Saturday, 18 October 2008

Anti Freeze

Yayyyy a day off, I have not had a day off for 2 weeks. I can chill, sleep in and be lazy, catch up on emails and do all those jobs l have not had a chance to do. Well l can think about doing them, does not mean l will them.
Back working tomorrow and then off down the middle of the country to the referral centre about 4am Monday morning. This is so l can avoid the M6 traffic snarl up and be bright eyed and bushy tailed as the old saying goes to start the days work.


It was a Sunday night and l was at home getting ready for work on the 22:00 – 8am shift when reception rang, they were busy and asked me to buy some pots of yogurt on the way in for a patient, then they rang off.
I could not think of any animals that needed such a food. l stopped at the corner shop and bought several strawberry and cherry flavours, as no one had mentioned flavours or amount.

At work l found out the lucky or unlucky drinker of this buyout. Max a young Alsatian pup, about 4 months old. He had been in the garden and found he could nose the garage side door open. In there he had discovered the yummy sugar taste of anti freeze (ethylene glycol). His owner noticed the door open to the garage an hour or so later, saw the patch of anti freeze gone from where he dripped it when he had been adding it to the car, and rushed him straight in.

Anti freeze has an ingredient called ethylene glycol which is one of those evil poisons that need not be. With modern chemicals it is not needed. Those that do use it in anti freeze could add a nasty tasting and smelling chemical of some kind, to mask the sweet sugar flavour. The manufactures won’t do this though for some reason.
Anti Freeze poisoning causes many thousands of animals to die a nasty, needless death. The kidneys fail then the central nervous system. Once symptoms show it is too late.

If you are in time, time being the main word in all toxicity cases, very often you do not realise poison has been taken till to late, and then it can be a guessing game.
There are couple of antidotes to anti freeze/ethylene glycol poisoning. One is not usually on the shelf.
The second antidote is easy to get, alcohol. In Max’s case a bottle of vodka had been bought in.
The alcohol mixes with the ethylene glycol and helps remove it from the body.
You do need other medications but they are usually in stock at the average vets.

Max was on a drip and wearing a buster collar. The infamous “head bucket” to stop him getting to the iv and pulling out again.
A set amount of vodka/kg had to be fed to him every hour but he did not like the taste. Someone had tried some yogurt mixed into the vodka and he loved it.

The 10hours of my shift was marked for hourly Max medication breaks, giving him his vodka/yogurt cocktail. He rather liked the cherry yogurt, was not so keen on the strawberry flavour, but it all went down. Being a puppy he was not to fussy if it tasted almost nice then that would do.
He had been on the mix about 5 hours before l got in and had to be on it for 24hrs +.

About 6am l tried to take him out his kennel, give him a quick walk and a new bed. He sort of fell out of the kennel, the buster collar pinned to the floor making him look like he was playing ostriches and hiding his head in the ground, and he staggered in a circle, the collar keeping him almost upright.
Poor lad was paralytic l took off the buster collar no chance he would see straight enough to remove his iv, the walk was also cancelled.
One of the symptoms of anti freeze poisoning is staggering as if drunk, but the vet was happy enough in Max’s case it was alcohol not ethylene related.

Max was in for some time. He had a lot of blood tests to check his liver and kidney etc functions on a twice daily then daily, weekly and finally a monthly basis, although by now he was home.
He recovered, he was lucky, he survived anti freeze toxicity, most dogs and cats don’t.

His owner reported he had developed a love of yogurt, they were warned not to give any alcohol to him. They only use yogurt for a small treat for special occasions, apparently it has proved to be a useful bribe.

If you suspect that your pet might have had something toxic. Contact the vet and let them know. Have all details to hand when you ring if there is any paperwork, containers read out the ingredients, inform them of the species, breed, age and when it may have had the poison.
If need be the vet practice can ring Poisons Information Unit for advice. Very often calls must be made to PIU to find out how to treat the problem.

Ringing up first allows the vet to decide if you need to come in, was an item toxic or not and if you have to go in, to get things set up for when you arrive.
Take all paper work, containers in to the vet's as well, they can double check that nothing else was in the ingredients you may have missed when you were worrying.

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