Poor Serena. First, she got cut running her heart out to retrieve the Buddy Glow Ball that I had thrown. Then, she got poisoned (sort of) when Laurel gave her a Gabapentin (Neurontin) pill instead of the Amoxi-capsule antibiotic that the emergency vet prescribed after stitching her up.
Here’s a phone number that every animal owner should have ready at hand: the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center, 1-800-548-2423 (or 1-888-426-4435). Our local vet said that if we wanted to pay $50 for a consultation, we should call the center and learn how serious taking 100 mg of Gabapentin would be for a dog.
Both medications were in similar green bottles, so Laurel absent-mindedly picked up the wrong bottle as she was in the midst of telling me something. It wasn’t until after Serena had swallowed the butter-encased Gabapentin and she took a glance at the container that a cry of “Oh my god I gave her the wrong pill what are we going to do!” echoed in our kitchen.
While Laurel phoned our vet I raced off to my computer to Google “Gabapentin dog.” I quickly learned that Gabapentin/Neurontin was used to treat dog seizures with doses of 100 to 300 mg every eight hours. The only problem was, Serena doesn’t have seizures. So our vet advised that she be given a quarter cup of hydrogen peroxide to make her throw up both the pill and a full meal that she had just eaten.
All three of us felt terrible as Serena retched on the linoleum after a few minutes. Well, two of us felt worse than the third, since Serena was the one throwing up, Laurel was the one poking through vomit looking for the pill, and I was merely still searching for information on the Internet about how Gabapentin would affect a healthy dog. Once we reached the Poison Control Center (after being on hold for several minutes--not desirable for such an entity) we were told that the Gabapentin dose was so mild, the vomiting wasn't necessary. Well, we can't blame the vet for playing it safe.
A couple of lessons can be gained from this experience. One, if you have a pet, be sure to have a poison safety kit on hand. Fortunately we had some hydrogen peroxide that wasn’t too far past its expiration date, because it worked. There must be other ways to make a dog throw up, but giving Serena the quarter cup of hydrogen peroxide was easy and effective. Sticking a finger down a dog’s throat seems like a decidedly less desirable option (especially if you’re interested in keeping all of your fingers).
Two, practice mindfulness. Laurel wasn’t fully conscious of what she was doing when she opened the pill container. I act similarly, often. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve parked the car, started to walk away, and then thought, “Did I lock the car?” I always go back to check. And I always find that I’ve locked the car. But I wasn’t conscious of locking the car even though I was pressing the “lock” button.
How much do we do without really knowing what we’re doing? Life is too short to be gone through unaware. And unawareness also is too dangerous for dogs and other living things, as evidenced by what a difference picking up one pill bottle rather than another makes.
Serena is fine. Her cuts are healing and she’s even back to playing some Buddy Ball (I’ve put cushioning around the edges of the well house roof in case our dog ever is unaware again of where she’s running).
[Note: the original version of this post had the Poison Control Center recommending that Serena be made to throw up, whereas actually it was our local vet. I've corrected what I mistakenly first wrote because I didn't want to leave an impression that the Center failed to realize that 100 mg of Gabapentin is a mild dose for a dog.]