Emergency treatment and first aid for pets should never be used as a substitute for veterinary care. But it may save your pet's life before you can get your pet to a veterinarian.
View our Pet First Aid brochure
Poisoning is a pet emergency that causes a great deal of confusion for pet owners. In general, any products that are harmful for people are also harmful for pets. Examples include cleaning products, rodent poisons and antifreeze. But you also need to be aware of common food items that may be harmful to your pet. The AVMA brochure Household Hazards offers a summary of what foods and common household items may pose a danger to your pet. Additional information and examples can be found on the other Web sites listed in this section.
If your pet's skin or eyes are exposed to a toxic product (such as many cleaning products), check the product label for the instructions for people exposed to the product; if the label instructs you to wash your hands with soap and water if you're exposed, then wash your pet's skin with soap and water (don't get any into its eyes, mouth or nose). If the label tells you to flush the skin or eyes with water, do this for your pet as soon as possible (if you can do it safely), and call a veterinarian immediately.
If you know your pet has consumed something that may be harmful, or if the animal is having seizures, losing consciousness, is unconscious or is having difficulty breathing, telephone your veterinarian, emergency veterinary clinic or the Animal Poison Control Center hotline (888.426.4435 – available 365 days/year, 24 hours/day) immediately. There is a fee for the consultation.
If possible, have the following information available:
Collect any material your pet may have vomited or chewed, and place it in a plastic sealable bag to take with you when you bring your animal in for veterinary treatment.
Additional Information on Animal Poisoning:The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) offers additional information and resources:
Another resource is Killer Grapes and Other Concerns in Animal Poison Control, available on the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine's Web site.
Do not begin chest compressions until you've secured an airway and started rescue breathing (see the section above, What to do if your pet is not breathing).
Please remember that your pet's likelihood of surviving with resuscitation is very low. However, in an emergency it may give your pet its only chance.