My puppy Kaia is the WORST thief. Stealing things that I have handled has been her favorite game since the day I brought her home and it is the one thing I have not been able to teach her not to do because she loves doing it so much. I can't decide if she is a bad thief because she is incorrigible about it or because she also brings her booty straight to me to show off. She has taught me a whole new level of "puppy-proofing" and I seldom mess up anymore.
I've been adjusting to a radical job change, lots of human contact and an awful bout of pneumonia. I came home from work Friday night, sick, tired, distracted and wanting nothing more than to feed the donkeys and go to bed. I changed out of my work clothes, took my inhaler out of the pocket of my scrubs and set it on the bathroom counter. Then I made the fateful mistake of walking away and forgetting to pick it up again. A few minutes later, I heard a clatter and a whoosh and knew immediately that I had screwed up bad and the thief had struck again.
I confess, I was more annoyed than alarmed at first that Kaia had just wrecked my new inhaler. I wasn't thinking clearly and did not realize that dogs absorb albuterol directly through their mucus membranes. When she punctured the canister, the entire contents dispensed straight into her mouth.
Within minutes, I noticed Kaia acting a bit odd and then she started throwing up. I did a quick search about dogs and albuterol and realized we could be in big trouble so I called the Pet Poison Helpline
(Stop reading this now and make sure you have this number in your contacts list:(855) 764-7661).
They told me to hang up and start driving to the emergency vet clinic, which is an hour away. The vet clinic still wanted me to open a case with the poison helpline, because their service includes unlimited consultation with their vets who have experience with toxicology and access to extensive databases of toxicology information that most clinics can't maintain on their own.
The risks with albuterol poisoning are cardiac arrest, extremely low blood potassium levels and hyperthermia. Kaia spent the next 24 hours in the hospital. She got IV fluids, blood pressure checks every 15 minutes, an ECG and hourly blood checks to make sure her potassium level did not crash. The most critical time frame is 24-48 hours after exposure.
Fortunately, Kaia responded well to treatment and has made a full recovery. She came home Saturday night and had a couple of quiet days and is now back to her usual ways, including being on the lookout for "treasure" to steal. She is back to her endearing, quirky, thieving ways and I am trying to figure out how to convince her to abide by the law and pay for her vet bills. I am also keeping my inhaler in the cupboard.