5 On Your Side

Chemical Used To Kill Bugs Could Be Dangerous To Some Dogs

Posted July 22, 2004

— A chemical commonly used to kill pests could be dangerous to your dog.

After a Wake County woman's dog got sick and almost died, she called Five on Your Side's Monica Laliberte to warn others.

The chemical compound has several names, including Abamectin and Ivermectin. The chemicals are used in heartworm preventatives, to get rid of ear mites and as a yard pesticide.

For most dogs, the chemical is harmless in the amounts used, but a Raleigh woman learned that is not the case for all dogs.

Fran Cawley considers her Australian Shepherd, Kahlua, part of the family. That is why she was so upset last September when he suddenly got extremely sick.

"It was terrible. It was frightening," Cawley said. "He was staggering. He had excessive amounts of drool and saliva and just had tremors and couldn't get up."

Cawley rushed Kahlua to the vet, who suspected some kind of poisoning. Cawley suspected Kahlua got into ant poison that the exterminator put out that morning.

"It was so terrible. I thought he wasn't going to make it through the night," she said.

Cawley's mother called the exterminator to find out what chemical was used and was assured it was safe.

"The exterminator very reluctantly said that it was called Advance and that it contains Abamectin as the active ingredient," Cawley said.

Kahlua was treated with fluids and hoped for the best. He slowly got back to his old self.

Soon after, Cawley researched Abamectin. She found out that even though it is safe for most dogs, the compound can be extremely toxic -- and sometimes deadly -- to collies and herding dogs, like Australian Shepherds.

"It's just scary to think that something that was just supposed to kill ants almost killed my dog," she said.

Cawley called Five On Your Side. We called an expert on the subject from the College of Veterinary Medicine at Washington State University.

Dr. Katrina Mealey says some dogs have a gene that makes them very sensitive to Abomectin. Mealey

developed a test

for the gene and Kahlua tested positive.

Now, Cawley simply wants to get the word out.

"I'm terrified that I may hear of another dog dying because of this, and I would feel like I had responsibility that I didn't do something about it," she said.

It is important to stress that these chemicals are safe for most dogs.


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