Whats the topic today?

I want to talk about a sad story I was involved with last week to make sure that no-one else makes the same mistakes.

Tell us more!
Last week we had a small dog that was rushed into us in a coma. It was completely unconscious and had stopped breathing. We tried artificial respiration for over an hour but eventually had to concede defeat and put the dog to sleep.

What had happened to the dog
On questioning the owners it turned out that they had drenched the dog with a horse wormer just one hour previously. Horse wormer often contains a chemical called abamectin or ivermectin which is toxic to dogs.

Why on earth did they give a horse wormer to a dog?
Possibly because they thought it was a cheap way to worm the dog but mainly because they had it on hand and just didn’t think it would be toxic. They thought its just a wormer, surely it cant do any harm!

I guess that was the first mistake.
Yes. The second mistake was the large overdose that was given. They gave enough to treat a small pony and this dog only weighed about 5kg. Again because it was just a wormer they didnt see the need to work out an accurate dose.  If you gave ten times the recommended dose to a horse it would likely kill the horse too.

Was there a third mistake
Well sort of. They dosed several dogs at the same time and two of these were also showing mild signs of poisoning but are fortunately OK.

Have you seen other dogs poisoned by horse wormer?
Not personally but I know it has happened. Sometimes it is by accident. A lot of horse wormers come as a paste in a tube and sometimes dogs will eat the tube after the owner has thrown it away. There is usually enough paste left in the tube to kill a dog.

So why is horse wormer safe for horses but not dogs?
Dogs and horses have very different metabolism, it is almost like comparing chalk with cheese. People need to be aware that animals differ a lot in how they metabolise different drugs. For instance paracetamol will kill cats and penicillin will kill guinea pigs. Even some flea products that are safe for dogs can kill cats.

So the take home message is don't treat an animal with any product unless it says you can do on the label.
Yes and also stick to the recommended dose rate and measure it out accurately.