When I saw the daily prompt word for today, Froth, I didn’t first think of frothy cappuccinos or foamy beer.
I thought of one of the worst cases of canine poisoning I’ve ever seen. It was many years ago on a Saturday morning. The veterinary clinic I worked at was only open until noon on Saturdays but we rarely made it out by noon. It seems Saturday was a common day to have an emergency at 11:45 pm and this day was no exception.
I was notified by the receptionist that a dog was being brought in on the stretcher by our technicians. It didn’t look good and was having convulsions. I ran ahead into the exam room as the technicians rushed the seizuring dog down the hallway.
Besides the violent continual tonic convulsions, I noticed fully dilated pupils, diarrhea seeping from the dog’s hind end, urine pouring from the penis. I also noticed a white frothy foam all around the dog’s mouth as well as copious amounts of saliva oozing from cyanotic mucous membranes in the mouth. All of these “liquids” were pooling up on the dark green vinyl animal stretcher. It’s like every single orifice from this dog had something oozing from it. Like multiple spigots had been turned on inside the dog and left on.
I had never seen so much saliva come out of one dog. It was unbelievable that there could even be that much.
As I hurriedly reached for the diazepam, I asked the veterinarian standing beside me in the exam room if he had ever seen anything like this. He told me he hadn’t. I’d seen several strychnine poisoning cases which were similar, but nothing to this degree. The dog expired before I could even draw the diazepam up into the syringe.
I consulted with a veterinary toxicologist who told me we had seen a textbook case of metaldehyde poisoning. Metaldehyde is a common poison used in snail and slug bait. Ingestion of very small quantities can be deadly to pets. There is no antidote or treatment for metaldehyde poisoning, only symptomatic treatment.