Survivors helped us to push forward - Albuquerque Journal

Survivors helped us to push forward

Fourth in a series.

I offered to help Placitas pet parents with their poisoning problem and, well, they took me up on it. The next morning, Gretel, a big hound I already knew, lumbered listlessly through the door. I almost didn’t recognize her. Her gums were pale; her respiratory rate increased. A quick check of her blood showed a serious. but not-yet life-threatening. anemia. She’d been allowed to roam loose.

This dog was going to make it – if we moved fast enough. I gave the antidote for diphacinone poisoning, vitamin K1, by injection through a very tiny needle to reduce the risk of more bleeding. Only mild sedation was necessary for Gretel to relax, so we could insert the stomach tube. Up came dog food mixed with suspicious-looking pellets that we collected in a plastic jar. Multiple warm water rinses later and our patient’s stomach finally gave back only clear fluid. Activated charcoal would absorb any remaining poison.

We fed Gretel small fatty meals that would speed the absorption of oral vitamin K1. Her bone marrow rallied. Over the next few days, her gums became gradually pinker. She would make it. We discharged her on tablets with strict instructions to keep her on leash or at home. There is no immunity to anticoagulant toxicity.

Seeing a really sick pet round the corner and go home to recover with its loving family makes me want to dance in the street, but this difficult saga had only started. Gretel’s people shared this triumph of modern medicine with their neighbors. Dogs who’d played and roamed with canine poisoning victims arrived for preventive treatment in a steady stream.

The next three weeks felt like they’d never end. We treated 11 poisoned dogs; six of them survived. There were seven more who’d already passed away at home. Each dog’s stomach contents were submitted for analysis. These pets came from multiple locations in and around their rural village. Would this end only when the long arm of the law collared the perpetrator?

Next week: No shortage of outrage or solutions.

• For help with behavior problems, you can sign up for a Zoom Group Conference on my website,

Dr. Jeff Nichol is a residency-trained veterinary behaviorist. He provides consultations in person and in groups via Zoom (505-792-5131). Each week, he shares a blog and a video to help bring out the best in pets and their people. Sign up at no charge at Post pet questions on or by mail to 4000 Montgomery NE, Albuquerque, NM, 87109.

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