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APCC’s Five Commandments of Pet Poison Prevention

Dr. Jill A. Richardson, ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center

APCC's Five Commandments of Pet Poison Prevention


Accidents happen–and despite your best efforts, your animal companion can come into contact with a potentially poisonous substance. Are you prepared in case of emergency? Dr. Jill A. Richardson of the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) offers sage advice that could save your pet’s life:

  • Maintain your animal’s overall health with regular visits to your local veterinarian. Make sure you know his or her procedures for emergencies. And keep the telephone numbers of your veterinarian, a local emergency vet service and the APCC in a convenient location, easily accessible by all members of the household.
  • Put together a pet safety kit. Richardson suggests including the following items: – can of soft pet food – turkey baster, bulb syringe or large medicine syringe – saline eye solution for flushing out eye contaminants and artificial tear gel for lubricating eyes – mild grease-cutting dishwashing liquid and rubber gloves for bathing – forceps to remove stingers – muzzle to keep animal from hurting you while he is excited or in pain – pet carrier for trips to your local vet
  • If you suspect that your pet has been exposed to a poison, don’t panic! “Rapid response is important,” says Richardson, “but panicking generally interferes with the process of helping your animal.”
  • For round-the-clock emergency assistance, call the APCC’s hotline at 1-888-4ANI-HELP. Be ready to provide your name, address and phone number; information concerning the poison your pet was exposed to, such as the amount ingested, if known, and the time since exposure; your pet’s species, breed, age, sex and weight; and the problems your pet is experiencing.
  • However, if your pet is seizuring, unconscious or losing consciousness, or having difficulty breathing, contact your veterinarian immediately. Most vets are familiar with the APCC’s consulting services; depending on the situation, your vet may want to contact the APCC personally while you bring your pet to the animal hospital. Do not attempt any therapy without contacting the APCC or your vet. Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, the APCC’s veterinarians are on call to quickly answer your questions about toxic chemicals, dangerous plants and substances commonly found in our homes or the environment that can be poisonous to animals. For more information, visit

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