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Animal Poison Control Centers - Animals Are Unique

For information about preventing human poisonings, please visit our article about Poison Prevention. To find the nearest human Poison Control Center in your area, please visit MedicineNet.com's Poison Control Center.

-- Editor, MedicineNet.com


Poison prevention applies not only to people, but also to animals. An animal exposed to a poison is unique. A dog is not a four-legged human, nor is a horse a large dog. There are obvious differences between the various species of animals. Some differences have to do with how an animal reacts to a chemical and how it responds to therapy. There are also different diseases that must be considered between animal species.

If you have concern about animal poisoning, there are several excellent places you can contact, including the National Animal Poison Control Center at the University of Illinois and the ASPCA National Animal Poison Control Center.

The National Animal Poison Control Center at the University of Illinois

The National Animal Poison Control Center (NAPPC) of the University of Illinois can be reached by calling 1-900-680-0000 or 1- 800-548-2423. The NAPPC is located at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and is a non-profit service of the University of Illinois. It was the first animal-oriented poison center founded (in 1978) in the United States. It provides advice to animal owners and confers with veterinarians about poisoning exposures.

Resources: The NAPCC's phones are answered by licensed veterinarians and board-certified veterinary toxicologists. The NAPCC staff have a wide range of information specific to animal poisoning. They also have an extensive collection of individual cases -- over 250,000 -- involving pesticide, drug, plant, metal, and other exposures in food producing and companion animals. This specialized information lets the experienced NAPCC staff make specific recommendations for animals, rather than generalized poison information provided by a human poison control center.

Cost: Depending on which option is chosen, the charge is $20.00 for the first five minutes, then $2.95/minute thereafter when using the 900 number. If you use the 800 number, the charge is $30.00 per case (VISA, MasterCard, Discover, or American Express only). With the 800 access, only the NAPCC will do as many follow-up calls as necessary in critical cases and, if you wish, will consult with your veterinarian.

What to do if an animal has been poisoned: Immediately call the NAPCC. Be ready to provide:

  • Your name, address, and phone number
  • Information concerning the exposure (the amount of agent, the time since exposure, etc.), and if the agent is part of the Animal Product Safety Service, the consultation is at no cost to the caller. It is very important to provide accurate information on the agent.
  • The species, breed, age, sex, weight, and number of animals involved.
  • The agent the animals have been exposed to, if known; and
  • The problems the animals are experiencing.

The ASPCA National Animal Poison Control Center

The National Animal Poison Control Center of the ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) can be reached by calling 1-888-4ANI-HELP (1-888-426-4435). The Center consults with animal owners, veterinarians, and others about poisoning exposures and other toxicology issues.

Resources: The ASPCA/NAPCC phones are answered by licensed veterinarians and board-certified veterinary toxicologists 24 hours a day.

History: The Center began operation in the fall of 1978 under the name Animal Toxicology Hotline. At that time, Dr. William Buck, a renowned veterinary toxicologist at the College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, and his graduate students started handling calls around-the-clock using a paging service. The only expense to the caller was the call.

The initial focus of the service was to be Illinois, but word of its value spread to other states when the telephone number was broadcast on the Paul Harvey radio show and it appeared on the label of a popular rodenticide. The number of calls from outside of Illinois climbed, and in 1980 the name was changed to Animal Poison Control Center. By 1984, there were far more calls from outside of Illinois than from within. The name was changed to National Animal Poison Control Center (NAPCC) to reflect this national scope.

Cost: Because of University of Illinois budget restraints, on January 20, 1990, the NAPCC began charging for the services it provided. Before this date, callers paid for telephone calls, but the consultations were free. The NAPCC installed toll-free phone lines and accepted major credit cards for payment.

Before Calling the Center: If you suspect that your pet has been exposed to a poison, it is important not to panic. While rapid response is important, panicking generally interferes with the process of helping your animal.

Take 30 to 60 seconds to safely collect and have at hand the material involved. This may be of great benefit to the Center professionals as they determine exactly what poison or poisons are involved. In the event that you need to take your animal to your local veterinarian, be sure to take with you any product container. Also bring any material your pet may have vomited or chewed, collected in a zip-lock bag.

If your animal is having a seizure, losing consciousness, unconscious or having difficulty breathing, you should contact your veterinarian immediately. Most veterinarians are familiar with the consulting services of the Center. Depending on your particular situation, your local veterinarian may want to contact the Center personally while you bring your pet to the animal hospital.

Calling the ASPCA National Animal Poison Control Center: When you call the Center, be ready to provide:

  • Your name, address and telephone number
  • Information concerning the exposure (the amount of agent, the time since exposure, etc.). For various reasons, it is important to know exactly what poison the animal was exposed to. [If the agent is part of the Animal Product Safety Service, the consultation is at no cost to the caller.]
  • The species, breed, age, sex, weight and number of animals involved
  • The agent your animal(s) has been exposed to, if known
  • The problems your animal(s) is experiencing.

A Pet Safety Kit

You may benefit by keeping a pet safety kit on hand for emergencies. Such a kit should contain:

  • A fresh bottle of hydrogen peroxide 3% (USP)
  • Can of soft dog or cat food, as appropriate
  • Turkey baster, bulb syringe or large medicine syringe
  • Saline eye solution to flush out eye contaminants
  • Artificial tear gel to lubricate eyes after flushing
  • Mild grease-cutting dishwashing liquid in order to bathe an animal after skin contamination
  • Rubber gloves to prevent you from being exposed while you bathe the animal
  • Forceps to remove stingers
  • Muzzle to keep the animal from hurting you while it is excited or in pain
  • Pet carrier to help carry the animal to your local veterinarian
You should not attempt any therapy on your pet without contacting either a National Animal Poison Control Center or your local veterinarian.

Reviewed on 6/13/2018 12:00:00 AM

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