“Why can’t my vet just answer my question?”

By: Pamela Huyck
Certified Veterinary Technician at Pet Poison Helpline®

First Aid Vet and Vet Tech

Many of our callers are referred to us by their regular veterinarians and do not understand why their regular vets cannot answer their question(s).  Toxicology is a specialized field and there is a very long list of things dogs (and occasionally cats) have been known to eat.  Your local veterinary clinic mainly deals with day-to-day preventative care and common health concerns that pets have (ear and bladder infections, skin infections, acute renal failure, broken bones, tumor removals, congestive heart failure).  Since those are the cases they deal with the most it makes sense that they spend most of their continuing education on the latest recommendations for treating those conditions (or preventing them).  Toxicology makes up a very small percentage of the cases they deal with.  This is where Pet Poison Helpline® comes in!

Your vet can refer you to us, knowing that we have an entire staff of toxicologists, veterinarians, and veterinary technicians who specialize in toxicology.  Having this specialized staff means that we can quickly and effectively evaluate your pet’s exposure and provide proper medical advice.  If we recommend that your pet be taken into a clinic for care, we will be able to provide your veterinarian with prompt, accurate, and thorough advice tailored to your individual pet’s situation and health history.  Depending on the specifics of your pet’s situation, we will give the vet advice on steps that can be taken to prevent signs from occurring, what signs to watch for, and/or how to treat the signs if they do occur.

It may be helpful to think of your local veterinary clinic like a general practice doctor referring you out to a cardiologist if you develop a heart problem.  Your general practice doctor is great for day-to-day health concerns and preventative care, but when it comes to the finer points of your complex heart problem your doctor knows that you will get the most accurate and up-to-date care for your heart condition if you see a cardiologist.

There are many people on your pet’s healthcare team and we here at Pet Poison Helpline® are happy to be on that team when the need arises…even if it is 2am on Christmas Day!  We are here 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year (366 if it’s a Leap year).