Don't Panic. Don't Panic ... Too Late: Our Call To Pet Poison Helpline

Everything was as usual. Cookie ate her dinner, then later we went for a second little walk, played and did some training games as we always do.

Cookie was eager to work for her treats. 

Then I called a night and Cookie went to lay down to sleep while I was still working. Before I go to bed I prepare Cookie's breakfast and she always comes over to see if she could score some more treats.

This time she didn't come.

Already finding that suspicious, I went to offer her some. She didn't want any. And she had that look on her face that was telling me she isn't feeling good. Even the way she was laying there had me worried.

What is going on?

Why is her belly upset? First thing I got worried about was another event of pancreatitis. But why? In my head, I was going over what she's eaten and there was nothing out of the ordinary. She didn't snatch anything on our walks and didn't manage to eat anything inedible in the house either. So what upset her belly? She was perfectly fine couple hours ago?

When I got up she got up also and wanted to go outside. There she just sat down on the ramp, looking pitiful. After a while just sitting there, I invited her back to the house.

Her abdomen wasn't distended or sore to the touch, she wasn't trying to throw up, so I was quite sure it wasn't bloat. She looked like she was thinking about throwing up it was remaining at the thinking stage.

Worried as I was, I kept trying to think what could be behind this.

Then I remembered that after we finished our activities she went potty and when I was letting her back in she stood there and it looked as if she was chewing something. I didn't give it too much thought at the time, because there wasn't anything out there she could have been eating.

Or was there?

I grabbed a flashlight and went to investigate the spot. There was evidence of digging and couple of disturbed roots were sticking out of the ground. It was hard to tell whether they were just broken up or chewed off.

Considering that Cookie wasn't feeling well, I wondered how significant that finding was. And what plant would those roots belong to? Figuring that I should consider worse case scenario, the roots might have been from the binding weed type of plant growing through the fence.

Not knowing whether it was toxic or not, we removed the plants themselves, but not the roots. Perhaps I should find out what the heck that plant was.

Armed with a bit of it I went online.

Trying to identify a random plant in a hurry is like looking for a needle in a haystack. I could be there until Christmas. Perhaps I could reverse-identify it by checking plants poisonous to dogs.

Obviously, I was hoping I wouldn't find anything even remotely resembling the plant.

But I did. The source I was using lists Deadly Nightshade, Belladonna, one of the most poisonous plants in the Western hemisphere. It looks kind of similar to the plant making its way to our yard but, fortunately, not quite. Particularly, the berries are black and our plant has red berries in the fall.

Heart attack potentially on hold.

With some more search, I found Bittersweet Nightshade, which does seem to look identical to the plant in question. And has red berries. How poisonous is that one? The berries are poisonous but there are no berries out there right now. But what about the plant itself or its roots? With Belladonna, apparently, the whole plant is poisonous, particularly the roots!

Bittersweet Nightshade. Photo Phil

Belladonna/Deadly Nightshade. Photo Herb Museum Vancouver

The Pet Poison Helpline only lists Belladonna, the Deadly Nightshade. Being a similar species, what about our case?

In order to know what I might be facing, I decided to call the Pet Poison Helpline.

First I was greeted with what seemed like an hour-long recording. I understand why it's there, but trust me, when you're worried about your dog, you don't want to listen to any recordings. Then a very nice veterinarian picked up, asking me questions about my phone number, address and so on. I don't know about you but when I'm freaking out, I have no idea what my phone number is or how to spell my street address ...

Finally, we got to talking about Cookie and the situation.

He confirmed that the berries are poisonous and the plant or roots may or may not cause a reaction. He said that given Cookie's size, she would have to eat a whole lot of it to make her really sick.

OK, she definitely didn't eat a whole lot of it. The worst panic was over but I still didn't know for sure what caused it and where it was going to go.

And then, couple hours later, just like that, Cookie was fine again.

Go figure. She ate her breakfast and seems fine since. I still don't know for sure what caused the upset. I can't really dig up all the roots in the yard, so I'll have to watch her when she out to potty, just in case.

For now, I have to recover from my yet another heart attack with Cookie.

Related articles:
From The End Of A Lead Line To Casa Jasmine: Meet Cookie, Our New Adoptee
And So It Begins Again(?) Our First Health-Related Heart Attack With Cookie 
I Didn't Know I Could Fly: Why Cookie Wears A Harness Instead Of A Collar
C.E.T. Oral Hygiene Chews For Dogs CAN Be A Choking Hazzard 
Our First Health-Related Heart Attack With Cookie: The Knee Or The Foot?
Creative Solutions And An Incidental Product Review
Too Young For Pot: Cookie's Snack With A Side Of Hydrogen Peroxide  
Taming Of The Wild Beast: Cookie's Transition To Civilization  
Staying On Top Of The Ears: Cookie Is Not Impressed  
Putting The Easy Back Into Walking
Cookie's Ears Are Still Not Happy 
The Threat Of The Bulge Is Always Lurking 
Today Is Cookie's Three-Months Adoptoversary  
Cookie Meets The Electric Horse Fence And Her First Chiropractic Adjustment  
Why Examine Your Dog's Vomit? 
Why Is That Leg Still Not Happy? Cookie's Leg Keeps Getting Sore 
Cookie Too Is Insured With Trupanion
Does Being Insured Mean Being Covered? Our First Claim With Trupanion
Is Cookie's Leg Finally Getting Better?
Is Cookie Going To Be Another Medical Challenge Or Are We Looking To Closely? 
The Project That Is Cookie: Pancreatitis Up Close And Personal  
Pancreatitis: Cookie’s Blood Work   
Another Belly Upset: Pancreatitis Again Or Not?  
Happy Birthday, Cookie 
Who's Training Whom? Stick And Treat 
Observation Skills Of Dogs  
If You Want Your Dog To Do Something, Teach It  
Tricks? It's Not Just About The Tricks  
What Constitutes The Perfect Dog? 
Cookie Knows A Farm Day From A Work Day 
Don't Just Stand There, Do Something? Cookie's Mysterious Bumps 

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  1. Dogs are a perpetual source of worry, aren't they. It would be easier on us if they could talk :)

    1. No kidding at all. How do they manage to always come up with some mischief nobody will ever know. I'm just glad she's ok. But boy could I use a break from all the heart attacks.

  2. Our last dog, who had cancer, gave me heart attacks all the time! Luckily Rita has not given us TOOOOO much cause for concern - except for some off and on limping when we first got her (scary, cuz it was the first sign of our Abby's cancer, but turned out to just be a soft tissue injury), and a few minor things. Glad Cookie was fine!

    1. Thank you, Jackie.

      Yeah, Cookie is an expert on dishing out heart attacks. She actually started with a horrible limp the third day we had her. Looked so much like a busted knee ligament ... turned out being an old remnant of a porcupine quill in a foot.

  3. So glad that Cookie is okay. I know what you mean about forgetting things in time of panic.

    1. Thank you, yeah, it was a huge relief when she bounced back couple hours later ... just like that. She had me quite scared there.

  4. So glad that she was ok! Why, why do they do this to us? It's amazing the things that we remember when we think back. Sometimes it doesn't hit us at first but then it does and panic takes over! I've been there so many times!

    1. Thank you, Jen, she had me really scared there for a while. I'm trying to figure out why they are doing this to us myself. Though I don't think it's them, I think it's the Universe, somehow. Mean, nasty Universe.

      Remembering in retrospective kind of makes sense, as at the time some thing don't seem significant and become so only because of what followed.


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