Recently, we had a patient at Riverside Animal Clinic & Holistic Center presenting with blindness and loss of balance. This poor stumbling small dog also seemed disoriented.  After much prompting, the owner remembered a very important detail.  She had given her dog ivermectin, a product purchased at the local farm store.

Ivermectin is an incredibly effective anti-parasitic medicine commonly used in the treatment of worms and other internal parasites in dogs. It works by killing the parasites or inhibiting their growth through disruption of their cell division process. This medication is safe for short term use and can be given to both puppies and adult dogs. However, as with any medication, it’s important to follow your veterinarian’s instructions on how much to give and when so as not to cause harm to your pet.  Common causes of ivermectin toxicity in dogs include incorrect dosages, accidental ingestion and breed sensitivity.

Ivermectin was first discovered in the early 1980s by Japanese researchers. After further development, it was approved for use in animals and humans in 1987. Today, it is used to treat both internal and external parasites found in livestock and pets, including dogs. It has also been used to successfully treat certain illnesses such as river blindness, which affects millions of people around the world. Ivermectin is a very effective medication with few side effects when administered correctly.

Unfortunately, it is possible to overdose your dog on ivermectin. An overdose can lead to serious side effects including seizures, tremors, and even death. It’s important to always talk with your veterinarian about the correct dosage for your pet and follow their instructions carefully. Never give more than the recommended dose as this could put your pet at risk of an overdose.  That means you should be aware of the type of ivermectin you’re giving your pet.  For example, this medication is carefully dosed per species and weight.  A small amount of horse ivermectin can quickly overdose a small dog while being safe for a miniature horse.

If a dog is showing signs of ivermectin toxicity, it is important to get them to a veterinarian as soon as possible. Treatment typically includes decontamination with activated charcoal or saline lavage if necessary, and supportive care such as oxygen support, fluids, and monitor vital signs. Other treatments such as anti-seizure medication or even dialysis may be necessary depending on the severity of the case.  Some suggested treatments are very spendy ranging from $1500-$2000 to detox a dog with intravenous lipid emulsion. Your veterinarian will also work to correct any electrolyte abnormalities that may occur due to ivermectin toxicity. Ultimately, the best treatment for a dog suffering from ivermectin toxicity is prevention by following your veterinarian’s instructions on dosages and uses of ivermectin.

Dr. Jim Carlson’s little patient is starting to recover from his symptoms with time and supportive care.  Read labels carefully and always call your veterinarian with questions.

Riverside Animal Clinic & Holistic Center

1112 Front Street, McHenry, IL 60050