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One of the most common reasons for an emergency vet visit is when animals have eaten something that they should not have – from unsupervised trash diving to counter-surfing to digging outside, there are many materials that should stay far away from your companion’s digestive system. Knowing what the risks are, and how to deal with a situation if it arises, can save your companion’s life.

|| Hazard Head’s Up ||

Knowing which foods, plants, and other items can pose a risk to your furry companions is the first step in helping to keep them safe. Below you’ll find some quick cheat sheets with some of the most commonly ingested toxic materials. If you’re looking for a comprehensive list of substances and their potential risks, there is a searchable index available here.

|| Spotting Intoxication Signs ||

Intervening quickly when an animal has ingested something toxic can be life-saving. In order to take quick action, it’s important to know what to look for. Although the symptoms can vary quite a bit depending on what your companion may have eaten, the most common signs of poisoning include:

  • Vomiting or diarrhea
  • Salivation or excessive drooling
  • Ataxia (appearing unsteady or wobbly)
  • Drowsiness or lethargy
  • Anorexia (not eating)
  • Shakiness and trembling
  • Tachycardia (racing heart)
  • Unusual vocalizations
  • Panting
  • Fever

|| Taking Emergency Action ||

If you suspect that your companion has eaten a potentially harmful substance, don’t wait for your pet to exhibit signs of illness – call your veterinarian right away. They will be able to advise you on the potential risk level. If possible, try to establish what, when, and how much of the substance your pet ate – this will help your veterinarian recommend the best course of action. Depending on the substance and amount ingested your veterinarian may recommend that you bring your companion in for an assessment or treatment.

Understandably, you will be worried and want to arrive as quickly as possible. However, take the time to secure your pet appropriately in your vehicle, and drive safely and mindfully. If possible, bring any packaging or the remainder of the ingested item with you. Do not try to induce vomiting yourself unless a veterinarian has advised you to do so.

|| Help from the Hotline ||

If your veterinarian is not available, another important resource for these cases is the Pet Poison Helpline – experts are available 24/7 to offer help and advice. There is a fee for this service (with any follow-up consultations included) and they will work with your veterinarian to create any longer-term care plan that might be needed. Make sure to also have the contact information handy for your nearest 24-hour emergency veterinarian in case your pet needs immediate medical treatment.