I came very close to killing Honey, my favorite dog.
We got Honey from the shelter about 6 years ago. She was about 5 at the time we got her. Unfortunately, we soon learned that Honey had severe problems related to arthritis of the back and hips and that she would require medication for pain management. We took Honey to an orthopedic specialist who told us that surgical solutions were out of the question. We also hired an acupuncture vet to work on her.
She's stoic. Honey doesn't really let you know she's in pain, but you can see it in her movements. She is now about 11 years old and she's had a comfortable life, or as comfortable as we can make it for her. Honey takes quite a bit of medication. She takes Osteo3 for her joints, Rimadyl for pain, and something called Tramadol also for pain. The Tramadol is a tiny white pill and we give that to her in a pill pocket. The other two pills are chewables.
One afternoon, I told Alex to get Honey a Tramadol because she was having a hard time getting up and walking. He brought her a pill in a pill pocket and Honey took it and settled down for a nap. Several hours later, I saw that she was still in her bed and seemed not to even be breathing.
Panicked, I shook her and she opened her eyes. The only thing is, her eyes were rolled back in her head. We immediately loaded her into the car and called the vet office saying we were coming and to have a stretcher for her when we got there.
Honey's vet looked very concerned. She said that Honey's symptoms looked like she might have been poisoned. I asked about a stroke, and she said it was possible, but that poisoning was more likely. (Privately, I thought that was ridiculous. Who would have given poison to Honey!)
The vet said we could leave her overnight, or just monitor her at home. We opted to bring her home. I also asked for the card for a vet who would come to our house and "put her down" if need be. Both Alex and I were in tears as we drove home with Honey semi-comatose in the back seat.
We placed her in her bed and I made a pile of blankets for myself to sleep on the floor next to her. During the night, her bowels evacuated several time and I carefully cleaned her up with warm towels. Alex kept coming in to check on us and was upset when I told him, "we need to call the house-call vet in the morning".
At 6 AM, we made coffee and decided that we would call the euthanasia doctor at 9 AM. We went back to Honey's side and watched her sleep. About 8:30 AM, Honey opened her eyes, got up, and walked into the kitchen. She drank some water and then started licking her food bowl.
What the hell?
As the morning progressed, she ate breakfast, drank water, went out into the backyard to do her business and seemed pretty much normal. I called the vet and reported the progress. Again, I asked "Could it be that she had a mild stroke and she's recovering?". Again the vet said "Unlikely. She must have ingested something." Hmm.
A few days later, I was cleaning up in the kitchen and saw a bottle of pills from the vet on the counter. I looked at the bottle and saw they were for Harry. These were tranquilizers that were given to us for Harry because he dislikes travel in a car. We had never used them. There were 10 pills ordered. I opened the bottle and saw they were tiny white pills, looking exactly like the Tramadol that Honey takes.
A horrible realization hit me all at once. I poured the pills out in my hand and counted them. There were 9 pills, not 10.
Alex had given Honey the wrong pill. It had put her almost completely under for over 12 hours. I was getting ready to have her put to sleep. I had practically called my vet a quack because she insisted that Honey had "ingested something". And I hate to be wrong!
I telephoned my vet and told her. She was very relieved to find out what had happened, because she really could not imagine what could be causing Honey's rapid demise unless it was poison.
I tossed the damn tranquilizers.