Saturday, February 19, 2011

The Decimal Point

A decimal point almost killed my dogs...

Such a simple mistake - so nearly fatal.

Toby and Kinsey have been scratching for six weeks now, ever since we left the Georgia coast. We took them to a vet in Louisianna where they were (mis)diagnosed with allergies and given injected and oral steroids. These helped only minimally, so the inching continued, getting to the point that Toby, particularly, was cutting up his ears and losing a lot of hair. We went to a second vet in New Mexico, where the allergy theory was reinforced, and another batch of steroids administered. Still no improvememt. So, another vet in another state, in Sierra Vista, Arizona.

Nancy is back home getting in some face time with Network-IT and her clients, so this time it was just me bringing the dogs to the vet. Also, this time I insisted that a new direction be taken. The doctor suspected mites and did a test which confirmed this. What great news - a conclusive diagnosis! The treatment, ivermectin taken orally, is common and affective.

But here's where it all went wrong. The doctor calculated dosage based on the dogs' weights. Unforunately, the vet tech who filled the prescription got the decimal point in the wrong place and sent me home with instruction to administer TEN TIMES THE PRESCRIBED DOSE! And that's exactly what I did...

1:00 AM: Kinsey wakes me up as she is convulsing next to me on the bed. She lurches forward, then falls. Struggles up, lurches again, and again, and again... I tried to comfort her - sometimes she gets belly aches and acts funny. But it quickly became apparent that this was something new. I got up and went to the computer - looked up ivermectin overdose. Sure enough - the symptoms rang true: drooling, disorientation, staggering, unsteady heart rate, breathing difficulty, head pressing. She was doing them all. Well, almost all. Other possible symptoms are coma, and death...

I was at the vet when their doors opened. At this point we did not know why she reacted this way to the dose of ivermectin. But they started an IV and admitted her to try to keep her alive. Then I questioned the dosage. The doctor double checked his calculations and found them correct. BUT, he was quoting to me in tenths of a milliliter, and I distincly remembered the dose in whole milliliters. After some confusing communication back and forth, the doctor suddenly grew afraid that a mistake had been made. He consulted his technician and confirmed the error.

The doctor was visibly upset, as well he should have been. I said that I understood that it was a simple mistake, but that they must now do everything in their power to make her better. So, that's what they're doing. Kinsey is in their care. When I last saw her she was conscious but unresponsive, just suffering her poisoning. As of this writing I have learned that there has been improvement - that she drank some water and ate some food on her own. Excellent news, and a sign that she will probably recover fully.

As for Toby, he is clearly affected. He suffers some of the same disorientation and resulting stumbling gait. He cannot negotiate stairs, and sometimes falls when he walks. But, he remains alert and interested in the world: in food, in water, in smells, in other dogs. We think that he will recover without assistance. It has been especially difficult for Nancy to deal with all of this from afar, unable to comfort her dear little dog.

SO...a bit of a nightmare. And all because of one of these: .


  1. We are praying that Kinsy makes a fully recovery and that Toby works all of the meds through his system quickly. Hopefully they will continue to improve and get back to life as normal:)

  2. Matthew
    I am so sorry to hear about your beloved dog. I hope the treatment will help him get over it quickly and thrive again. Nancy must be rightly worried and you being in the middle of it all must be in a very upset and worried state.
    I feel for you and will keep both dogs in my meditations.

  3. Matthew and Nancy,

    We just read this post about the Kinsey and Toby. We hoping for their full and speedy recovery. Sending positive energy your way. Our thoughts go out to you and wish the best for your adorable little dogs.

    Jim and Julie

  4. Oh NO! All the best to your "babies" as we saw how much you love them and how spoiled they are. Much good energy coming your and their way.

    Deb & Vin from Leasburg Dam

    Hoping all is well with them....

  5. Dog Health Update:

    Dogs are OK. Toby is very much recovered - he is a very strong and resilient animal. Kinsey is back "home" with me, but very low key, limited mobility, and completely blind. We expect a slow but full recovery, including sight.

    Thank you for your kind words and wishes.