This is the story about how a local vet almost killed my best friend. Let's make sure it doesn't happen to you. Strap in, it's a long and bumpy ride.
I got Hudson from the SPCA in Fort McMurray, and everyone who knows us, knows that dog has been my life ever since. He's been with me through just about everything, but almost didn't get to enjoy the rest of his journey thanks to the carelessness of a highly regarded, Kelowna vet.
When we first moved to the Okanagan, it was just us, so he got to hang out at doggy daycare once a week and let me adult. He got lice. Big whoop, it's bound to happen. A failed few rounds of diatomaceous earth, flea and tick shampoo, and literally vacuuming the dog, I went to the only non-emergency vet open on a Sunday. They were out of lice shampoo. Classic.
We waited for Monday to roll around, and went to the number one recommended veterinary office in town. We hadn't had any need to see a vet in Kelowna before this, so it was our first visit. Everyone was lovely, the girls at the front loved Hudson, it was a quick visit and resolution to our creepy-crawly problem. Hudson got a shot.
A shot for lice? Weird. I noted it right away, but I'm not a vet, what the heck do I know!?
Huds had an accident that night, in our bed, while he was fast asleep. Weird. He was a perfectly healthy and fully house-trained, three-year-old dog. I wrote it off. The next day, he couldn't get enough water, and had another accident that night. Weird.
I called my girlfriend, Dana. She's worked with rescues longer than I've known her and has been a veterinary assistant many times over. "Weird," she said, after I told her what happened.
I called the vet office. They told me they thought Hudson had a UTI and should get antibiotics. No, that's not right - I knew that much. They also advised me to take his water away an hour before bed to try and curb the accidents. Hudson was due for his second shot that weekend, and I went with questions. I didn't think he should get the second one, but wanted the vet to see him and talk it through with me. He walked into the room and gave Hudson the shot, barely saying a word to me and brushing me off as I tried to inquire about the strange symptoms my dog had been displaying since shot number one. He walked out of the room and closed the door. Weird.
I got the girls at the front desk to find out what it was he had given Hudson, twice now. They wrote down "ivermectin" on a sticky note and handed it to me.
I texted the word to Dana. 'Uh oh,' she texted back. Uh oh? UH OH? I started googling. The essentials of what I read are this:
Ivermectin is primarily a livestock dewormer, which can be administered in small doses to dogs and cats to kill parasites such as ticks, lice, and fleas. It should, however, never be given to Collie dogs or Collie crosses (among other breeds listed here), as they have a gene mutation which makes their bodies react differently to certain medications. This is where the saying "white feet, don't treat" generates from. Hudson has white in his feet. It also says Flatcoated Retriever X Collie on his file. Uh oh was right. In this case, the Ivermectin (which causes neurological damage to the parasite it is targeting basically killing them from the inside out) breaks down the blood-brain barrier in the dog and your pet goes into toxic shock, which there is no cure for. You literally have to watch your dog degrade and die, unless, in a miraculous turn of events they live through it.
My aunt, who is a vet tech, got a sobbing phone call immediately. She was doing a lot of swearing and cursing the vet's name while I cried on the other end of the phone and she talked me through what to do to try and flush the poison from his system. She also reassured me that he "probably won't die, since he hasn't already..." Perfect.
She told me his brain was dehydrated and to make him drink as much water as possible as often as possible (not take it away an hour before bed...). He was immediately put on a diet of chicken, rice, carrots and oatmeal for nearly a month straight to soak up anything in his system. I did a lot of laundry loads of sheets, as he kept having accidents nearly every night (and, yes, I bought him a diaper, and yes, I called it his pajamas so he wouldn't be embarrassed). He had blood and urine tests when he seemingly lost 10 lbs overnight. His walks got short, because he was tired. I spent a lot of money on higher fat dog food, desperately trying to put weight back on him. He got weighed and had a check in with the amazing staff at Pandosy Village Vet every week for long enough that they know my voice when I phone. I cried a lot. But guess what? He lived.
And then? I sued. He denied any and all claims, and a court date was set. But, before you start fist pumping for me behind that screen, let me admit I also totally chickened out once we got closer to said court date and dropped the case. So now, I just tell everyone I know what happened in hopes he doesn't have the opportunity to make another potentially lethal mistake.
Don't get me wrong, mistakes are bound to happen, we are all human. But own it, apologize for it, make it right. Dr. Awful did none of this.
It took me nearly a full year to get my handsome Hudson back to normal. Although, he never regained full bladder control, and still pees a little when he gets really excited. But, hey, I'd rather clean up some dog pee than not have my boy. He's also overweight by about 5 lbs now, but it makes me happy to not see his ribs. So, all-in-all, I think I win.
Edit notes: Phew, you guys, that one was hard to write. I had to stop a few times and cuddle Hudson.
I literally do not trust anyone but Dr. Jason and my girls at Pandosy Village Veterinary - you can tell them I sent you.
Please, please, please be diligent in knowing what is going into your pets! You can check if your dog is on the list for MDR1 mutation here