Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Mikey Likes It! (funny things that dogs eat)

(Remember this guy from those Life cereal commercials?)

Mikey had been coming to see us for a long time. He was a little white Schnauzer with an outgoing personality and a mischievous nature. Whenever his owner left for work, Mikey’s house became a playground.

Finding inventive ways to land himself in the proverbial “doghouse” was a sport. I’ll start with a list of things that he ate that passed in the normal fashion:
  • Paper clips
  • Rubber bands
  • Twist ties from bread bags
  • Multiple lipstick cases (picture a white Schnauzer wearing red lipstick)
  • Mascara brushes
  • Makeup sponges
  • 3 doses of heartworm preventative at the same time
  • 2 doses of flea control… wrapper, tube and all

The number of items inside the house that he simply demolished would have landed him in jail for Felony Destruction of Property in all 50 states: the electric cord for the TV, doorstops, curtains, clothing, etc..  Nothing was off limits once the Better Angels of his Nature went off duty.

And through it all, his owner never disciplined him or fretted about the damage to her things in any way.  She loved him unconditionally.

One day, Mikey’s Mom came home from work and he didn’t come to the door to meet her.  She started searching through her house and found that he had been up his usual tricks in the kitchen, but this time he ate something that was a real problem. The owner found a half-eaten bottle of diet pills on the floor. This was about 10 years ago when stimulant heavy diet pills were more readily available.  Mikey had eaten an unknown number of these pills, and he only weighed about 15 lbs.

The owner called in from her car on the way to the clinic and told me what had happened, and that he was in bad shape. I was afraid to ask what that meant. I just told her to drive safe.

When she arrived, I was expecting to see Mikey demonstrate the kind of symptoms that stimulant poisoned dogs usually show- shaking, seizures, hyperexcitability, hypersensitivity to noise, etc. What I found when Mikey came in was that he was nearly in a coma… the exact opposite of what I expected.

He was laying on his side, unable to rise, pupils dilated, breathing very shallow and rapid, and his tongue was a sickly shade of blue. Again, very different from a textbook case. While I was checking him out, his owner told me that she had found signs that he had been vomiting, tearing up her carpet, and scratching at her doors.  While he was known to be destructive, these were not the normal things he did when she was out of the house. She had found him laying near-lifeless in her bathtub.

I started to wonder if I was on the wrong track. Maybe the diet pills weren’t the problem at all. Puzzled, I finished up the physical by listening to his heart, and then things began to make sense.

His heart rate was well above 240 beats per minute, and the rhythm was off. Arrhythmias are a common finding in stimulant poisoning cases.  As for the rest of the physical, I could only figure that he had gotten into the pills early in the morning.  I wondered what his day must have been like after the stimulants took effect... maybe running a 10K in laps around the couch, training for the Ironman Triathlon (which would explain his presence in the bathtub), and recreating Jennifer Beals’ Flashdance training routine. In my mind, he was wearing a headband and leg warmers with “What a Feeling” playing in the background.

By the time he got to us, Mikey was simply exhausted.

We put an IV catheter in him and started running fluids and lidocaine. The lidocaine got his heart into a better rhythm, and his tongue started to turn pink again. Overnight, we gave him more fluids and a mild sedative. By the next morning, he was bouncing around his cage in the treatment area, ready to take on the world again.

We called Mikey’s owner, and she came to pick him up… with a brand new crate that was going to be his home while Mom was out of the house.  In the end, Mikey wound up locked up- but not because of property destruction. Due to his delinquency, he became a Ward of the Crate.