Of Potbellies and Pills: One Pet Pig’s Overdosing Episode

Crispy Bacon

According to Teresa Praus-Choe of Las Vegas, Nevada, her pig Crispy Bacon is quite a ham. Though she and her husband Ian joke that Crispy is their little “rock star,” they never expected the potbelly pig to take that notion to the extreme. After overdosing on human medication while his owners were at work, Crispy has earned the title of “Most Unusual Claim of the Month” by Veterinary Pet Insurance Co. (VPI).

“We had done absolutely everything to piggy-proof our home, including adding child safety locks to cabinet doors. We always place medication up high and out of reach,” said Teresa. “One night when we came home from work, we saw medicine bottles everywhere and pills on the floor. Crispy had knocked over a table and ingested ibuprofen, acetaminophen, omeprazole and beta blockers.”

Not knowing how many pills the pig had swallowed, Teresa and Ian rushed him to the emergency animal hospital as soon as he began to vomit. The next few days were torturous for the pig’s parents as Crispy was treated for drug toxicity. Concerned for the health and functionality of his heart, kidney and liver, Crispy’s veterinarian administered fluids intravenously, performed a charcoal treatment, and completed blood work daily to monitor Crispy’s organ function. After three days of care, Crispy was healthy enough to return home and has since made a full recovery.

“Although the pet in this case may be a less-than-common companion, the incident itself actually occurs rather frequently,” said Carol McConnell, DVM, MBA, vice president and chief veterinary medical officer for VPI. “In 2011, VPI received more than 1,000 claims for drug overdose making it the most common type of toxicity claim among companion animals. As Crispy’s owners know all too well, accidental ingestion of human medications can be life-threatening for a pet, as well as mentally, emotionally and financially taxing for a pet’s parents.”

Dr. McConnell recommends taking proper steps to prevent poisonings and having the phone numbers of emergency veterinary hospitals handy, should such an incident occur. For more information about toxicity prevention, pet owners should visit www.mypethealthzone.com.

Crispy’s incident was one of more than 80,000 claims received in the month of December 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 December included a Newfoundland dog that fell into a ravine; a corgi attacked by a mountain lion; and a boxer that ate a pound of sugar. All pets considered for the award made full recoveries and received insurance reimbursements for eligible expenses.

As the most unusual claim submitted in December, Crispy will be in the running for the 2012 VPI Hambone Award. Other nominees include Baxter the domestic longhair cat who fell from the 11th story window of his owner’s Seattle high-rise, and Peanut the dachshund-terrier mix who became buried alive after a squabble with a skunk. For more information about the VPI Hambone Award, or to read about all of the 2012 nominees, visit VPIHamboneAward.com.


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