Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Why Can't You Keep My Dogs Alive -OR- He Was Fine Until You Got Him

Kennedy ("Kenny" for short) is a Boston Terrier. He's been with me since 12/16/09. At that time, he was checked and cleared for sale by our veterinarian. A few days later, I noticed a clear nasal discharge. I flipped his tag, put him on Clavamox for 5 days, and at the end of 5 days, the nasal discharge had abated and he went back up for sale. I never heard any coughing, never heard any sneezing, I never saw anything that alarmed me, only the nasal discharge which was concerning but not a huge deal.

On Christmas eve, someone bought him. The day after Christmas, this person returned him saying that their vet (they were supposed to use ours, technically) diagnosed him with pneumonia. They said that he foamed at the mouth, gagged, and threw up a lot.

I did see him throw up a few times. After that he was fine. No gagging, no foaming. No coughing, sneezing, or discharge from the eyes or nose. He was put on Doxycycline and nebulized 4 times a day. We kept him here, in the back of the kennel, with a sweater on and on a heated bed, until our vet once again cleared him for sale. The same people who brought him back were called, because they swear they are very attatched to him, love him, and want him.

They re-purchased him again Monday night. Tuesday right as I was leaving, there is a phone call. People with the Boston. He's throwing up, gagging and foaming at the mouth again.

First reaction? WTF are these people doing to my dog?! He was FINE until they took him. Then the wheels start to turn in my head and I'm looking for what could possibly be different. I get on the phone and start asking questions.

Is he on the same food he was on here? Yes.

Does anyone give him people food, candy, table scraps, potato chips? No, never. (With three kids under the age of 10 vying for his affections and attentions, I sort of doubt that, but I wasn't going to argue the point.)

Does he run around a lot immediately after eating? Yes.

She tells me that he eats and then about five minutes later he throws up, "and it doesn't even look like he's digested it!"

Well no shit lady, it takes a bit longer than 5 minutes for your GI tract to work.

The only things I can think of are:

There is something in their house making him sick. (I've known dogs to have severe allergic reactions to new carpet.)

He's stressed.

Something in their water is doing this to him.

He runs around too much immediately after eating.

When I suggest putting him on bottled water, the lady got a little upset with me. She informs me that, "I am a professional well digger. My well is as deep as you can get it. There is nothing wrong with my water, my water is better than any bottled water you can buy."

Oookay. Chill pill, it was just an idea. I'm just going through everything I can think of that could be different. You can't rule anything out.

I offer to call our vet, explain the situation, get suggestions and call her back. Which I do.

Our vet's response? "I can't explain that unless it's something in the environment, anxiety, or activity related." K. Pretty much what I said.

Before calling her back, I have an idea. Maybe. . . maybe he's just eating too fast. In the kennel, we feed our dogs free choice, meaning there is always food available to them in their bowls. This is because if we didn't, some whack job like yesterday's lady would be throwing a fit and calling the SPCA because s/he thinks we're starving our dogs. I never recommend to new owners that they feed free choice, however, because it's really hard to house break a dog that isn't on a feeding schedule, and you can't know how much they're eating, so you don't know if they go off their food which is one of the first signs of an illness. Also, free choice fed dogs tend to be really obese, because they overeat. Not every dog will overeat (there's an exception to every rule). But most will.

If she put him on a feeding schedule, he might be thinking that he has to eat everything in his bowl super fast before it goes away, and then throwing it up immediately. When I call her back, I explain this to her. She says, "Yeah, that's what my vet said, too, when I called him about it."

So I suggest to her that she leave food available at all times, and see if that helps. She says she has an appointment for Wednesday morning with her vet, and that she will call me afterward to tell me what their vet has to say.

This morning, when I get to work, guess who is waiting for me. Kennedy. He's happy to see me, I pick him up, cuddle him, note that there is no vomit anywhere in his cage or tray, and take him out on the floor for a run to see if I can provoke this foaming and gagging.

Nothing. He trots around the store just as happy as can be. We run, we frolic, we play. No puke. No gags. Not even any excessive salivation. Just a happy little Boston "Terror."

When I go ask what prompted them to bring him back before giving it a little time to see if it was stress or related to his feeding schedule, I was told they said, "He just won't stop throwing up."

Which is amazing because apparently he stopped the second he got back in the store.

They didn't have him for a full 24 hours before this alleged problem started. . . again.

We can only speculate what was going on. I think if it really was stress or anxiety, bringing him back in the store wouldn't make it stop immediately. He would still throw up a few times until he settled back down. But he stopped immediately. One of the kids could have been sneaking him candy or something that wasn't agreeing with him. Kids are known to do that, especially little kids, and these are all girls under the age of 10. If that were the case, their mom would have seen it undigested in the vomit most likely, and there wouldn't be a mystery. I cannot rule out that something in their house or yard just wasn't agreeing with him. But the simplest explanation is the most likely, so either he was eating too fast, or they were just fibbing.

We let them have his sweater. They didn't bring it back with him.

Kenny's records:
Arrived 12/16/09
Vet exam 12/17/09 by Dr. Woode
Weight at that time: 4 pounds.
Exam findings: Ok, large abdomen.
Treatment recommended: None, worm if not done.

My med chart:
12/19/09 Clear nasal discharge - Clavamox 2 times per day 5-7 days.
12/24/09 Sold, no discharge.
12/26/09 Returned for coughing, gagging, vomiting, foaming at the mouth. Diagnosis: Pneumonia by personal vet.

Treatment @ store:
Weigh in AM and PM, record weight.
Doxycycline 2 times per day.
Nebulize at 9 AM, 12, 3 PM, 8 PM.
Give Benebac ever other day.

Vet Exam 12/31/09 By Dr. Woode
Weight at Exam: 6 pounds.
Exam findings: Looking good.
Treatments recommended: Continue doxy 2 more days, continue nebulizer until next exam.

Vet Exam 01/07/10 By Dr. Woode
Comments: Looks good, ready for sale.

Text message convo between myself and Dr. Woode this morning:

Me: Boston came back last night. "He just won't stop throwing up." No vomit in cage overnight, no vomit after eating this morning.

Dr. Woode: Weird. U might see if he vomits when excited or is out of cage to play.

Me: I tried that. Nothing.

Dr. Woode: Never give that puppy back to those people. Bad karma.

I love Dr. Woode.

Kennedy, happily chewing a hoof in one of the critical care cages.  

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