Thursday, August 7, 2014

When To See The Vet

I am often impatient with dog owners who seem to over-react to situations concerning their beloved dogs.  A dog that throws up his breakfast, a dog with a torn toe nail, a dog that limps for a few days, a small cut on the foot, a pup with loose stools.  Small things that are probably meaningless, things that will be back to normal in a day or two or will respond to crate rest, a few skipped meals, an Epson salt soak, or possibly a quick trip to the vet.  Nothing serious, nothing to panic about.  Things happen and everything will be fine.  Easy for me to say when it's someone else's dog!
Perhaps it's just because I am living with a very old dog, and another with health issues, or maybe it's because I'm also dealing with two elderly people with health issues, and my mother just took a fall.  Maybe I'm just a little "unsettled" now as I prepare for retirement myself and am inclined to over-react to situations that normally would not faze me at all.  Who knows.
On Sunday morning I took Max and Josie to the dog park where Max swam for sticks and his retrieving bumper - and later buried the bumper in slimy black mud.  Because we were doing Paws On Grand later in the day we kept it short, but I always worry a bit about swimming this time of the year.  No sign of blue-green algae in the dog park lake, and there's no fertilizer run off to fuel it, but there's always that concern.
Later in the day we did Paws On Grand, walking a couple of miles in the heat, through crowds of people and dogs. We stopped to let the dogs take a drink or cool their feet in one of the small swimming pools along the route.  Max stepped in, flopped down, and rolled around, much to the crowd's delight and to Meribel's obvious astonishment.  Why would he do that she seemed to say. How tacky to wallow in the dog bowl.  The walk was great fun and the dogs did wonderfully well.

Monday morning when I fed the dogs Max ate slowly which is NOT typical for him, and later threw up a bit of his breakfast.  I didn't think much about it, as he acted fine.  Later that morning Ron called to tell me that Max had thrown up his entire breakfast.  Max does not have a touchy stomach and never does that.  Panic!  What did he do or eat on Sunday?  Lots of culprits, but the first one that came to mind was blue-green algae.  A Google search mentioned liver involvement, so I called the vet clinic and made an appointment.  No, not an actual emergency (yet), just a concern about blue-green algae.

I took an early lunch to check out my dog.  He seemed fine, but kind of quiet.  Not typical Max. When I took him out he had a bowel movement, a mixture of solid and soft, but at least I knew it probably was not a blockage.  He didn't take the biscuit I offered.  Again, not like Max.  I "knew" it was probably nothing, but still I was concerned.  Normally I would have just kept an eye on him and waited until the next day.  Like humans, dogs can have upset stomachs for a day or two.  If he hadn't gone swimming and done the dog walk with many other dogs and lots of proffered  treats, I wouldn't have thought anything about it. 

We arrived early for our Vet appointment as I was hoping to catch a urine sample.  As suspected, it was not easy and every time Max wanted to lift his leg and I moved the small container into place he stopped and stared at me.  "You want to do what?",  he seemed to say.  It was a no go.  My Vet had prepared herself on the blue-green algae question, and agreed that we should do a physical and blood work.  We opted for the in house test since it was faster.  I took Max home and ran some errands trying to stay busy so I wouldn't worry while waiting for the test results. 

A call two hours later informed me that everything looked totally normal, including the liver values.  Whew!   I felt SO much better!   I could breathe again!  Max didn't get any supper that night and did not pester for it.  It's always best to fast a dog with a stomach upset, although I normally feel guilty.  We did a short walk and he acted fine, and by the time the dogs got their bedtime biscuits Max was demanding one too.  He ate his breakfast the next morning, and has been fine ever since. 

Do I regret spending the money for the blood work?  Absolutely not!   Don't know how I would have survived the day otherwise.  It's probably stupid to worry so much, but it's definitely stupid to take a chance. 

Monday, August 4, 2014

Personality Change

This picture was taken last week as I get such a kick out of Fern's "woe is me" expression.  Fern's personality is very much affected by hormones, and she's always quieter after she's been in season, but that's nothing compared to the behavior of pregnant Fern.  Although she'll play with Max for a minute or two, gone is the non-stop wrestling and the mad rushes out the door.  Everything is slow motion now, as she climbs slowly off the chair and walks sedately out to the dog yard.  Poor Max does not understand the change in his best friend and is learning to amuse himself.
Fern is still pretty lively when friend Sue or daughter Jess stop by, but when it's time for dog walking she wanders over and says, "Why yes, I'll go with you if you really think I should".  No more wild rushes through the living room to the front door, and she walks calmly on a leash with few reminders to STOP PULLING.  Even when she sees rabbits and squirrels she does not attempt to rip my arm off, just makes a short half-hearted move in their direction, then settles back into walking sedately at my side.  This is NOT the Fern I am use to.  The Mad Woman is anything but.
She's plumping up nicely, looks on target for 5-7 pups, although guesstimates are invariably wrong.  I'll change that to say "normally pregnant", neither huge nor small for 6 weeks.  Just 3 weeks to go and so much to get done.  First I need to go through my puppy list and see how many people are actually still on board for a puppy from Fern's litter.  I also need to discuss with them that Fern's pups are likely to be pretty lively, although you sure wouldn't know it from her current behavior!