by Kes Stephenzon

Below is a basic outline of what happened to my Kodi and the events that led to his death. If his story can help other dogs, then at least I’ll know he didn’t die for nothing. Thank you for wishing to tell his story.

I’m going to start with Kodi’s treatment at 6 weeks before his death as I don’t know exactly what is significant.

Kodi had routine bloods done as he was a bit off colour and just not behaving as usual, he was a bit nervous and jumpy and had developed a bit of a cough. They took blood from his neck and obviously shaved a patch. His bloods all came back normal, his kidney and liver function in the normal range, nothing at all was cause for concern.

Two weeks later, I noticed that his hair had not even started to grow back in, and given thyroid problems run in my family, it made me suspect that this might be Kodi’s problem too. He had more bloods and  yes, his thyroid function was low, also after listening to his heart, they had detected a slight murmur but the vet did not feel it was particularly problematic at that time, to which I agreed and so it was agreed to just monitor it.

They started Kodi on thyroxin and tested his bloods again two weeks later to check his levels. His thyroid function was slightly high, I was told that was fairly normal for a dog taking thyroxin and so decided the dose was right. Again, his kidney and liver function was in the normal range, his heart had not deteriorated.

A few days later, he was due his check up and booster shots. At the time, my Gran was critically ill and so I was expecting Kodi to need to go to kennels in the near future. I was a little concerned, because I had never had a dog vaccinated before that had had health issues so discussed this with the vet. She didn’t feel his booster would affect these and so I went ahead and had him done.

A few hours later, I noticed that Kodi was staggering slightly, this became worse during the night and so I phoned the vet. The vet said that yes it could be an effect of the booster, to keep an eye on him and to take him in the next day if he was no better.

By the following day, Kodi was finding it difficult to walk and to stand, he was leaning on the wall when trying to stand, and was unable to do his “needs” because his back end was so weak. His posture was very hunched also and he didn’t want to eat. I took him back to the vet, where they admitted him both for observation and because they felt he needed to be immobilised in case of spinal injury.

They treated him with fluids as far as I’m aware, I didn’t go see him for several days as he had become so stressed when I’d been in before. The vet said that she felt Kodi was improving but because his spinal X-ray had shown a defect, she wished to keep him immobilised and send his X-rays to the specialist in Stirling. The specialist agreed to see Kodi as an emergency case, but Kodi’s vet phoned me and told me she didn’t feel he needed to go as an emergency as his condition had improved. I hadn’t seen him at that point so I took her word for it.

Later that day I felt I really wanted to see my dog and so I went in. When I saw Kodi I was devastated, he had clearly declined greatly since being admitted, he could hardly stand or walk, he had lost masses of weight and it was only then that I was told he had not eaten anything since being admitted, they believed this was because he was in pain and missing me. The vet on duty listened to my concerns and agreed that Kodi really should be sent as an emergency to the specialist as soon as possible. The day was Saturday, the soon as possible was Tuesday morning. Because the specialist was a 3 hour drive and I would need to leave before the vet opened, they agreed to let me take Kodi home on Monday night.

To be perfectly honest, that night, I knew he was seriously ill and I began to think that I would lose him.

Kodi who had been a very active, playful dog, was completely lifeless. He just lay on the floor, he wasn’t interested in anything, not food, not the other dogs, nothing. He was totally drained. I took him to the specialist the next morning, the examination did not go very far however because after I explained Kodi’s behaviour and rapid decline, the specialist suspected renal failure despite his bloods having been clear only a few days previously.

The bloods confirmed that Kodi’s kidneys were barely functional at the time of testing, they also admitted him to their ICU ward and to give them credit, they worked around the clock to try to save him, sadly when the bloods were repeated his kidneys showed no sign of improvement at all and his other body organs were starting to shut down.

They let me take Kodi home that night, they gave him pain meds and steroids to try to keep him reasonably comfortable for the journey home and he was to be euthanised the following day.

Euthanasia was extremely difficult, Kodi’s body was so shut down that they could not get a vein to inject.

They managed to get a tiny amount of the drug in and Kodi finally passed away around an hour later.

You can probably see why it was concluded to be his vaccinations that did the damage as he had been in almost perfect health, no kidney or liver issues as was shown by his bloods only days before the booster.

His decline happened only hours after the booster and within days, his body just gave up. Neither the vet practise or the specialist were able to come up with any other explanation to why Kodi just crashed as he did and at no time did they seem to even consider it to be anything other than his booster that caused his illness and death.

The vet was very open with me and even stated that she felt she had made mistakes as regards Kodi’s care. She admitted that she should not have delayed his specialist appointment without my first seeing Kodi, however the specialist didn’t believe it would have made any difference, Kodi would have died anyway, once his organs had started to give up, there was no reversing it, it was too quick and to be honest, I agree with that.

The only thing that might have saved him was not to vaccinate him and I wish I had known then what I know now. My instincts at the time were to not vaccinate, but I was at a loss as to what else I could do, given he would need to go to kennels.

As it turned out, he died and my gran died the very next day. So really, I put my boy through that for nothing I was there for neither of them in the end up and that kills me every day.

I don’t blame Kodi’s vet, I don’t believe she vaccinated him just for the money, I believe she honestly thought it was what was best. I do believe that she should possibly have looked for advice, given Kodi’s medical history and that’s why I think education is the key. I know she has learnt some important lessons from what happened to Kodi and I also know she was genuinely devastated.

Healthful Dog 4[3]:186-187


Owner Odyssey – Death by Vaccinosis