Hospital Bound Hound
The hubby and I decided it was best to cancel our Labor Day weekend backpacking trip with the dogs once we discovered that Duke was limping. After further examination, swelling was evident and pain was stemming from the outer right toe on his front right paw. A quick trip to the vet was scheduled and one X-ray later proved our fear of a fracture to be true. As to how he did it is still a mystery to us, but we were instructed to avoid running, hiking or jumping for at least four weeks, preferably six. Ha! We’re trying our best, but Duke is of the vizsla variety and that means seemingly never ending amounts of energy. The good news is that in time he will be fine.
Our vet administered Rimadyl, an anti-inflammatory drug to help keep the swelling down in Duke’s toe over the next few weeks. Usually I am very particular about drugs – I ask a lot of questions and do research on my part about any kind of drug that I give to my pets or myself for that matter. From flea medication to heartworm pills and every bump, bruise or ear infection in between, I have always been cautious. I take into consideration the length of time a medication has been available to consumers as well as the harmful side effects that could occur and possibly create long term issues in the health of our animals. However, for some reason, this time, I wasn’t as leery as I have been before and fully trusted what my veterinarian prescribed after having previous visits with him go so smoothly.
Before I continue, I would like to note that I use the blog portion of my website to document highlights of my life as I am living it. Anything creative or inspirational that I do and feel is worth sharing, I put in this space. And as unpleasant as the event was that I am about to describe to you, it weighed too heavily on my heart not to share. Every now and then life kicks me in the stomach and I feel that I am failing as an adult. But the reality is that life is not always picture perfect. We must learn from our mistakes, get over feeling sorry for ourselves and move on in order to improve. Although, this is not as easily accomplished when you’ve endangered the life of another being, especially one you care for tremendously…
The day following Duke’s vet appointment, I laid down for a few minutes and unintentionally took a nap. I awoke to my husband waving an orange medicine bottle in front of me and asking how full it originally was. There were 14 chewable 100mg tablets of Rimadyl distributed, one of which Duke had the day before, and the remaining 13 were now missing. My husband discovered Dutch with the empty bottle in her mouth after returning inside the house from finishing a project outdoors – he was away for 10 minutes at most.
I instantly went into panic mode at the sight of the tooth punctured bottle. Tears and frantic scrambling to find my phone ensued. I placed a call to our regular veterinarian, but due to the time of day, the office was not open and a recording instructed me to call the emergency animal hospital instead. With a lump in my throat, I asked the technician on the line if what was consumed by one or possibly both dogs was considered toxic. The answer was not good.
Vomiting was induced at the emergency animal hospital for both dogs since we couldn't be sure if only Dutch had eaten the pills. Duke’s results came back negative for the substance (but did have evidence of carrots which I found humorous) and Dutch’s results showed just the opposite. It was now clear that Dutch had ingested a life threatening amount of Rimadyl and aggressive therapy was needed to ensure that she would not be poisoned. By this time, nearly an hour and a half had passed since the time of ingestion, a care plan was presented to us and payment was swiftly handed over by my husband as I failed at holding back my tears. We always joke that Dutch is his dog since she favors him more than me, and how he didn't hesitate to get her the care she needed touched me deeply.
Dutch remained in the hospital for 48 hours. Her treatment included consuming activated charcoal to absorb any remaining medication in her stomach, she was also placed on IV fluids to flush her liver and kidneys, and multiple blood tests were performed to evaluate red and white cell counts throughout her treatment. Having never experienced any of our animals swiping drugs from a counter top before, we did some research and learned that dogs frequently eat toxic doses of Rimadyl. This tasty liver flavored tablet has had serious consequences in animals consuming it as prescribed and even more detrimental when overdosed. Frustrated with the information found and my lack of knowledge about its harmful effects, my husband wrote a letter to the manufacturer about our experience with Dutch. It’s highly unlikely that we’ll receive a response, but I can hope that with enough contact from upset consumers that maybe, just maybe, something will be done about the tastiness of this medication that dogs can’t seem to resist. If heartache, costly vet bills and lives can be saved from modifying components of this drug or simply by placing a label on the container advising people to be extra responsible with where they choose to store it, then my dream is that they would be all for making a change.
Today I am thankful to have Dutch home. Two days filled with worry and missing her have definitely taken their toll. All of her lab results came back normal thanks to catching the consumption in time and for the amazing treatment she received at the emergency animal hospital. I am also very thankful for my husband making such quick decisions about her care so that immediate action could be taken for the sake of Dutch’s overall health. If not done in a timely manner, liver and kidney failure would not be far off. And if this had happened in an earlier stage of life, I likely would have been faced with devastating news seeing as how her recovery amounted to be a small fortune. I cannot imagine being forced to make a life or death decision for her at only 4 and-a-half years old and my heart hurts for others that have been or will be in this same situation.
While visiting Dutch in the hospital and sneaking in her favorite treat – cheese – we were told of two other dogs from the same household that were just admitted due to a toxic dose Rimadyl as well. They are in my thoughts as I write of our experience and I sincerely wish their owner peace and a full recovery to both dogs.
The moral of this story – do research on drugs that you administer to your pets. Take the same precautions that you would with your own children – for many of us, that may mean children of the four-legged kind. Also, be sure that all medication is stored in a secure dog-proof location. Trust me - the extra time it takes to keep harm away from your pets, whether they have a habit of taking things that they shouldn’t or not, is well worth it. It was bittersweet to reunite Duke with his sister, but if I could have avoided this incident in its entirety, I absolutely would have. However, if the story I have written informs just one person about the dangers of animals consuming certain drugs either intended for them or not, then I have helped in some way and that makes this whole experience that much more meaningful.
Life lesson learned.