It happened again last night - a client asked me how much trouble his dog was in from eating Oreo cookies. The pet owner had heard about the possible toxic effects of chocolate on dogs but didn't know how much or what kind was critical. In this case, the incident was not a problem. But so many times, pet owners wonder when it truly is a problem.
These questions and many more like them are answered each day by the veterinary technicians at the Animal Poison Control Center. This 24-hour-a-day, seven-day-a-week hotline is staffed by 25 veterinarians, including five board-certified veterinary toxicologists and 10 certified veterinary technicians. The center is located in Urbana, Ill., and is an allied agency of the College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Illinois.
The hotline telephone number is (888) 4ANI-HELP, or (888) 426-4435. A $45 consultation fee (via credit card) is charged by the center to the pet owner, veterinarian, or manufacturer - whoever the caller is with the problem. If you want to know more about their service, the center's Web site is www.aspca.org/apcc.
Established in 1978, the center provides assistance to both pet owners and veterinarians who call in with challenging situations. Particularly at night, this service is invaluable in defining whether or not an exposure to a substance is an emergency.