ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center
The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) is a resource every pet parent should know about. You can call their pet poison control hotline at 1-888-426-4435 any hour of the day or night, and any day of the year including weekends and holidays.
Poison Control Center:
A $75 consultation fee may apply, but a portion of this charge is covered if your pet is enrolled in our pet insurance.
How can the APCC help?
We all do our best to keep our pets safe, but sometimes they get into things that can be harmful. They might eat something bad, like a box of chocolates, bag of grapes, spoiled food out of the garbage, or the leaves of a toxic plant. They can also be exposed to pesticides or other common household and outdoor chemicals that can harm them.
If you suspect your pet has ingested or come into contact with a poisonous substance, you can call the APCC’s pet poison control hotline for assistance. When you call, you’ll be connected to one of their specially trained experts who will work with you to assess the situation and help determine how you can help your pet.
Their experts have access to an extensive database, which enables them to diagnose problems and give treatment advice quickly. They have experience with more than 1 million cases involving pesticides, medications, plants, metals, and other potentially hazardous items.
If you need to take your pet to an emergency animal hospital, they can contact their veterinary team while you’re driving over. This way, they will know what’s going on when you get there. In addition, the APCC experts can provide your regular veterinarian with information about the incident so they can add it to your pet’s medical history.
APCC Mobile App
The APCC offers a free mobile app that you use to look up over 300 potentially harmful substances. They include household hazards, medications, plants, and more. For each toxin, you’ll see details including:
- Scientific and common name
- Sample images
- Toxicity scale
- Severity level
- Potential symptoms
They’re also color coded so you can easily identify which ones are the most concerning.
For example, if you look up grapes and raisins, you’ll notice that the toxicity level is severe. Symptoms of ingestion include vomiting and kidney failure. You’ll also learn that the severity depends on the species, amount that was ingested, and whether or not the pet has any existing health issues. You can find similar information for hundreds of other substances, which makes this a valuable educational resource.
Additionally, the app includes calculators for chocolate and rodenticide poisoning. They show the potential severity level of exposure to these substances. The app also offers quick access to their pet poison control hotline as well as their online resources.
You can download the APCC app by visiting the Apple Store or Google Play.
Top 10 Toxins List
The APCC reviews their call data and puts together a list of the top pet toxins each year. Check out their top 10 list for 2019. This information can help you be more aware of potential pet dangers and take important steps to help avoid a pet poison emergency.
Year over year, over-the counter (OTC) and human prescription medications top their list. Some of the more common OTC medications they get calls about include ibuprofen, acetaminophen, joint rubs, and herbal supplements. Prescription medications like heart, ADHD, thyroid, and antidepressant medications make up a significant amount of their cases.
In 2019, OTC medications made up 19.7% of the APCC calls. Human prescription medications accounted for 17.2% of their cases.
Another top toxin is food, particularly the artificial sweetener Xylitol, which is used is in some peanut butters , along with grapes, raisins, onions, garlic, protein bars, and chocolate. Veterinary products, such as chewable medications are also problematic. They’ve dealt with cases where dogs have gobbled up the whole container.
Tips to Prevent a Poison Emergency
Here are some tips that can help you prevent a pet poison emergency:
- Avoid leaving medications on low nightstands or countertops where your pet can get at them.
- Remove any toxic plants from your home and yard. Lilies are particularly toxic for cats.
- Be careful when you’re doing home improvement projects. They can expose pets to all sorts of potential toxins, including paint, adhesives, and spackle.
- Store everyday household chemicals and items safely. These can include paint, glue, laundry detergent pods, bleach, and cleaning products.
- Know which foods are problematic for pets. For instance, grapes, raisins, onions, garlic, and desserts, gum, candies, or peanut butter sweetened with Xylitol can all be harmful.
- Avoid leaving any kind of chocolate or chocolate desserts out. Dogs in particular tend to love this sweet treat and they can eat enough to get themselves in trouble.
- Supervise your pet at outdoor barbecues and cookouts to help make sure they don’t eat something they shouldn’t.
- If you use insecticides, make sure you follow the directions carefully and keep your pet away from treated areas for the recommended amount of time.
- Take care using rodenticides. Like rodents, pets can find that poisonous harmful bait very tasty.
- Secure your garbage cans. You don’t want your pet knocking them over or getting inside and eating something harmful, such as moldy or spoiled food that has been thrown away.
Tune into the APCC Podcast to listen to experts from the APCC discuss topics related to pet poisoning. For instance, you can learn about spring safety tips, holiday hazards, pool safety, and the toxicity of chocolate. It’s a great way to educate yourself on common pet poison hazards so you can help keep your pet safe—and know what to do if something happens to them.
To learn more about the APCC and their pet poison control helpline, visit the ASPCA's website at www.aspca.org.