March is Pet Poison Prevention Month.
The Central Okanagan has had a few reports recently of alleged poisonings.
The first incident involved bernadoodle Molly who was at a dog park in Kelowna’s Mission shortly before falling severely ill.
Molly was taken to Panorama Veterinary Services in Lake Country where tests confirmed she had suffered kidney damage from toxins found in her system.
On March 7, a managing vet at Fairfield Animal Hospital was quoted in a news article stating that in her 10 years as a vet she has never seen a poisoning, blaming the reports on ingestion of marijuana, dead mice, or rotting food.
Pam Jacques has been looking after Molly for her parents. She says vets confirmed the illness wasn’t cannabis related.
“I do question some of the comments that she made. I don’t think they word ‘hysteria’ was the correct usage of a word.”
Fairfield veterinarian Jennifer Watt is quoted in the article saying the reports of poisoning are causing unreasonable chaos.
Jacques disagrees, having watched her parent’s dog spend days fighting for her life.
“The idea of food or compost or dead mice that was quoted in Dr. Watt’s article, that was not the case. Molly was with me 24/7 for that entire weekend. There was no dead mouse.”
Jacques says tests on Molly ruled out marijuana and antifreeze as the culprit, but Molly was suffering from kidney damage due to the toxins in her body.
“Right now, Molly is OK. My intention of contacting the RCMP and the SPCA was to warn other dog owners, because there are lots of people that don’t have pet insurance and when a dog is that sick and the vet bills are too high then the only other option is to put the dog down, which is absolutely heartbreaking.”
Karen Hoggard is the pet parent of one-year-old dog Bella. She says they had to just hope for the best after putting out over $1,000 to care for her severely ill dog.
“We go to the dog park every day of the week. Friday (March 3) we went in the morning, our usual time 10 to 11 a.m., and she started acting a little bit funny in the afternoon. She was really quiet and when supper time came she wouldn’t eat her supper…At 1:30 in the morning she woke me up and she started throwing up, she threw up three times.”
Hoggard says this was after a visit to the Westbank Centre dog park.
By the next morning Hoggard says Bella could barely walk, but no vet she called had space to take her in.
The dog was finally admitted to the vet the evening of March 4, and Bella was treated for poisoning.
Thankfully Bella is now home and doing well, but Hoggard will never know what caused the illness.
“I’m hesitant on whether I want to go back or not, but she lives for the dog park.”
Although only the cases of Molly and Bella have been reported to the RCMP, Hoggard says she’s spoken to other dog owners and knows of a few other incidents where a visit to the dog park resulted in the family pet falling ill.
If Kelowna RCMP have two reports of dog poisoning and a local vet says poisonings are so rare she’s never seen one, what exactly is considered a poisoning?
Veterinarian Patrick MacCrae with Panorama Vet Services says toxin and poison are terms many vets consider synonymous.
“Toxins are very by the dose, so it depends on how much you get of anything that can become toxic. We pretty much, in veterinary medicine, use those really interchangeably. Poison would be more of a layman’s term, I don’t think there’s necessarily a distinct difference between the two.”
Merriam-Webster defines toxin as a poisonous substance that is a specific product of the metabolic activities of a living organism and is usually very unstable, notably toxic when introduced into the tissues, and typically capable of inducing antibody formation.
In other words, toxins are poisons but not all poisons are toxins.
The BC SPCA offers many resource on their website to educate pet owners on dangerous plants, foods, cleaning products and more.
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