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 which was also surrounding all of his other organs… 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 to 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 and constant ECG monitoring. Dr Sara West placed an ever-important 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 allows 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 – a dog’s 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 countless tense moments, quick thinking, impeccable teamwork and 6+ hours, the Pet ICU team was able to bring Ash back from the brink of death.

After the initial treatment phase and Ash’s response to therapy, it was suspected that he was suffering from an atypical Addisonian crisis. This is a potentially fatal condition where the body’s adrenal glands fail to produce enough hormones 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 Addisonian crisis. There were a few red herrings, such as the incidental lamb bone feeding, attempting to push the vets in a different direction and made diagnosis more difficult.

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 Addisonian crisis in time to save his life.


Soon after he was discharged, Ash’s regular vet at Bulimba Veterinary Surgery performed follow up blood tests which confirmed the diagnosis of Addison’s disease. We are happy to report that he has now been provided with the medication he needs to manage this condition.

Dr Argent and the entire team in the Pet ICU quickly fell in love with Ash and his amazing fighting spirit. We are all so incredibly happy that our team was able to get him back home to his wonderful family safe and sound.