Lilah's $500 Cookie

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This has not been my favorite 24-hour period.

Lilah, our little girl dachshund, ate a bite of a cookie I dropped on the floor and it could have been fatal.

Thankfully, it wasn't, and she is fine--well, they have to run another test Friday, but I just know she is fine. The story: I made sugar cookies last night--baked them around 11:00 pm--and substituted xylitol for the sugar (xylitol is a sweet ester extracted from various plants like corn and birch trees, commonly found in chewing gum, but also used in low-glycemic cooking--it measures cup for cup like sugar and tastes just like it, too). When the first batch came out of the oven, I gobbled up a couple, and about a fifth of a 1 1/2" cookie dropped on the floor. While I had been very, very careful with the bag of xylitol, knowing from an email that circulated, by the way, that it can kill dogs, I was a little out of it and it didn't even register to me that the bit of cookie I had dropped would be a problem. Until after she scarfed it up. And suddenly, I realized what I had possibly done by leaving it there for her, and was powerfully motivated to go online and look up xylitol poisoning.

Yikes! I found out it doesn't take much at all to kill a dog! Only a tiny bit. So I called the 24-hour vet, who told me to call the ASPCA poison-control center. It costs $60 for a consultation, but even though it was only a very small amount she could have ingested, it seemed like the only thing to do. So I woke Rick up and told him what was going on and then called the center. Indeed, they calculated the per-body-weight amount of xylitol to be in the dangerous range, so told me to make her vomit using hydrogen peroxide. No luck after 2 tries, so I called them back and they told me I needed to take her to the emergency vet. So off we go, reaching the clinic just after midnight. She's showing no abnormal signs, but the most common manifestation of xylitol poisoning can show up as soon as 30 minutes after consumption, or up to12 hours after. And it can take for up to 2 days for some of the issues, such as liver failure,  to occur.

They made her vomit at the emergency clinic, and then had us leave her so they could monitor her blood sugar overnight. Because they are an emergency clinic only, they had us pre-pay their lowest estimated cost for their basic charge and what they expected to have to do for her overnight (observe her and check blood glucose levels) and the price was shocking--$307, with an estimated high end up close to $500! It also freaked me out when they had us initial that we wanted them to administer CPR if necessary. They advised that I would need to pick her up between 7 and 7:30 a.m. and transfer her to our regular vets for continued observation. So, we left her, and I sobbed my heart out all the way home because I knew it was my carelessness that had caused this--the danger to Lilah and the big--and still growing--vet bill.

Needless to say, it was not a very relaxing night. By the time we got home and I got myself to bed, it was almost 2 a.m.--not usually an issue, but it was this night because of having to get up so early to go get Lilah. Roly was a wreck without her. A little background on him: He's a rescue who had already been through several traumatic separations by the time he came to live with us when he was 7 months old, and was totally in love with Luna, the elder girl dachsie we had for his first 3 and a half years with us. He was devastated when she died, but took up quickly with Lilah when we brought her on board, and has always worried that she was going to leave,too, checking the house to be sure she was still around, even when he'd only been outside without her for a few minutes. So when we came home without her last night, he was deeply worried, and had a hard time settling down. But we made it through the night and thankfully, the phone never rang--they had said they'd call if her blood sugar dropped or anything else happened of significance.

Though I'm not a morning person, I invoked Easy World about 10 times, and things went well. I managed to hear a traffic report on the radio that cued me to take a detour, and I got to the clinic to pick her up at 7:25. Happily, they hadn't even had to do $307-worth for her, and so we got a refund of  $28. She was so excited to see me, she practically levitated as she covered my face with kisses. Amazingly, the vet said she'd been the best patient in the clinic that night--well, I'm not sure if she meant of all, or just of the dachshunds that had been there--but it was great news to me as she is not at all used to spending the night away from us--this was the first time in her almost 6 years, and I figured she would cry all night. Her relief was short-lived, though, as I had to take her directly to the other vet, which was, only about 3/4 of a mile away and on the way home. The emergency clinic had already faxed all the info over to them, so all I had to do was drop her off--very easy--and go home.

Roly was, as you can imagine, both upset that she wasn't with me when I got back, and excited to smell fresh Lilah smells on me. We managed to get in a few hours of a nap, and then, at last, it was almost 3:00 and time to pick Lilah up. It was snowing, so I was especially eager to go on and get her, and they discharged her to me a few minutes early with instructions on what to watch for and to bring her back either tomorrow or Friday for another blood panel. Their bill for watching her for 7 hours and testing her blood sugar was $143.50. When you add it all up, it comes to just under $500 (not counting the last bloodwork she needs) and she never showed a sign of a problem other than her blood sugar being a little on the low side this morning. But better safe than sorry!

Tonight I was inspired to give her a capsule of milk thistle, which I had on hand, and is excellent for supporting liver function and keeping toxins from settling there. I don't know if she actually needed it, but it made me feel better to do something!

The moral of this story is to stay on your toes and never, ever let your dog consume xylitol. But if she does, call the vet a.s.a.p. Lots of dogs have not been as lucky as Lilah and a few xylitol cookies or just a couple of pieces of sugarfree gum made with xylitol have been fatal, even in dogs much, much larger than her 13.5 lbs. Needless to say, the cookies and the rest of the dough went down the garbage disposal (instead of the trash, as that seemed the safest way to be sure other dogs would never be able to get to them).

Tonight I am so, so grateful to have my sweet little Lilah Jane home and safe and sound! And Roly is, too. If I ever doubted how much I love Lilah, I don't now. (For the story of Roly's now-humorous adventure with the emergency clinic, see "Roly's $93 bender".)

One of my favorite Lilah photos of all time (she's the red one; Roly's the black one):

and another one of L & R:



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This page contains a single entry by Julia published on January 10, 2008 12:28 AM.

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