Maddie’s slip up with a slug

It isn’t just older dogs we treat here at SASH, with many puppies – such as eight-week-old Golden Retriever Maddie – getting into some strife.

Maddie’s new owners had only had this gorgeous puppy for a few weeks when she suddenly became very tired, with weakness in her back legs. Her owners feared the worst and brought her to see the SASH medicine team.

Because of Maddie’s age and clinical signs, Dr Philip Brain was suspicious of a disease called neural Angiostrongylus – where rat lungworm larvae travel along the spinal cord of dogs (and sometimes humans as well).

A reasonably common disease in Sydney and surrounding areas, it’s associated with eating slugs and snails. It’s also seasonal and more likely to occur at Easter time when there’s a bit of rain. Or when someone agrees to a bad dare, like in the case of a young man who recently ate a slug at a party and had to be taken to intensive care, where he spent a long time recovering from the disease.

In Maddie’s case, it was a lot more innocent. She was just being your typical curious pup, following her nose. And much like any Golden Retriever, when she came across some slugs, that was no problem – she slurped them right up.

When we were told she had been seen eating some slugs, it only strengthened our suspicions and after performing a spinal tap on Maddie, we were right to be concerned. There was severe inflammation of the fluid around her spine and a particular type of inflammatory cell we see with parasite infections.

A lovely little dog who got unlucky with her indiscretion with a slug, Maddie is well on her way to recovery thanks to appropriate treatment with corticosteroids and some dedicated owners.

A recent update from these owners described Maddie as being almost 100% back to normal, meaning that this gorgeous little pup not only worked her magic and found a place in their hearts, but will continue to do so for a long time yet.

If you are ever concerned about your pet, your vet is usually your first port of call. But remember SASH is there for your sick pet, whether by referral to a specialist vet or to see our emergency team 24 hours per day, 7 days per week, 365 days per year.