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Yogi's snack proves a problem

Last Saturday afternoon, Gill took Yogi for a long stroll in the local countryside. She always comes back when called, and Gill allows her dog to run off for up to 50 yards away from her without worrying too much.

Towards the end of the walk, however, Yogi disappeared into a ditch, and refused to come back. Gill chased after her, and found the dog with her head down, chewing something in the undergrowth. It was too dark to see what it was. Gill called her sternly, and Yogi came out with her tail between her legs, as if apologising.

She behaved herself for the rest of the walk and Gill didn't think much more about it at the time.

When they got home, Yogi went into her bed, which was unusual. Normally she bounces around the house enthusiastically, knowing that it's soon going to be dinner, the highlight of her day.

Half an hour later, Gill called her for her food, but Yogi didn't budge from her bed. It was only then that she realised that there was something very wrong with the dog. She had collapsed in her bed, and she refused to wake up when Gill shook her. She was drooling, and when Gill lifted her out of the basket, her body was all floppy.

Gill phoned her vet, and was instructed to bring Yogi in to the Pet Emergency Hospital at once. She was there within half an hour, and within seconds of her arrival, Yogi had been whisked away from her by the team of vets and nurses. Blood samples were taken, and she was given intravenous fluids and other life-supporting measures.

At this stage, she was deeply unconscious, as if in a coma. She was still breathing on her own, but the equipment was lined up ready to ventilate her artificially if needed.

The precise diagnosis was still a mystery. The blood tests had showed an unusual pattern of electrolyte disturbances. The most likely cause of her collapse was some type of poisoning. When Gill mentioned the incident on the walk earlier that day, it seemed to be the answer. But what was it that Yogi had eaten in that ditch?

The first thing on Sunday, Gill drove back to the place where they'd been walking, and went back to the ditch in daylight. She found the body of a deer lying there, and there were bite marks where Yogi must have chewed it.

Gill asked locally, and discovered that the deer had been hit by a car on the Friday evening. A vet had been called out as an emergency to euthanise the animal and arrangements had been made for the deer carcass to be taken away by the authorities on the Monday morning.

Gill phoned the Pet Emergency Hospital to report her findings, and they were now able to explain everything to her. When an animal -- such as a deer -- is euthanised by injection, a high level of barbiturates are used. The potent drug then remains in the animal's tissues. When Yogi had gorged on the deer meat, she'd eaten the equivalent of 20 sleeping tablets. It was no wonder that she had collapsed. She was a lucky dog to still be alive.

Yogi continued to sleep deeply for a full 36 hours, with intravenous fluids trickling into her continuously. It was only on the Monday morning that she began to stir, staggering unsteadily to her feet. By Monday evening, she was back to herself, and ready for her usual dinner.

Gill has learned a lesson that other dog walkers should also pay heed to: never let your dog out of your sight. Rural ditches may look harmless, but you never know what a curious dog will discover there.

See Pete's website at www.petethevet.com