Yesterday’s client wasn’t exactly the sharpest tool in the shed. All on staff had fumed when she failed to arrive the previous day after reporting, by phone, that her dog had gotten into her bottle of Advil (ibuprofen). The woman failed to heed the receptionist’s direst warnings, claiming she couldn’t bring her dog in until the next morning. Period.

So I called her back and explained exactly how her dog might suffer and die if she did not get her dog to a hospital—any hospital—immediately. I translated my statement into Spanish in case she wasn’t getting every word of my point across. No dice. She swore the dog had only licked the candy coating off the pills—nothing more. Still, I calculate the toxic dose for her dog: one pill. She demurred on the emergency visit nonetheless. (What part of “vida o muerte” did she not understand?) I made a careful record of the conversation in the chart.

She finally arrived close to closing time yesterday (a Saturday). We fumed again. The little blonde Pom had been vomiting all night. No blood in the sick-up (so far), but I found plenty in his stool. His belly hurt. He was dehydrated. He needed 24-hour care. She declined to take him elsewhere. Another detailed entry in his chart.

So I hospitalized him for fluids (lots and lots) and GI-protecting drugs (lots and lots). Ibuprofen kills the GI tract and the kidneys first, hence the need for GI meds and fluids, respectively. It can literally bore holes into stomachs and kill kidney cells. Not a good drug to get into. Little dogs are especially at risk due their size relative to the amounts of Advil we humans routinely dose ourselves with. Even one is more than enough for a medium-sized dog, given a sensitive stomach and on-the-edge-anyway kidneys.

Luckily, this little guy is a young-un with happy kidneys at the outset. Were he an older creature, I’m sure we’d be wondering whether he’d be with us or not this morning. As it stands, I just checked in on him and he’s doing just fine. No vomiting overnight and he’s bright and alert. We’ll see what his kidney values look like tomorrow morning for the real insight into his prognosis. Now I guess I’ll call his mom and give her the update—vida (so far, that is).