The Veterinary Centre

Henley and Twyford

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Case Notes: Lolly and Methaldehyde Poisoning
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Lolly, a twelve week old Chocolate Labrador puppy, was admitted to the hospital at Midnight one Friday. Her owner had telephoned to say that she was salivating lots and shaking and seemed distressed. By the time she arrived at the surgery she was seizuring.

Although she was still standing, all her muscles were twitching violently and she was salivating profusely. She was also hypersensitive to touch and sound and light. Head Nurse Sarah immediately administered a Diazepam rectal tube and then dimmed the light in the consulting room which helped to settle her down a bit. We were unsure what had triggered this seizure, out of the blue, in an otherwise healthy pup. It could be primary epilepsy - unusual for that to show up so early in life but not impossible. It could be a symptom of systemic illness - Distemper virus or a congenital liver shunt came to mind but she was vaccinated against the former and had shown none of the classic warning signs of the latter. Or it could be a poison, of which “Slug Bait” (methaldehyde) is the one we encounter most commonly as a cause of fits. The owner had not used any slug pellets in his own garden but the pup had got into next-door's garden, earlier in the day.

Lolly was admitted so that we could monitor and control the seizuring. Bloods were run through our in-house lab. to rule out any metabolic problems which might result in fitting (we get these results within less than 30 minutes in an emergency situation such as this). Lolly was set up on a drip and incremental Diazepam given intravenously to effect. This soon settled her down and she was able to dose quietly for a while.

Photo:

Nursing Assistant Laura - known as “Lolly” - holds a much improved “Lolly” puppy on Saturday morning.

 

Fitting burns up a lot of energy and so may result in low blood sugar levels, especially in youngsters. Lolly was offered a small breakfast at about 1.30am - she woofed it down as if she hadn't eaten for a week! Once settled she was transferred to a portable cage and carried upstairs to the nurses bedroom where Sarah could keep a constant eye on her and her drip. She had a top up of Diazepam at 2am, when she started to get twitchy and dribbly again, and by 4am she was looking more like a normal puppy. Come 7am she was bouncing around her cage like the little hooligan she really is! A second breakfast was served which, once again, did not touch the sides. She went home later that day having made a complete recovery.

By the time they collected Lolly the owners had reinforced their garden fencing to Colditz standards. They had made enquiries of their neighbour and found that he had, indeed, used slug pellets all around his garden so we were pretty certain that methaldehyde poisoning was the cause of Lolly's seizures. A rather larger dose would probably have killed her or at least caused permanent brain damage.

Lessons to be learnt:-
Slug pellets containing methaldehyde are highly toxic to pets and also to wild animals – don't use them or, if you absolutely must use them, then make sure that animals cannot gain access to the treated area or to wherever the bait is stored.

If you see your pet eating slug pellets or even suspect that he or she may have eaten them (they are usually dyed a bluey green colour which may stain the animals mouth or later his stool) then call us. If we can induce vomiting before the poison has been absorbed we will have saved your pet (and you) great distress.

If a pet who has never had a fit before suddenly goes into one, or anything that you think might be some sort of seizure, then call us.

 

 

 

   
Henley Vets and Twyford Vets
The Veterinary Centre: 271 Reading Road, Henley-on-Thames, RG9 1EL - Phone 01491 574490
Also at Twycombe Lodge, Loddon Hall Road, Twyford, RG10 9JA - Phone 0118 934 0259