As a Beagle, Daisy is full of energy and curiosity. A few weeks ago, this nearly got her into life-threatening trouble in an unexpected way.
Karl had brought some home-made modelling mixture (similar to Play-Doh) home with him after school. This had been made in the classroom using a mixture of flour, salt and water. A big dollop of the mix had been put into a plastic bag for Karl to play with at home, and he’d left it on the dressing table in his bedroom.
Daisy must have smelt the food-like scent of the mixture: she loves her food. She climbed onto Karl’s bed, then leapt from there onto the dressing room table. She seized the bag containing the mixture, and jumped down to the ground with it. She then tore it open, and scoffed the lot. When Karl went into the bedroom, all that was left was the torn remnants of the plastic bag. He told his step-mum straight away, and at first she wasn’t too worried. Daisy seemed fine, and she didn’t think there would be a problem.
Twenty minutes later, it became obvious that all was not well. Daisy began to drink loads of water, draining her bowl, and then looking for more. She also began to lick the floor and the walls compulsively. It was clear that she wasn’t feeling at all well.
Karl’s step-mum googled “what to do if a dog eats home-made Play-Doh” and to her surprise, she discovered that this was a genuine emergency. Modelling mixtures of this type contain so much salt that if a dog eats a dollop, then can easily end up with a life threatening type of toxicity known as “salt poisoning”. This is a rare type of poisoning, seen in unusual circumstances such as Daisy’s, as well as when dogs drink large amounts of seawater at the beach. Vets know that it’s an emergency, but most owners don’t discover this until it’s too late and their pet is seriously ill.
The ingestion of large quantities of salt causes the sodium level in the blood stream to become so elevated that the dog’s normal metabolism is seriously affected. Dogs with salt poisoning start off by drinking huge quantities of water, and if nothing is done, they become dull and depressed, they develop weakness and muscle twitching. If untreated, they can go on to have seizures before passing into a coma, and even dying.
Karl’s step-mum called the after-hours veterinary service, then drove Daisy in to the Pet Emergency Hospital based at UCD in Belfield. Daisy was given medication to cause her to vomit, removing all traces of the modelling mixture from her stomach. She then had a series of blood samples taken to monitor her blood sodium levels, and she was put onto intravenous fluids to flush her system out. Poor Daisy was very unwell, vomiting repeatedly and feeling miserable. Eventually, the emergency vets were happy that Daisy had passed the critical stage, and Karl’s step-mum went to collect her at two in the morning.
It took her a couple of days to get over the crisis: she vomited a couple more times, eating grass in the back garden, and not having her normal high energy levels. But she’s a robust, energetic dog, and she was soon back to full health. She even went into Karl’s bedroom, looking hopefully at the dressing table. Karl never plans to bring modelling mixture home again, and if he does, he will make sure that it’s locked away, well out of the reach of his hungry hound.