Q: Our cat licked a puddle in our garage, and we thought it might be antifreeze. It was a Saturday afternoon so we took her to the animal ER, where we spent a small fortune making sure she hadn't damaged her kidneys.
Because we wanted more information we called a pet poison control hotline, and they asked a bunch of questions the ER place never asked. Unfortunately, it looks like we could have prevented lots of stress and expense. I don’t want to seem ungrateful, but did I get taken for a ride?
A: I’m happy to hear she’s doing well. That’s the most important thing. But I understand where you’re coming from: You were scared. You wanted fast answers. You got lots of tests instead. Now you’re having second thoughts about how well the ER managed your cat’s case.
Since I wasn’t there and don’t have the benefit of the full history and physical exam, I won’t second-guess the ER’s care. In general, however, careful investigation is always prudent. If she had been poisoned you’d have wanted nothing less than aggressive treatment, right?
Nevertheless, you’re concerned because it sounds like poison control asked very specific questions that would have ruled out the possibility of poisoning –– questions that would have saved you (and her) from all that testing.
My suspicion is that the pet poison control asked you to dig out that bottle of antifreeze. By knowing which type of antifreeze she might have ingested, the poison control service was probably able to determine that the brand of antifreeze you purchased is a pet safe version (they’re popular now).
If that was the case, I’m sure you feel frustrated. Here’s the thing: Pet poison controls specialize in remote poisonings. They know exactly what to ask. They also have toxicologists on staff to make sure any specialized testing and treatment plans get forwarded to your veterinarian and followed to a T.
In the future, here’s what I recommend to anyone who thinks their pet might have been poisoned: Call the pet poison control first. (The ASPCA has a good one.) For a relatively small sum (about $50) the toxicology team will open a case, answer your questions and consult with your veterinarian.
Alternatively, you can ask your veterinarian to consult the poison control directly (which may cost more). Many veterinarians will automatically do this, but asking never hurts.
Dr. Patty Khuly has a veterinary practice at Sunset Animal Clinic in South Miami. Her website is drpattykhuly.com. Send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.