Sunday, November 9, 2014

Chocolate and Dogs Don't Mix

      No sirree, and we knew that. Nor avocados coffee (caffeine), garlic, grapes, onions, raisins, walnuts, antifreeze, dryer sheets, and a whole host of other food and non-food items. It’s hard to believe this stat too: “In 2012, the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) in Urbana, Illinois, handled more than 180,000 cases about pets exposed to possibly poisonous substances.”[1] That’s one city in a single year! And no, this doesn't make me feel better in light of our own dog's chocolate overdose.
      Our saga revealed itself after dinner this past Thursday night. I mean, accidents happen. What we don’t hear much about is the treatment of a pet who swallowed a toxic substance. It’s an eye opener and it will hurt your heart when you know the details. 

       Caesar was resting on Tim’s lap when I went over to love him up. That was around 7:30 p.m. Just a few minutes earlier I'd taken him outside to do his business, but he’s a love sponge and we cannot help ourselves when it comes to the mushy business of pet loving. As I stepped away from Tim’s chair, something caught my eye on the rug, nearly hidden under the sofa. Odd, I thought: it’s the gold foil from the chocolate bar I’d eaten earlier. Only I had left it, at least half of it, on the tall counter. Long story in itself.
      OhmiGod! Alarms clanged in my head. I grabbed my never-used-before poison info, taped inside a cupboard door. “Make dog vomit immediately, using hydrogen peroxide in the amount shown in the following weight chart.” Except we figured Caesar had ingested the stuff about two hours earlier. And it was dark chocolate, more toxic than milk chocolate. And damn: it had currants in it too, which are as bad as raisins for dogs. I dialed the Veterinarian’s office. “Bring him right over. He’ll be spending the night.” Forget that the assistant was duty bound to inform me of the minimum cost. What a waste of time. Of course we’d pay. Our baby was about to die and I’m going to quibble over cost?

      Now, I don’t mean to berate these savvy vets. They did a super job, and one that they would not have faced had we been more vigilant. I’m just saying it helps (but makes me sad at the same time) to understand the protocol for averting death in such cases.

      Wrenched from the arms of his loving peeps, Caesar was thrust into the frightening physiology of forced vomiting and intubation for charcoal glutting. Only they don’t mention, until they review the bill, that a tube was used to pump enormous quantities of charcoal into his tummy. They must tell you though, lest you be shocked by the resulting stool over the next several hours….it’s essentially lumps of coal. Like the ones we ought to get in our Christmas stocking.

And before they return him to your waiting arms from behind closed doors, they mention you ought not be frightened by the sight of his eye, which is red—as in maroon red, like one of those sci‑fi dinosaurs with murderous intent, clearly expressed in its eyeballs—piercing fire ball red; they tell you his eyes will soon be perfectly normal. How did they get so red, you might wonder? They drip a powerful emetic called apomorphine right onto your dog’s eyeball, which induces vomiting, acting almost immediately as it hits the optic nerve. Copious vomiting. Not sure if he was over-dosed, but somewhere around midnight he had to endure a shot of antidote to stop that process.

      And they don’t tell you until you call the next morning that your precious companion must stay another night for observation. But, yes, if you really want to, you could bring his lambie and a favorite blanket. Which we did. Of course we did.

At last, on 2 p.m. Saturday, Caesar came home. Sadly, his ordeal didn't end there. Liver tests showed signs of another unrelated condition, Cushing's disease. Consequently, he needs more testing. We can only pray for a good outcome on his diagnosis and prognosis. I’ll keep you posted. In the meantime if any of you are dealing with Cushing's, I'd be grateful to hear your tale. 

And I promise to write of more upbeat happenings next time....thanks for visiting.