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History Taking for the Potentially Poisoned Pet

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The following guideline is meant to facilitate a timely evaluation in the case of accidental poisoning. Feel free to print this out for your medical record if needed!

Pet Information:

  1. Species and breed
  2. Sex of animal
  3. Age
  4. Weight
  5. Underlying medical conditions (if present)
  6. Animal’s name (may be multiple animals involved) and owner’s last name
  7. Environmental information [Indoor? Exclusively outdoor?]

Medication:

  1. What is the exact name of the drug?
  2. Is there any formula information? [Extended release (XR), long-acting]
  3. What is the milligram strength?
  4. How many tablets are potentially missing?
  5. If the container is destroyed rendering identification impossible and a pill is found, what is the pill code printed on the tablet or capsule?

Plant:

  1. What is the exact name of the plant? Try to find out the scientific and common name of the plant. If it is unknown what kind of a plant it is, it should be taken to the nearest greenhouse for identification.
  2. Is it a houseplant, outdoor plant, or weed?
  3. Which part was ingested – bulb, leaves, flowers, berries, stems, fruit?
  4. Approximately how much was ingested?

Household or garden chemical:

  1. What is the exact name of product with the brand name?
  2. What are the active ingredients?
  3. Is there an EPA register number? If the product can’t be identified by name, this number will serve as identification.
  4. What are the label warnings?

Rodenticides:

  1. What is the active ingredient and the concentration?
  2. What was the net weight of the product to begin with and how much remains?
  3. What is the exact name of the product, with the brand name?
  4. If the package is destroyed, is there a visible EPA register number?

Scenario: What exactly has transpired?

  1. How long ago did this ingestion occur? If it happened while the owner was away, how long was the dog or cat alone?
  2. Is the pet showing any behavioral or physical abnormalities at this time?
    What are the vitals and physical exam findings?
  3. Is there any CNS depression or stimulation?
  4. Is there evidence of burns to the mouth, drooling, pawing at the face, etc?

It is important to remember that when a pet has ingested something potentially harmful, the owner of the pet may not be thinking clearly. Try to calmly guide them through this by asking direct questions, which will allow for an expedient evaluation. If you have any questions regarding documentation of the poisoned pet, do not hesitate to contact Pet Poison Helpline at (800) 213-6680.