Dog nearly dies from poisoning after chewing owner’s inhaler with toxic element

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Pickle, a Labrador, had to be rushed to the vet as her breathing was out of control and she could not keep her eyes open. Her owner Claire Banks, 41, was terrified

A Labrador nearly died from poisoning after chewing her owner’s inhaler which contains a substance that is toxic to dogs.

Pickle, an eight-year-old dog, had to be rushed to the vet as her breathing was out of control and she could not keep her eyes open.

Her owner Claire Banks, 41, was terrified after the incident and was initially unaware that her dog had grabbed her inhaler.

The medical device has salbutamol in it, which is toxic to pets and can result in severe poisoning.

The Pet Poison Helpline explains: “Because inhalers contain many doses (often 200 doses in one small vial), dogs that chew into them are exposed to massive amounts of the drug all at once.

“This can result in severe poisoning to pets, and often results in heart arrhythmia’s, a life-threatening elevated heart rate, agitation, vomiting, acute collapse and death.

“Severe electrolyte abnormalities such as very low potassium levels are likely and can be life-threatening without immediate veterinary treatment.”

Claire, from Suffolk, said Pickle’s condition deteriorated quickly and the vets were struggling to stabilise her.

She explained: “It was absolutely terrifying. I thought we were going to lose her.

“I first noticed something was wrong with her when I arrived home Tuesday after being out for lunch with a friend.

“When I pull up at the house I can usually see her peering through the front window to see me but she wasn’t there.

“And when I walk into the house she usually comes running towards me with a toy in her mouth but, again, she was nowhere to be seen.

“So I called her name and when I saw her she looked very sleepy and her eyes looked different.

“Her tail was between her legs when it is usually wagging like crazy.

“I got the lead out and put it on her to take her for a walk but she just flopped onto the floor which is totally unheard of for her.”

Claire sat with Pickle on the floor as she was concerned for her pet.

She said that her breathing got deeper and faster within minutes and her eye closed and she could not get her to open them.

Claire added: “I called the vets and took her straight round. They could immediately see something was seriously wrong with her.”

She was told she might need to take her dog to a specialist hospital in Newmarket as an emergency as vets were concerned it could have been heart disease or a tumour on her heart.

But Claire was asked to double-check whether Pickle had eaten something at home because the vet had previously treated dogs who had been poisoned from inhalers and were presenting similar symptoms.

Claire and her two daughters, Charlotte, 14, and Emma, 12, have asthma and this is when she realised what could be the problem.

The woman rushed home and ran around the house to where the inhalers were kept, on a high shelf where she did not think Pickle could reach.

She said: “It didn’t look like the blue inhaler had been touched until I turned it around and noticed a puncture hole.

“I told the vet and had to take her to a different vet where she could be treated for the poisoning.

“It was a new inhale, so Pickle would have had almost 200 doses in one go and it had also gone into her eyes.

“It was a waiting game to see if she would pull through. She stayed overnight while hooked up to an IV to treat her.

“The next morning I received a call from the vet who couldn’t believe the progress Pickle had made.

“She said she had woken up with her tail wagging and desperate for her breakfast.

“And the next day she came home with medication for her heart and the vets are expecting her to make a full recovery.

“They think that dogs are attracted to inhalers because they smell sweet to them and also have scent of their owners. They have been known to steal them out of bags and pockets but they are deadly to dogs.

“Pickle is still very tired but she is definitely on the way to getting better.

“I’d never even thought about how dangerous inhalers could be for dogs, so I just want as many pet owners to also be aware of just how fatal these can be to your animals.”