To determine the common clinical signs, with onset and duration, treatments given, and outcome in dogs with acute, accidental exposure to salbutamol.
Five hundred and one canine cases reported to the UK’s Veterinary Poisons Information Service (VPIS).
Measurements and Main Results
A review of all records in the VPIS database for dogs exposed to salbutamol was carried out. After applying inclusion and exclusion criteria, the records of 501 dogs were further analyzed. The most common clinical signs were tachycardia (80.6%), tachypnea (32.9%), depression (21.0%), and vomiting (19.2%). The dose was unknown in most cases as the dogs typically pierced a salbutamol inhaler. The blood potassium concentration was measured in at least 142 dogs and hypokalemia was reported in 21.2% (106/501), 18 (17%) of which had associated weakness, twitching, or collapse. Three dogs had paralysis probably as a result of hypokalemia, although no potassium concentration was reported in these cases. Arrhythmias occurred in 17 dogs (3.4%), and 7 required pharmacological intervention. There were no reports of persistent cardiac injury or thermal injury from the compressed gas present in some salbutamol products. Signs were rapid in onset, generally within 1–3 h, and, where time to outcome was recorded (n = 172), 78% of dogs recovered within 24 h. Of the 501 dogs, no treatment was required in 27.9%. Beta-blockers were used in 39.5%, intravenous fluids in 28.7%, and potassium supplementation in 15.8%. Overall, 30 dogs remained asymptomatic (6.0%), 469 recovered (93.6%), and 2 dogs (0.4%) died.
Most dogs exposed to salbutamol rapidly develop clinical signs; these were commonly increased heart and respiration rates. Hypokalemia and arrhythmias (particularly ventricular arrhythmias) are potential complications. Any dog that chews a salbutamol inhaler should be assessed promptly for signs of toxicosis. Prognosis in dogs with acute salbutamol exposure is good, but more guarded in those with severe tachycardia and at risk of cardiac injury.
Journal of Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care, EarlyView.Wiley: Journal of Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care: Table of Contents