Posted By: Louisa - Vet

Winston the puppy eats the wrong snack!

When you’re a 10 month old Cocker Spaniel puppy, exploring the world with your nose and your mouth, anything could be a source of food even when maybe it shouldn’t be!

Winston’s owners grew concerned one morning after he vomited and appeared to be uncontrollably tremoring. He had been his normal puppy self earlier that day and had been playing in the garden before suddenly becoming unwell. It’s not particularly surprising for puppies or dogs of any age to accidently (or with every intention!) eat something that isn’t their allocate food which can lead to a simple and self-limiting gastritis or gastroenteritis. However for Winston, the tremoring was my primary concern.

The tremoring alongside vomiting stuck me as a possible toxicosis; ingestion of something effectively poisonous. This could be a number of things including chocolate, slug and snail repellent, mouldy food, fungal toxins, overdose of worming medication or even blue-green algae. In the past Winston has had quite an attachment to the compost heap and although we couldn’t be sure that it was the definite cause this time, it certainly seemed most likely.

With any potential toxin ingestion, we need to act quickly to remove and neutralise as much of the toxin as possible, so we decided to admit Winston for treatment and close monitoring by our brilliant team of veterinary nurses.

The first thing to do would be to make Winston sick, this is to avoid any further absorption of the toxin into his body and prevent worsening his signs, however, Winston had already done this part himself! So we started by putting Winston onto a fluid drip to support his circulating blood volume and maintain suitable hydration. In addition to this, we gave him a special drug directly into his veins, called ‘intra-lipid’. The intra-lipid is a useful and clever medication for certain toxins that are ‘lipophilic’, effectively a toxin that is attracted to fat components within cells. It acts as a binder, attaching to the toxic particles, which stops them from attaching to the body cells and therefore stops their toxic effects on the patient.

Within a few hours of the fluid and lipid therapies Winston was looking remarkably less shaky and hadn’t vomited since that morning with the owner so it was time for us to add in our final part of the treatment - eating charcoal!

As bizarre as this may sound, activated charcoal meals are an excellent means for adsorbing any left over toxins that are still present in the stomach and small intestine to stop them being absorbed into the body. Charcoal is a black powder that we add to some extra tasty dog food and for a food motivated dog like Winston, it wasn’t too much of a challenge getting him to eat it despite it’s less than appetising colour!

By the end of the day Winston looked like a bright, happy, 10 month old Cocker Spaniel again without any tremors, but instead with an intensely waggy tail! He was clearly very happy to be reunited with his owners! 

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