A 7-year-old pug showing signs of ataxia presented after a fall from a sofa. An ethylene glycol (EG) test was positive, and she was referred for further diagnostics and treatment. During the examination, she voided a large volume of urine. Although the history, physical examination, and positive EG blood test were consistent with acute EG toxicity, the biochemical profile was not. Therapy with fomepizole was initiated about 6 hours after the suspected exposure; saline was also administered. In the morning, the patient's mentation was normal and the ataxia had resolved. She defecated a large amount of bright-pink, liquid feces that had an odor similar to latex paint. The owners reported that pink paintballs were present in the household and accessible to the dog. Fluids were discontinued, but fomepizole therapy was continued. The dog recovered with no subsequent problems. Although EG toxicity could not be ruled out, it was more likely that the clinical signs were related to ingestion of paintballs, which contain chemicals that could cause positive reactions with the EG test, including sorbitol, propylene glycol, and glycerol. Glycerol has been reported to cause gastrointestinal irritation, vomiting, and polyuria. Although EG toxicity is much more common, the popularity of paintball gaming may make this a more common problem. Based on this case, the prognosis for paintball toxicity seems to be good.
COMMENTARY: Paintball gaming is very popular, and exposure to paintballs will become more common. Although the prognosis for recovery from paintball toxicity seems good, it is important to differentiate between this toxicity and the more common EG toxicity and treat both appropriately. The fact that this dog had positive results to the EG blood test confuses the issue. In a period from January 1998 to January 2003, the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center handled 44 calls of paintball ingestion and 510 reports of EG exposure in pets.
Paintball intoxication in a pug. King JB, Grant DC. J Vet Emerg Crit Care 17:290-293, 2007.