A new poisons triage service to support pet owners could reduce the number of wasted visits to the vet.

Animal PoisonLine (APL) is a 24-hour telephone service designed as a first port of call for owners concerned their pets may have been exposed to something potentially poisonous.

The Animal PoisonLine poster is available to download as a PDF document.

Owners will not, however, be advised on specific treatment – only told of signs to look out for and what to do next.

The aim of the initiative, from the Veterinary Poisons Information Service (VPIS), is three-fold:

  • to ensure pets receive the most appropriate treatment
  • to reassure owners
  • to reduce pressure on vets by making sure they only see the cases requiring treatment

Positive response

The launch of the APL service in April coincided with the VPIS’ 25th anniversary, and response to the new offering has been “very positive”, according to VPIS head of service Nicola Robinson.

Dr Robinson said: “The welfare of pets is our priority and although we hope, in many cases, to be able to reassure owners a trip to the vet is not necessary, we also know if the case is serious, getting pets to the surgery quickly is of the utmost importance and will give the pet the best chance of survival.

“We understand owners may prefer to telephone or visit their vet directly, but for those who are unsure what to do, APL provides another option, which is much more accurate than ‘Dr Google’.”

Saving time

Dr Robinson continued: “In many cases, the vet would telephone us anyway on the VPIS line if an owner telephones him or her about a possible poisoning. We can support vets by saving them time dealing with cases that do not require treatment and ensure ones that do get to them as soon as possible.”

The service provides a follow-up form for owners to find out how the pet is and then add the information to its database containing 225,000 past cases, which helps refine information for future telephone calls.

Vets should continue to use the normal telephone number (0207 3055 055) for their poisoning cases and administrative enquiries. Owners will be directed to the new APL telephone number 01202 509 000.

  • Read the full story in the 15 May issue of Veterinary Times.
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