Are you prepared for a pet emergency?

Dog DoctorBy: Darlene Hanenburg
Certified Veterinary Technician at Pet Poison Helpline®

Pet owners learn quickly that their four-legged friends’ illnesses and accidents often don’t coincide with their veterinary clinics’ scheduled business hours. While some health concerns can wait until the clinic opens, assessment and treatment of other health issues should not — or simply cannot — be put off. Having some basic information and items on hand in one easily accessible place can help you respond quickly to unforeseen after-hours incidents.

Phone numbers. Is the name and phone number of your pet’s regular veterinary clinic in your phone contact list? Or is it listed where other family members can find it? Is there an emergency veterinary clinic in your area? Having contact information — particularly telephone numbers for your veterinarian, an emergency clinic and pet poison control center — listed in one location and programmed into your phone before they’re needed can reduce some of the initial anxiety felt when addressing your pet’s urgent health situation.

Be aware that pet poison control centers charge a per-incident consultation fee payable by credit and/or debit card. If you don’t have a card, consider purchasing a prepaid card that’s set aside specifically for pet health emergencies.

Dosing syringe, bulb syringe or turkey baster. When a pet has ingested a potentially harmful substance, you may be directed by your veterinarian or poison control center staff to flush or rinse your pet’s mouth or even induce vomiting at home. An oral dosing syringe, bulb syringe or turkey baster can make these tasks easier to perform and less stressful for you and your pet. And having more than one on hand can help ensure you’ll find one quickly.

3% hydrogen peroxide. Household-strength hydrogen peroxide is the preferred solution for inducing vomiting in dogs at home. (Please, do not administer to cats as it can seriously irritate the feline stomach!) Having fresh, non-expired hydrogen peroxide on hand can help you induce vomiting quickly, if directed, when time is essential. Be sure to periodically check the expiration date and replace as needed.

Remember, knowledge can be empowering. The best way to help your four-legged family member is to be prepared.

(Note: The above list is not intended to be all-inclusive, but to identify key pieces of information and tools to help pet owners initially respond to potentially health-threatening events.)

Darlene joined SafetyCall in February 2013, after working 6 years in a companion animal practice in New Hope, Minn., and teaching for 1.5 years at Minnesota School of Business/Globe University in Plymouth. Prior to becoming a veterinary technician in 2006, Darlene spent 20 years employed by various advertising, public relations and marketing communications agencies in Chicago, Milwaukee, Atlanta and Minneapolis. She has written for several animal health, agribusiness and pet food companies, including Pfizer Animal Health, Novartis Animal Health US, Nestle Purina PetCare, Elanco, Intervet, Church & Dwight and Dow AgroSciences. She earned her AAS in veterinary technology at Argosy University in Eagan, Minn. A Michigan native, she has a master’s degree in agricultural and Extension education and a bachelor’s degree in animal science, both from Michigan State University. She shares her home in Eden Prairie with Tigger, a 13-year-old tabby.