Pigs and pills are not a good mix.
When Summerlin residents Teresa Praus-Choe and her husband, Ian Choe, came home from work a couple of weeks before Christmas, they discovered that their pet pig, Crispy Bacon, had been busy. He'd gotten into their medications and overdosed.
"We both work long hours," said Praus-Choe. "We were gone 12 hours. But we think it happened just before we got home because there were still pills on the floor. We think he would have eaten them all if it had been any longer ... If we're gone for a long time, he gets bored and starts to look for things to get into."
The Choes speculate that the pig's rooting instinct had him nosing a bedside tray apparatus that tipped over, and then he chewed open the prescription bottles.
"They had child safety caps," Ian Choe said. "I didn't think he'd be able to (open them), but he chewed right through them."
Crispy began vomiting and was acting "hyper," Praus-Choe said. They began calling veterinarians to see who treated pigs at 2 a.m. They found one at the Animal Emergency Center, 3340 E. Patrick Lane.
Crispy was given something to make him regurgitate the pills. Then he was given charcoal to absorb any remaining medication. He had to stay overnight.
"They had to stabilize him because some of the medications included heart medicine," Praus-Choe said. Other prescriptions he ingested were ibuprofen, acetaminophen, omeprazole and beta blockers.
Crispy was moved to the Choes' regular vet's facility, where he spent two more nights getting fluids intravenously and blood draws to check his kidney function.
Dr. Christopher Yach is a veterinarian at West Flamingo Animal Hospital, 5445 W. Flamingo Road, and said he sees as many as five accidental ingestion cases a month, but seldom do they require keeping the pet as long as Crispy's case.
"Usually it's a dog that was sent home with a two-week supply of medicine and grabs it off the counter and eats the whole thing," he said, "or the owner was supposed to give a quarter of a pill and gives them the whole thing."
Yach said timing is important. There is about a two-hour window where a vet can induce vomiting to expel the pills "or you might get lucky and go up to four hours." After that, the medicine is already in the bloodstream.
When a small animal ingests human prescriptions, its system can be overwhelmed. Crispy is not a small pet. He weighs 100 pounds, so that worked in his favor.
The Summerlin couple had taken out pet insurance on Crispy. Voted as the "Most Unusual Claim of the Month" by Veterinary Pet Insurance Co. for December, Crispy is in the running for the 2012 VPI Hambone Award, to be decided in December.
According to Adam Fell, public relations supervisor, VPI insures 485,000 pets in total, and 26 are potbellied pigs. In 2011, the company had a little more than 1,000 claims for drug overdoses.
He recalled hearing about Crispy's claim.
"My first thought was, 'Was the pig OK?' that was the most important thing," he said. "It really is a lesson to pet parents that you have to be really careful with your medications and food items because pets can be mischievous, and you never know when they can get into something."
The Choes got a pet pig because Teresa is allergic to most animals. They adopted him from Texas nine months ago when he was a piglet.
"Everyone at work knew I was getting a pet pig," she said. "They would come up with names like Ham Let or Pork Chop."
Crispy walks on a leash, just like a dog. He knows tricks such as sit, turn and shake hands. He uses a litter box but prefers doing his business outside. He will never outgrow his curiosity.
"We have toddler gates all over the house," Choe said. "Most people with children get rid of them after awhile, but for us, they'll be there for 20 years."
Contact Summerlin/Summerlin South View reporter Jan Hogan at firstname.lastname@example.org or 387-2949.