Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Back Story: Sick as a you-know-what

If you live around here, chances are there is a black walnut tree somewhere nearby. I have a beautiful eighty-footer in my backyard. If you have a dog, here's something to watch out for: Suki, our 15-month-old female red heeler and well-known bad girl about town, was poisoned a couple days ago by ingesting a black walnut (shell and nut) she picked up off the ground in our backyard. She managed to eat about half of it before I was able to stop her, and seems to be recovering, but in some cases this can be fatal. They are also poisonous to horses.

There are two types of poisoning that can occur from ingesting black walnuts in nature. If the shell is moldy from dampness, the fungus can cause seizures, tremors, loss of coordination and jaundice as well as the vomiting, diarrhea and lethargy that come just from eating the shell and nut. Fortunately, our girl exhibited only the latter three symptoms. We had her to the vet yesterday, where she got a shot to stop her vomiting, and we are watching her carefully.

After we got home, I Googled "dog and black walnuts" and came up with some information, but not a lot. It was pretty much the same as what the vet told me after she did her own research on it. I also learned that they have not seen a lot of cases of this, which is surprising given the number of black walnuts we have in our area.

As is wont to happen, Suki first started vomiting on Saturday night, about 12 hours after ingesting the nut. It didn’t take me long to put two-and-two together, as I had been concerned right at the time I caught her with the nut. Or tried to catch her, that is… I was slipping around on the ice, trying to get the nut away from her as she was chewing away. She had better traction than I did. Fortunately, she dropped about half of her booty during the chase.

If I had been smart, I would have Googled the situation right away and would have found that I should have induced vomiting immediately by forcing her to drink hydrogen peroxide. I will keep this in mind in the future. Another thing I learned from the vet is that if your dog has a sour stomach, you can give it Pepcid AC. Who knew..?

This morning, after about three days of illness, the pooch had scrambled eggs for breakfast and has dragged me outside to play Frisbee twice already. Now, what to do about that damn walnut tree…

8 comments:

JafaBrit's Art said...

wow, I had no idea eeeeeek, thanks for sharing this. So glad you were able to rescue your dog and is okay.

Michael Kremer said...

Virgil, I am very surprised to hear this. Midas has spent the past five years blackening his teeth on the cranium crushers dropping onto our patio and yard. The only reason I've grabbed them away from him was because I hate the sound of him testing his back teeth on these menaces of nature. I guess I'll have to pick them up. Joy!

Virgil Hervey said...

Michael, This is interesting. Maybe some dogs have a better tolerance for them than others. That might explain why there are less cases than would be expected. Another possibility is that it was something else that made Suki sick. But there is a body of information out there on this. One suggestion I read regarding picking them up: Use a golf ball shagger and save your back. I'm thinking something more like a giant, super powerful vacuum. There must be thousands of them out there.

Virgil Hervey said...

Addendum: Another danger is that a sharp piece of the shell can get caught in the dog's intestine and cause a blockage that could require surgery. So, even if your do has a tolerance to the toxins in the black walnuts, it's still not a good idea to let it ingest them.

Michael Kremer said...

A shop-vac and a long extension chord might work.

lisargold said...

good to know about. I had no idea. I'm glad that Suki is feeling better.

Toad Hall said...

Sorry to hear about the girl, Virgil. I will be sure to keep Mollie away from the black walnuts down the street. Red Girls come back well from illness.

Virgil Hervey said...

Thanks, Don. She was down about three days. She is her old feisty self again. For all the grief she gives me, I love the breed more each day. Check out this facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/AuCaDo-Australian-Cattle-Dog-Rescue-MI-OH/440169425248