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Heart medication poisons pet around Valentine’s Day


In light of Valentine's Day, the Pet Poison Helpline recently highlighted an installment of Toxin Tails.

Dakota, who ingested heart medication hidden in pill pockets (Photo courtesy of the Pet Poison Helpline).

Dakota, who ingested heart medication hidden in pill pockets (Photo courtesy of the Pet Poison Helpline).

When Victoria B. of Benet, Massachusetts headed out of town to celebrate Valentine’s Day, her 2 dogs—Callie and Dakota—tagged along because they were staying at her sister-in-law’s house. While saying goodbye to family, Victoria placed 2 weeks of Callie’s heart medications in pill pockets in plastic bags on the counter for her sister-in-law to administer them during their stay. However, a turn of events ensued, and the dogs got into the supply of heart medication.

"Even though Dakota had lost a leg to cancer a few months earlier, he was able to jump up on the counter and get the bag of medication. I thought I was making the process easier for my sister-in-law by putting the medication in tasty pill pockets, but instead, I turned them into a treat for Dakota. I won't be making that mistake again,” said Becket, in a company release.

"At home the medication is always kept on top of the fridge, so they don't have access to it. Once we realized that the dogs had ingested the medication, we postponed our trip and called our local veterinary hospital. They recommended we call the experts at Pet Poison Helpline,” clarified Becket.

According to Renee Schmid, DVM, DABVT, DABT, senior veterinary toxicologist at Pet Poison Helpline and manager of Veterinary Medicine and Professional Services, Callie and Dakota’s story demonstrates the importance of taking special precautions with a pet’s medication while traveling or in unfamiliar locations.

"The medications Callie was taking for her congestive heart failure included pimobendane, and enalapril, both of which can cause hypotension, lethargy, weakness, and possible tachycardia. Due to underlying health concerns of both dogs, and these medications being ingested in combination, we recommended immediate veterinary care,” Schmid explained.

The medical team induced vomiting upon their arrival at Berkshire Veterinary Hospital. Though Callie did not have any pills in her vomit, Dakota returned remnants. He was given a dose of activated charcoal to reduce the absorption of the medications, and both dogs stayed overnight for observation. According to the release, each dog made a full recovery. However, Callie lost her fight with congestive heart failure 8-months later, but Dakota remains cancer-free.

"Callie and Dakota were fortunate that their pill pocket buffet didn't have more extreme consequences, but they are not alone," added Schmid. "Pet Poison Helpline receives thousands of calls regarding pets ingesting medication, both human and animal, that had been inadvertently left within the pet's reach.”


Hidden heart medication poisons pet prior to Valentine’s Day. News release. Pet Poison Helpline. February 9, 2022. Accessed February 15, 2022. https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/hidden-heart-medication-poisons-pet-prior-to-valentines-day-301478111.html

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