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Canine Paintball Poisoning How It Happened

All of us remain exhausted, so I’ll try to tackle one main question at a time about Lilly’s severe paintball poisoning this week. The big thing everyone wants to know is how on earth Lilly had the opportunity to eat 130 (or so) paintballs. Here is our tale of acute canine paintball poisoning.

Paintball History @ Our House

Tom used to play paintball games with friends way back in the 1990s. I don’t recall how long this particular paintball gun and stash of pellets have been in the house, but it must be a long time because he tried (unsuccessfully) to sell them at our garage sale in September.

For many months, he stored everything in the garage, but mice from our pastures often sneak into the garage, and they were EATING the paintballs and making a real mess.

Looking back, I suppose that should have been a clue, but there you go.

So a while back, Tom moved them into our mostly unfinished basement.

Honoring Feelings of Dread

Tom’s work schedule sends him to far flung locations in way Northern and way Eastern Colorado at this stage in the quarter. He had planned to go Tuesday, but Monday night he could not sleep due to a tremendous sense of dread, like something REALLY bad was going to happen if he went.

Regular readers will understand that considering what our lives have been like for the last 16 months we certainly didn’t need any more drama, injuries, or whatever.

Like some sort of Greek tragedy, in an attempt to avoid one thing, something else happened instead.

Tom put the trip off until Wednesday, which meant he got to stay home instead and work from here. That included straightening up the workshop area of the basement.

When we gutted our kitchen as soon as we bought this house in 2001, Tom moved many of the lower cabinets downstairs for both storage and counter space.

During his tidy-up process, the big, zippered bag of paintballs ended up on the front edge of the counter.

Another Kind of Dread

Tom came upstairs to work on his computer, and as far as we can tell, Lilly:

  • Slunk back downstairs
  • Pulled the bag from the counter, which caused it to pop open
  • Had herself a big snack

We believe these paintballs have quite a bit of fish oil in them, so our best guess at this point is that they smelled good to her. Our regular veterinarian seemed to think the paintball membranes might also have some pork byproduct in them, but we’re still unraveling all that.

First Signs of Canine Paintball Poisoning

Around 3 pm or so, we were teasing Lilly about her tail wagging like a helicopter. Sometimes, instead of going back and forth, she whips her tail around — whop, whop, whop.

I picked up her back end, and we were giggling about how it just might take off.

Well, here is the thing … her tummy felt wrong:

  • Tight
  • Bloated
  • Sinuous
  • Weird

I mentioned it to Tom. I had given her a 1/2 of a rawhide at lunchtime, and Lilly had been outside a lot earlier in the day, which means she had access to all kinds of scat.

I wish they did not, but both dogs are big-time poop eaters.

So, we figured she had eaten a bunch of poop. “Don’t kiss her,” I warned Tom and went back to my desk. Tom went back to his, and that was that.

Major Yikes!

But, around 3:30 pm, even though my computer streamed holiday music (in a desperate attempt to muster some cheer and motivate myself to get a lot done so that I can take time off the next couple of weeks), I could have sworn I heard Lilly crying.

I stepped out into the hallway and asked Tom, “Why is Lilly crying?”

That’s when I saw her …

  • Huddled up on the living room area rug (most of our main level is tiled)
  • Round-headed
  • Laying next to a big pile of something blue … and yellow … and green

She looked upset. She looked sick. I got scared.

I said to Tom, “Cripes! She threw up!”

And, both of us at the same time said, “What IS that?!”

Grabbing a fistful of paper towels and a trash bag, I flopped down and tried to figure out how to tackle clean up while Tom checked Lilly.

I bet it took a good 30 seconds of examining this brightly colored pile of what looked like brains — all wrinkled and lumpy and random.

I looked straight at Tom, who was bent over Lilly asking if she was OK. I held up one of the “skins” and said, “It’s paintballs. She ate paintballs.”

No one cried. No one hollered. We simply sprung into action and raced Lilly to our local veterinary ER hospital. 

Continue Reading Our Tale of Canine Paintball Poisoning

Canine Paintball Poisoning, Lilly Hospitalized

Canine Paintball Poisoning Update 3 am

Canine Paintball Poisoning Update 4:30 pm

Canine Paintball Poisoning Triage and Treatment

Canine Paintball Poisoning and The Technicolor Vomit

Roxanne Hawn

Trained as a traditional journalist and based in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, USA, I'm a full-time freelance writer for magazines, websites, and private clients. My areas of specialty include everything in the lifestyles arena, including health and home, personal finance and other consumer interests, relationships and trends, people and business profiles ... and, of course, all things pet related. I don't just love dogs. I need them in my life. Seriously.

Merr - December 18, 2010

Holy cow, this reads like a suspense story. Even though I know Lilly is okay (thank goodness!). I’m going to check out the series.

KB - December 17, 2010

I sure am glad that you sprung into action and saved her life. Knowing how to induce vomiting is a great thing for a dog guardian. (although, on one occasion, my dog didn’t vomit despite us giving her hydrogen peroxide – and that can be a big problem with the peroxide sitting in the stomach doing damage).

I’m so glad that Lilly is home with you and on the mend.

Pamela - December 17, 2010

I’m so glad Lilly is recovering. I wonder if she’ll ever find paint ball pellets attractive again?

In your earlier post, you mentioned that sorbitol was a component of the paint balls. Sorbitol is used as a sweetener which may be what made them attractive to Lilly.

I’ve read warnings about dogs getting sick from sorbitol but I also find it’s an ingredient in most dog toothpastes.

Your experience has strengthened my desire to find sorbitol-free toothpaste!

Crystal (and Maisy) - December 16, 2010

I cannot imagine the horror of seeing your dog throw up in technicolor.

Sheryl - December 16, 2010

Of all things…yikes. Is she okay? It’s amazing what dogs will eat. I once had a dog who was fond of pink rubber balls (they were called Pensie Pinky’s in the day). Loved eating them – and loved giving them back to us in an altered state 🙂

Christine Moran - December 16, 2010

I’m exhausted for you in this crazy situation. So glad she’s doing better and is on the mend. Hope things keep looking up.

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