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Attention Dog-Lovers

My mother kept her friend Anne's three dogs while Anne was in Florida visiting her mother. While the dogs were with my mother, one of them, Sammy, started feeling a little under the weather. Anne got the dogs back on Sunday.

By Tuesday, Anne reported that Sammy (a very active Shih-Tzu) got listless and lethargic and her eyes, tongue, the insides of her ears, and her belly all turned yellow. She was throwing up, as well, so Anne rushed her to the emergency vet.

The vet felt that Sammy had eaten something while outside at my mother's house that was extremely toxic. It attacked her liver, whatever it was. The vet seemed to think it might be a mushroom, a certain type of lizard, or a species of palm, which are all known liver toxins that are possibly found in central Alabama, but it could easily have been something else. He quizzed my mother extensively over the phone. She searched the yard very carefully, but found nothing.

No one knows exactly what it was except Sammy, and she sort of can't tell us much. My mother is almost as upset as Anne because whatever Sammy ate, she ate it on my mother's watch, and she's torn up with guilt. My mother headed to Anne's yesterday to help keep the other dogs from attacking Sammy. It seems that dogs, by nature, will attack another dog if they sense weakness, and Anne's other dogs were already starting to try to fight her. My mother took Oliver along (he's a Shih-Tzu and he's so laid back he's almost catatonic), but left Sissy-Belle and Lucky at the vet.

The vets...aren't saying whether or not Sammy will make it. She's been to the emergency clinic twice, her normal vet, and is now on her way to Auburn University, where they have some of the best veterinarians in the southeast. They really don't want to operate because of the chance of infection with her being so weak.

I post this not for sympathy or whatever, but to urge you to be observant about what's in your yard if you have dogs or cats that spend most of their time indoors and some outdoors. Many things are toxic to dogs and cats that are not toxic to us (e.g. onions, chocolate, raisins, poinsettias, caladiums) or that we don't eat (like lizards and bits of palm), and dogs are notoriously stupid about eating things they shouldn't.

If you see mushrooms in your yard, get rid of them before your dog makes a snack out of something that might kill it. Google for things toxic to your pets and be on the lookout for them.

Sammy is a member of our family, and we're all upset that this happy little barky "cheerleader" of a dog may or may not live, and the knowledge that she might have prevented it had she known what to look for is preying on my mother big-time, although Anne doesn't blame her at all.

Sammy seems to be feeling better than she was, but her numbers don't look good at all, and she's dreadfully weak. It's pretty much up to the vets and Sammy, at this point.

Just as an aside: we do not at this time have any reason to suspect that anyone deliberately poisoned Sammy. It did occur to us both. The little dogs are all very barky and Sammy is arguably the worst of the bunch, but my mother lives in a neighborhood with no close neighbors, and they're only barky for short periods during the day and early evening: they come in at night. Maybe the Auburn vets will be able to tell us what toxic substance she ate and we can then either eliminate poison altogether or reconsider it.


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( 4 hisses — Hiss at me! )
Jun. 5th, 2008 09:10 pm (UTC)
Jun. 5th, 2008 09:14 pm (UTC)
Also, did you know antifreeze is poison?

It's sweet and smells good to animals. A neighbor may have left soem out and not realized a dog would eat it.

I also had some folks mow my lawn and when they saw snakes, suggested I put out mothballs. A bit of googling showed me that not only are mothballs useless at repelling snakes, but also very toxic to the livers of house pets.

Maybe one of your mom's neighbors put out mothballs to deter snakes?

I'm just brainstorming....going into problem solving mode is kind of how I deal with sad things.

Poor dog. I hope for the best. Lots of *hugs* for your mom. Having an animal get hurt or die while I'm petsitting is one of my worst nightmares.
Jun. 5th, 2008 09:24 pm (UTC)
Thanks for your suggestions and the hugs. :)

We considered those kinds of things, as did the vet, but the yard is completely fenced and the dogs have never been outside the fence. There would be no way for anything like antifreeze or mothballs to accidentally (and here is where the deliberate poisoning came to mind) get in her back yard. That's why the vet started focusing on more natural toxins.
Jun. 5th, 2008 11:02 pm (UTC)
We came -very- close to losing a cat that had drunk some water that a piece of onion had been floating in, which is how I learned that onions are poisonous to them. Thank you for posting a reminder to people. I hope Sammy is okay!!
( 4 hisses — Hiss at me! )

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