One Saturday afternoon Ash the poodle was brought to our Underwood hospital in a severely critical condition. Earlier that day he had been taken to Supervets in Brisbane where, after being examined, Ash was quickly referred to Animal Emergency Service (AES).

Unknown to the dangers of cooked bones, Ash had been given a cooked lamb bone a few days earlier and had developed life-threatening gastrointestinal signs. He had an abnormal amount of fluid in his abdomen however, we would soon find out this was the least of Ash’s problems.

In an extremely weak and barely responsive condition on his arrival to the hospital, Ash was on the verge of death. Upon examining Ash, emergency veterinarian Dr Taylor Argent noticed that he had dangerously low blood pressure and low blood glucose. Dr Argent immediately notified Ash’s concerned owners and transferred him to the Pet ICU for rapid intensive treatment, monitoring and minute by minute nursing care.

Pet ICU nurses Laura and Hayley sprang into action placing multiple peripheral intravenous catheters to allow for critical IV fluid therapy, supplemental glucose and antibiotics. They also placed a urinary catheter to allow measurement of urine output and an arterial catheter to allow direct blood pressure as well as constant ECG monitoring. Dr Sara West placed a central line right into Ash’s jugular vein allowing three different types of life-saving blood pressure medications to be administered. Ash was in for a long night – constant rate infusions and repeated blood tests needed to be performed regularly, fortunately, the central line allowed this to be done with relative ease and comfort.

As the minutes and soon to be hours passed, Ash’s condition and blood pressure refused to respond to initial medications which led to the doctors suspecting an adrenal insufficiency. Adrenal glands are necessary to control the salt, sugar and water balance in the body. To counteract this insufficiency, hydrocortisone was carefully calculated and administered to help give Ash a fighting chance.

In the early hours of Sunday morning, Ash’s blood pressure began to improve. He continued to go from strength to strength over the next four days as he received around the clock care within the Pet ICU.

After some very tense moments requiring quick thinking as well as impeccable teamwork, the Pet ICU team was able to bring Ash back from the brink of death.

After the initial treatment phase and given Ash’s response to therapy, it was suspected that he was suffering from an atypical Addisonian crisis. This is where the body’s adrenal glands fail to produce enough essential hormones. It is a condition which can be fatal if left untreated.

This case was deemed atypical because Ash’s initial blood work did not directly support a diagnosis of an Addisonian crisis. Addison’s disease is commonly referred to as ‘The Great Pretender’, due to its ability to mimic many different disease processes. Fortunately for Ash, we were able to diagnose and treat his condition in time to save his life.


Soon after he was discharged, Ash’s primary vet at Bulimba Veterinary Surgery performed follow up blood tests which confirmed the diagnosis of Addison’s disease. We are happy to report that they are helping to manage his condition by providing him with the medication he needs as well as seeing Ash for regular check-ups.

Dr Argent and the entire team in the Pet ICU quickly fell in love with Ash and his amazing fighting spirit. We are all incredibly happy that he is now back home to his loving family safe and sound.

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