When a client tells you a pet is rolling over and acting really out of it, they get priority in the queue. That is how I found myself in the exam room with a small, middle aged grey terrier and a small, middle aged bespectacled owner.
“When did this start?” I asked her.
“This afternoon,” she said quietly. “Georgie just started listing to one side and kind of stumbling.”
The list of differentials start running through my head as I instruct the owner to place Georgie on the exam table, and I begin to formulate my questions as I perform the physical examination.
Georgie sits quietly on the table, peering at me through glassy eyes. His pupils have a normal response to light, albeit a slightly sluggish one. I lift his gums to take a peek at his oral cavity and it hits me- poor old Georgie smells like a distillery. Like my Uncle Bob two hours into any family event. The poor pup isn’t suffering from a brain lesion- he’s three sheets to the wind.
I finish the rest of my exam while the owner tells her story. Thankfully, he does appear to be in good health aside from his intoxicated state. The owner sits across from me in her neat button-down cardigan, clutching her sensible purse on her lap. “We’re so worried,” she concludes.
I take a breath and decide how to relay my findings. It’s not that uncommon, unfortunately, for people to bring in pets under the influence of some substance or another- you name it, someone has given it to their pet. Getting the owner to admit exactly what they administered so you may initiate appropriate treatment is usually half the battle. In this case, though, it seemed very unlikely that the owner had any clue what had befallen Georgie.
“I think he’s going to be just fine with a little supportive care,” I tell the owner, who releases her breath in a sigh of relief. I decide to just blurt it out. “He’s drunk.”
Her brow furrows in confusion. “I don’t give Georgie alcohol!” she said. “I barely drink myself!”
I tilt my head. “Anyone else in the house? Any kids?”
She shakes her head. “I have a son,” she said, realization giving way to denial, “but he would never do anything like that.” I nod agreeably, stroking my chin like Sherlock Holmes. “Does he, um, have any friends?”
She takes the bait. “Yes!” she says emphatically. “I never liked those boys. Troublemakers.” She leaned in. “I can’t believe they did that did to poor Georgie right under my son’s nose.”
I shook my head. Me neither.
Fortunately for Georgie, after a night of IV fluids and rest, he was back to normal. As for the kids, I have no idea how the owner’s son or his friends fared once Georgie’s mom got a hold of them. I hope she really gave it to them- the idea of people purposefully intoxicating their pets is just awful, and as those of you in the field surely know, people do it all the time, and often with things far worse than alcohol.
Urgh… I’m of the opinion that what people do behind closed doors is their business, but don’t ever give it to your animal. I let my partner take Chewy to his friend’s house for a little bit (20 minutes at the most), and when he brought her home she was stumbling all over the place, walking into walls, falling over and whining.
A bunch of possibilities ran through my head, rat poison, cleaning chemicals, laundry detergent… and then it hit me. She smelled like beer. Somehow she’d gotten a hold of beer at the friends house. I was absolutely furious. I grabbed my phone, put Chewy in my lap and kept the water bowl close at hand. I called Drew and told him what was happening, he confessed there was a party going on there… And to this day Chewy isn’t allowed near that house. Ever. His friend is incredibly irresponsible, I’ve since learned, and who knows what kind of harm will befall my dog there?
Also, same friend whose dogs gave Chewy pink eye.
Once saw a Doberman whose owner was a proprietor of a bar. The Dobe found a leaking keg and got wasted. The owner was at least familiar with what intoxication looks like! The poor pup felt like crap the next morning, but was okay and the owner got better about checking the kegs, I guess.
On the flip side, my skeezy grandfather used to feed our cats beer whenever he visited. He thought it was funny how angry it made me and my sister, and would do it whenever my parents weren’t around. Only one of many, many ways that he was a subpar human being, but that one still makes me glower when I think about it.
Poor pooches dealing with people problems :P. We used to have a client come in that would put her drink on the floor and then fall asleep, and her two poms would finish the drinks off…….not quite the size dogs you want throwing back whiskey sours!
Lmao! Dr. V., I’m printing today’s blog off to show my sister. She had an IG who was naughty, I mean NAUGHTY! He climbed up on the chair and proceeded to drink the martini that had been left there by my sister’s roommate, and another time he started eating the plate of pot that the roommate had left within his reach (keep in mind, he was an agile little monkey and could reach a number of places with very little effort). I know he got a dose of peroxide a couple of times.
I remember the night a couple brought their labrador into the emergency clinic. The entering complaint was “suddenly attacked us for no reason biting us repeatedly”. Dog looked ok on presentation so we put him in a cage pending blood collection. The owners went to the local coffee shop to wait. A few minutes after they left, we heard the dog growling ferociously. Returning to the room, we saw that the dog had transformed into a crazed, vicious nightmare of a creature. About that time, the office phone rang. It was the lab’s owners calling to tell us that they have given the dog LSD! Great! The owners never did return to pick the dog up. Probably afraid of getting arrested.
Oh my. Glad Georgie was just drunk. Blade had a knack for drinking bourbon out of my glasses if he could reach them. I had to be careful where I left them. Cookie inherited that habit but she likes beer. And again we have to be careful where we put an open container because she’ll go to town on it.
Oh poor Georgie! It’s a very good thing that his issue was one that could be “slept off”, so to speak. I hope his mom took those boys down a notch for doing that to the poor dog!
Sounds like some of these dogs need new people. Georgie was lucky he recovered. It could have been much worse. Deliberate offers of drugs and alchohol to pets??? What has this world come to?