An American in Ireland: Doggy Healthcare

Murray recently had a nasty cough. We had to see a vet anyhow to refill or find replacements for his current medication, so we navigated the Maynooth veterinary system.

The first challenge was our lack of a car. Carrying Murray several kilometers to a vet wasn’t feasible, and I couldn’t find a clear answer on whether cabs would allow animals or not. (It didn’t help that this was while I was sick myself for a week.) In the end, Michelle just called a cab for her and Murray, and I’ve used cabs since. It’s technically not allowed, but none of the cabbies give us much grief over it.

Next was the issue of his existing medication. Murray’s cough suppressant pill doesn’t exist in Ireland, so we had to find equivalents. Getting our Irish vet in touch with our Atlanta vets didn’t help — ultimately, there’s just not enough overlap in medicine for them to be able to sort out an exact replacement. In the end, we decided to go with a liquid form of his cough suppressant. We’ve started him on it a couple of days ago, and he’s not a huge fan, but we’ll see if he adapts.

When his cough got bad and his lungs were rattling in the middle of the night, Michelle and I seriously considered going to an overnight vet. It turns out that there isn’t an urgent care vet like in the US. Rather, there are overnight services, but once your normal vet opens, your pet is transferred there. Which means you need a car there and back. Further, the nearest overnight vet was 45 minutes’ drive. We ultimately decided to wait to see our regular vet here in Maynooth.

When his regular vet saw him, he agreed that Murray probably had a respiratory infection, and ordered a course of antibiotics. Again, we ran into a challenge: The antibiotics are different as well. Murray’s usual antibiotic does exist, but only as a shot, not as a pill. He got the shot to start him off, and then a six-day follow-up course of a different pill.

Murray did not like the new pill. Normally he takes his medications just fine, but this one he hated, to the point where he would strip everything off the pill just to spit it out. In the end, we had to use a pill shooter to get it down his throat — it wasn’t pretty, but he settled down enough to accept the pill. Now Murray’s doing better, so the antibiotics did their job. We’re watching him to see if his cough returns, and that’ll inform whether we adjust his normal cough medication or give him another course of antibiotics.

One of the upsides of the experience is that vets do seem to be cheaper here: An office visit is €32, and medication has generally been around €15. Of course, Murray has been charming everyone he meets here in Ireland as well, including some of the cabbies. The vet here is great as well. I miss some of the options we had in the US, but I think for day-to-day treatment Murray will get good care here.

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