We were at the end of a great three week trip to Guatemala. Getting there had gone smoothly, the dogs had been on some amazing adventures, and we were having loads of fun. Three days before our return home, the unthinkable happened. Both dogs got into our vitamins, a mixture of Fish Oil capsules and Vitamin D pills. We discovered it rather quickly, but it was too late – they had downed all but two pills. There was no telling who ate what, or how many of each, just that 15-20 pills were gone and both dogs looked guilty. Fish Oil is not too bad for dogs (it can cause the runs and some foul burps), but Vitamin D can be toxic. It was a pet emergency! We rushed them to the vet and they spent the night. All was ok in the end, but it was definitely a learning experience and a preventable accident. Here’s a breakdown of what we did right, and what we definitely did wrong.
WHAT WE DID RIGHT
We Had a List of Local Vets: Before arriving to Guatemala, we made a list of the top rated local vets in the neighborhood we were staying in. The list included names, addresses, hours, and contact information. This is a list we hoped we wouldn’t need, but we were so happy to have in an emergency. It was time-saving and reassuring, and helped us stay calm. There was no need to look up a good vet; we knew exactly where one was, and had even dropped by a few days earlier to check them out when walking by. It saved us from fumbling through our phones and searching for places, and thus a lot of time and stress. Phew!
We Moved Fast and Stayed Calm: Dogs can read your energy. If you panic, they’ll panic. We were nervous, but we made sure to stay calm throughout the ordeal. We also moved fast, with each person grabbing a dog and heading to the vet immediately. We were able to reassure our dogs, and keep the stress to a minimum for everyone.
We Could Communicate: When the incident occurred, only one of us was home. I panicked, and immediately called Sam. He rushed home, and we handled the emergency together. Although we were abroad, we each bought a local sim card and kept credit on our phones. It’s an easy way to stay in touch, no matter where you are. You never know what calls you’ll have to make, or information you’ll have to look up in an emergency.
WHAT WE DID WRONG
Never Leave Edibles in Easy to Break Containers: Our vitamins were kept in a zip lock bag that was super easy for our dogs to rip open. This was a huge mistake. All edible items, especially harmful ones, should be kept in child proof containers.
One Minute Makes a Difference: Our ziplock bag of vitamins was left on the dining room table, where we’d unpacked our bags after a mini getaway. The dogs had access to the table by jumping on chairs and nearby furniture, but I was only planning to be out of the room for five minutes or so. I left the room to use the bathroom, figuring that the unpacking could wait a few minutes and nothing would happen. I was wrong. Every minute counts with dogs. Next time, I’ll make sure important things are out of reach before leaving the room, even if only for a minute or two.
Have Hydrogen Peroxide on Hand: If your pet ingests something toxic, like certain chemicals or food, they’ll have to throw up right away. Call your vet, and see if you should administer hydrogen peroxide at home to induce vomiting. The rule of thumb is to give 1 teaspoon (5 ml) for every 10 pounds of body weight. This can be repeated once if your dog doesn’t vomit within 15 minutes. Had I had some hydrogen peroxide on hand while traveling, it would have saved me a trip to the vet. A small bottle of hydrogen peroxide takes up very little space in a toiletry kit and can be a real lifesaver.
Learn a bit of the local language and have access to a translator: We were lucky that I speak Spanish, which helped the situation immensely since I could communicate with the vet and his staff. If you’re in a country where you don’t know the language, always learn a few helpful phrases beforehand. It’s not only helpful, but polite. Keep a small dictionary on you or a translator on your phone for emergency situations. Not being able to communicate is frustrating and when in an emergency, you’ll want to be as clear as possible.