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  1. Animal Health Literacy

Who Do You Call if You Have a Pet Emergency?


Every day, FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM) receives calls and emails from pet owners, like you, about many different topics. Some serious topics include what to do when a pet gets into things he shouldn’t, what to do if a pet gets too much medicine or gets the wrong medicine, or what to do when a person accidentally takes a pet’s medicine.

When your pet eats or gets into something she shouldn’t, what should you do? Some pet owners call or email CVM first. While CVM employs many veterinarians, the center is a regulatory agency and our veterinarians do not give veterinary treatment, advice, or diagnoses. So, who do you call?

Your Vet Knows Best

Whenever your pet has a situation like one of those above, your best resource is your veterinarian. Why? Your veterinarian knows your pet’s medical history and can give you the most appropriate medical advice for your pet. In some cases, if your pet gets into something potentially dangerous, like a product containing xylitol, you may only have minutes to spare before your pet becomes seriously ill. So, call your veterinarian quickly!

Other Options

If you can’t reach your regular veterinarian, you have other options for getting urgent veterinary advice. One option is to contact your local emergency animal hospital. The emergency veterinarians may be able to give you advice over the phone or they may recommend that you bring your pet in for an exam.

Another good option is to contact one of the two animal poison control centers in the U.S. These centers charge a fee for their services, but their veterinarians can immediately give you expert veterinary advice and are available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

What if I Need Help?

Sometimes pet owners accidentally take their pet’s medicine, especially if it is stored near their own medicine. What if this happens to you or one of your other human family members?

  • Call 911 if it’s an emergency
  • Call your doctor
  • Call Poison Control:  1-800-222-1222.   

Accidents happen to pets and people; sometimes, minutes matter. You can save precious time by knowing who to call, first, when you or your pet needs help. The table, below, has helpful contact information.

How Do I Report an Emergency?

If your situation is: Contact:
A problem with an FDA-regulated product

FDA regulates the following products:
  • Drugs, food, and medical devices for both people and animals,
  • Biologic products for people (like vaccines, blood, cells, and tissues), 
  • Dietary supplements, 
  • Cosmetics, 
  • Radiation-emitting electronic products (like x-ray machines and tanning beds/booths), and
  • Tobacco products.
If it’s a pet emergency:
  • Call your veterinarian, an emergency animal hospital, or an animal poison control center if you need veterinary advice about your pet.
If it’s a human emergency:
  • Medical Emergency: Call 911
  • Mental Health Crisis: Call 988
  • Call FDA’s 24-hour emergency line at 1-866-300-4374. (They provide resources for you to contact, but do not give medical advice.)
If it’s not an emergency:
  • Call your veterinarian if you need veterinary advice about your pet.
  • Call your healthcare provider if you need medical advice.
To send FDA a report about a regulated product:
An illness from eating a certain food   Contact your local health department
An accidental poisoning involving a person Call Poison Control at 1-800-222-1222 
An adverse event due to a vaccine for a pet Call your veterinarian if your pet is having a reaction to a vaccine.

Submit a report to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s online adverse event reporting system.
An adverse event due to a vaccine for people Call your healthcare provider if you’re having a reaction to a vaccine.

Submit a report using the FDA’s online Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS).


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