Trooper’s Story

Every day we see cases that touch our heart but everyone once in a while we get a patient that comes with a story which leaves a lasting impression. This is Trooper’s story:

Mike Mecredi and Deb Richard from Duff, Saskatchewan, have been long time animal lovers who are always willing to help an animal in need. They were out feeding a horse that had strayed from home onto an abandoned farmyard.  Mike came home one day and mentioned he thought he saw a puppy in the distance by a shed.  They returned with a pail of food to encourage it to come to them.

Deb moved closer to the pup, which was hiding in an old shed. She dropped to her knees about three feet from the entrance of the shed and lightly called…’here puppy puppy’…and out came a dog, timid, but tail wagging, black, dull fur, very skinny.  She could tell immediately the dog was pregnant. She slithered over to her calmly but as she was checking her out she felt a presence that made her look up.  Standing two feet away stood a very big dog with a scarred up muzzle, no tail wagging, staring at her with a wary look. She could see he too was very underweight and that his back leg was very swollen and he had a large wound on his chest.

“I knew to swallow my fear immediately” said Deb, “I stayed on my knees, put my arms out in a welcoming position and lightly said again…’here puppy puppy’…he walked right into my arms and put his head into my chest and stayed there…I put my arms around him and hugged him telling him it’s okay now, it’s okay.  That was a very tough moment, I could not help but cry, I could feel him giving himself up to me, and my heart broke into a million pieces.”

Having eight dogs already at home, Mike and Deb did not know how to proceed. The health of these new dogs was unknown and posed a risk to their existing pets. They fed the dogs, provided them with shelter,gave them with new names (Trooper and Sparky) and came back the next morning. With some encouragement they were able to get them both in their Jeep and rushed them to the vet in Melville. Although Mike was recovering from knee surgery and Deb on disability from a brain injury they found a way to commit some money for Trooper’s care. The vet assessed Trooper and realized he had two gunshot wounds, one to the chest and one to the leg which had broken his tibia (thigh bone). The vet knew finances were tight and offered amputation as the least expensive option. Repair was also an option but would cost much more. “ I was trying to figure out in my head how to justify to Mike why this dog deserved our help so much…then I heard that wonderful voice of Mike’s saying…’fix him…don’t take his leg, he deserves more than that…fix his leg!’…I could not help the tears that sprang into my eyes…and that is how Trooper got to meet Dr. Steve”

troop1An x-ray of Trooper’s fracture. Notice the bullet fragments.

Trooper sustained a serious break and had open wounds which required the placement of an external fixator.  The surgery went very well and all of Trooper’s wounds were cleaned and debrided. He was put on antibiotics for several weeks to take care of infection. Trooper was a lovely dog at the clinic and won over everybody’s heart. He looks tough with his scars but could not have been a nicer boy. He went home with his new owners for some well-deserved TLC. We will be rechecking him regularly for 12-16 weeks until his fracture site heals.

troop3 troop2Post-op pictures of Trooper’s external fixator.

On Valentine’s day Sparky had 11 puppies! Trooper’s last chance as he was also neutered at the time of his surgery :). Sparky and Trooper will never go hungry again, and once Trooper’s recovery is complete he will have full use of his leg once again. “There was so much done for Trooper while in Dr. Steve’s care. All I can say is Trooper and Sparky are worth everything we have gone through for them, and we are totally in love with these dogs!”

troop4 troop5

Thank you card from Deb, Mike and Trooper. Sparky’s healthy pups.

We will be sure to provide updates on Trooper’s progress in the coming months.  Thank you to Deb and Mike who have been able to give Trooper and Sparky a second chance. They are wonderful people and we are glad they were in the right place at the right time.


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Halloween Treat Toxicities

Halloween is fast approaching, and you know what that means: Chocolate and Candy! Delicious for us but did you know that chocolate and certain candies can be toxic and potentially fatal for your pet? This blog will tell you which treats to watch out for and if accidental ingestion occurs, what signs to look for and what approaches to take.


Chocolate is dangerous for a number of reasons. First off, the high fat and sugar content of certain chocolates can cause gastrointestinal and metabolic diseases such as gastritis and pancreatitis. This can result in vomiting, diarrhea, increased thirst, increased urination and lethargy and in cases of severe pancreatitis can be life threatening.

Chocolate is also dangerous because it contains theobromine and caffeine. Both of these compounds are classified as methylxanthines which are stimulants. Dogs are especially sensitive to methylxanthines and if enough is ingested it can result in hyperactivity, increased heart rate (tachycardia), tremors and potentially death.

The amount of theobromine and caffeine differs depending on what type of chocolate is ingested. Baker’s chocolate contains seven times more theobromine than milk chocolate, and white chocolate, which contains no cocoa beans, contains negligible amounts of methylxanthines.

Mild signs of toxicity can be seen at doses over 20 mg/kg, moderate effects are seen over 40 mg/kg, and severe effects are seen at doses over 60 mg/kg.  There is a chart below which can be used as a general guideline for toxicity. Keep in mind that all dogs react differently to a substance and any chocolate ingestion should always be considered concerning.

 If you know your pet has gotten into chocolate recently (<1 hour) then vomiting should be induced. This can be done at home by giving a tablespoon of hydrogen peroxide orally (for a Labrador sized dog). If this is not successful, the dog should be seen by a veterinarian to properly induce vomiting and to administer activated charcoal to prevent absorption of the caffeine and theobromine. If it has been more than one hour or if clinical signs (tremors, excitability, seizures) are seen, then the dog should go straight to a vet. The veterinarian may begin fluid therapy and monitor the cardiac activity with an ECG. The vet may also decide to catheterize the dog as caffeine can also be reabsorbed by the bladder, so frequent emptying will help to reduce the amount absorbed1.

Click on Table to Enlarge

Chocolate Toxicity – – a VIN company!

 Macadamia Nuts

Ingestion of Macadamia nuts by dogs can result in weakness, depression, vomiting, difficulty walking (ataxia), tremors, and high body temperatures (hyperthermia). Dogs ingesting as little as 2.4g/kg of nuts can show signs of toxicity. The reason for the toxicity is still unknown but treatment is similar to that of chocolate toxicity. This includes inducing vomiting, giving activated charcoal, and administering enemas to try to remove as much toxin as possible from the body. With proper supportive care most dogs will return to normal within 24 to 48 hours2,3.


Even one grape or raisin is enough to cause severe acute renal failure in a dog or cat. So be cautious of chocolate covered raisins! To date we do not know the specific toxin in grapes/raisins but know that it is contained in the skin and not the seed. Not all pets are affected equally. For one patient, a whole bag could be consumed without problem while for another; one single raisin could be enough to result in kidney failure. Therefore any grape or raisin ingestion should be considered serious. Clinical signs may include vomiting, lethargy, and clear urine production. Treatment consists of inducing vomiting, activated charcoal and IV fluid therapy for 36-72 hours to flush out the kidneys.  Your veterinarian may also perform blood work to asses kidney function and to monitor  the electrolytes that kidneys are responsible for. The outcome depends on how quickly treatment is initiated and how much the kidneys are affected4.


Xylitol is a natural alternative to sugar which is found in many sugar-free gums, candies and other products. Ingestion of xylitol can result in a rapid, life-threatening drop in blood sugar (hypoglycemia). Doses as small as 100mg/kg (approx. ½ stick of Trident/kg) can cause clinical signs such as extreme lethargy, vomiting, seizures, and collapse.  Treatment is performed by a veterinarian to stabilize the blood sugar levels with IV fluids and dextrose. Higher doses, 500-1000mg/kg, can cause liver damage and bleeding disorders. These cases are more severe and will need intensive care5.

I hope you found this information useful for preventing Halloween toxicities in your pets. For more information on these and other toxic compounds please visit the Animal Poison Control Center or contact us at (306) 525-5244. In case of potential toxin ingestion it is always better to be safe, so bringing your pet in to the vet is always recommended. We hope you have a great Halloween season and that it is safe for your entire family, including the furry members. Don’t forget to enter our Halloween Pet Costume contest by posting pictures on Facebook. There are great prizes to be won!

Happy Halloween,

Dr. Steve

Associate Veterinarian

  1. Gwaltney-Brant S. Chocolate Intoxication. Vet Med 2001;96[2]:108-111
  2.  Hansen SR. Macadamia Nut Toxicosis in Dogs. Vet Med 2002;97[4]:274-276
  3.  Hansen SR, Buck WB, Meerdink G, Khan SA. Weakness, tremors, and depression associated with macadamia nuts in dogs. Vet Hum Toxicol 2000;42[1]:18-21
  4. Porterpan B. Raisins and Grapes: Potentially Lethal Treats for Dogs. Vet Med 2005;100[5]:346-350
  5. Dunayer EK. Hypoglycemia following canine ingestion of xylitol -containing gum. Vet Hum Toxicol. 2004;46(2):87-8.
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