Carbon Monoxide Poisoning in Dogs: Reilly’s Acute Leg Spasms

Carbon monoxide is colorless, odorless, and tasteless. What makes carbon monoxide dangerous is the fact that it replaces circulating oxygen. Further, because it bonds more strongly, it’s hard for oxygen to regain its rightful place.

As a result, the body—especially the brain and the heart—is deprived of oxygen. That leads to chemical suffocation. Further, the problem can continue for 10 to 15 days until the body replaces the affected hemoglobin! Treatment involves hours of oxygen therapy.

All you need is love … but oxygen is pretty important too.

House MD

Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning in dogs include:

  • fatigue
  • weakness
  • vomiting
  • lethargy
  • depression
  • difficulty breathing
  • loss of coordination
  • ataxia
  • seizures
  • coma
  • death

Further reading: Carbon Monoxide Poisoning in Dogs

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning in Dogs: Reilly's Acute Leg Spasms

Reilly’s story

Reilly, a healthy, four-year-old miniature Goldendoodle, survived a house fire. Immediately after the ordeal, Reilly’s parents rushed her to an emergency hospital. The veterinarians kept her for a few days while treating her for smoke inhalation.

However, the day after Reilly got back home, her front leg began to spasm. The twitching was constant and made her stumble when she walked. One time she even fell forward on her chin. Her parents took Reilly back to the hospital.

Because Reilly was alert and had no signs you’d expect with continuing carbon monoxide toxicity, she got a referral to a neurology specialist.

At the specialty hospital

Other than her unruly front leg, there wasn’t anything else immediately obviously wrong. However, upon closer examination, the veterinarian noticed reduced eye response and sensation inside Reilly’s nose. Further, it has turned out she had a proprioception issue on her left side. Reilly’s brain wasn’t working quite right. Could her brain be inflamed and her front leg twitching a result of seizure activity?

Reilly’s diagnosis

Reilly’s chest x-rays and blood work were normal, except for an elevation of one of her liver enzymes. However, that elevation would be consistent with smoke exposure. To figure out what was ailing her brain, Reilly needed an MRI. The evidence from the imaging pointed to changes due to carbon monoxide toxicity after all.

Reilly was treated with anti-seizure medication and a short course of steroids. The treatment took care of her leg twitching. However, it took two more weeks for her to substantially improve. Hopefully, with time, she’ll return back to her normal, healthy self. Her prognosis is good.

In closing

Carbon monoxide inhalation can have a profound toxic effect on the brain. The problem can go misdiagnosed because the onset of signs comes after some time of the incident. It is important to consider toxicity when dealing with neurologic issues.

Source story:
Carbon Monoxide Poisoning – Reilly

Related articles:
Drunken Gait/Ataxia in Dogs: Why Is My Dog Stumbling Around?
Dog Symptoms: When Is It an Emergency?

Further reading:
The Dangers of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning in Pets

Categories: Carbon monoxide poisoningDog health advocacyNeurologicalReal-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.

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