British Columbia man’s dog nearly died from fentanyl overdose

Just minutes after returning from a walk in Surrey, British Columbia, earlier this month, Derek Thornton’s eight-year-old chocolate lab, Charlie, started acting strangely.

Thornton said Charlie’s eyes were “not quite right” after they returned home from their walk in the area of ​​26th Avenue and 160th Street.

“I called him by his name, he didn’t answer. I looked up, at that point his head was just thrown back, his legs were knocked over,” said Thornton, who rushed his dog to Grandview Animal Hospital near his home. .

“They intubated him to give him oxygen and gave him intravenous fluids because his heart rate was low 40 and his respiratory rate was three, three breaths per minute,” Thornton said.

The veterinarian called an emergency veterinary hospital in Langley and staff suggested the clinic try administering the anti-overdose drug naloxone. Fortunately, there were two doses on hand.

“They gave him the first dose, and his respiratory rate went up to 20. And so he responded, so they gave him a second dose, and he basically bounced back from a dead dog to come back from between the dead,” Thornton said.

Once Charlie was stabilized, he was transferred to Langley Veterinary Hospital, which conducted tests confirming that the dog had overdosed on fentanyl that he had inhaled or consumed during the walk.

Thornton was stunned. “We were thinking maybe a stroke or a seizure. Our minds didn’t go to drug overdose at all,” he said. “The dog didn’t do anything wrong, he just sniffed around for a spot – there just happened to be something on the ground that he sniffed around.”

Dr. Hannah Weizenfeld, senior animal health officer at the BC SPCA, said accidental overdoses while dog walking aren’t that rare.

“It’s something that can pose a risk anywhere, but some places have a higher risk than others,” she said, adding that the drugs can impact dogs very quickly. .

“They may seem fine one minute walking them, and the next minute they’re basically on the ground,” Weizenfeld said, adding “If your dog is normally pretty coordinated and all of a sudden he’s swinging from left to right and potentially sagging in the hind legs, then this might be one of the first signs you notice.

A naloxone injection can save lives, but it must be given soon after exposure, and veterinary clinics are not always open or nearby.

“If you are in an area where you think your pet might be at risk, it might be helpful to carry a naloxone kit that you can use effectively on your pets,” Weizenfeld said. The medication is safe for pets.

Thornton went to a pharmacy and picked up a free naxolone kit. “Now we have one in the house, just in case,” he said.

Charlie has fully recovered from his fentanyl overdose, but Thornton is still haunted by how the situation could have played out.

“If we had delayed or not acted for whatever reason to try to address the issues at home, it could have been a whole different story,” he said.

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