Please spend a minute or two reading this and crosspost to as many people as possible. Sending the emails as blind copies will safeguard your address book. This message is designed to make everyone aware of how tragic the results of slug pellets can be. It’s the painful story of our beloved Jessie.

I sent this message as an email to my work colleagues because I couldn’t face telling them what had happened the night before, when I walked into work, it would be just to upsetting for me. The email has now been forwarded to the US to one of my cousins and she is pushing out over there. My aim is to let everyone know about Jessie in order to prevent it happening to others, globally. This could have been a young child and not a family pet. Also, I’m angry that the people who make these things can justify the labelling in the name of making profit when they are selling poison to the general public.

I do know that there will be people reading this who will say “It’s only a dog”. The bond that a dog lover has with their dog is unbelievably strong. I would not expect a non-dog lover to understand that and I respect their views but as I have said, this might have been a small child.


I don’t feel that I want to explain what happened when I get into work tomorrow, so I’ll explain now.

We have always put slug pellets down in the garden, for years we’ve done it, Each time being careful not to get the nasty ones. On the front of the packet of the latest lot, read “Animal repellent”. For a couple of weeks the packet had been sitting on the side in the kitchen and not used but yesterday morning, 29 April 2009, I noticed some slug damage on the vegetable patch. Like an idiot, I spread some around.

Jessie had been in and out of the garden all morning but Sharon let her out about 4:10pm yesterday just before she left for shopping. When Sharon let Jessie back in the house, she came in bounding and happy like she normally is.

Jessie had never touched slug pellets before but in that short time in the garden she must have lapped them up, these so called animal repellent slug pellets!

I got home from work at about 6:50pm to find Jess hyperventilating, shaking, delirious and salivating. I picked her up and rushed her to the vets. By the time the vet got to her she was going into convulsions. They tried everything, oxygen, valium, colonic irrigation (ice cold water) and continually dowsing her with ice cold water to bring her temperature down. A dog’s normal temperature should be 101.5 when rested; Jessie’s was off the scale. After the irrigation it came down to 108 and then 102. At this point the vet said that she has a chance.

A few hours rushed by and Jess calmed down a lot although not responding to any external manipulation; talking to her and petting her etc. Her colour came back and her heart rate was almost back to normal. We were very hopeful at this point. The vet stopped the irrigation but within an hour her temperature was back up to 108 and rising. The vet told us that she had only a 50/50 chance. This brought reality back to us with a bang.

More colonic irrigation revealed bright blue slug pellets coming out in her excreta! The vet then told us that he had only known of one dog in his experience which had survived the passing of pellets in this way and the next 24 hours would be crucial.

We knew that she would be in overnight so we had to make plans to leave. All the way through this event, Jessie had been blinking quite normally; it was her only outward sign of normality. Just before we left, Sharon noticed that she was not blinking any longer.

As a result of this, the vet explained that she had suffered massive brain damage which firstly affected her heat receptors in her brain and as she had stopped blinking it meant that her brain was shutting down.

Oh, bless her. I really don’t want to sound dramatic but I’m in bits writing this. We made the decision to let her go. We went home and spent the rest of the night balling our eyes out.

We’re going back to pick her up today and we’re going to bury her under one of the trees in the garden. I just couldn’t cope with thinking of her getting burnt along with other unknown pets in a kiln somewhere.

As I have said, on the front of the pellet container it very clearly, in a ‘marketing kind of way’! said “Animal Repellent”. On the back however, in tiny, tiny writing, it said “harmful to pets”.

Jessie was a huge part of our lives, making us laugh daily. We will miss her more than any non-dog lover will ever understand. We will deeply miss her loyalty. She was a strong protector, healthy and in the prime of her life, she was just 6 years old. We had plans to breed her this year as some of you know. She was a character, a cheeky monkey but most of all, she was our friend.

Nanite Jess.

I am not looking to make this one of those never ending email chains but for goodness sake, if you have friends and family with dogs like Jess then please pass this on so they know to avoid this happening to them. I am happy for my email address to be put out if anyone wants to know more information about the product that killed Jessie.

December 13th, 2014

Posted In: Guest Post

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Fleas and worms go together, and this is the time of year when they worm their way in to your dog, or hop on board. Hedgehogs, rabbits, foxes, sheep – regular flea bags – and if your dog runs in fields inhabited by wildlife, or wildlife runs in-gardens inhabited by your dog, then he has a good chance of picking these parasites up.

So how do you prevent your dog getting fleas and worms? Or how do you persuade them to leave once they’ve arrived?

If you’re like me, you might have nipped along to the vet, or the local pet shop, and bought some insecticidal shampoo. Except, when you are asked to write an article on the subject, you are duty bound to assess what it is you’re evaluating.

So I looked through my copy of the ‘Compendium of Data Sheets for Veterinary Products’. This is the vets’ bible: it lists the products available from members of the National Office of Animal Health in the UK (a trade association). Members of the association prepare data sheets on each of their products, stipulating contents, use, directions, and contra-indications, and this is for use by vets when recommending or prescribing products.

I have to admit, I was shocked by what I discovered. Maybe I’m wrong to be shocked? Maybe the chemicals are used in such small doses that they can’t cause harm? Maybe the scientists know what they are doing?


I found a nice turquoise coloured one, with a lemon grass odour, containing Piperonyl butoxide and Pyrethrum. The Compendium doesn’t tell you what the chemicals actually are, so I went to another book, “C is for Chemicals” (Green Print, London), and this is what I found:

Piperonyl butoxide is ‘highly toxic if absorbed through the skin, less so if swallowed. It has been shown to cause cancer in animals, although the US Environmental Protection Agency has concluded that it is not carcinogenic (will not cause cancer) to people’.

Pyrethrum is only moderately toxic if swallowed or inhaled, but it is an irritant and may cause allergic dermatitis or asthmatic breathing to sensitive ‘people’. Luckily, though, the same manufacturer sells an ointment for eczema and hot spots.

Then, whilst doing the weekly shopping, I stopped at the pet section and had a look at what Safeway had to offer. There were some jolly little flea collars – one for dogs, one for cats. Both contain a chemical called Carbaryl. So I made a note, and looked Carbaryl up when I got home.

Apparently, Carbaryl is an insecticide with several garden uses, and it’s good at killing fleas, too. Just the job then?

The World Health Organisation ( WHO) lists Carbaryl as ‘moderately hazardous': it is a mutagen, and it is carcinogenic and teratogenic in laboratory animals (this means it can cause mutations in cells; it can induce cancer, and it can cause birth defects when absorbed in pregnancy). Oh yes, and it is reported to be more toxic to dogs than to other animals.

Maybe those new-fangled little capsules might fit the bill? You know the ones – they protect your dog from reinfestation for up to four weeks. One of these, listed in the Compendium, contains Permethrin the WHO considers Permethrin to be ‘unlikely to present a hazard in normal use’. Phew. But. . . ‘the US Food and Drug Administration lists Permethrin as a possible carcinogen’.

To be safe, the manufacturers suggest (in the Compendium) that your dog shouldn’t be allowed to swim for 12 hours after treatment because the product is ‘extremely dangerous to fish’. People shouldn’t handle the treated area on the dog for three to six hours, and treated dogs shouldn’t be allowed to sleep with people, particularly children.

So we mustn’t get it on our skin, or let it into the waterways, or let our children near it, but it’s OK for your dog to have it inside his body for ‘up to four weeks’. Actually, it kills fleas for up to four weeks – we don’t know how long it remains in a dog’s body.

Let’s see. . . what else is there. Oh yes. Here’s another one of these capsule thingies. This one contains an organophosphorus compound. According to “C is for Chemicals”, organophosphates are a class of chemicals, ‘some of which are considered to be the most toxic chemicals ever manufactured’.

But surely the manufacturers wouldn’t use such dangerous chemicals on our dogs? Surely they use the harmless organophosphates? What is an organophosphate, anyway? ‘The high acute toxicity of organophosphates stem from their action against a vital enzyme in the body that regulates the functioning of the nervous system.’ Oh.


So what about flea sprays? Here’s a nice environmentally friendly one: it doesn’t contain CFCs, so it won’t damage the ozone layer. Good selling point. What does it contain, then?

Dichlorvos. The WHO lists Dichlorvos as ‘highly hazardous’. It’s poisonous if swallowed, absorbed through the skin, or inhaled. It is a mutagen and possible carcinogen, and a potent anticholinesterase agent (blocking the transmission of nerve messages).

Rest assured, though, because the manufacturers state that the product is designed to have a high margin of safety. This is before the bit about ‘if signs of toxicity appear, administer the antidote atropine sulphate at O.1-0.2mg/kg intravenously or intraperitoneally and apply artificial respiration’. Artificial respiration? It’s not the way they manufacture them, you see, it’s the way stupid dog owners misuse them.

And my, aren’t we stupid! I admit it, I have used some of these products, or products like them, on my dogs. I’m stupid, and I’m angry. I trusted these manufacturers with my dogs’ lives.

Of course, there are other ways of dealing with fleas – and worms at the same time. But, as scientists know, these products are totally untested, and there’s no proof that they work. No-one’s experimented with laboratory animals where these ‘products’ are concerned.

Take garlic as an example. I’ve been giving my dogs a clove of raw crushed garlic with their meals each day for nearly two years. We haven’t had any flea infestations – but, of course, we don’t have the benefit of science to tell us we are doing the right thing. Besides which, you can’t patent garlic.

There are other natural products said to be capable of keeping fleas and worms at bay: cider apple vinegar (from the health shop); raw meaty bones (yes, yes, I know they are supposed to give dogs worms – but you can’t patent bones either, so they would say that, wouldn’t they?)

Those who promote the natural diet say that raw meaty bones help keep the immune system healthy, and a dog with a healthy immune system is no good to worms because, amongst other reasons, worms thrive on the mucousy toxic stuff that dogs with a poor diet accumulate in their intestines and guts.

Then there’s homoeopathic remedies, and herbs that are said to combat fleas and worms. Now, as my husband, John, who is a practical sort of person, said: “But they haven’t been tested on laboratory animals, either, so you don’t know whether garlic or herbs, or homoeopathy, will harm your dogs.”

He’s got a point there. All that homoeopaths and herbalists have is their own empirical scientific wisdom, which is totally different to conventional scientific wisdom, and the dogs, cats, horses and people who believe – from their own experience – that their remedies work.

But if a chemical kills fish, doesn’t kill dogs, but mustn’t be allowed near people; or it’s proven to cause cancer but they use it anyway, what use is the laboratory data? And when you add that small dose of killing chemical to all the other chemicals in the environment – the crop sprays, garden weed killers, disinfectants, plastics, mould treatments, and more – at what point is enough enough?

All these scientists and experts believe they are helping us to do the best for our dogs. But I can’t help thinking that they sell products to make money. We want flea killers, they give us flea killers. How can we be sure, though, that they aren’t inadvertently killing our dogs too? Surely, as consumers, we have the right to ask?

I implore you to take part in the Canine Health Census if you haven’t already done so. Should we leave all the decisions to the experts? I’ll leave you with this quote. It relates to human food, and we are only talking about dogs – they matter less than humans, don’t they?:

“The dispassionate objectivity of scientists is a myth. No scientist is simply involved in the single-minded pursuit of truth, he is also engaged in the passionate pursuit of research grants and professional success. Nutritionists may wish to attack malnutrition, but they also wish to earn their living in ways they find congenial.” – John Rivers; The Profession of Nutrition

Finally, if you wish to use products on your dog, be sure you know what you are using, and what the risks are. We are morally bound to make informed choices about the lives of our dogs – they don’t have the choice, they simply have solutions imposed upon them. Take care, for all life is precious.for more information about the Canine Health Census.

Note – All the statements in this article have been researched by the author who holds written evidence to support the statements contained herein.

December 13th, 2014

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