Clinic Stories

The Sobering Truth

Most veterinarians keep grain alcohol at the office. For years it was the only way to treat antifreeze poisoning in dogs, and is still the only way to treat cats exposed to antifreeze. Knowing that it can be deadly, Mr. Paci brought in his dog on emergency when he saw him drink antifreeze. It was an ideal situation – recent exposure, cooperative client, friendly dog. We hospitalized Dakota, checked his kidney values, placed an IV catheter and started him on alcohol to reach the recommended blood level of 0.25%, three times the legal limit for driving. Usually the dogs are so drunk, they sleep except when they stagger outside to urinate. Not so with Dakota. Without the owner present, he was vicious. He growled constantly and lunged at the cage door whenever someone passed. A walk outside was a struggle with a rabies pole so he was placed on a grate and left alone with a blanket covering the front of the cage. It took three people to get his daily blood sample but he remained healthy and unaffected by the antifreeze. After two days the ethanol was stopped. As the alcohol wore off he became progressively more tractable. By the time he was sober, he was once again a sweet, loving dog. When he was discharged, we advised the owner to keep him away from the sauce. He was a mean drunk.

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