Woman believes her veterinarian negligently killed her dog with Buprenorphine

By Kathy

Note: the drug concerned, Buprenorphine, is an extra label drug for use by vets on dogs and cats, therefore this post is relevant to cat caretakers. Extra label drugs can only be used by vets on animals if there is not an alternative drug that is labeled for that species. The client needs to be told and even sign off for the drugs’s use (this may not be a legal requirement) – source: petmd.com.

Buprenorphine -- strong painkiller for cats

Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles:- Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

On a Friday I took my dog in to the vet because he threw up. When we got there she said he might have a little upset stomach and gave him some medicine.

The next day he still was not feeling right so I took him back to her and she said will do a full panel of blood and some x-rays. Remember it cost $200 on Friday now we are there Saturday and after all said and done that was $400 but then she came back to the room and said his blood work was fine and his x-rays showed nothing except maybe a little swelling in his prostate because he hadn’t been neutered and she said that was normal.

She also said that she felt he had a little soreness in his spine so she was going to give him a shot of morphine. She took him to the back and gave him a shot when I looked on the invoice it did not say morphine it said Buprenorphine .05mg when I looked it up online it said it was 10 times more potent than morphine and dogs should never have more then .02 she gave my dog .05 and said he might be sleeping for the next 24 hours just make him some chicken and rice tonight you know you like something soothing when you don’t feel good.

We brought him home and laid him on his favorite blanket he did not move the rest of the afternoon not even to get up to drink or go to the bathroom so that night I ran to the store and got a syringe. I thought he at least has to drink so I put some water in his mouth with the syringe and he drank it we’re still going on the pretext that of course she said sleepy and down for 24 hours.

The next morning I went to work and he was still laying there so I’m thinking 24 hours it hasn’t been yet. When I got home from work he was still in the same position I gave him a syringe of some chicken soup just the broth and he started to gurgle then my husband picked him up and put him on the couch and he was shaking. I said to my husband maybe he is cold my husband said no way let’s go.

This was Sunday now so the only thing open was a veterinary hospital about 15 miles away. I raced down the road 80 miles an hour went through a red light while my husband was sitting in the backseat and telling him to breathe just breathe. When we reached the hospital the nurse came running out and grabbed him and took him in the back about a minute later she came out and with her finger said come here.

So I’m thinking we’re going to see him and she says I am so sorry he passed. I was devastated and started to whale and cry right out loud at the hospital. I know for certain there was nothing that serious wrong with that dog till the vet gave him that shot.

I called her on Monday and told her I want my $600 back and she killed my dog !! I told her the reason I’m calling her is not only for the money to be returned back but to tell her the next time she gives an animal that shot she needs to inform the owners about the side effects which online it said could be respiratory distress and death none of which we were informed about.

That is what happened to my dog. I do not want anybody else to go through what I went through he was my best friend and I still miss him to this day!


Note from Michael (Admin). Thanks Kathy. Your story is about a dog but it could have been about a cat and companion animal caretakers need to be aware of the dangers. This drug is FDA approved for humans only but the AVMA allows its use on animals under certain conditions. It is called an ‘extra label’ drug.

13 thoughts on “Woman believes her veterinarian negligently killed her dog with Buprenorphine”

  1. I’m so sorry about your dog. My cat was not acting like herself so I took her to the emergency clinic. Her physical was fine but they said she had an ear infection that ruptured her ear drums. Said she was in so much pain so they gave her buprenorphine. Said it would sedate herand she’d be groggy for quite some time. She couldn’t hold her head up let alone stand. She couldn’t do anything but lay there. She didn’t sleep much though, her eyes were wide open. She looked like a zombie really. I spoke to that same clinic the next morning and expressed my concerns but they were brushed off with assurance that was normal. My cat was a year and four months old. She ended up dying later that day. I called the clinic and they were not only very unsympathetic but then claimed she must’ve had some neurological problems. My cat wasnt in pain before going to the clinic. Two days prior, she was playing, eating, being affectionate. She showed no signs of pain. I didn’t challenge the clinic with this medication because I wasn’t knowledgeable about it. I regret everything from that day. Don’t be afraid to challenge your vet if you feel something is wrong, even if you aren’t knowledgeable.

    • Oh, I feel so sad and upset by your comment. Horrible. Sigh. I agree. Challenge your vet. Do so research. Many vets are not very good to be brutally honest. Particularly recently qualified ones. Many cat owners know more than them in a practical sense. I will use your comment to write another article on this. Thanks for commenting.

  2. Off-label use of drugs is inherently risky. Any time the owner needs an understanding of a treatment to the level of a medical professional is risky, and too often they find out the hard way. As I read this I thought it was also risky to give the dog any fluids in that condition out of fear of aspiration, but also because I knew ahead of time that this went bad so I was looking for trouble. However I think the root cause was overdose. Vets make mistakes and we have to watch out for them all the time. It’s hard for me to trust anymore, and I go to the very best available within 100 miles.

    • Yes, I agree with you again. It is a mistake and the consequences are tragic. I have a feeling that vets can become a little blasé about their patients. They take more risks than doctors do with human patients.

      • The consequences from our SVB was a slap on wrist and a 250 fine along with being ordered to take 4 extra hours of continuing education.
        Pets are still largely viewed as personal property not living beings or even living property with any special rights. Lawsuits are rare because it’s almost impossible to recover damages. Your pet has not value unless expensive pedigree but the law will make you put on a medical malpractice suit. Quite literally veterinarians can get by with murder.

        • Lawsuits are rare because it’s almost impossible to recover damages.

          Hit the nail on the head and the same applies to med neg for doctors because vets are allowed to make mistakes. It’s human to do so. This is why cat owners should be politely vigilant and demanding.

  3. Continued. There are very few animal specific drugs almost all of the advanced treatments our pets receive are through the use of drugs intended for human use but veterinarians have found effective in treating our pets. Bup is the only pain reliever I allow my cats to have. That was per my own research.
    Remember than enrofloxacin a drug made specifically for animals killed our Kitten and has caused endless suffering in pets even when given in correct doses.

    • Does it seem to you that this vet administered to much of this drug for this dog? I guess that is common sense as the dog died. It looks like carelessness to me.

      • Probably. I hope the veterinarian has been reported so that an investigation can happen.
        They would also need to submit their pet for a necropsy to determine the most likely cause of death especially since there is no firm diagnosis for the dogs original issues.

        • It would have been nice to know what she did other ask for her money back. I am not sure she got it back. And I would doubt she followed up on it and made a formal complaint etc.. Complaints and stuff like that can extend the emotional upset.

          • No kidding. However allowing a veterinarian that makes that kind of mistake to continue unchallenged means there will likely be more victims. We paid a heavy emotional price pursing our BAD VET. No regrets.
            Legally it’s very hard to make a claim the drug killed her dog without either a conformation from another vet and in a case like this a necropsy. No one in the legal world is there to help you and they would bear the full burden of finding ways to pursue it. As long as pets are property the murdering veterinarians continue to practice with little fear but a slap from the nearest board regulating them.
            A complaint to a state veterinary board however is free and forms can be downloaded online all you have to provide is the information. They can also make a formal complaint to their state Attorney General. I was approached by many people about the monster we encountered but I’m not the person who can do something.

  4. https://www.fda.gov/animalveterinary/resourcesforyou/ucm380135.htm
    I cut and paste the next part since it is on an FDA website for public use. The rules for pet and food animals are different and pet owners need to understand them-
    General Conditions for Extra-Label Drug Use

    The purpose of FDA’s requirements for extra-label drug use in animals is to limit this use to situations where an animal’s health is threatened or where the animal may suffer or die without treatment. In addition, one of the following general conditions must be met before you can legally prescribe an approved human or animal drug for an extra-label use:
    •There is no animal drug approved for the intended use; or
    •There is an animal drug approved for the intended use, but the approved drug does not contain the active ingredient you need to use; or
    •There is an animal drug approved for the intended use, but the approved drug is not in the required dosage form (for example, you need a liquid dosage form, but the approved drug is only available as a tablet dosage form); or
    •There is an animal drug approved for the intended use, but the approved drug is not in the required concentration (for example, you need 5 mg, but the approved drug is only available at 50 mg); or
    •You have found, in the context of a valid veterinarian-client-patient relationship, that the approved drug is clinically ineffective when used as labeled.

    In companion (non-food-producing) animals, you can prescribe an approved human drug for an extra-label use even if an approved animal drug is available. This is not the case for food-producing animals. For these animals, FDA’s requirements for extra-label drug use prohibit you from prescribing an approved human drug if there’s a drug approved for food-producing animals that you can prescribe instead. For example, if a drug approved for chickens is available, you must first use that drug to treat a sick cow before reaching for a drug approved for people.


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