16 months ago, eight-month-old Gypsy, canine love of my life, worked the lid off a bottle of 5-HTP and gobbled the pretty capsules like liver treats (did I say she is a very smart girl?) I took the bottle away and thought nothing more about it because it’s just a supplement. Supplements are healthy. Less than two hours later she had a series of small seizures.
I didn’t associate her seizures with the supplement. It was only after running tests and pointed questioning by the vet that I remembered she ate them. At which time, the vet informed me: A. 5-HTP is very dangerous to dogs, even in small amounts, B. You can preempt many toxic disasters by using hydrogen peroxide to make your dog vomit, and C. if you wait even a few hours, it’s too late to do much of anything. I had to take Gypsy home and pray my ignorance hadn’t caused her permanent harm.
Like a good dog parent, I put all my supplements well out of reach, hopped on the internet, and researched 5-HTP toxicity and how to make your dog vomit. I determined that I would need a 20 ml dose. Oral syringes maxed out at 10 ml (there are now larger syringes available). Knowing how wiggly Gypsy is, I decided to order two so I could deliver the entire dose without stopping to refill.
Fast-forward to last Saturday (incidentally, Gypsy’s second birthday). The vitamin D capsule I poured into my palm bounced and landed on the floor. I bent over to find no capsule and Gypsy licking her lips. This was bedtime on a Saturday night. By the time I got her to a vet that would see her, the window for treatment would be closing.
I read the following at Pet Health Network: “When ingested in poisonous amounts, vitamin D can result in life-threatening elevations in calcium (i.e., hypercalcemia) and phosphorous (i.e., hyperphosphatemia). When this occurs, it results in soft tissue mineralization–or hardening of the tissue. This mineralization often occurs in the kidneys (renal tubules), gastrointestinal tract, aorta, and even the heart. This can result in severe acute kidney failure within just a few days.”
This was followed by an arcane formula for determining toxic levels per your dog’s weight. In my panic, I found the formula too frustrating to deal with and jumped to emergency action. I hopped onto a couple of sites with written instructions (I found this article to be the most practical).
I then opened my bathroom closet, a catchall for linens, cleaning supplies and various health and hygienic items I haven’t used in more than a decade. In my mad scramble to find the syringes I’d bought more than a year before, I knocked several unopened bottles of supplements and a light bulb onto the floor. The light bulb shattered, drawing Gypsy’s attention. I shut the door and continued my search, ignoring the mess.
I unearthed the syringes and grabbed the peroxide. I measured out Gypsy’s dose (there is disagreement about dosages, anywhere between 5-10 ml per 10 pounds for a dog, with one site saying you should never give more than 45 ml to your dog. Dosage is hugely important. Too much hydrogen peroxide will harm your dog.
Per the article, I mixed it with yogurt (no ice cream on hand) and she ate it, though I had to encourage her. I chose to mix it with food because she’d taken a tiny volume of toxin on an empty stomach and therefore, had little to vomit up.
Ten minutes of sitting on my front stoop later, nothing happened. I went back to my articles. One said that making your dog move is important. Another said you can give your dog a second dose after 15 minutes. I took Gypsy outside again and walked her up and down the street for several minutes. Nothing happened. Time for a 2nd dose.
This time I loaded the syringes, sat on a stool and wrapped my legs around her while I pried her jaws open and shoved the syringes down her throat. I immediately took her outside and kept walking her until she vomited—which she did several times over the next half-hour.
Relieved, I hugged my girl. I wanted to give her a biscuit, but she was still queasy so I held off on treats for the night. I cleaned up the broken glass, then returned to the page about vitamin D toxicity and carefully reviewed the formula. I did the math. Gypsy would need to ingest 20 capsules to reach a toxic dose. Some birthday.
- Keep your syringes in an easily accessible spot where you will see them immediately when you need them.
- Print out the instructions and keep them with your syringes (Note: Don’t rely solely on this blog post – it’s important to know when to induce vomiting and when to do so will cause more harm. Review several websites and talk to your vet, as opinions differ about dosage and hydrogen peroxide can be toxic).
- Get your dog (or cat) moving immediately after you give them the peroxide and keep them moving.
- Don’t give a 2nd dose unless you must. I would give it longer than 15 minutes. If you act immediately, you can give a second dose after 20 or 25 minutes and still achieve vomit inside an hour.
- Buy a new bottle of 3% hydrogen peroxide every year (it does expire. I suspect part of the delay in Gypsy’s vomiting was old peroxide.
- Review ALL of your supplements and take the time to determine the amount necessary to reach toxic levels for your dog or cat. Attempting to figure this out in the heat of the moment leads to delays, panic, and mistakes. write this down. Keep it with your syringes.
- Review other household dog toxins, including house and garden plants. The ASPCA has an excellent directory of safe and unsafe plants for pets. If your dog likes to chew vegetation, you may want to remove these, or at least put them out of reach.
- Don’t have syringes? Amazon now has 30 ml oral syringes. I just bought these.
7. do what I say, not what I did.