Friday evening, way after our regular vet had already closed for the night, we had an emergency at our house. Up until the point of the emergency, it had been a nice quiet night. I’m doing a little cleaning, a little organizing and a few random projects around the house. I head downstairs to do some laundry and Spencer follows me down. I finish, turn off the lights and head back up. I notice that Spencer isn’t following me up, which is unusual as he’s not one to want to be downstairs by himself, especially without any lights on. So I turn around and head back down. I find him in the dog playroom, comfortably lounging on the floor. He turns and looks at me and there are green bits all around his mouth and on his front paws. I scream NO loud enough for every being in the house to come to the top of the stairs and look down at us. The little green bits were what had been a cube of mouse poison before Spencer started eating it.
It was one of those things that happens to lots of people, but I really never thought it would happen to me. I was careful, I didn't leave the mouse poison in reach of the dogs, it was behind a closed door, but even with all of the precautions a person can take, things can still go wrong.
So, I scream no, rush Spencer upstairs and into the kitchen. I know that I need to make him vomit but in order to do that we need to get hydrogen peroxide down his throat. I have no syringe, I have no turkey baster, I have nothing to get the liquid down. The boyfriend, in a moment of ingenuity, cuts the end off of a replacement dog toy squeaker. He pours the hydrogen peroxide into the squeaker, I open Spencer’s jaw and the boyfriend squeezes the squeaker into his mouth and the hydrogen peroxide is going down Spencer’s throat before he has any idea what is going on. He looks at us as if we’ve gone to the other side of crazy, whatever that might be. And then one minute later, his little body is heaving and green/blue bile is coming up.
Even though I knew that I had to make him vomit, that he had to get the poison out of his system, seeing him get sick again and again filled me with guilt. Making a dog feel sickness or pain, even if it is necessary to save their lives, is a horrible feeling. And when my little guy has vomited to the point of clear bile and has nothing left in him, he huddles in the corner of the kitchen. He finally gets it, he finally realizes what all of the commotion was about just before he got sick. He put two and two together and knows that we made him sick.
But now that he’s done vomiting, instead of comforting him, I’m on the phone with the emergency vet. We’re trying to decide the next steps and whether he needs to go in. It’s decided that since Spencer only had the mouse poison in him for about 5 minutes before it was expelled, that the only thing that the emergency vet could do would be to make him vomit again and to fill his stomach with activated charcoal. So we don’t bring him in. We give him a bowl full of milk, because milk can help to impede the absorption of certain chemicals, and we now get to wait and watch him. For 48 hours we have to wait. That’s because if there are any effects from the mouse poison, it won’t show up for 48 hours. So we’re told to wait. And we’re given the symptoms that we should watch for that would show us that Spencer is bleeding internally – vomiting blood, blood in the urine, bloody nose.
That night, and the next two, Spencer sleeps with us in the bed. And it’s as if he can tell that his mama is worried because that first night his little body spoons my chest and the back of his neck is buried in my shoulder. I wrap my arms around him and hold him tight.
There’s nothing like looking at a being that you love and being utterly helpless to do anything to help them or to even know if anything is wrong with them. That’s how I felt the entire weekend. I watched him. Did he seem off? Was he eating less? Was he lethargic? Was that a whimper?
Fast forward 48 hours, Spencer is at his regular vet. He has blood drawn and tested to see how fast it will coagulate. Spencer’s coagulation rate is outside of the acceptable range so he is given vitamin K medication that he will take for the next 21 days. Because the mouse poison was so old, and because I have no idea the brand or the chemical composition, the vet gives me all of the warning signs and symptoms to look for. If a see any of them, Spence and I are to return asap.
Spencer has this way of doing such a good job of making me feel like a horrible dog mama. He is my special boy who every 6-12 months makes a trip to the emergency vet. My girl, she’s never been to the vet except for her annual visits. I swear that Murphy’s law has it out for Spencer…There was the time that he ate the pork chop bone and it made it all the way to the VERY end of his system before it got stuck…The time he had a blockage in his intestine…The time where he was too impatient to wait for me to get the grocery bag out of the car and out of his way and so decided to try to jump over it and ended up spraining his paw…There are his allergies that can cause him to reverse sneeze for hours and hours…
Spencer is just special like that. If he were a human boy he would be the kid sticking pencils and screwdrivers into electrical outlets. He’d be the kid jumping out of the tree with a towel tied around his shoulders because he is convinced that he can fly. Yes, my little beagle boy is just too inquisitive, too curious, too determined and too smart for his own good. If he were my human boy I’d be wondering if I shouldn’t wrap him in bubble wrap and put a helmet on him, all for his own protection.
Since I know that I cannot protect him from everything, I know that I need to be as prepared as possible. After our incident, I did a lot of online research and found a recommended emergency first aid kit. This is what the ASPCA lists in their emergency first aid kit, and what I am in the process of putting together in a very handy and accessible place in our home:
The kit should contain:
• A fresh bottle of hydrogen peroxide, 3 percent USP (to induce vomiting)
• A turkey baster, bulb syringe or large medicine syringe (to administer peroxide)
• Saline eye solution
• Artificial tear gel (to lubricate eyes after flushing)
• Mild grease-cutting dishwashing liquid (for bathing an animal after skin contamination)
• Forceps (to remove stingers)
• A muzzle (to protect against fear- or excitement-induced biting)
• A can of your pet’s favorite wet food
• A pet carrier
Here's to hoping that Spencer, and your dogs, won't need to use the emergency first aid kit, but that we're all prepared just in case. We're also waving a white flag of surrender at the mice who are in our home for this season. They win this round. I need to do more research and find a method that works best for all of the beings in our home and that I am completely fine with using.