Taking both dogs to the vet to induce vomiting was not my idea of a relaxing start to the weekend.
When I came home from work Friday, it was apparent Tigger, our typically uncomplicated Golden Retriever, and Missie, our too-smart, Doberman had broken into the house while my husband and I were at work. When I entered our kitchen, I noticed a lone banana peel in a corner on the floor and the plastic carton of Costco plums was empty. Also, the spatula Mark had used for making pancakes earlier that morning was not on the island where he left it, but on the floor.
Spots of purple mush were ground into our brown and tan area rug under the kitchen table. It was like our own pets ransacked the place.
I know grapes can be toxic to dogs but I wasn’t sure about plums. A quick Google search confirmed that the fruit itself won’t hurt a dog but that the pits have cyanide in them. Yes, cyanide.
I called the vet’s office to see what I should do.
“Do you have any idea how many they’ve eaten?”
My husband guessed there were possibly six or seven plums left in the packaging.
“Are they acting unusual?” the receptionist asked.
“No, they’re acting like their happy little selves who want treats.”
She asked if I had any idea what time this took place, I said probably within the last hour.
“If you bring them in now we can induce vomiting and get it out of their system.”
As a dog and horse owner, I find it a struggle sometimes to know what the right thing to do is. I don’t want to be a hypochondriac pet owner seeking medical attention for every little thing. Some cuts and bumps heal on their own. And sometimes our animals are tougher than we think.
For example, my previous Doberman ate a large dark chocolate Ghirardelli candy bar–the really big one that no human should eat in one sitting. Everybody knows that chocolate is toxic to dogs. I was prepared for the worst. It was late at night when I realized this. She seemed perfectly normal. And would you believe, never vomited, had diarrhea or any ill effects. My plan was to wait and see and take her to the vet’s in the morning.
She was fine the next day. For whatever reason, it did not phase her.
“I’m running them over to the vet’s,” I told my husband.
The dogs were thrilled to go for a car ride and I felt guilty that their destination was not going to be a happy one (although they do love our vet).
I led Missie out of the car first, handing her off to one of the staff members. “I have to go get Tigger; I’ll be back.”
I told the woman working the front desk that I suspected Tigger was the plum-eating culprit. “I don’t think my Doberman ate any. But I did find one on the chair she is not supposed to sit on. It had teeth marks in it like she was playing with it like a ball. Tigger’s kind of my husband’s dog and Missie is more my dog. I’m sure my dog is innocent.”
The woman remarked that they were going to be the dueling vomiters. Even though were we in crisis mode, I appreciated the humor.
While I sat in the waiting room observing another patient getting her cat back after he’d been neutered, I wondered how this induced vomiting thing worked.
I walked up to the desk, “So how do they do it? Do they stick a finger down their throat?”
“No. It’s an injection usually in the leg. They give them apomorphine which makes them feel nauseous and then they give a second injection to stop the vomiting.”
A few minutes later the attending veterinarian came out and declared Missie clean. Tigger was the one who had three whole plum pits and possible a fourth chewed one!!!
I knew it! Poor Missie–she had to puke for no reason.
I looked at my new friend behind the desk and we laughed together. She explained to the vet my Nancy Drew hunch and how of course MY dog wouldn’t do such a thing.
The vet said, “Yes, retrievers are kind of known for eating anything. . . although once I did have to perform surgery on a Doberman. He had fifteen rubber tennis ball insides in his stomach. He’d been eating them for years”
“Would you like us to do a radiograph to see if there are any more pits? We can take just one picture?”
Yes. No. What should I do?
“Okay,” I said reminding myself that no matter how expensive this vet bill was, it would pale in comparison to my Thoroughbred Knight’s vet bill for his trip to the hospital last year for colic and other complications.
Eating plums is bad for dogs and it was bad for my wallet. Mark doesn’t want to know how much the bill was so I can’t divulge that info precisely. Let’s just say I could have gone to Nordstrom and bought a gorgeous pair of shoes, high-end jeans, a cute top and new lipstick for the price of this vet bill. Or in horse terms could have bought a couple of pairs of Tailored Sportsman breeches and a new Kastel sunshirt!
It turned out that Tigger was clear. It appeared from the radio graph they were able to get all the plum pits out from the vomit procedure.
“So what other things do people bring their dogs in for–to have them vomit?”
The front desk woman said, “Memory foam mattress, stuffing from a couch, packing peanuts, all kinds of stuff. It’s really a great thing because we can act right away and get it out of them before it goes further in their system.”
The veterinarian came out again and said, “I wouldn’t give them any dinner tonight and they’ll probably be pretty sleepy.”
I made a fist and drew my elbow toward my waist and said, “YES! That means I don’t have to spend my whole night petting them!” I love my dogs, but they can be a little needy–as if I never pet them enough or give them any attention. Maybe you know a canine like that too?
I brought the dogs home, gave them some fresh water and corralled them into our family room using a baby gate at each doorway.
“Let’s go get pizza,” Mark said as I tried scrubbing out the purple spots on our brown rug.
After our dinner and a movie we came home to two wagging tails: a long golden one shaped like papyrus and a short black one that beat like a metronome. Our dogs were just fine. And from now on we’re going to make sure the plums are not in striking distance of the dogs, even if the dogs are not supposed to be in the kitchen.
Your Turn: Has your dog or a dog you know ever eaten anything unusual and unfortunate?