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Common causes of poisoning in small animals
  1. Alexander Campbell

    Alexander Campbell graduated in physiology from King's College, London, in 1988. Since then he has worked as an information officer for the National Poisons Information Service (London). He was involved in developing the Veterinary Poisons Information Service (VPIS) and, since its launch in 1992, has been manager of the VPIS centre in London.


WHILE there are no national statistics on the incidence of poisoning in animals, and the full extent of the problem is therefore unknown, the Veterinary Poisons Information Service in the UK has, in the six years that it has been in operation, kept records of every inquiry it has received which, when collated, give an indication of the types of poisonings that are relatively commonplace and those that are rarer but which are potentially serious when they do occur. This article reviews the VPIS data to examine what the common causes of poisoning are, with the aim of advising on appropriate management of the animal patient and, where possible, highlighting instances where preventive measures might be taken. Management regimens for a number of potentially toxic agents have been covered in earlier articles in In Practice's series on poisons. This overview will not repeat that information, but will remind readers of those articles, where appropriate.

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