Description: This clinically-oriented book helps the veterinary team answer basic questions about whether an exposure to a potentially harmful substance is better addressed at home or at a veterinary facility, and what to do if it is determined that a patient is better managed at a hospital.
Purpose: The specific goal is to assist veterinary technicians in becoming more active and effective participants in the management of small animal patients exposed to toxicants. This fills a void in the literature, since prior toxicology books have been written for the veterinarian. To meet their goal, the editors have drawn upon the expertise of many technicians and veterinarians in the field, several of whom I have worked with in the past.
Audience: It is intended primarily for veterinary technicians.
Features: The book is divided into three main sections covering the fundamentals, systems, and specific toxicants. The fundamentals section includes well-written chapters on decontamination and management of toxicoses, but it also covers topics that have generated more recent interest, e.g. investigating suspected intentional poisonings. The systems section discusses the effects of toxicants on different organ systems, and each chapter includes a brief review of the anatomy and physiology of the target organ. The third section, on specific toxicants, is the longest and includes chapters on a wide variety of toxicants that animals can be exposed to through food and in the home and yard. Of note, the chapter on plants includes information on numerous toxic plants that are commonly encountered, while the appendix, "Plants Not Reported to Be Toxic," is a listing of so-called "safe" plants. The chapters on over-the-counter and prescription medications do not include as many drugs as I would have expected. Medications that have a high potential for causing harm or are commonly encountered are covered, but, to be fair, comprehensive coverage of the toxicity of the medications currently on the market would fill a book of its own.
Assessment: Technicians working in emergent care facilities will likely find the information in this book easier to integrate with their prior experiences in dealing with toxicoses. Yet, technicians in general practice should also greatly benefit from this book, although their learning curve may be steeper due to the smaller emergency caseload that they may encounter in their setting. This book is also useful to veterinarians, since the chapters about specific toxicants include information on the amount of each substance that can cause harm, differential diagnoses, and management of exposure. This is an important resource to guide the veterinary team on a course of action when a pet owner informs them, "My pet just ate (fill in the blank)!"