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Highlighting the dangers of nicotine and pets in memory of Leonardo

This is such a heartbreaking story about a dog who died after ingesting nicotine from an eCig.

Miffany Haynes agreed to be interviewed as after losing her dog Leonardo, she wanted to make sure his story reached as many people as possible.
This was in the hope that other dogs don’t have to suffer as he did.
The image below shows Leonardo looking healthy and happy as a young Staffie should, leaping into a pool without a care in the world.
But his life was cut short after he bit into an eCig that a friend had accidentally dropped under the sofa in Miffany’s home.

Leonardo the Staffie who tragically lost his life after ingesting nicotine.
Leonardo the Staffie before he fell ill

Vaping is huge in the UK with an estimated 4 million people using devices to stop smoking.

But nicotine fluid contains such highly concentrated levels of the toxin it can kill animals within minutes.
As someone who knows this first hand, Miffany wants her heartbreaking experience to serve as a warning to keep their animals away from smoking aids.
She said: “These things should be banned. A dog would have to eat three packs of cigarettes to get the same amount of toxins as Leo ingested by chewing on one for a moment.
“I believe numerous dogs will have died without owners even realising.
“Leonardo weighed two and a half stone, that’s the same as a three year old, and it killed him.”

The Veterinary Poisons Information Service say they have seen a sharp rise in cases, from just 17 in 2013 to 91 in 2015.

These were only cases where the owners knew that their pets had ingested nicotine.
More often than not, curious dogs chew things out of sight and owners have no idea what causes them to fall ill.
Spokeswoman Nicola Bates explained: “The figures only relate to cases where the VPIS has been consulted but there are likely to be other unreported cases.
“The VPIS recommends owners to contact their veterinary surgeon for advice if they think their pet has chewed or eaten an electronic cigarette or the liquid refill.”

Highlighting the dangers of dogs and eCigs and nicotine products in memory of Leonardo.
Devoted Miffany and Leonardo

In Miffany’s case, it was just seconds after Leonardo had been exposed to nicotine that she found him and she followed first aid advice by acting swiftly.

She spotted the discarded cigarette as she was cleaning and put it on the kitchen table.
But Leo, then only a young puppy, jumped up and grabbed it in his teeth.
Miffany said: “I dashed over and took it off him, then he ran into the garden and just collapsed. It was like he was frozen.
“His tongue was in the back of his throat so I pulled it out and started pounding his chest to help him breathe.
“I took him straight to the vets and in the car he started fitting.
“The vet flushed the nicotine from his system but he kept having seizures.”
Miffany was referred to a neurologist who gave Leo medication to control the fits, but they grew more and more frequent.

The young dog was so scared by the seizures that he wouldn’t sleep and was permanently anxious and exhausted.

In March 2015, eight months after he was poisoned, Miffany was devastated to watch her dog slip away.
“I didn’t want him to suffer any more,” she said, breaking down.
“He needed CPR to bring him back from his final fit and I thought it was kinder to let him go.
“I was utterly heartbroken and still am now. Every day I think of him.
“I blamed myself but it was a terrible accident.
“Now I want his story to reach as many people as possible so another dog doesn’t have to suffer like he did.
“I want these things banned. The neurotoxins in the cigarette killed my dog and I can’t imagine they do humans much good either.”

Highlighting the dangers of dogs and eCigs and nicotine products in memory of Leonardo.
The eCig that Leonardo found and chewed.

The advice for pet owners is to keep eCigs and particularly the nicotine refills away from animals.

Sean Wensley, President of the British Veterinary Association, says owners need to get their pet to a vet urgently if they fear they have ingested nicotine.
He said: “Nicotine is a fatal poison that acts very quickly.
“E-cigarettes and refills can easily contain enough nicotine to kill a small animal very quickly.
“As with all substances that are potentially toxic to animals, we recommend storing all e-cigarette equipment safely out of reach of your pet.
“If you suspect your pet has chewed or eaten an e-cigarette or any toxic substance then it is vital that you contact your vet for treatment as quickly as possible.”

Miffany has set up a Facebook page to remember Leo and warn against the dangers of eCigs and other poisons around dogs.

Visit Poison and Dogs in honour of Leonardo to find out more.
If you’d like to learn what to do in an emergency you can read our post on First Aid tips for dog owners.

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