After eating a poisoned mushroom in my backyard, our beloved 4-pound Chihuahua, Brutus immediately went into severe distress. His screams warned me he was in danger, so I rushed him to Banfield Pet Clinic in Downingtown to see his vet, Dr.Dudas. While en route, Brutis stopped breathing, and his eyes had become fixed and dilated. Dr. Jeanne Dudas and the entire team at Banfield Clinic dropped everything they were doing and immediately began working to save Brutis' life. He had no measurable blood pressure and was only a few minutes from death. Dr.Dudas was able to get an IV started to administer life-saving drugs.
As a nurse, I know how impossible it is to start an IV with no blood pressure in a human. I can't imagine how difficult it was to start one in such a small animal. The Banfield team stabilized Brutus to transfer him to the Emergency Hospital trauma unit. Dr. Dudas took it upon herself to begin researching poison mushrooms indigenous to this area. It is rare for a pet to survive after ingesting these mushrooms, and no less a miracle for a 4-pounder to do so. With less than a 10% chance of survival, he should not be alive today. Since then, he has been regularly monitored for renal damage; his test results were excellent this week. He has been healing well because he is returning to his normal happy, playful self. Thank you to the Banfield Pet Clinic, the VRC Emergency Pet Hospital, and especially to Dr. Dudas, who saved his life against all odds.
Margie's Story on what happened that tragic morning
It was Tuesday, September 29, 2009. I let out our two Papillons and my 4-pound Chihuahua "Brutus" out in our fenced-in back yard for their morning business. They came in within minutes and ate breakfast at 8:10 am. Within 60 seconds, Brutus vomited a small amount of food and began to whine. I picked him up and put him inside my fluffy robe. He continued to whine for just a few more seconds and then let out a scream. A really loud cry, then another. A cry I never want to hear again. I put him down. He would not move. He was like a statue standing in pain. Then he vomited up all his food. I gathered it up in a paper towel. I knew his vet wanted to see it. What I saw shocked me...mushrooms.There were bits and pieces, all black on one side and white on the other side. I have never seen black mushrooms in our yard, so I believe the stomach acid changed the color to black. The smell was unmistakable. There was a strong stench of mushrooms at 8:15 am.
I called my best friend because I felt myself panic. She was on her way to take us to the vet. I put Brutus, who was in severe pain, in his tiny kennel. I ran upstairs to get dressed. I grabbed my tiny four-pound Chihuahua and ran to the end of the street, waiting for my ride. I knew the clinic opened at 9 am.,so I called and left a distress message. By 8:40, we were flying to my vet. In route, Brutus took a turn for the worse. His eyes had a blank stare, pupils wide and dilated. He did not move. As we approached the clinic, I could not tell if he was still breathing. He looked dead!
I called the vet again with another 911 distress call. I said, "Brutus is dying; please unlock the door and get ready; we are almost there." As I ran in the door, they grabbed Brutus and flew into the back room. Later, I was told there were three vets on duty. They all stopped and worked franticly to save his life. My friend and I waited behind closed doors. All was quiet. His vet did not come out and give me the report right away. I knew he was critical. It seems like hours. The longer it took, the more ominous it was. I prayed that God would save him. A verse came to mind, "For to those who love God, who are called in his Name, everything works out for good."I kept praying and crying. I kept thinking about the poison mushrooms in my yard. Why? Why did I not think they could be poison? Why did I not think a dog would eat something poisonous? Did they not have a sense that it was poison? I thought they knew by instinct. The two-year-old Papillons never ate one. The Chihuahua was one year old. He never ate one before now. Why now? I had been so naive, so stupid, and I should have known better.
I do not know how long it took until Dr.Dudas gave me the report; he was still alive but serious. He had to be transferred to the big Emergency Trauma Hospital, seven minutes away. They handed me my sick baby boy. He had shaved his front legs and neck. He had an IV in place with a bag of fluid. He was so very lethargic. He did recognize me. I thanked God! This was a miracle! Dr.Dudas told me he had no blood pressure and was not breathing on admission. She could get into his jugular vein and give him Atropine to start him breathing. My girlfriend, Betty, raced us to the Trauma Unit. Again he was scooped up and admitted. I was sent home.
OUTCOME...Brutus was able to come home the following evening. They could do no more. By the third day, he began to bounce back. He was eating, playing, and slowly acting normal. His lab values were abnormal, indicating internal organ damage. His vet has been monitoring him closely. His kidneys were rebounding slowly. There was much concern about his outcome. He remained on a low-protein diet. After 7 weeks, his kidneys are healing. Whatever the damage, we feel he will live a happy, long life. He is still being monitored, and his next visit is in 3 to 6 months. He had less than a 10% chance of getting through this alive. Dr.Dudas researched toxic mushrooms in our area because of Brutus. She said it was rare for a dog to survive after eating mushrooms. For a tiny 4-pound Chihuahua to survive is nothing short of a miracle!
Our backyard is half-shaded with tall pine trees and half grass and sun. The ground under the pines is shaded, moist and woody. This is the perfect medium for mushrooms. We have dozens of mushrooms, so which one he ate, I will never know. I have tried to identify all the mushrooms that grow under my pines....but it is impossible without an expert. The area has 2 to 8 inches of mulch and pine straw. Mushrooms can hide under the straw, invisible to the eyes. A dog can and will root them out without us knowing it. We have now fenced off the pine tree area. None of the dogs are allowed there. We patrol the yard for mushrooms that might pop up in our grass almost daily. We now have to fence off the area under our deck. We found mushrooms there! We do not let Brutus out of our sight without supervision. We have a potty box for him in the basement and are forced to keep him inside more than we would like. I am trying to find a size 0 muzzle for him. One that would fit his entire mouth area and prevent him from grabbing a snack on a walk! Assume all mushrooms are poison. I pray this never happens to you.
"Brutis" At 8 weeks old. Margie Combs adopted him and gave him a wonderful home. This story is to make you aware of the outside dangers. Never let your eyes off a small puppy outdoors; they are curious and will eat anything and everything they can get to!
Please beware of Hawks as we also had a 5-pound chihuahua "Peanut" that was attacked and survived after a hawk had torn 8 holes in her skin. It also ripped her skin off from her muscle tissue.
Below is Brutus [ on the left] and his big brother a Papillon, now happy and awaiting Santa......His now new mommy Margie.
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