Canine Paintball Poisoning and The Technicolor Vomit
Probably the third-most-asked question, behind how’d it happen and how is Lilly now, is the funny / macabre curiosity about the colorful result. You ask. We answer. Consider it Lilly’s way of adding a little holiday color into your day.
Because I know levels of squeamishness vary, I’m not posting the technicolor vomit photo openly, but if you want to see it, click through here. It’s really something. Episode #1 and #2 (at home) were big … about 1/2 the size and much lumpier than this BIG #3 courtesy of the “magic vomiting shot” the ER docs gave Lilly. Episode #4 was much smaller, so they then began working at it from the other end.
For those who’d rather not see the graphic details that the ER team so kindly documented for us, let me just say that the paintball shells were blue. The paint inside them was yellow, so we saw blue, yellow, and the combined green coming our of our silly, silly girl.
Non-Toxic My Ass
If you’re the kind of reader who looks at blog post tags and keywords, you may have noticed I’m using a tag called “non-toxic my ass.”
You see … we’d always believed the industry hype/propaganda that says paintballs are non-toxic. While that might be the case if a little paint splashed into your mouth on impact or something like that, but as with all substances … even those used therapeutically … it’s all dose dependent.
For example, veterinarians often use activated charcoal (which contains sorbitol) to help dogs who have ingested some sort of toxin. In that instance, the way sorbitol pulls fluid out of the body and into the intestines can actually help protect organs and aid in flushing the toxin out the back end. (In our case, that’s the last thing we wanted to happen since Lilly already had too much sorbitol from the paintballs in her system.)
In the most commonly cited documented case, a Lab weighing MUCH more than Lilly showed clinical signs of paintball poisoning from just 15 paintballs.
And, as you’ll recall from our earlier reports (links below), we estimate Lilly ate about 130 of them. Lilly flat-out, no-doubt-about-it OVERDOSED in a big, big way.
Dr. Katherine (Katie) Tucker-Mohl from the 24/7 ER team at Wheat Ridge Animal Hospital sent me a detailed PDF on Paintball Toxicity. It’s written for veterinarians, so the content is pretty technical, but it’s very interesting if you want to know all the medical details about the cascade of emergencies paintball ingestion causes inside a dog.
We were simply lucky that Lilly throwing up at home alerted us to the emergency so that we could spring into action and race her to a ER/critical care animal hospital, where treatment prevented the worse.
So, what on earth is inside these things? The handout reports the following:
Paintball ingredients vary depending on the manufacturer and may include polyethylene glycol, glycerol (glycerin), gelatin, sorbitol, dipropylene glycol, mineral oil, dye, ground pig skin, and water.
We’re fairly certain the ones we had (there are no longer any paintballs whatsoever in our house) contained fish oil, which could have attracted Lilly to them … because she takes fish oil capsules every day, loves fish-based treats and foods, etc.
But, it looks like our regular veterinarian was right, there could also have been some ground up pork skin in there.
So, while it seems completely weird to us that Lilly ate paintballs, they must have smelled like treats or food to her. She really is NOT the kind of dog that just eats any non-food thing.
Help Protect Other Dogs from Paintball Poisoning
So this holiday season, or any time, if you know of a family with paintballs and DOGS in the house, please pass along our cautionary tale.
I’m told it’s less common here in Colorado, but quite common for dogs to eat paintballs in the Midwest.
I didn’t know and didn’t do a good job protecting Lilly from this danger. I hope others will learn from my mistake.