Barbiturate Poisoning in a Dog: Yogi’s Sudden Collapse

When you take your dog for a romp in the countryside, the last thing on your mind is the outing ending up at an emergency vet clinic.

You might be aware the standard seasonal outdoor risks your dog might be exposed to. Potential dangers can lurk in standing water, buzzing through the air, growing or slithering in the grass.

Having your dog collapse turns a walk into a nightmare.

Barbiturate Poisoning in a Dog: Yogi's Sudden Collapse

Yogi’s story

This is not a story you hear about frequently. It does, however, serve as an example that one can’t ever be diligent enough anticipating the kind of trouble their dog can get into.

Yogi is a happy, active girl with a solid recall. That allows her to enjoy a good level of freedom when outside in the countryside. She gets to run off-leash, explore and check out things to her heart’s content.

Yogi doesn’t come back when called

During this particular walk, Yogi disappeared into a ditch and wouldn’t respond to recall. Her mom went to find out what’s happening. Yogi was munching on something but it was dark and her mom couldn’t see what it was.

Yogi did respond to a stern recall, knowing she was in trouble for ignoring her mom. She was a good girl for the remainder of the walk.

Something isn’t right

When they returned home, instead of bouncing around in the anticipation of dinner, Yogi went to lay down. That was strange because Yogi always looked forward to her food.

Not only that–when her mom later called her for dinner, Yogi didn’t move. It became clear there was something seriously wrong.

She collapsed in her bed and wouldn’t wake up no matter what her mom did. There was drool coming out of her mouth and her body was limp.

Emergency vet visit

Her mom rushed Yogi to the veterinary ER. As soon as she arrived, the team whisked Yogi away for testing and emergency care.

Yogi was in a coma.

While under intensive care, the veterinarians were trying to figure out what happened.

Her electrolyte levels were abnormal. It looked like Yogi was suffering from some kind of poisoning. It seemed likely that it was related to Yogi’s mysterious find in the ditch. But what did she find there?

Getting to the answer

First thing in the morning, Yogi’s mom drove back to the ditch to see what Yogi was into. She found a dead deer with bite marks that were likely Yogi’s.

Further inquiry revealed that the day before their walk, a deer got hit by a car. A veterinarian came to euthanize the injured animal, and the body was to be picked up on Monday. Except Yogi found it first.

Along with the deer meat, Yogi consumed an equivalent of twenty sleeping tablets.

Barbiturate poisoning

A barbituate is a class of sedatives and sleep-inducing drugs. Pentobarbital specifically, is an anesthetic used in euthanasia. It is a potent drug which remains in the tissues of the diseased animal.

Yogi managed to ingest the tissues laced with the drug. She was lucky to be alive.

Yogi recovers

Yogi remained asleep for thirty six hours. Thanks to the intensive care she received, she recovered.

In closing

Even as a diligent dog parent, you never know what kind of trouble your dog can get into during their explorations. I like letting my dogs enjoy off-leash time. But I also know I’m never happy unless I can see where they are and what they’re doing regardless of how safe the environment seems to be. People often shake their heads or laugh at me. But I like keeping my dog in my sight at all times, even though I want them to enjoy some freedom.

Original story:
Yogi, a Four-year-old Labradoodle Who Collapsed on a Walk in the Countryside

Related articles:
Dog Symptoms: When Is It an Emergency?

Further reading:
Pentobarbital Toxicity

Categories: CollapseDog health advocacyDog toxinsReal-life StoriesSymptoms

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Jana Rade

I am a graphic designer, dog health advocate, writer, and author. Jasmine, the Rottweiler of my life, was the largest female from her litter. We thought we were getting a healthy dog. Getting a puppy from a backyard breeder was our first mistake. Countless veterinary visits without a diagnosis or useful treatment later, I realized that I had to take Jasmine's health care in my own hands. I learned the hard way that merely seeing a vet is not always enough. There is more to finding a good vet than finding the closest clinic down the street. And, sadly, there is more to advocating for your dog's health than visiting a veterinarian. It should be enough, but it often is not. With Jasmine, it took five years to get a diagnosis. Unfortunately, other problems had snowballed for that in the meantime. Jasmine's health challenges became a crash course in understanding dog health issues and how to go about getting a proper diagnosis and treatment. I had to learn, and I had to learn fast. Helping others through my challenges and experience has become my mission and Jasmine's legacy. I now try to help people how to recognize and understand signs of illness in their dogs, how to work with their veterinarian, and when to seek a second opinion. My goal is to save others the steep curve of having to learn things the hard way as I did. That is the mission behind my blog and behind my writing. That is why I wrote Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog, which has turned out being an award-winning guide to dog owners. What I'm trying to share encompasses 20 years of experience.

6 Comments
  1. Lora Patterson

    Wow, what a scary story! I’m glad that Yogi recovered, she was lucky indeed.

  2. That’s so scary! It’s like you can’t ever take your eyes off them. Argument for keeping them on leash I guess. I always fear rat poison – we live in an old house and mice can get in somehow. I’m always afraid neighbors have put out poison.

  3. YIKES. That sounds a frightening story and I am just glad Yogi is OK.

    I would never have thought there were such dangers but I am 100% behind you keeping dogs in sight when they are off lead for walks. Here in New Zealand the Department of Conservation drops 1080 a pesticide and they have to put up signs to ensure no dogs enter contaminated areas because, sadly, dog lives have been lost.

  4. I had a friend whose dog ate Marijuana he found and he had to rush him to the vet but survived phew. I am blessed Layla does not eat anything when we go for walks so I do not have to worry about her but do worry about the dogs I walk who are still learning but I do not let them off leash anytime but in the house.

  5. Holy smokes, Yogi is so very lucky! Yes, we have a cabin in the woods and we have encountered the rangers helping with downed deer. It had never occurred to me to be aware of this scenario. Your article serves as an excellent reminder, and I’m going to share it with our little local paper in hopes that they spread it in the community. Thanks!

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