Odds and Ends and a Christmas Warning…

Howdy,  I tooka little time off to deal with a coupla crushing emotional blows.  Ok, not really all that crushing in the grand scheme of things, but blows just the same.  First of all, I learned from my mother that she does not read my blog.  My own mother.  I found this to be profoundly disappointing as I think on some level, I was writing it for her, so she could live vicariously through my writing (she always said she wanted to be a vet).  She said it wasn’t me, she just hates blogs.  Which is totally her prerogative, so now I have to come up with another  person to whom I’m writing.   My oldest(she’s not old, but she’s been my friend the longest)  friend Jennie reads my blog, so maybe she will be my “muse”.  She’s been my pal since we had bad 80’s hair in 9th and 10th grade.  When the cowgirls threatened to beat us up because we were bad at volleyball in PE, and she’s been my cool concert buddy.  Accompanying me to such shows as Lollapalooza in 1991 (Pearl Jam, Soundgarten, Red Hot Chili Peppers, etc), Beastie Boys in ’93, The Dead Milkmen in ’91 (where I lost my shoe and my watch, and had a footprint on my shirt from the mosh pit), to The Cure and Weezerthis year.  She’s stuck with me for the last 20 years, so I think I’ll blog to her (I have to picture one person in my head, since I have no idea who else is reading this)

The other crushing blow was that I discovered that I am not the only veterinary blogger in the world.  In fact there is another who is far more talented than me and actually seems to be making a living doing it.  I’m ok with it now, but I really did have these dreams of someday having this blogthing lead to a bookdeal, then appearances on Oprah, then maybe being the Pitt/Jolie’s vet someday.  But, alas I’ve come to terms with this and, frankly, it will be the Jolie-Pitt famly’s loss.  (just as an aside, I had a dream the other day that Brad Pitt hit me up for weight loss advice (he had porked out between movies) and we became pals and hung out and our kids all played together and it was great fun.)

Anyhow, I’ve recovered from this emotional turmoil and am back to peck away to the best of my abilities for my little audience of readers (all two of you). 

There was other stuff I wanted to talk about, but I can’t remember right now.  (I may have over-imbibed a bit at the work Xmas party last night) It was at Texas Land and Cattle and it was great fun.  Thanks to the bosses for that one, we had a lovely time. 

I was asked by the staff to mention that perhaps you folks should be very careful with your chocolate gifts this year.  Christmastime is the time of year that we get the worst chocolate toxicities.  This is because people are buying that fancy schmancy 99% cacao stuff for gifting (which is totally gross in my opinion, give me a good old fashioned Twix anyday).  Anyhow, our distracted clients routinely leave this stuff at a dog accessible level and then we get the panicked call:  “Fluffy ate the fancy schmancy chocolate.”   Only, it’s usually : “Fluffy may have eaten the fancy schmancy chocolate sometime today, but I’m not sure if it’s Fluffy or Fifi and it occured some time between 8AM and 3PM and I have no idea how much they ate. ”  In these cases, by the way, we treat both dogs, just to be safe. 

The thing about chocolate toxicity is that it’s the caffeine in the chocolate that makes them sick.  Milk chocolate, has much less of this than the semi-sweet/bakers/fancy chocolate.  So we get lots of calls over the year that basically involve:  “Fluffy, my 150pound rottweiler, ate 2 Hershey’s kisses, yesterday, is he going to die?”  If Fluffy was a 2 pound Yorkie, he may get a little diarrhea. 

Milk Chocolate contains 45mg per ounce of  Theobromine (the caffeine/toxic stuff), unsweetened chocolate contains 400mg/ounce, so it’s almost 10 times more toxic than milk chocolate.  Dogs start getting sick when they ingest 100mg per kilo of theobromine  (roughly 220 mg per pound) So if you do a bunch of math (which is what I have to do when you make that panicked call) a 10 pound dog would start getting sick after eating 10 ounces of milk chocolate, or 1 ounce of bakers chocolate.  A regular sized Hershey’s bar is about an ounce and a half.  So the 10 pound dog would have to eat just over a half-pound of milk chocolate to have a problem. 

It’s that bakers/gourmet chocolate that gets ya (for the most part).  Clinical signs of Chocolate toxicity include:  vomiting, diarrhea, hyperactivity, restlessness, ataxia (they walk like they’re drunk), muscle tremors, seizures, coma, death.  I copied that out of my tired and true emergency book that I always refer to to do the chocolate math.  Funny (well, not funny funny, but black comedy funny) that death is a clinical sign because, there’s pretty much no treatment for that one. 

Knock on wood, I’ve never seen a dog die from chocolate toxicity.  Generally we make them barf , we give a drug called apomorphine (which makes them look the way I looked in college when I drank too much Boone’s Farm) Generally they vomit within 10 minutes of administration.  Post vomiting, we wait for their tummies to settle and then give them lots and lots of Activated Charcoal (which is this black gel that basically attaches to any remaining toxin in the GI tract and inactivates it). 

Thankfully, most chocolate ingestion cases get to us pretty early after the dog ate the offending chocolate so they do pretty well save the apomorphine hangover.   Just as another aside, one of my receptionists told me about a vet who would leave the apomorphine out so that if robbers broke in, they would think it was regular morphine and steal it, resulting in violently ill robbers. 

Anyhow, the treatment for dogs who are seizuring etc from chocolate toxicosis is generally supportive (seizure medicine, fluids, hospitalization, etc). 

So the moral of the story is to put away the chocolate on the highest shelf or cabinet because dogs have very good sniffers and are very sneaky and WILL find it.  Trust me, my dog has eaten many loaves of bread, bags of chips and cookies, stolen food from my purse, etc.  Luckily, the chocolate has been out of reach (and nobody in the family likes anything more exotic than a Hershey’s Bar). 

Stay warm, it’s cooooold out there!

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