Never Trust A Counter-Surfer

by  Krista Magnifico, DVM

There are clients that burn a permanent mark in your head. The clients who make an impression on you. For this client it was the first time I met him.

I remember every detail with excruciating accuracy. He had come in on a busy Tuesday evening. I had been forewarned by the front desk that he had called, he was coming in, and he was hostile.

We are a tight knit bunch in the clinic. We are versed in emotional distress and all of the many shades it can appear in. If anyone calls the clinic and is abusive, threatening, or unreasonable the staff spreads the word. If they are any of these they get to see me when they arrive.

When this client arrived he was frustrated. 

OK, extremely frustrated. His older dog was drinking uncontrollably, urinating uncontrollably, and agitated constantly. He thought his dog was losing his marbles and it was pushing him to the brink also.

After the history was revealed and the magnitude of his dogs clinical signs, we decided to pursue a medically based reason.

After a few tests his dog was diagnosed with Cushing's disease. He agreed to start treatment and his dog responded very quickly and very very well to the medication.

When I say HUGE sigh of relief I am not making an understatement!

His dog had been prescribed trilostane. He had requested a compounding pharmacy make his dog's chicken flavored trilostane chews and ordered a 90 count bottle for a grand total of $100.

A few months later it was time for more magic chicken pills, and a few days later they arrived at his home.

Unfortunately, his younger, bigger, and more inquisitive Golden Retriever dog, who was an already convicted counter surfer, met the new bottle the next morning.

When he arrived home he found his two dogs waiting for him as they always did. He also found one loaf of bread and the new bottle of trilostane missing from the kitchen counter.

He called us immediately. He was confident that the bread and trilostane had been eaten before ten am, and he was delighted to report that both were smiling at him and acting completely normal.

I repeated into the phone, "90 pills? All 90?'

"Yes, the bottle is empty, and it was a new bottle."
"I think you need to come in immediately," I said hoping that that he would listen.

He arrived with his very happy Golden Retriever who, just as he reported, was acting A-O-K. A physical exam, and full blood work later all concurred.

I gave a copy of the blood work along with the information and directions to the ER to the owner and told him that if anything changes he needed to proceed to the ER immediately.

I also told him that I couldn't find any information on what 90 trilostane pills could do to a dog. Luckily, this drug has a short half-life (the amount of time it stays in the body) and an easy treatment plan if it did cause some side effects.

I did think it was somewhat funny that the only advice the drug book provided was to "keep out of reach of children and pets." I also advised that the next bottle (which we ordered that evening for him) should be kept under lock and key. He agreed.

If you have a counter surfer don't ever trust them. 

Use baby-proof cabinet closures, keep medications locked up, and call your vet immediately to report any accidental ingestions.

Three days later and every pet in the house is still doing just fine. Thank goodness.


Krista Magnifico, DVM owns a small animal hospital in northern Maryland, where she practices everyday. She wants to make quality veterinary care available to everyone, everywhere at any time; trying to save the world 1 wet nose @ a time.  Her blog is a diary of he day-to-day life & the animals and people she meets.

To contact her, you may leave a comment on her blog, email her or catch her on Twitter or Facebook.

Articles by Dr. Magnifico:
Don't Make This Mistake: Ruby's Death To Heat Stroke 
Parvo: Cora's Story 
Jake's Laryngeal Paralysis
The Tip Of The Iceberg: The Unexpected Dental Dilemma


  1. I've learned this one and I'm thankful that we haven't had any mistakes. I accidentally left my home office door open and a few bottles of DGP for pets was on a table. Two of our dogs came running out of the room. Didn't think anything of it. A few minutes later, they came running towards us and pills were flying everywhere.

    We were able to account for all of the pills (new bottle). But now everything is high and away.

    1. That was close; glad you could account for all the pills. Yeah, having it up high, behind doors is best.

  2. Geeze, I don't leave anything out any where even though my boy isn't a counter surfer, I just can't take any risks.

    1. Better safe than sorry. One can never know and every dog can surprise us.

  3. Great post! Kayo isn't a counter-surfer but I know many. One friend's dog ate the leftovers of a celebratory Irish dinner in, literally, 3 minutes. That included an almost entire stick of butter. Another friend's dog started a fire while no one was home by counter-surfing on the stove. My friends didn't trust him - they'd actually put up a gate between the living room and kitchen but he broke through it!

    1. Determined fellow. Glad he didn't get into any real trouble.

  4. Yeesh, a FULL bottle of pills? My heart would have just about stopped.

  5. That's the beauty of having corgis! They can't counter surf! Although my older one has been known to move a chair in order to get on the table.

    In all seriousness, even with a corgi, you need to be careful as they could conceivably pull something from the very edge of the counter. A bigger danger to them is empty snack bags. More than a few corgis have suffocated with their heads stuck in a potato chip bag and their short legs unable to pull the bag off.

    1. I have seen little dogs make their way on the table! Not on a counter, though. Just gotta make sure you don't have some type of "stairs" ready to go for them :-)

      Plus one always has to be careful what they leave on a coffee table, purse etc.

      Even large dogs can suffocate in snack bags or other bags. Best policy is to cut off the bottom of every bag before disposing.


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