well as expert toxicologists ready to help you "Just in Case"?



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