Toxicology is the study of toxicants (poisons) including their chemical and physical properties, identification, biologic effects, and the treatment of the disease conditions produced by them. In order to adequately treat an intoxication, a good diagnosis and accurate assessment of the toxic agent is crucial. Sometimes, an exact diagnosis is impossible unless the owner can provide specific clues. If the ingestion of the toxin is witnessed, immediate treatment is very important to limit the amount of absorption through the gastrointestinal tract. Knowing the amount of the toxic agent ingested is also very important in predicting clinical outcomes and likelihood of adverse effects. However, in many cases, the veterinarian must treat the signs that are present without an absolute diagnosis. Occasionally, through the use of specialized referral laboratories, a diagnosis may be made by testing various samples. Intoxications are fairly common in small animals. Some examples include: chocolate ingestion, rat poison ingestion, ethylene glycol (antifreeze) poisoning, acetaminophen (Tylenol®) poisoning, consumption of prescription or over the counter human medications, ingestion of sugar-free gum containing xylitol, snake and spider bites, plant ingestion and many more. If you suspect your animal could have ingested or been exposed to a toxin, seek veterinary care immediately.