Thursday, March 15, 2012

Doc, he's been --dum dum dum- poisoned.

How many times do I hear that someone's dog has been poisoned? Well, it happens enough that it is a common joke among veterinarians. Dog has been eating sausage biscuits and pizza, not's not pancreatitis, it's POISON! Dog hit by a car, trouble breathing, not able to walk or's not a diaphragmatic hernia, it's poison!

When it is poison, it can be hard to convince people of that. Uremic breath, lingual ulcers, seizures, not urinating, hypocalcemia... Has your dog been around any cars? Was it acting drunk yesterday or the day before? Any anti-freeze? Any green-yellow puddles around? Any enemies? Are you sure that there is no anti-freeze around? No? Ok.

Finally get some urine and there are the crystals typical of EG toxicity. Oh, you have been working on your car. And the puppy ate the paper you used to soak up the anti-freeze. Well, if you had told me this, I could have saved you a metric ton of money at the outset.

Another case: bloody urine and bruising. Go through the questions, any aspirin? Any one on blood thinners? Any sago palm? History of liver failure? What about rat poison? Has anyone put any out? Are you sure? Are you really sure? Yes? Ok. Elevated PT, PTT and finally someone admits that the dog had bright green diarrhea a few days ago. Ok, now someone remembers that the pest guy brought around some packages last week.

Well, these two scenarios play out daily in the veterinary world. Very seldom is a pet actually poisoned on purpose. However, it does happen. We had a case in vet school where the owner told us point blank that her boyfriend poisoned the dog. It took some time and a store bought urine drug screen, but we found out she was telling the truth.

Two lab mixed sisters presented on the emergency service as a transfer from a day vet. Both were comatose and alternated being bradycardic and exhibiting tachycardia. The history was that the woman had broken up with her cheating beau. He happened to be a pharmacist. The dogs became suddenly, and similarly, ill and she thought that he might have poisoned them. It turned out that she was right. There was no source in the woman's house.

We treated both dogs with gastric lavage (flushing) and activated charcoal along with supportive care. One of the dogs did fine, but the other aspirated the charcoal and ended up dying. The police were called and the woman talked of bring charges. I am not sure that she did, but the thought of this person running around, giving out medications to humans skeeves me out.


  1. My favorite is the dog with kennel cough that the owner swears has something stuck on its throat. Well if you have something stuck in your throat would you be eating and drinking like your dog is or would you be turning blue?!

  2. Well that is sad someone could be so vindictive and cruel.. Dude should be reported/charged. Wonder how his employer would feel about him giving lethal dosages of drugs to dogs.

  3. My earliest childhood memory is watching my dad bury our lab after our neighbors fed him rat poison (we looked like another neighbor's dog, and the two families were feuding). I now refuse to put out ANYTHING remotely toxic. People are cruel.

  4. One of the worse days of my life was in October. Our senior dog died in my arms (she was very ill, we were at the clinic, think she had a PE). We get home from seeing a movie, play with our young German Shepherd for a bit. And he He's playing, he went and peed, but he seems a little bit down, a little bit clingier than usual. Then we found one of my husband's nearly-empty asthma inhalers on the floor, chewed up. We assumed all the albuterol would have dispersed in the air when the canister was punctured. Thank god for Google and my paranoia. "Extreme tachycardia" said the Googles. Put my hand on the dog's chest and his heart was pounding away. Rushed off to the emergency vet, chewed-up inhaler in hand. HR was 180. Thankfully he was young and healthy and the vets + animal poison control got him straightened out and he recovered. It was terrifying. I know a lot of the common household poisons and obviously we didn't mean to leave that in reach (still don't know where it came from) but I had no idea albuterol was so dangerous for dogs. I don't know what would have happened if he had hidden the inhaler under the couch or something. Thankfully he's not big on ingesting foreign objects so we didn't have to worry about that angle on top of the poisoning.

  5. When my mum's dog ate something she shouldn't have, we could tell straight away. She sat very sit on a mat and looked very sorry for herself. We rushed her to the vets and sure enough, she'd eaten something she shouldn't have (rotting flesh apparently - maybe that bone she dug up when we went for a walk). It's funny cos my other half acts exactly the same when he's not well. Same facial expressions and all!

  6. Where we live burglars frequently poison dogs. We have lost three dogs to poison and had a fourth critical at the vet for three days. We never know what they have been given and there is often only so much the vet can do. Its really not nice when it does happen to you.