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Winnie’s self medication

By Helen Burns | Dated October 26, 2019

Whilst many of us will take a paracetamol tablet, or have a cup of coffee without hesitation, these seemingly innocuous agents can be highly toxic when consumed by a dog or cat. Last week, Winnie’s owner arrived home and noticed the box of paracetamol + caffeine tablets sitting chewed up in Winnie the Shih Tzu’s bed. She was straight on the phone to us, and brought Winnie in immediately.

As unpleasant as it is, Winnie was given medication to make her vomit,  to hopefully clear as much of the paracetamol and caffeine out. Unfortunately, both these compounds are absorbed rapidly, so we were concerned that in no way was she out of danger. Once the vomiting stopped, Winnie was then syringe fed a mixture of charcoal and sorbitol. As you can probably imagine, trying to syringe black liquid into a dog’s mouth just after she has finished vomiting could potentially be a messy process, however Winie took it all in her stride. Now we weren’t giving her a sweet drink to wash the vomit taste out! The charcoal acts to bind toxins in the intestines and the sorbitol acts as a cathartic and laxative, to keep it all moving through and out the other end quickly. Intravenous fluids and a night in hospital completed the treatment to try to flush the toxins out.

Dogs are quite sensitive to the effects of both caffeine and paracetamol, and with their small size, it takes a relatively small amount of these substances to make them very ill. And who can say off the top of their head, just how many paracetamol tablets are left in their current pack?

The pathways used by dogs and cats to metabolise paracetamol are exhausted quickly in the face of an overdose, which leads to both liver damage and damage to red blood cells.

Caffeine as we know is a stimulant. In pets, because of the comparatively higher dose, they are at risk of developing a rapid heart rate, heart arrhythmias, tremors and seizures.

The beautiful Winnie was a lovely little patient, and coped well with all of her treatment. She was very well behaved for her blood tests, and whilst there was some evidence of mild liver damage, it improved during her stay, so she was sent home to recover fully.

 

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Written by Helen Burns

Helen graduated from Sydney Uni in 1997 with First Class Honours and worked in a practice on the Northern Beaches for 16 years. Helen joined the Gordon Vet team early in 2014 and our clients have really enjoyed getting to know her. She loves being a vet and takes a keen interest in all of her patients. Her gentle, friendly nature helps pets to feel relaxed when they visit the vet. Helen lives locally and has 3 children. At least one of her children seems destined to be a vet! When not ferrying her children around, Helen cares for her menagerie of pets. These include Chloe the dog, Obi and Leia the cats, Little Cocky the galah and Rosie the very tame eclectus parrot who all happily coexist at her house. In her spare time, Helen likes to be active outdoors, running, kayaking, camping or playing any manner of sport with her children.

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Lihong Xing
Lihong Xing
05:00 05 Nov 18
Highly recommend Dr David, Scott, Helen, and Catherine, I've taken my cat to see all the doctors here.
Vishal Kapoor
Vishal Kapoor
01:52 04 Sep 18
Really amazing staff members. Their systems and processes are also very
Arezu A
Arezu A
03:20 15 Feb 18
Absolutely love the service here. I switched from other Vets to this Vet as the staff here are quite attentive and really care about your furry baby! I have basically seen most of the Dr's here and all of them so far have been fantastic, friendly and fun to speak with! Easy to locate and enough parking available! 5 Stars indeed!
Gerry Stevens
Gerry Stevens
11:01 14 Jul 18
Good competant vet. Did what I needed. Staff friendly. Cat's well.
Jeremy Tarbox
Jeremy Tarbox
22:55 10 Sep 18
We found a stray, agitated dog in front of our house last night. We phoned but got no help from the Council ranger who gave two options: tie him up in front yard overnight or "let him loose, he'll find his own way home" :( So we phoned Gordon Vet: they stayed open a few minutes so we could run him up and he could have a bed and dinner. Thank you Gordon Vet Hospital, hope he gets home soon!!! :)
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