Dr Nicola Robinson – vet and Head of Animal PoisonLine
Pets are a wonderful part of our lives, enhancing our quality of life and even reducing our blood pressure! However, when they encounter something which may be harmful to them it can be extremely worrying for owners.
Although many poisons are present all year round, there are some which are seasonal. With Spring almost upon us we need to be make sure that we keep pets safe from some of the potential hazards at this time of year. Many of them reflect the warmer weather meaning we are out and about in our gardens again.

Common Spring hazards for dogs and cats:
• Fertilisers – both solid and liquid
• Lawn weed killers and moss killers
• Patio cleaners – especially those containing benzalkonium chloride
• Weed killers for paths and patios –especially glyphosate
• Slug and snail killers
• Spring bulbs and plants – including daffodils, tulips and crocus
There are thousands of other potential toxins in and around the home which pets can come into contact with including human medicines, household/DIY products, pesticides and some human foods and the help of a specialist animal poison centre is often useful to decide if treatment is required or not.

Animal PoisonLine (APL) is run by the UK’s only animal poison centre and is a 24-hour triage line for owners, giving them advice on any potential toxin and whether an immediate trip to the vet is necessary. The information provided comes from 28 years’ experience, over 260,000 cases and constant research. Hundreds of calls are received every year involving the Spring hazards above and over 14,000 calls are handled overall annually.

The aim of Animal PoisonLine is to ensure that every pet receives appropriate treatment. The assessment is extremely accurate and after a consultation 75% of owners and pets do not need to go to the vet, saving money, stress and time, which is especially beneficial out of hours. There are a few toxins, however, which are dangerous even in small doses and for these cases the owner will be advised to go for treatment even if the pet is not showing any effects. Waiting to see if signs start could result in a longer course of treatment with a lower chance of recovery.

The animal poison centre receives no external funding so to ensure their lines are manned 24 hours a days 365 days a year by specialists and for them to continue their vital research there is a fee for each case. However, it is important to remember that these cases happen rarely in a pet’s life and getting the right advice quickly provides peace of mind and the best possible outcome for the pet.
If you are concerned that your pet has come into contact with something harmful please call Animal PoisonLine on 01202 509000, www.animalpoisonline.co.uk

Testimonials from owners who have used APL:
‘Brilliant service. The person I spoke to was very knowledgeable and gave me so much information that I wasn’t worried anymore. Answered all my questions and seemed to know the drug they had ingested well. Thank you.’
Dotty, the mini dachshund, who had eaten the drug omeprazole

‘The woman I spoke to was not only more than helpful but she was also so nice and comforting. I was terrified I had poisoned my bunny and her kind and reassuring words calmed me down a lot. 10/10 would recommend and would use again! Keep up the good job!’
Misha, the rabbit, who had eaten milk chocolate

‘I was so pleased with the service received, was reassuring & saved us a costly trip to the out of hours vet on Christmas Eve’
Milo the cat who had eaten part of a cyclamen plant

‘Thank you very much for your calm, clear and kind advice. The PoisonLine is a great source of help in a very stressful situation. I’ve called twice, the first time on the advice of a local out of hours Vet Service and the second time because you provide such a great service.’
Sven, the bernese mountain dog, who had drunk a Slimfast vitality strawberry and blueberry shake