Dining on Dough Nearly Turns Deadly for Two-Year-Old Pooch

Nation’s Largest Pet Insurer Selects November's Most Unusual Claim

Brea, Calif. (Dec. 20, 2012) – Justin Groom’s new roommate had a rule: a house was not her home until she baked her grandmother’s bread there. While Justin wanted his roommate to feel comfortable in his Denver, Colo. home, he had no idea that her baking adventure would turn into a near tragedy for Dingo, his 2-year-old mixed-breed pup. The incident caused alcohol poisoning and landed Dingo in the emergency animal hospital, earning him the title of November’s “Most Unusual Claim of the Month” by Veterinary Pet Insurance Co. (VPI).

After preparing the bread dough in the kitchen, to help the dough rise, Justin’s roommate placed the pan of 24 dinner rolls on the heating vents located on the floor of her room. While the door to the room was closed, 48-pound Dingo smelled the aroma of the bread dough and managed to push his way into the room where he consumed the dough of all two dozen rolls.

Initially, Justin wasn’t very concerned upon realizing his pooch had ingested the dough. Dingo had eaten bread before and, other than appearing very full, he seemed to react normally despite the heavy food consumption. However, a few hours later Justin recognized that the dough ingestion was having unusual effects on Dingo’s behavior.

“After about four hours he started to act a little buzzed and began stumbling around,” explained Justin. “He walked over to his dog bed and tripped over it, landing face first on the pillow. As funny as it appeared, at this point I knew something was wrong and researched the dangers of dough ingestion on the Internet.”

Dingo’s stomach acted as an “artificial oven,” providing a warm, moist environment for the yeast to ferment; this is then metabolized to ethanol (alcohol) and carbon dioxide, resulting in both alcohol poisoning and potential stomach bloat, also known as gastric dilatation-volvulus. “After realizing how poisonous the dough was, I called my veterinarian and they told me to bring him in,” said Justin. “Within that time, Dingo lost nearly all muscle control and was unable to stand for more than a second without falling or running into something. He literally needed to be carried into the animal hospital.”

Following the initial examination, the veterinarian was unsure if Dingo would be able to survive through the night. Because so much time had passed since the dough ingestion, the veterinarian was unable to induce vomiting and had to rely on a variety of medication to keep Dingo conscious and help stimulate his system. Fortunately, Dingo pulled through and has since made a full recovery devoid of any long-term injuries.

“Dingo’s claim shows how dangerous the ingestion of ‘people’ food can be for our pets,” said Carol McConnell, DVM, MBA, vice president and chief veterinary medical officer for VPI. “Unbaked bread dough, in particular, can be toxic and even deadly because it ferments into alcohol and can lead to stomach bloat – it’s a double whammy as it causes two potentially life-threatening problems. Veterinarians see more alcohol poisoning – from atypical sources such as unbaked bread dough or rum-soaked baked goods – during the holidays. With the holidays upon us, there are more opportunities for our four-legged friends to ingest potentially harmful foods, so it’s vital that pet owners keep those items out of reach.”

Prior to being adopted by Justin, Dingo was found as a stray dog on the streets of Lakewood, Colo., malnourished and with the appearance of having suffered abuse. For Justin, the terrifying bread dough incident reinforced his belief in the benefits of having pet insurance for Dingo and his 10-year-old dog, Bandit.

“I think the absolute number one reason you should have pet insurance is for peace of mind,” said Justin. “The instant I realized Dingo needed help, I knew I had insurance for him and it wasn't a question of if I could afford to bring him to the animal hospital. I knew I was covered by Veterinary Pet Insurance, and that allowed me to focus on what was important - Dingo.”

Dingo’s incident was one of more than 80,000 claims received in the month of November by VPI, the nation’s oldest and largest provider of pet health insurance, and was selected by VPI employees as the most unusual of the bunch. Honorable mentions in November included a Labrador retriever that sustained multiple lacerations to her left and right legs after getting caught in a barbed wire fence, a golden retriever that needed stomach and intestinal surgery to remove five pounds of plastic that were ingested after chewing a plastic swimming pool several months prior, and a soft-coated Wheaten terrier that was gored by a deer’s antlers. All pets considered for the award made full recoveries and received insurance reimbursements for eligible expenses.

As the most unusual claim submitted in November, Dingo will be in the running for the 2013 VPI Hambone Award. Other nominees include Chance the Labrador retriever who was butted by a goat, Ariel the Himalayan kitten who was trapped underneath her pet parent’s garage door, and Annie the Yorkshire terrier that was stranded outdoors during one of the worst storms in North American history. For more information about the VPI Hambone Award, or to read about all of the 2013 nominees, visit www.VPIHamboneAward.com.

Digital images of Dingo are available upon request. Send requests to dolson@petinsurance.com.

About VPI Hambone Award

The VPI Hambone Award is named in honor of a VPI-insured dog that got stuck in a refrigerator and ate an entire Thanksgiving ham while waiting for someone to rescue him. The dog was eventually found, with a licked-clean ham bone and a mild case of hypothermia. This quirky title was first awarded in 2009 to Lulu, a hungry English bulldog who swallowed 15 baby pacifiers, a bottle cap and a piece of a basketball. The VPI Hambone Award and these unusual pet insurance claims have since helped educate the public about the unexpected mishaps that can affect household pets. Stories and pictures of the VPI Hambone Award nominees are available at VPIHamboneAward.com.

About Veterinary Pet Insurance

With more than 485,000 pets insured nationwide, Veterinary Pet Insurance Co./DVM Insurance Agency (VPI) is a member of the Nationwide Insurance family of companies and is the oldest and largest pet health insurance company in the United States. Since 1982, VPI has helped provide pet owners with peace of mind and is committed to being the trusted choice of America’s pet lovers.

VPI Pet Insurance plans cover dogs, cats, birds and exotic pets for multiple medical problems and conditions relating to accidents, illnesses and injuries. CareGuard® coverage for routine care is available for an additional premium. Medical plans are available in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Additionally, one in three Fortune 500 companies offers VPI Pet Insurance as an employee benefit. Policies are offered and administered by Veterinary Pet Insurance Company in California and DVM Insurance Agency in all other states. Underwritten by Veterinary Pet Insurance Company (CA), Brea, CA, an A.M. Best A rated company (2012); National Casualty Company (all other states), Madison, WI, an A.M. Best A+ rated company (2012). Pet owners can find VPI Pet Insurance on Facebook or follow @VPI on Twitter. For more information about VPI Pet Insurance, call 800-USA-PETS (800-872-7387) or visit petinsurance.com.

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