Three month old Indi, a gorgeous little Cocker Spaniel was rushed to the surgery in the early hours of the morning by her worried owners. Indi was showing signs of having ingested some form of toxin, she was collapsed and having seizures.
Her bloods were taken by Walter and extensive blood screening was performed, showing several blood parameters to be dangerously abnormal, with her blood glucose and potassium being of most concern. Indi was immediately started on Intravenous fluids and medication was given and X-rays taken. One thing was clear, this little pup was seriously ill and needed intensive nursing.
Throughout the night, Indi needed constant care so went home with our head nurse, Estelle. She was producing haemorrhagic vomit and diarrhoea almost continually and repeat blood tests showed a serious deterioration of her liver from the ingested toxin. She was now starting to show signs of a clotting problem and was in a very dangerous state, at risk of bleeding internally. Indi’s bloods were sent to an external lab for coagulation tests to be performed. A blood transfusion was now needed to replace the blood loss.
Fortunately for Indi her biological mother, Hazel, was owned by another Wangford Vets client. Walter was able to contact the client, who was more than happy to help and allow for blood to be taken from Indi’s mother, thus providing the best possible match possible.
Hazel was such a star and just laid quietly while her blood was taken for her very seriously ill puppy. The lifesaving procedure went well as Hazel’s blood was transfused into Indi.
Another night for this very poorly little girl, spent at Stelle’s home as she still required round the clock care. By the morning Indi’s demeanour was slightly improved but a long way off recovery. Her liver was now showing signs that the damage from this toxic insult was severe.
We received the blood clotting results back from the lab and as we suspected, she was not able to clot her blood. It was necessary for Indi to still be continually nursed day and night.
6am at Stelle’s house, Indi showed great improvement and actually managed to walk outside, however by 7.30am she was starting to show deterioration and she slipped into an almost unconscious state. Semi asleep, she was able to lap small amounts of glucose and electrolyte fluid from a syringe.
Despite all actions taken she stayed this way all through the day and overnight with Stelle again to make sure everything possible was done to help Indi. During the night concern grew as Indi was now showing neurological problems, in particular her vision was now affected. Everyone was in despair.
As dawn broke, Stelle couldn’t believe her eyes as Indi got up to greet her.
Wow, this courageous little dog had improved beyond belief, her vision was 80% back to normal, and she was on her feet and out of her nursing crate, taking a gentle walk in the garden with Stelle’s dog Torres. When indoors she was happy to have cuddles with an overjoyed Stelle who hardly dared to believe that maybe she was going to be ok. Indi started to eat solid food again and enjoyed time snuggling with both humans and canines. Saturday night came and Indi was clearly feeling so much better and not keen to go back in her nursing crate so Stelle’s daughter’s bed it was, for the night.
Finally Indi was ready to go home to her delighted owners.
We strongly suspect that the toxin that had made Indi so ill was Xylitol.
Xylitol is a natural, sugar-free sweetener commonly found in many chewing gums, mints, foods (e.g., pudding and gelatin snacks, etc.), oral rinses, toothpastes, and OTC supplements (e.g., sugar-free multivitamins, fish oils, etc.). The xylitol content of these products can vary widely depending on brand and flavur. In dogs, smaller ingestions can cause an acute, life-threatening low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) within 10-15 minutes. Larger ingestions can result in acute liver necrosis and liver failure. Signs of xylitol poisoning in dogs include weakness, lethargy, collapse, vomiting, trembling, seizures, jaundice, malaise, black tarry stool, and even coma or death.
Walter and Stelle continued to monitor Indi’s health carefully for the next few weeks and 4 weeks after she went home. Thankfully her bloods had returned to within normal limits.
Now six months old, Indi is a normal bouncy Cocker Spaniel and completely back to full health.