Ethanol toxicity in a dog due to gin-soaked sloe berry (Prunus spinosa) ingestion

Publication date 12th January 2021
Authors N West, Clare Rusbridge


A 10-month-old male Labrador retriever was presented for acute onset altered mentation and inability to walk. The dog was presented with a modified glasgow coma scale (MGCS) of 12 with tachycardia (148 bpm) and hypothermia (37◦C). The dog had been normal the previous night then found semi-comatose at the following morning. Investigations included haematology, biochemistry, C-reactive protein, magnetic resonance imaging, urine toxicology and cerebrospinal fluid analysis. Ten hours after being found the dog passed faeces containing a significant volume of berries. The owner later determined that 750 g of sloe berries soaked in gin were missing from the garden compost heap. Serum ethanol concentrations measured approximately 20 h after the suspected consumption were 310 mgD/L. The dog was treated with intralipid, intravenous fluid therapy and paracetamol. He was neurologically normal (MGCS = 0) 24 h later, following diagnosis and treatment. Differential diagnosis and management of the comatose dog and management of ethanol toxicity are discussed.