Dog Emergencies – Swallowed Poisons

Article from Pet MD:
Dogs will put almost anything in their mouths, and may view something as simple as a weekly pill holder as a plastic chew toy. Unfortunately, this means they are prone to swallowing all manner of poisonous materials — most cause unpleasant side effects, but some can be fatal without treatment.
When in doubt, pet proof your home and avoid self-administering over-the-counter medications without first consulting your veterinarian. And if you think your pet may have ingested something poisonous, call your veterinarian or a pet poison helpline immediately!

What To Watch For

Clinical signs will vary depending on the type of poison swallowed. They can be as mild as generalized lethargy, malaise, and weakness to gastrointestinal signs like vomiting, diarrhea, drooling, and nausea. More severe signs can include agitation, excessive sedation, tremors, twitching, seizures, or even coma. Because symptoms vary, always call your veterinarian or the Pet Poison Helpline at 1-855-213-6680 for help.

Primary Cause

Most poisons are ingested by accident, when an inquisitive dog finds unsecured substances lying around. Sometimes, owners may self-medicate their pet, only to find out days later, when their pet is symptomatic, that the medication is poisonous to pets due to their altered ability to metabolize certain drugs.

Immediate Care

  • If your pet has accidentally ingested something poisonous, immediately remove him or her from the source of poison. However, you first must determine if it is safe to do so. Some substances require special safety equipment for handling (i.e., rubber gloves, masks, etc.).
  • If possible, identify the poison and have the contents available for your veterinarian to evaluate. Having the labels and/or containers of the material or medication is extremely helpful, too.
  • If the dog has vomited, gather a sample of it in a plastic bag and save it for your veterinarian. It may be used for testing and analysis. However, never induce vomiting without consulting with your veterinarian or the Pet Poison Helpline at 1-855-213-6680 first, especially if it is unconscious. Certain types of poisons can be made worse when vomiting is induced.
  • Contact the Pet Poison Helpline on the way to the veterinarian or emergency clinic. It may help you relay important information to the doctors.

Instructions for poisoning with household products:

Some common types of household products include acids, alkalies, or petroleum-based hydrocarbons such as:

  • Drain cleaner
  • Oven cleaner
  • Toilet cleaner
  • Dishwasher granules/tablets
  • Laundry soaps/detergents
  • Kerosene
  • Gasoline
  • Paint thinner
  • Paint stripper/remover
  • Lye
  • Furniture polish
  • Floor polish
  • Shoe polish
  • Wood preservative
  • Caustic soda
  • Chlorine bleach

If your pet is exposed to any of these products:

  • Stay calm!
  • Contact a veterinarian immediately and tell them you are on your way; this will allow them to prepare for your arrival.
  • Move your pet to a safe area (away from the poison), if possible.
  • Check to see if your dog is breathing. If not, perform CPR on the animal.
  • If your pet begins to tremor or convulse, move her to a safe area where she won’t injury herself(away from stairs or furniture).
  • Always take the dog to the vet as soon as possible, as your vet may need to pump your dog’s stomach (called “gastric lavage”) or administer activated charcoal to bind up any toxins in the stomach.

Instructions for poisoning with acids, alkalies, and petroleum products:

If your pet swallowed anything caustic (i.e., acids or alkalies), do not administer home remedies. Neutralizing the chemical ingestion can, in and of itself, cause a chemical reaction, which can further aggravate the dog’s injuries.

  • Instead, flush your pet’s mouth out with tepid water for 15 to 20 minutes by using a shower head or kitchen sink spray hose. Try not to point the hose to the back of the mouth, though. The water may go into the lungs, which can complicate the situation. It is better to clean the mouth from different angles.
  • Never induce vomiting without consulting a veterinarian or the Pet Poison Helpline first, as sometimes you can make your pet worse by inducing vomiting.
  • Burns in the mouth often take hours to show up. Just because you don’t see any injury, doesn’t mean it’s not occurring! Also, burns may only show up in the esophagus or stomach, where you can’t visualize them.
  • If your pet is unconscious, seek immediately veterinary care!
  • If your pet swallowed a petroleum product, do not induce vomiting. This can make your pet worse, and these substances are easy to aspirate into the lungs, making your pet develop a potentially severe aspiration pneumonia.
  • If the dog has licked the substance, refer to Burns and Scalding for treatment of chemical burns in the mouth.

Other important points to consider:

If your veterinarian recommends inducing vomiting, use fresh, non-expired, bubbly hydrogen peroxide as directed by your veterinarian. It is no longer recommended to use syrup of ipecac, salt, or any home remedies, as this can make your pet worse.
Do not administer activated charcoal products that you have at home – these aren’t as effective as what your veterinarian can give
If your veterinarian or emergency clinic cannot be reached, call an animal poison helpline.


Treat your dog as you would a young, inquisitive child:

  • Crate train your dog — this is the best way to prevent accidental toxicities!
  • Pet proof your house adequately, making sure all dangerous substances (i.e., medication, chemicals, household products) are stored in secured cabinets or closets, out of reach of inquisitive paws and noses.
  • Do not allow your dog to play in areas where chemicals are stored.
  • Keep the garage floor or parking space free of oil, antifreeze, and petroleum products, even minor spills. Antifreeze is especially toxic and enticing to dogs because of its sweet taste, and should be stored away securely.
  • Store your medication in a separate area from your pets’ medications. This will help prevent you from giving your own medications to your pet by accident.
  • Carefully read the label of the prescription vial to make sure you’re administering the correct drug to your pet.
  • If you keep pills in a weekly pill holder, make sure to put this in an elevated cabinet, instead of on the kitchen counter. Dogs view these as plastic chew toys (they even rattle inside with all those pills!), and can easily chew through this.
  • Do not store your pills in a plastic storage bag (i.e., Ziploc) — these can easily be chewed through, exposing your dog to many medications all at once.


From Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine. Original link:

Canine Cushing’s Disease

This information is not meant to be a substitute for veterinary care. Always follow the instructions provided by your veterinarian.
Cushing’s disease (hyperadrenocorticism) is the overproduction of the hormone cortisol by the adrenal glands that are located in the belly near the kidneys. Cushing’s disease occurs commonly in dogs, but is rare in cats. Most dogs with Cushing’s disease are about 6 years old or older but sometimes Cushing’s disease occurs in younger dogs. Cortisol affects the function of many organs in the body, so the signs of Cushing’s disease may be varied. Some of the more common signs of Cushing’s disease include hair loss, pot-bellied appearance, increased appetite, and increased drinking and urination called polydipsia and polyuria (PU/PD). Hair loss caused by Cushing’s disease occurs primarily on the body, sparing the head and legs. The skin is not usually itchy as it is with other skin diseases. If you pick up a fold of skin on a dog with Cushing’s disease, you may notice that the skin is thinner than normal. The pet may have fragile blood vessels and may bruise easily.
Less common signs of Cushing’s disease are weakness, panting, and an abnormal way of walking (stiff or standing or walking with the paws knuckled over). Some dogs with Cushing’s disease develop a blood clot to the lungs and show a rapid onset of difficulty breathing.
Dogs that are given prednisone or similar drugs can develop signs that look like Cushing’s disease (called iatrogenic Cushing’s).
There are two types of Cushing’s disease that are treated differently. The most common form of Cushing’s disease is caused by the overproduction of a hormone by the pituitary gland in the brain that in turn controls the amount of cortisol produced by the adrenal glands. This is called pituitary-dependent Cushing’s. A small percentage of dogs with Cushing’s disease have a tumor of one of the adrenal glands which is called adrenal-dependent Cushing’s.
There is no single test to diagnose Cushing’s disease. The history, physical exam, and results of initial blood and urine tests often provide a strong suspicion for the presence of Cushing’s disease. Laboratory tests that are most commonly altered by Cushing’s disease are an increase in white blood cell count, increase in the liver enzyme ALP (also called SAP or serum alkaline phosphatase), increased blood sugar (although not as high as the blood sugar levels of diabetic patients), increased cholesterol and dilute urine. See What Do Those Lab Tests Mean? for additional information about laboratory tests.
The large amount of cortisol in the body suppresses the immune system and allows the pet with Cushing’s disease to get bacterial infections. The most common location for infection is the bladder. Pets with Cushing’s disease may have a silent bladder infection meaning they don’t show signs of having the infection such as straining to urinate.  A culture of the urine may be necessary to diagnose the infection.
X-rays of the belly often show a large liver. Occasionally the x-ray will show calcium in the area of one of the adrenal glands that is suggestive of an adrenal tumor. Ultrasound of the belly may show enlargement of both adrenal glands in pets with pituitary-dependent Cushing’s or enlargement of just one of the adrenal glands in pets with an adrenal tumor. The adrenal glands are NOT always seen during an ultrasound exam in pets with Cushing’s. In some pets with an adrenal tumor, the tumor can be seen growing into large blood vessels close to the adrenal gland or spread from the tumor may be seen in the liver.
Specific tests for Cushing’s disease are performed to confirm the diagnosis and to determine the type of Cushing’s disease that is present, pituitary-dependent, or adrenal-dependent. Specific tests for Cushing’s disease have varied results. In some cases the results are clear cut and the diagnosis is made, but in other cases the test results are not clear cut and a series of tests must be performed. Some of the specific tests for Cushing’s disease include urine cortisol/creatinine ratio, low dose dexamethasone suppression test, high dose dexamethasone suppression test, and an ACTH stimulation test.
The treatment of the most common type of Cushing’s disease (pituitary-dependent) is lifelong oral medication. The most common drugs used to treat Cushing’s disease are  o, p’-DDD (also called Lysodren or mitotane) and Trilostane.  Occasionally ketoconazole or L-Deprenyl  are used to treat Cushing’s disease but are less effective than Trilostane or Mitotane.  o, p’-DDD is initially given daily or twice daily for about a week (sometimes more, sometimes less). The initial treatment is called induction. o, p’-DDD can have serious side effects, so pets being treated for Cushing’s disease must be closely watched. After induction o, p’-DDD is given less often, usually once or twice weekly for the life of the pet. Some pets will have a recurrence of signs of Cushing’s disease later in life, even though they are receiving o, p’-DDD. Trilostane tends to have fewer side effects than o, p’-DDD but is more expensive. Discuss with your veterinarian which treatment is best for your pet.
Treatment of adrenal dependent Cushing’s disease is by surgical removal of the cancerous adrenal gland. Adrenal gland tumors can spread to other parts of the body in which case all the cancer cannot be removed by surgery. Medical treatment may be given before surgery to reduce hormone levels before surgery. o, p’-DDD is not as effective in reducing signs in pets with adrenal-dependent Cushing’s disease as it is in pets with pituitary-dependent Cushing’s disease. Trilostane may be effective in controlling the signs of Cushing’s in some dogs with adrenal tumors.
The prognosis for pituitary-dependent Cushing’s disease with treatment is usually good. Some signs will disappear quickly and others gradually. Appetite and water consumption usually return to normal in a few weeks where as full return of the fur may take several months.

Canine Parvovirus Infection in Dogs


From Pet MD
The canine parvovirus (CPV) infection is a highly contagious viral illness that affects dogs. The virus manifests itself in two different forms. The more common form is the intestinal form, which is characterized by vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss, and lack of appetite (anorexia). The less common form is the cardiac form, which attacks the heart muscles of very young puppies, often leading to death. The majority of cases are seen in puppies that are between six weeks and six months old. The incidence of canine parvovirus infections has been reduced radically by early vaccination in young puppies.

Symptoms and Types

The major symptoms associated with the intestinal form of a canine parvovirus infection include severe, bloody diarrhea, lethargy, anorexia, fever, vomiting, and severe weight loss. The intestinal form of CPV affects the body’s ability to absorb nutrients, and an affected animal will quickly become dehydrated and weak from lack of protein and fluid absorption. The wet tissue of the mouth and eyes may become noticeably red and the heart may beat too rapidly. When your veterinarian palpates (examine by touch) your dog’s abdominal area, your dog may respond with pain or discomfort. Dogs that have contracted CPV may also have a low body temperature (hypothermia), rather than a fever.


Most cases of CPV infections are caused by a genetic alteration of the original canine parvovirus: the canine parvovirus type 2b. There are a variety of risk factors that can increase a dog’s susceptibility to the disease, but mainly, the virus is transmitted either by direct contact with an infected dog, or indirectly, by the fecal-oral route. Heavy concentrations of the virus are found in an infected dog’s stool, so when a healthy dog sniffs an infected dog’s stool, it will contract the disease. The virus can also be brought into a dog’s environment by way of shoes that have come into contact with infected feces. There is evidence that the virus can live in ground soil for up to a year. It is resistant to most cleaning products, or even to weather changes. If you suspect that you have come into contact with feces at all, you will need to wash the affected area with household bleach, the only disinfectant known to kill the virus.
Improper vaccination protocol and vaccination failure can also lead to a CPV infection. Breeding kennels and dog shelters that hold a large number of inadequately vaccinated puppies are particularly hazardous places. For unknown reasons, certain dog breeds, such as Rottweilers, Doberman Pinschers, Pit Bulls, Labrador Retrievers, German Shepherds, English Springer Spaniels, and Alaskan sled dogs, are particularly vulnerable to the disease. Diseases or drug therapies that suppress the normal response of the immune system may also increase the likelihood of infection.


CPV is diagnosed with a physical examination, biochemical tests, urine analysis, abdominal radiographs, and abdominal ultrasounds. A chemical blood profile and a complete blood cell count will also be performed. Low white blood cell levels are indicative of CPV infection, especially in association with bloody stools. Biochemical and urine analysis may reveal elevated liver enzymes, lymphopenia, and electrolyte imbalances. Abdominal radiograph imaging may show intestinal obstruction, while an abdominal ultrasound may reveal enlarged lymph nodes in the groin, or throughout the body, and fluid-filled intestinal segments.
You will need to give a thorough history of your pet’s health, recent activities, and onset of symptoms. If you can gather a sample of your dog’s stool, or vomit, your veterinarian will be able to use these samples for microscopic detection of the virus.


Since the disease is a viral infection, there is no real cure for it. Treatment is focused on curing the symptoms and preventing secondary bacterial infections, preferably in a hospital environment. Intensive therapy and system support are the key to recovery. Intravenous fluid and nutrition therapy is crucial in maintaining a dog’s normal body fluid after severe diarrhea and dehydration, and protein and electrolyte levels will be monitored and regulated as necessary. Medications that may be used in the treatment include drugs to curb vomiting (antiemetics), H2 Blockers to reduce nausea, antibiotics, and anthelmintics to fight parasites. The survival rate in dogs is about 70 percent, but death may sometimes result from severe dehydration, a severe secondary bacterial infection, bacterial toxins in the blood, or a severe intestinal hemorrhage. Prognosis is lower for puppies, since they have a less developed immune system. It is common for a puppy that is infected with CPV to suffer shock, and sudden death.

Living and Management

Even after your dog has recovered from a CPV infection, it will still have a weakened immune system, and will be susceptible to other illnesses. Talk to your veterinarian about ways by which you can boost your dog’s immune system, and otherwise protect your dog from situations that may make it ill. A diet that is easily digested will be best for your dog while it is recovering.
Your dog will also continue to be a contagion risk to other dogs for at least two months after the initial recovery. You will need to isolate your dog from other dogs for a period of time, and you may want to tell neighbors who have dogs that they will need to have their own pets tested. Wash all of the objects your dog uses (e.g., dishes, crate, kennel, toys) with non-toxic cleaners. Recovery comes with long-term immunity against the parvovirus, but it is no guarantee that your pet will not be infected with the virus again.


The best prevention you can take against CPV infection is to follow the correct protocol for vaccination. Young puppies should be vaccinated at six, nine, and twelve weeks, and should not be socialized with outside dogs until at least two weeks after their last vaccinations. High-risk breeds may require a longer initial vaccination period of up to 22 weeks.
Copyright © PetMD all right reserved.

From Web MD:
Little kids love spinning in place until they fall down. But when we’re talking about our dogs, there’s really no good reason for loss of balance.
So why do dogs fall down? Is it possible to treat loss of balance? And when should your canine companion see a vet?

When to See a Vet

Injury, stroke, poisoning, infections can all cause your dog to lose its balance. Because these things can be dangerous or even life-threatening, don’t hesitate to call your vet immediately if your dog is falling down.

Dog Loss of Balance: Common Causes and Treatments

A few of the more common causes of falling down in dogs include:
Vestibular Syndrome. Vestibular syndrome is caused by dysfunction of the inner ear. Because the symptoms occur suddenly, they are sometimes confused with symptoms of stroke. Along with loss of balance and falling over, signs may include head tilt, walking in circles, vomiting, nausea, and flicking of the eyes from side to side.
Treating vestibular syndrome depends on the cause. Many dogs need support for secondary symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, and dehydration.
Ear Infection. Inner ear infections are a common cause of dogs losing their balance. Other symptoms include head shaking and scratching, eye flicking, walking in circles. Often there may be redness, swelling, discharge, and odor associated with the affected ear.
Left untreated, infections of the external parts of the ear can move deeper, become more serious, and lead to complications like inner ear infection or meningitis. So always have your dog seen by a veterinarian if you suspect an ear infection. Treating ear infections may include a professional cleaning, topical medications, antibiotics, and possibly surgery for chronic or serious infections.
Injury. Injuries such as head trauma or damage to the inner ear can cause dogs to lose their balance. Your dog can’t tell you when it’s in pain, and dogs sometimes mask hurt with behaviors such as wagging their tail. So it’s important to be aware of canine signs of pain. They include slower reflexes, heavy panting, biting or licking the wounded area, anxiety, enlarged pupils, reluctance to lie down, and change in appetite.
Stroke. Strokes in dogs are fairly uncommon. But they do happen. A stroke can be caused by many things, including blood clots, hemorrhage, head trauma, high blood pressure, kidney disease, and even migrating worms. Symptoms of stroke in dogs include loss of balance, head tilt, circling, falling down, and loss of vision.
Treating stroke involves managing the underlying problem and preventing additional strokes. It also includes caring for the aftereffects of a stroke.
Tumors. Brain tumors are common in older dogs. They can also happen in younger dogs, especially boxers and Boston terriers. Brain tumors can lead to a loss of balance as well as a host of other symptoms.
The exact symptoms depend on the tumor and its location. They may include seizures, behavior changes, changes in appetite or thirst, signs of pain, head tilt, swaying, a wide stance, lack of coordination, head tremors, flicking of the eye, and pacing. Treating brain tumors may involve chemotherapy, radiation therapy, surgery, and other care.

Other Reasons for Loss of Balance in Dogs

Any process which causes inflammation of the brain — referred to as encephalitis — may cause a dog to lose its balance. Encephalitis can result from tick-borne diseases, fungal infections, protozoal infections, and many other causes. Other signs include fever and depression.
Your vet can help you and your pet share a long and happy life together. If you have any questions about your dog’s health, be sure to talk to your veterinarian about your concerns.