Chilkat Valley News - Serving Haines and Klukwan, Alaska since 1966

Two dogs get sick after Chilkoot visits


April 22, 2021

An unknown substance near the Chilkoot River made dogs sick twice this month. The pet owners had to make their animals vomit and the dogs needed intravenous fluids from veterinarian Michelle Oakley.

In early April Nancy Hotch went on her usual walk along the Chilkoot with her husky Autumn and Teri Bastable-Podsiki’s husky malamute, Denali. The pair of dogs typically leave the road and run along the river and into the woods.

When Hotch and Autumn returned home, the dog became lethargic.

“She came home and she ate part of her supper and then she laid down and was acting restrained,” Hotch said. “She was just kind of laying there. Her eyes were all glazed.”

She called the Haines Animal Rescue Kennel and Tracy Mikoswki advised Hotch to force the dog to drink a mix of water and hydrogen peroxide.

“The next day she was better,” Hotch said. “My husband took her out a week later with Denali and they walked out there and nothing happened. Then we walked out there again a week later and Denali got sick.”

Autumn returned on the third outing with mild symptoms but Denali didn’t have the energy to get out of the car. Bastable-Podsiki said she thought Denali must have been extra tired and left the car door open thinking he’d get out when he was ready. Three hours later, he still hadn’t moved and he was mostly unresponsive, she said.

Bastable-Podsiki forced Denali to drink a mix of hydrogen peroxide and water, which induced vomiting.

“He only vomited a brown liquid,” she said. “I caught it in a plastic bag because (Oakley) wanted to see what was in it. He still couldn’t get out of the car. We dragged him out, carefully. He couldn’t stand up. He just fell over. When he was in the car he was twitching.”

She carried her dog into her house. Oakley arrived later that evening and gave Denali an IV. The animal finally moved at 3:30 a.m., but didn’t eat or drink for about 36 hours, Bastable-Podsiki said.

Oakley said Autumn and Denali’s symptoms were common in dogs who’ve eaten marijuana, but that it’s unlikely the same thing would happen weeks apart.

“If I had seen either of those dogs separately I would have been convinced they found some spot someone had dropped because that’s certainly how they acted,” Oakley said. “That doesn’t fit with dogs running around and the same thing happening two weeks later. I can’t imagine there’s a big stash of pot lying around big enough to get two dogs sick.”

Bastable Podsiki said she kept samples from Denali’s vomit and gave them to Oakley. Oakley told the CVN it’s cost prohibitive at this point to test the samples because it’s unclear what caused the symptoms. If more animals get sick, Oakley said, and more samples are collected, they can try to narrow down what to test for.

Oakley said if anyone sees their pet acting lethargic after eating something strange, they should induce vomiting by giving the animal two tablespoons of hydrogen peroxide and two tablespoons of water and call a vet in Whitehorse or Juneau.

Helena Muench’s dog had similar symptoms at the time that Autumn first got sick, Muench said. They live at Mosquito Lake.

“She woke up in the morning and had a hard time walking,” Meunch said. “By 8 a.m. she couldn’t stand up on her own and would only walk as much as she had to. For 48 hours she didn’t show any interest in eating. She drank and slept. Her eyes wouldn’t even stay open.”

Her dog improved two days later.


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