How to Almost Kill Your Farm Dog


sammySamwise Gamgee still blind the day after almost dying


Isn’t it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?
~L.M. Montgomery


I’ve owned dogs and horses and a host of other farm animals during thirty years of farm living.  Animals can be unpredictable in their behavior but they don’t make mistakes — only humans do.  One of my mistakes nearly killed my dog Sam last week.

My Cardigan corgis Sam and Homer are full time outdoor farm dogs who do chores with me morning and night.  They accompany me to the hay barn to fetch bales of hay, they gather up the barn cats for herding practice, they help me clean the horse stalls by picking up (and usually eating) stray manure balls that I fail to pick up fast enough.  These are very important jobs for a corgi whose brain and sense of self worth depends on being needed.

All was ordinary on Sunday morning as we went from stall to stall doing our clean up work, including my quarterly deworming of the horses by syringing wormer paste into their mouths before letting them have their morning meal.

A few hours later on Sunday afternoon I went out to the dog yard to let out Homer and Sam to do barn chores and Sam stood immobilized at the gate, trembling and blind.  His pupils were completely dilated, he couldn’t see a thing and had been vomiting — a lot.  The only possibility was a toxic exposure, most likely licking up a glop of ivermectin paste in the shavings of the stalls we were cleaning after a horse slopped it out of their mouth during the worming process.

We scooped him up and took him to the emergency animal clinic, where the suspected diagnosis was ivermectin poisoning with severe dehydration and acute blindness from the neurotoxicity of the drug in a smaller herding dog with genetic propensity to this kind of reaction.  He was lucky to be alive as the case studies show that sensitive dogs often go into seizures and coma.

In thirty years of worming animals with farm dogs around my feet, this had never even occurred to me to be a risk.  Now I know better, and the dogs will stay out of the barn during worming and for several days afterward as the manure can end up with toxic amounts of wormer drug in it too, and corgis happen to consider horse manure a delicacy.

Sam was vigorously rehydrated with intravenous fluids overnight, had an appetite in the morning but still remained blind as his pupils remained fully dilated for about 24 hours.  He slowly regained his vision over several days, and now is back to his sweet, playful  incorrigible corgi self.

I’m very grateful I didn’t kill my dog, but I sure managed to come close.

At least tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it — yet.




9 thoughts on “How to Almost Kill Your Farm Dog

  1. Close call for Sam. Especially glad that his human mommy is a doctor with a keen eye for
    expert diagnosis.
    So — did he have anything to say to you after his close call?
    Another great experience to add to Sam’s war stories of just another day on the farm.

    Hope the ‘kid’ (Homer) took note of this whole scary scene!


  2. Thank you for sharing the close call. I’m glad everything worked out fine. I will keep this in mind when I worm Scharly (only 1 horse) however, my younger miniature Schnauzer loves eating the dried manure balls and I wouldn’t want him to go through what Sam did. Thanks again. hugs,


  3. Thank you Emily for sharing this experience, many times as both horse and dog owner, this usually isn’t thought of. But it is important, I had a niece that lost her Rottweiler from getting horse wormer.


  4. Oh my heavens, I’m so glad that Sam is all right, and that he regained his vision. Close call. What an important reminder to all of us who live with delightful four-leggeds.


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