The story below was sent via email by Chelsea:
A little background: I have always been a dog lover. Unfortunately my boyfriend is severely allergic to dogs, and after 6 years of searching for the perfect hypoallergenic addition to our family we found Napoleon.
Last week, after finding a tick on Napoleon (age 8 months) I purchased Hartz Ultra Guard. I was sure to purchase the correct product (with regard to pet weight) and determined that Napoleon is old enough for product use. My sister has used this product in the past and I assumed it was safe. After applying the product on Saturday, and being careful to follow the directions, Napoleon began to refuse food. Sunday he began vomiting, which is not unusual due to his sensitive stomach. Monday the vomiting continued and I made an appointment with our vet (Doctor #1 at our clinic). At out Tuesday appointment, our vet decided to take x-rays to rule out that he had swallowed a foreign body. At this time I mentioned that I had applied this product, but no one seemed to think this was the cause of his illness. The x-rays appeared to show a “material like” foreign body that would have to be removed surgically. After several hours of IV fluids, Napoleon was sent home and scheduled for a return visit the next day. On Wednesday, a second round of x-rays (same clinic, different doctor) showed that there was a suspicious area of the stomach, that may or may not be a foreign body. I was given the option to go ahead with the surgery, or wait for a mobile ultrasound company to confirm the presence of a foreign body. I certainly wasn’t about to allow them to cut into Napoleon without being positive it was necessary. 7 hours later, the ultrasound team found no evidence of a foreign body. What they found was substantially worse. Napoleon’s stomach lining, intestines and colon were severely inflamed. This inflammation was so severe, it mimicked a foreign body on the x-ray. At this point the vet (doctor #3) suggested that this could be due to chemical exposure or a viral illness. I reiterated that the only chemical exposure that he had had was the Hartz product. The clinic suggested I treat the symptoms with previously prescribed antibiotics, and anti-naseua medication. He was sent home with the IV catheter in his arm for a second night, incase he required further IV fluids the following day. Upon arriving home, Napoleon was lethargic and seemed to be wilting before my eyes. My previously rambunctious yorkie-poo puppy had turned into a sad shadow of himself. He began drooling, and repeatedly shaking his head. Having no experience with severely ill dogs, I did not recognize this as seizure activity. Early Thursday morning I attempted to administer an anti-naseua pill. Napoleon became stressed and began violently shaking his head, drooling, and smacking his lips. Thankfully this time I realized what was happening and did my best to calm him while gathering our things to rush to the vet. Upon arrival at the clinic we met with Doctor #2 who asked if he had been exposed to any chemicals. I reiterated that the only chemicals he had come in contact with were in the Hartz product. She suggested we run blood tests for Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (“tick fever”) and Valley Fever (a common illness in Arizona). Both of these illnesses can cause seizure activity in dogs. She also agreed to do some research on the Veterinary Internet Network regarding this product. Napoleon remained at the clinic on IV for 12 hours on Thursday. Again he returned home that evening with the IV catheter still attached. Today (Friday) I took him back for a check up. He was lifting his head more, and showed more interest in the car ride, but was nowhere near his bouncy, energetic self. Doctor #2 met with us again and stated that she is confident that this is the result of exposure to the Hartz medication. She also stated that she was shocked at the number of incidences reported regarding this and similar medications. Further, she stated that she was unaware of the dangers of this product, or the EPA review. Bloodwork for Tick Fever and Valley Fever came back negative, solidifying her diagnosis. Since Napoleon appeared a bit better, the IV catheter was removed and he was allowed to spend the day at home. Unfortunately as the day progresses, he has become more lethargic and is still refusing to eat, bringing the total to 6 days without oral nutrition. He has had another seizure (milder than yesterday’s) and continues to drool excessively. Tomorrow will be day 5 at the vet, for another round of IVs and monitoring. If he continues refusing food, he will have gone an entire week without eating.
The current total of our vet bills is $865.32 and we expect that to increase tomorrow with the replacement of the IV line and the several hours he will be required to “rest” at the vet. This, in addition to the gasoline expense, recommended prescription diet, and time spent at the vet has added up to a very expensive tick treatment. However, the worst expense is the physical pain this ordeal has caused our little guy. I am horrified at the idea that we could have agreed to an unnecessary surgery only to find this terrible inflammation. I am shocked that this product is still on the market. Until consumers are successful in getting this product pulled from store shelves, it is imperative that Veterinarians are made aware of the signs/symptoms of phenothrin toxicity and learn to treat it quickly and appropriately.
Hopefully our story has a happy ending. We are praying that Napoleon makes a full recovery and is able to live a long and happy life. Regardless of the result of his fight with this illness, I will certainly beginning a fight of my own to have these products banned.
Thank you for allowing me to share my story. My prayers are with other families struggling with the illness or loss of a pet due to this horrible product.