17 November 2013

Equine Ivermectin Paste and Canines..... BEWARE!

Back in the "old days" the vet came out and tube wormed.

Remember that? Kinda weird to watch that tube go up your horse's nose, they make those funny faces, their eyes roll about, the vet blows into the tube so he knows where the end is located, and then dumps a whole bunch of poison into your horse's stomach?


Now we have so many choices about how to poison the worms that take up residence in our beloved animals. One choice is Ivermectin Paste. Most say a fairly reasonable choice, considering.....

Well, me too. As safe as I can possibly make it for my herd.

- - -

So I arrived home safe and sound on Tuesday from a trip up north. I walked among my herd and saw that Cru needed worming. I wandered back into the barn to grab a tube, set it up for his weight, grabbed a halter off the rack and headed back out.

My horses don't have any trouble with worming, so haltering Cru with the tube present was no big deal. He watched me remove the end-cap and so did Jute, my Florida Black Mouth Cur dog. Rapt attention actually. I took note of her interest and promptly forgot about it when she wandered off to check on something else.

I rubbed the tube tip against Cru's lips to let him know what was coming and he opened his mouth for the dose. Such a good egg! He rolled his tongue away from the tube and I fired away. I noticed a small glob hit the ground. Hummmm, remember to scrub that into the dirt when I'm finished.....

Cru did what he always does after the paste shot - he held his breath and refused to swallow. He stared down at me with bug eyes and a teeny-tiny bit of resentment. No big deal. I gently lifted his chin and rubbed his neck to encourage relaxation and the inevitable. Just swallow big guy and it'll be over in a jiffy.

He does, making that funny upper lip face they all make. He rolled his eyes and sucks his tongue and then gets the brilliant idea that maybe now would be a good opportunity to rub his head against me.


It's time for dinner. To the dog I say, "C'mon pupper girl, let's get something to eat!" Big floppy ears and a happy canine smile follow me up to the house.

A little later, it's back out to the barn for late night check. All is well.

Only it's not.....

- - -

4:30 a.m. - Jute stumbles into the bedroom, unable to find her way. She's panicked. It's bad. Her eyes are bulging from their sockets like some cartoon picture of desire, dilated beyond reason. When she walks she can't go in a straight line, drunkard. Mike helps her back to her purple throne; she feels safe there and begins to relax some. Lights on, no changes in dilation. Jute can't see. Now that we're up, she feels safe and the panic leaves her.

My vet is expert in equine and canine medicine. She can't figure it out. We're all thinking the same thing - toxicity. We run through all the normal symptoms, none of which Jute displays. She appears perfectly normal, including a good appetite during breakfast and her desire to be outside doing chores, albeit without sight. Bumping about. The vet is stumped and sends us on to a specialist.

Dr. S takes us in immediately. She works and works on the dog, the entire time graciously accepting Jute's tongue on her face. She murmurs, praises, rubs, and tries another test. Everything comes back safely within range, even the bulging eyes measured as normal. Retina, optic nerve, cornea, cones, rods, white light, blue light, red light, the maze - she did it all and then some. The dog is blind for no apparent reason.

She's stumped, too.

We do a blood work up, awaiting the results the next day. I pay my bill and purchase a book Dr. S recommends that we read, "Living With Blind Dogs".

The vet didn't call the next day. I thought a 24-hour turnaround on the blood was a bit ambitious. I stayed close to home, helping the pup negotiate her new world and not allowing myself to panic. I kept seeing glimmers of improvement.....

When the vet calls the following day, blood shows normal, but I tell her the dog is improving. I explain the marked differences in how she's getting around. We're hopeful and the vet is delighted with the positive changes. Still, she hangs on the phone, questioning me further. Then she admits that she can't figure it out.

Next day, more improvement. The dilation is almost back to normal, we see those beautiful golden-brown eyes once again. We're hopeful.

Late afternoon, Dr. S calls. She doesn't identify herself; she doesn't say hello. She asks me one question, "Did you worm your horses recently?"

"Yes, I sure did....." My mind races back to Tuesday night. I see myself with Cru, holding his chin up, his silly face, me rubbing the swallow..... Oh my gosh! The BLOB!!!!!

Dr. S is questioning me back to the present, "When?"

"Tuesday night."

"What did you use?"

"Equine Ivermectin Paste."

"BINGO!", she says.

"Oh my gosh, Dr. S!. I can see that blob hitting the ground and telling myself to remember to scrub it into the dirt! It's all there right in front of me!"

Dr. S replies, "I just read a special report about canine blindness due to equine ivermectin."

"All of Jute's symptoms go right down the checklist....", she trails off, waiting for the obvious.

"But Doc, why didn't my other vet know?"

"I doubt she does know, Dee. I read it in my Ophthalmologists report. I promise I will get the word out after I type up Jute's papers."

Unbelievable. I head out to the barn to check the box.


Well, that's obvious. It's not like I hand the tube to my pup so she can race around the yard with it!

So I'm getting it out there too. Maybe my mistake will help someone else, even if it's only one other person.....

P.S. - So far, none of the vets I've spoken to since Dr. S figured it out, knew anything
about this.

31 August 2013

Farm Dog Smarts

I have this dog. Jute.

She's different than any dog I have ever had.

Smart in ways that make me wonder.....

An example:
The horses gather at the gate to wait for whatever is going to happen; could be food, could be trimming, could be a cool rinse off. They stand there and sometimes get anxious because I'm taking too long or they don't like that it's not their turn yet. Occasionally, Ziggy and/or Berlin will bang on the gate or put a foot on it. To which I do not respond. Any attention I give to something I don't want will cause a horse to do it more. Ignoring behavior I don't want will cause a horse to stop that behavior, or at least stop them from associating what they are doing with something I might do.

When I go to the gate where the horses are all gathered about, I expect them to move away, so I can open it. Sometimes they would rather reach for me to be rubbed, than back up and allow me to swing the gate in. Sometimes I rub those overhanging heads, but not often. A rub at the gate, teaches them not to move when I arrive. If they don't move, then I have to back them up, and because they're all bunched up there, the ones closest to the gate have no place to go, so they have to back into the ones in the next row, who then must back into the ones in the third row. Looks a lot like a train wreck, all piled up.

Back to the dog.

Jute is always with me and she watches stuff. A few months ago, I noticed that when I go out to the barn and the horses start gathering at the gate, she lays down on the outside about five feet from the gate. She lays facing the horses. She doesn't do anything, she just lolls her tongue out and pants. If the horses hang their heads over the gate, she maintains her position. If they start shuffling around, she will stand at attention - no movement, no sound. If they settle, she lays down. If one of them reaches a hoof toward the gate, she's right there, but she waits. If they put their foot on the gate, silent and quick, Jute nips the pastern. When they put their foot down, she lays down again. If one of them presses their chest against the gate, Jute turns on her rabid-dog bark to back them off. When they stop pressing, she lays down.

Here we go with the smarts. Now she watches them and she watches me. If I head toward the paddock with a halter, or the feed cart, or the buckets and they are all gathered against the gate, she goes in and backs them off, one at a time until they are all standing about 10 feet away. She grins over her shoulder at me and then bobbles and wags her pleasure in her newfound horse trainer abilities.

It gets better. When I enter with a halter, she observes me and figures out which horse I intend to catch. Now most of you understand the difficulty of bringing the low horse in the herd through the ranks of the upper echelon, without the low horse becoming somewhat concerned about their safety. Walking through the gauntlet like that can be unnerving for the poor horse who always makes it their business to stay far away from the leaders. If Jute sees that I'm heading for Danny Boy, she dances and flitters about - getting herself all worked up. This is her big chance! I halter him and start walking toward "the big boys". Danny Boy is on high alert, wondering how he's going to make it through such a tight spot without some teeth or feet or body slamming. Danny Boy knows that he should not be going close to another herd member without their express permission. Danny Boy also knows that he must follow me. Jute dog to the rescue!

She gets busy clearing a broad path. She's figured out how wide that path needs to be for Danny Boy to feel comfortable. Several of my horses will challenge her about moving them, but she insists, sometimes causing quite the ruckus before the way is paved to her liking. Once the job is complete, she invites us through by leading the way with her tail-in-the-air happy trot.

Smart dog!

29 August 2013

Danny Boy - Part 7 - Changed My Mind....

He's packing away the groceries and I see good, solid, positive changes. He's mentally and emotionally raising the bar each day, so I have to rise to the challenge.


Last week during the ground work, Danny Boy was looking for more. So I changed my mind about riding him and I've been doing that ever since.

Here's an example:

After a ground work session mainly focused on teaching Danny Boy to move away from pressure, I climbed the panel to have him come pick me up. Once aboard, he moved us over to the round pen gate.

Perfect! He wanted out and so did I. But to do that, Danny Boy needed to help me open the gate. That required moving away from pressure. Ah! Mounted work on the very thing I just presented in the ground work session!

Total confusion. Here's why:

From Danny Boy's perspective, moving away from pressure is not a good thing. In fact, his propensity to lean into pressure probably saved his life. When those kids were pushing and prodding and climbing all over him, Danny Boy did not respond. (See earlier posts about the family of kids...) He kept his feet planted firmly when they leaned against his legs, he never went too fast when that long line of kids was sitting on his back, kicking and flailing about. He knew not to respond to all that pressure based activity.

Overcoming the confusion:

My job is to maintain Danny Boy's safety minded wisdom and add the concept that we want him to move away from pressure. His new owner can ride and she doesn't need him to take care of her like she is a child. She loves his kindness, but does not want to kick and then kick harder to cause him to believe that she is, in fact, asking for faster movement.

Back to the gate.

I spent 20 minutes teaching Danny Boy that it is okay to go when he feels me pressing slightly with both legs. I applied a small amount of rhythm from my mecate to assure him that I indeed wanted forward. He was so surprised! Repeatedly, I would press with my lower leg and Danny Boy would look back at me. I tapped my mecate against my leg and Danny Boy would swing his head to front and leap forward. The reins were looped loose so that he would not feel any pressure on his mouth, poll or neck when he went forward. Additionally, I didn't tell him how to go forward, I just asked for it. I accepted whatever he offered and at first his response was leaping.

It took another 20 minutes for Danny Boy to go briskly forward without leaping when I pressed gently. Then another 20 for Danny Boy to realize that I have two legs and when only one is pressing, he should move away from that leg going sideways and not forward.

Interesting concepts for Danny Boy to figure out. We indeed made it out of the round pen with Danny Boy assisting me with the gate. I was very happy with his progress and he was very happy with himself to learn this new concept....