Is There Something I Can Do If My Dog Died from a Reaction to a Pain-killing Drug?

Is There Something I Can Do If My Dog Died from a Reaction to a Pain-killing Drug?

"Our 14-years-young toy poodle, Marilyn Monroe, died 28 hours after she was injected between her shoulders with Cerenia for pain! She was also prescribed Gabapentin for arthritis pain in her neck. She had already been prescribed that same drug in December of last year, which I gave to her as prescribed for pain. It seemed to work quite nicely, and she was not suffering from any pain or other maladies. She was eating very well, jumping up on the bed and furniture in the living room since December, and all seemed well," wrote Carole about her dog in PetHelpful's Ask a Vet section.

She continued to relate that in early 2023, her poodle turned blind and deaf, which they were already expecting due to her age. And so far, they were able to deal with her condition just fine.

But then, Carole noticed that her dog was now producing a "hacking" sound. This prompted her to take the poodle to the vet to know what was causing this unfamiliar sound, albeit the dog was not vomiting or feeling nauseous.

An assistant checked Marilyn's vitals, and the vet said the poodle's health was good. Then, Carole mentioned the hacking sound that Marilyn was making, and the doctor's only explanation was that the trachea tends to close in small, senior dogs, but such a case was common. She was assured that it would not kill her dog.

Carole continued to relate in her letter to PetHelpful, "The doctor suggested that I place Marilyn's water and food bowls up higher to help with any pain in her neck and shoulders. She told me that would help any pain she may have, especially along with the twice-a-day Gabapentin. The vet pondered for a few minutes and said, and I quote: 'I think we will give her an injection of Cerenia for her pain.' She told me nothing more at all. She left the room, and I was told by a young nurse, 'The doctor cannot come back here, as there has been an emergency.' I never saw the vet again. I told the young nurse it was just fine, as emergency comes first, and I would wait to see her again for the other drug and ask questions."

However, after almost an hour, two nurses approached Carole and her poodle. They had a syringe with a very long needle, saying they had been instructed to inject it into her dog. They also asked Carole to go out of the room. Carole could hear Marilyn howling, barking, and screaming in pain, and so she was compelled to go back to the room and question the nurses. But they simply answered her that the drug had a stinging effect.

Twenty-eight hours later, Marilyn was dead. What was more hurtful for Carole was that she had tried many times to reach out to the vet and the hospital, but her appeals fell on deaf ears. She kept telling them that her dog was dying, but the answers that were given to her were not what her dog needed. Worse, she was accused of harassing hospital staff who had refused to give her any contact numbers of the vet who had earlier prescribed Cerenia for Marilyn's pain.

"Either go to a neurologist or take your dog to an emergency clinic. We have no more responsibility here. Goodbye." These were the last words that the hospital staff told Carole.

Seeking advice from PetHelpful, Carole ended her letter with the following: "My dog is in a freezer 6 miles from my house. Do I have an autopsy, necropsy, and get an attorney? When I said this to one of the assistants there, she said they had nothing more to say to me and to speak to their attorney. What should I do now?"

Mark dos Anjos, DVM, replied to Carole's inquiry in her effort to seek justice for Marilyn. He first explained that Cerenia is not "a medication used to treat pain." Cerenia is for vomiting. And that during the study of this particular drug, there have been reports of dogs dying from Cerenia. However, the drug company denies that Cerenia was responsible for those deaths; they claim that it was those dogs' underlying conditions that caused their death.

With regard to taking legal action, Carole must realize that it would not be an easy battle. Dr. dos Anjos wrote, "You would need to find someone who is interested in animal health and willing to take on a big pharmaceutical corporation. Even if you tried to sue the veterinarian that gave the medication, they could claim that she used this medication off-label in good faith."

He further added, "In the US and most other countries, dogs are considered property and have very little 'value.' If you want to pursue this, you might win a nominal amount for the value of your dog, but unless you find a lawyer willing to sue for your emotional distress, this is not going to be enough."

Of course, Carole could pursue a necropsy, but Dr. dos Anjos stated that it may even be more difficult than fighting the judicial system. And there are also other factors to consider in fighting against a large drug corporation. Like proving that Cerenia was injected into her dog and that it was not Marilyn's pre-existing medical condition that caused her death.

These are life's bitter realities, which only add more weight and pain to broken hearts. Legal battles entail a lot of time, money, and effort, especially if the opponent is a wealthy corporation. Carole will have to weigh all of these things before making a decision.

In our present world, who doesn't want justice?

But then, even if we cannot get it from our society's court of justice, Someone has promised that "everyone will reap what they sow." If a single sparrow can't fall to the ground without the Creator knowing it, how much more is an animal's death due to human irresponsibility and neglect noticed?

Doris de Luna

For more than 20 years now, I’ve been devoting my heart, energy, and time to fulfilling my dream, which – many people may agree – is not among the easiest aspirations in life. Part of my happiness is having been able to lend a hand to many individuals, companies, and even governments as an investigative journalist, creative writer, TV director, and radio broadcaster.

At home, I spend my free time learning how to cook various cuisines. Tiramisu, chocolate mousse, and banoffee pie are my favorite desserts. Playing with our dogs, Mushu and Jerusalem, is also a special part of my day. And, of course, I read a lot – almost anything under the sun. But what really makes me feel alive is meeting people from various walks of life and writing about their stories, which echo with the tears and triumph of an unyielding spirit, humanity, and wisdom.

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