Bruno was brought down to the clinic to see Dr Craig after he had been caught chewing on a wooden stacking pallet, at his owners workplace. The pallet had been marked with the word ‘Poison' so there was a possible threat of arsenic poisoning. Bruno had been a little listless at home and had had several motions of sloppy brown, watery diarrhoea - with wood chips and mucous present.
On examination, Bruno's vital signs were all normal. The main concern was that the pallet was treated with arsenic. Clinical signs of arsenic poisoning are: abdominal pain, vomiting, weakness, diarrhoea, haematochezia, rapid weak pulse, prostration, hypothermia, collapse, and sometimes death.
Bruno was placed on intravenous fluids for supportive care and he was given medication to treat the diarrhoea and to combat any nausea. A blood sample was taken to evaluate liver and renal function and to check for any abnormalities. This was sent to our laboratory as ‘Urgent'.
Arsenic is excreted by the kidneys. Usually, most of it is removed from the body within 48 hours. Animals are often hospitalised and treated for two days until the majority of the arsenic is gone. Arsenic can be measured in the urine or vomitus and usually decreases dramatically after one to two days. A urine sample was taken, in case an arsenic assay was required (that's if there was no improvement). Arsenic is toxic to the gastrointestinal tract, liver and kidneys. After ingestion, the animal's initial reaction is to begin vomiting. This reduces the amount of poison in the gastrointestinal tract. If not treated, the liver and kidneys become damaged, resulting in the animal's demise. If a small amount of arsenic is ingested, most animals do well with treatment. If a high dose is ingested, signs of illness develop within minutes and death may occur within hours. Animals that ingest any amount of arsenic should be examined and treated by your veterinarian immediately.
Bruno's vital signs were rechecked later that afternoon and they were all completely normal. The pathology results were back that afternoon, showing only a mild anaemia. This would otherwise be age-related biochemistry changes. The good news, there was no evidence of renal or hepatic inflammation or damage.
Bruno was later discharged, with instructions of rest and with strict dietary requirements. Bruno's owner tells us he is doing great!