Tiny dog survives big scare, thanks to treatment at UF

Buddy Freni being transported

Buddy Freni, a chihuahua mix that was taken to UF PETS in Ocala on Feb. 28 after ingesting his owner’s baclofen pills, is shown after being stabilized for transport to the main UF Small Animal Hospital in Gainesville for hemodialysis treatment. With Buddy is UF veterinary student Barbara Linnehan. (Photo courtesy of Dr. Carsten Bandt)

A typical puppy, it didn’t take long for little 6.5-pound Buddy, a Chihuahua mix, to scarf down several pills when they accidentally spilled from his owner’s bathroom sink on Feb. 21. It also didn’t take long for the 4-month-old pup to start having seizures: The pills were muscle relaxers containing the drug, baclofen.

“I was at work and my boyfriend called me, freaking out because our daughter had found the dog in obvious distress,” said Melodey Freni, who lives in Ocala. “Apparently one of our cats had knocked over the bottle of muscle relaxers and Buddy got ahold of the pills. He tore open and ate about 10 of them.”

Freni rushed Buddy to her veterinarian, who contacted University of Florida’s Pet Emergency Treatment Services in Ocala when the dog’s condition worsened.

“He had no body movement, but he was yelping, so we knew he was alive,” Freni said. “The UF vets stabilized him and gave me all of his treatment options. But when I asked what the very best option was for him, they said it was hemodialysis treatment.”

Freni never doubted what she was going to do; Buddy had been a Christmas present for her daughter, and she would try to save his life, no matter what the cost.

The UF PETS team then immediately transported Buddy to the Small Animal Hospital in Gainesville, arriving shortly before Freni and her family did.

“He had stopped breathing in Ocala,” said Dr. Carsten Bandt, chief of the hospital’s emergency and critical care service. “We intubated him there and hand-ventilated him on our way to UF. Once we got to UF, he was treated with hemodialysis to remove the baclofen from his bloodstream. We were able to remove all of his baclofen and he went home a few hours later, being completely normal.”

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Buddy Freni, a 4-month-old chihuahua mix, is shown receiving hemodialysis treatment at UF’s Small Animal Hospital on Feb. 28. (Photo courtesy of Dr. Carsten Bandt)

Bandt said that without hemodialysis, Buddy probably would have continued to have seizures and would have stayed on a ventilator for at least a few more days.

“This is a nice example of how hemodialysis actually can help to keep a medical bill down, but most importantly, the procedure can help a patient recover quickly,” Bandt said.

As for the Freni family, they can’t say enough about UF. They are grateful not only for the care rendered to Buddy, but for the kindness shown to their daughter while she waited to hear if her beloved dog was going to pull through his ordeal.

“My daughter was so upset about what happened to Buddy,” Freni said. “She blamed herself. She said, ‘if I had been playing with him and not with my toys, this wouldn’t have happened.’ But Dr. (Ashley) Allen actually came out and sat down with her and said, ‘oh, no, if you hadn’t found him and brought him in, we wouldn’t have been able to save him.’”

Now Buddy has a new family nickname: Super Puppy.

“We really can’t thank the veterinarians at UF enough,” Freni said. “Now we kind of include them as part of our family. We’re just so glad they are close to us, in our backyard in Gainesville.”

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