Dog ate chocolate?

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Anemic dog.

Species: Dog
Breed: Cavalier King Charle
Age: 2-5 years
Hi,

I'm really worried about my dog Sammy. He was at the vet a couple of days ago to get blood tests to make sure his liver/kidney counts are ok. He is on a small dose of prednisone for Syringomaelia, so needs regular check-ups.

He was found in passing to be slightly anemic. Red blood count 5, Hemoglobin 12.2 and HCT 0.366. Since he was bright and happy, his gums were a good colour, lymph nodes fine, and I haven't noticed any darkening of his stool, we decided to just check it again after a couple of months.

Today was the first day that I've noticed him being a bit lethargic and then it suddenly occurred to me that 12 days ago he found a dead, half decayed rat. He only got one bite of it before I got it off him (using my shoe), so although it was gross, I thought no more about it. Now I'm getting worried that it might have been poisoned and that the toxin is doing some slow internal damage - hence the low RBC.

This comes at the worst time because it's midsummer weekend, so the vet is closed, and first thing Monday morning I'm due to leave on a two week trip and Sammy will be looked after by a friend. It's an expensive trip and I'll be letting my travel companion down badly if I cancel due to neurotic fears for my pet.

Do you think my fears are valid? Any ideas what could cause the anemia otherwise?

Thanks,
Laura

P.S. his ALKP count was on the rise at 1140 U/L, so his prednisone dose will be decreased, but the vet I saw didn't think this was connected to the anemia. His AMYL count was also slightly low - 381 U/L.


Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

Hi Laura and thanks for your question.

I normally wouldn't be too concerned about these red blood cell levels as long as a dog is bright an dhappy and eating well. But, if he's starting to get lethargic then I am a little bit worried.

One thing that could tie everything together would be if the rat had gotten into rat poison. What most rat poisons do is cause an animal to have trouble clotting their blood. If eaten in large amounts then an animal can bleed to death. If an animal gets a small amount (or possibly eats part of a rat that had eaten rat poison) then they can have some minor issues with bleeding.

Take a look at Sammy's gums. Do they look pink? or are they close to being white? If they are white then I would get him to emergency tonight.

Another possible reason for bleeding would be if he had a stomach ulcer and this can be really serious. It's not common, but I have seen dogs that are on prednisone that get a stomach ulcer. Usually though the dog has to be on a really high dose of prednisone to get an ulcer. Most of the time if there is a stomach ulcer we will see black tarry colored stools.

If you weren't going away then I would advise you to just keep an eye on Sammy. However, I think you probably should have a vet take a look at him just to be sure everything is ok. The first thing they'll want to do is check his red cell level again.

One other thing to look for to determine whether you need to rush into emergency is signs of tiny amounts of bruising. If you see any little purple bruises on his belly or gums then this is a sign of clotting problems and needs to be addressed right away.

I hope he is ok!

Dr. Marie


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Disclaimer: Although Dr. Marie is a qualified veterinarian, the information found on this site is not meant to replace the advice of your own veterinarian. AskAVetQuestion.com and Dr. Marie do not accept any responsibility for any loss, damage, injury, death, or disease which may arise from reliance on information contained on this site. Do not use information found on this site for diagnosing or treating your pet. Anything you read here is for information only.

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Dr. MarieDr. Marie is a veterinarian who practices in a busy animal hospital in Ottawa, Ontario. She created Ask A Vet Question as a resource for good, accurate veterinary advice online. Dr. Marie treats dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pigs, and rats. She has been a vet since 1999.

Is an online vet visit just as good as a trip to your veterinarian? No! But, many times, asking an online veterinarian a question can help save you money. While Dr. Marie can't officially diagnose your pet or prescribe medications, she can often advise you on whether a vet visit is necessary. You can also ask Dr. Marie for a second opinion on your pet's condition.