How to Poison a Dog
I hope I don’t have to start every post with a disclaimer, but I want to make it clear that we would never intentionally poison a dog. If you look in the yard, that would be obvious since we have 8 of them. In fact, if you want to get rid of one, just call John. He’ll probably adopt it! However, most of the events that will provide grist for this blog mill will be, or were caused, inadvertently. With that said, I’m sure you are wondering, how do you poison a dog.
That’s not a typo in the first paragraph. We have 8 (eight) dogs. How we came to have 8 dogs is a topic for another day, but to understand how the events of this past weekend occurred, you have to understand how expensive it is to care for that many canines. If you have a dog, you could take your expenses and multiple by 8. If you have a small dog, you probably should multiply by 8.5 because 5 of our dogs weigh more than 50 pounds and eat accordingly. If you don’t have a dog, just imagine driving your car into a pond once a year and buying a different one. That would give you a pretty good idea of what we spend on our four-legged friends.
Since John grew up on a farm and raised various types of livestock, buying and administering medication to animals is second nature to him. As our dog population increased, he gradually began to do more and more of the veterinary procedures himself. Of course we still had to use our local vet to cast a broken leg on one of the rat terriers, and we had a wonderful surgeon who flew in from Tennessee to repair the Yorkshire terrier’s ruptured disk in his spine, so it’s not like he does everything himself. However, administering medication for internal parasites, also known as “worming” has never been a major procedure, until now.
Ivermectin is a parasite control drug found in Heartgard, Ivomec, and various other products. It is expensive when purchased as a name brand in pre-measured doses for dogs, but purchased in bulk for large animals such as horses, the cost drops dramatically. However, measuring the exact dosage becomes a little trickier. It is relatively safe when the proper amount is administered, but it can have some very scary side effects in the case of an overdose as our 5-year-old Jack Russell terrier, Tuffy, learned. About 3 hours after receiving her dose of ivermectin, Tuffy came staggering into the living room and collapsed near my chair. Before I could get to her, she struggled to her feet and ran into the couch giving the appearance that she was blind. She was shaking and having mild convulsions. Thinking she might still have some of the drug in her stomach, I immediately gave her anything and everything she would eat to dilute the concentration including a big bowl of milk. I’m not sure if the treatment did any good, but if she had any of the drug left, it was eliminated in the middle of my living room carpet.
After a short break in poison control to clean up the mess, I switched over to administering water from a syringe. I wish I would have taken a minute to Google “side effects ivermectin overdose” because I would have been greatly relieved to learn that her symptoms were all caused by the drug and were all temporary as long as she didn’t lapse into a coma. Unfortunately, I was too busy freaking out with a blind dog that couldn’t walk. As with most crises in my life, John was out hunting when the symptoms started. He did come home after I called him on the phone, but his moral support didn’t do much to ease her condition. I asked him how much wormer he had given her, and he said he gave her a scientifically measured “dab” on his finger. Nice. I spent the night holding her on the couch, and she settled down enough about 2:30 that I fell asleep. She was steady enough at 5:30 to take a quick bathroom break outside, and 24 hours later her vision and motor control were back to about 85% of normal. By the following day, she’d made a complete recovery.
I guess the upside is that Tuffy is undoubtedly parasite free at least until she catches her next rabbit or finds another roadkill entree. Even better, now you know how to avoid poisoning a dog.