When the phone call starts that way, I am often skeptical. People often blame poisoning for everything from cancer to parvovirus diarrhea. How do you know it's been poisoned? Did you leave poison out where your dog could get it? Did you see him eat it? Before I could ask any of my questions, the owner told me that another dog had died with the same symptoms two weeks ago. "He's drooling like crazy, and having convulsions. He has vomited and passed diarrhea. He can't get up and I think he's dying." You know how in old Westerns they used to say "Shoot first and ask questions afterward"? At this point I'm thinking, let's get him into the hospital and ask questions afterward.
So here's Brutus. He's pretty much just lying there, except for the constant severe muscle tremors that you can't see in a still picture. Those tremors are why his temperature is 106. He certainly has all the signs of exposure to a toxin affecting the nervous system. It's not carbamates or organophosphates because his pupils are dilated. Could be permethrin or something similar, maybe slug bait. No way to tell really, so it's on to supportive care. I. V. fluids, atropine for the salivation, and plenty of valium for the seizures and tremors.
Once we got him calmed down and quasi-stable, further questioning revealed that Brutus had escaped the yard, allegedly in search of romance. When the owner caught up with him, he was down and out. Turns out his deceased buddy had also escaped the yard prior to his demise. I'm thinking that would have put me to work some overtime on the fence situation, but now we've got to worry about what we're going to do after the fact.
Brutus got relatively quiet, though his muscles were still quivering like a sack of snakes. At the risk of having it vomited all over me, I administered good old Toxiban + Sorbitol. This is as close to the "universal antidote" as we have. First of all, we really don't know for sure what Brutus got into, and for a lot of toxins there really is no specific antidote. This stuff is activated charcoal, which acts like a "chemical sponge" to catch toxins that are still in the gut. This should keep more from getting into his bloodstream and making things worse. The sorbitol is a cathartic, to shoot the stuff on through and get rid of it. A little messy, to be sure, but "a man's gotta do what a man's gotta do".
In the hospital, it's not that much of a problem, but if you send somebody home full of this, you have to warn the people that he's either going to vomit "black paint" or possibly have diarrhea like "black paint". It will darn sure ruin clothing or carpet. Inexplicably, some people don't take this warning seriously and destruction ensues.
Anyhow, I spent all Sunday morning with Brutus, missed church, missed Sunday luncheon, too. By noonish he was getting pretty stable. By evening he didn't look great, but he was holding his head up and looking like he might get over it. Evidently, he didn't get enough poison to kill him outright, and we got the rest of it flushed out. His body's natural defenses came through (with some help from me).