Handling Animal Intoxication

American Veterinarian Editorial Staff

Tina Wismer, DVM, DABVT, DABT, MS, medical director at the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center, explains how to handle suspected animal intoxication.

Tina Wismer, DVM, DABVT, DABT, MS, medical director at the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center, explains how to handle suspected animal intoxication.

Interview Transcript (slightly modified for readability)

"Whenever an owner is concerned about poisoning, there are many different ways that poisoning situations can present. It could be something as minor as the dog is a little more lethargic than normal, it could be vomiting, or even something as severe as seizures. It really depends upon what toxicant they’ve gotten into [when it comes to] what type of clinical signs are going to show up.

Probably the most common poisons we see in animals, at least in dogs, [the] number one is chocolate. They’re always getting into chocolate, whether it’s wrapped under the Christmas tree or whether it’s in brownies or cakes. Also, human medications; people forget, they leave their pills on the counter, or they drop them on the floor and their pets eat them.

If you suspect poisoning, first we need to stabilize the animal. Use your ABC’s: airway, breathing, circulation, to make sure the animal is stable. Then [you] need to ask the owners a little more history; what has the animal been doing? Where has it been? Could it have gotten into anything that could be causing these clinical signs? Then, [you] can tailor a treatment plan to those answers.”