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.