Objective – To describe a case of barbiturate toxicosis in a dog secondary to ingestion of a previously buried euthanized goat carcass and to discuss the utility of urine drug testing in diagnosing barbiturate toxicosis.
Case Summary – A 6-year-old neutered male Border Collie was presented to a university veterinary teaching hospital for evaluation of ataxia and acute collapse. Past pertinent history included Addison's disease that had been managed for 1 year. A companion dog was seen 12 hours earlier chewing on the partially decomposed head of a goat that had been euthanized 47 days previously and buried on the owner's property. The dog was laterally recumbent, unresponsive to stimuli, and hypothermic on physical examination. Initial blood work revealed hyponatremia and hyperkalemia, with a Na/K ratio of 18.5. The dog was volume resuscitated and received an injection of dexamethasone sodium phosphate due to a suspected Addisonian crisis. Despite this treatment, the dog remained laterally recumbent and unresponsive to stimuli. A urine drug screen was performed and was positive for barbiturates. A diagnosis of barbiturate toxicosis secondary to ingestion of a euthanized goat carcass was made. The dog was treated supportively over 12 hours with IV fluids and activated charcoal. The dog was able to walk 11 hours after presentation and was subsequently discharged from the hospital.
New or Unique Information Provided – Urine drug testing is a fast, easy, and point-of-care test that may be useful in dogs to assist in the diagnosis of barbiturate intoxication. Proper disposal of euthanized animals is necessary to prevent toxicosis and possible death of companion animals and wildlife.