Drug toxicity in a puppy

I was delighted to say good morning to this little dote. This is one of a litter of three adorable mixed breed puppies, who were due their first vaccinations before going to their new homes yesterday. Just before their appointment, this little one collapsed. On arrival at the clinic the puppy was limp and barely breathing. When I realised how sick the puppy was, I was admittedly a bit shouty; getting the owner to put down the box and step back for social distancing. I whipped the puppies into the treatment area. There was no time to waste.

We suspected ingestion some of the owners medications. A neurological exam revealed pinpoint non-responsive pupils. We immediately checked blood sugars and started supportive care with oxygen, a heat pad and fluids. The owner gave me a list of possible pills he might have snatched, and I had hope that they would be metabolised over the next few hours.

I had to tell the owners he was critical, and dying, and there were tears.

As the hours passed, there were slight improvements. Towards early evening I passed an orogastric tube and gave several small feeds of replacement milk. It’s important to stabilise the blood sugar of puppies; they need nutrition every few hours or they can go into hypoglycaemic shock. We kept going with oxygen and warming late into the night.

It must have been a drug toxicity. By 1am I had a weakly wagging tail, and by 7am I had a hungry puppy bouncing around the kennel.

I checked the liver and kidney function today on our in-house machines, and everything was ok. I’ll be following up with repeat checks until I’m sure there has been no organ damage; but so far so good! We were delighted to send her home today and look forward to some more routine visits to the practice over the coming weeks.

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