A Sick Dog on a Sunday
by Lynn Stacy-Smith
I hate Murphy’s Law. I prefer to follow the more positive, manifesting-good-stuff-from-the-universe mindset that everything is going to be awesome and work out. But then Murphy’s Law strikes…you know, the whole “whatever can go wrong, will go wrong” nonsense. As far as dogs are concerned, Murphy’s Law is most definitely that “if your dog is going to get sick or injured, it is going to be on a weekend!” If you, too are a dog owner, I know that you understand.
Jackson had a bad case of colitis a few months ago, right after the start of the new year. I knew things were bad when he turned his nose up at food, something Labrador Retrievers simply do not do. Ever. After a trip to the vet, a prescription for Flagyl and some other antibiotics, he was on the mend and back to his normal happy, healthy, food loving self.
Until yesterday afternoon…after the vet’s office had closed.
Normally I don’t take the dogs to the vet right away for some run of the mill loose stools. I will give them some Perfect Form from The Honest Kitchen or a dose of a probiotic and wait a day or two to see if things firm up. Usually they do and we go on with our lives.
Unfortunately, this time, Jackson’s stomach woes moved from diarrhea to vomiting around bedtime last night and he and I were up for most of the night until around 4 a.m. The first two trips outside, within an hour of us going to bed, were to eliminate his bowels. I appreciated the urgency with which he woke me and literally ran to the door in order to not poop in our home, and I felt bad for the stress that he must be feeling since his ability to get outside depends entirely on me.
Around midnight, diarrhea changed to vomiting and he whined and cried to go outside, at which point he ate grass until I made him stop and come back inside, then puked up the grass and bile immediately, and then whined and cried to go back outside to repeat the process. It was not a good night as I dealt with exhaustion and worried about him, and we both tried to figure out how to make him feel better.
Because we have had a few incidents over the years of “empty tummy syndrome” with both dogs in the middle of the night, I decided to give him a tiny bit of food, which had the desired effect of temporarily settling his stomach so we could both get a bit of sleep. Miraculously, we did ok from 4 a.m. until 8 a.m. at which point he woke me to resume the grass-eating/grass-puking cycle.
After considering all of my options this morning, I decided to mix a teaspoon of baking soda with a half a cup of water while I also prepared some plain white rice for him. The baking soda and water would essentially be the dog version of a homemade Tums and help decrease the stomach acid that seemed to be bothering him and causing him seek out the grass. I added a few spoonfuls of the baking soda water to a cup or so of rice and added a little dollop of canned pumpkin. He was not interested at first, but eventually he ate it, and we have not had any vomiting since, and it is now almost dinner. In a few hours, I will repeat this meal, only I will give him the baking soda mixture in a clean syringe that I kept from when we had a liquid medicine at some point before, since the pumpkin did not cover up the taste of the baking soda water like I had hoped.
Needless to say, it has been a stressful twelve hours for me, between losing sleep, worrying about my beloved dog, cleaning up vomit in various spots on the carpet, trying to keep Tinkerbell from eating the vomit or trying to rough-house with her under-the-weather big brother. I gave up trying to sleep in my bed last night in favor of the sofa, so that I would be closer to a door to the outside when he nudged me with his beautiful black nose and gave the urgent “Mom, Mom, Mom gotta get out RIGHT now, this is NOT a drill” message to me. I am hoping we can move back up to our bedroom tonight if this combination of baking soda water, rice and pumpkin continues to do the trick.
I’ve thought longingly that I just need a black market Flagyl dealer for these times when stomach and intestinal woes come at a time the vet clinic is not open, as I am pretty confident we have a week or so of that magical elixir in our future. Although in reality I would never give my dogs something illegally obtained and not from my trusted vet, such a situation is just a silly daydream as I pick pieces of kibble and grass out of my carpet and then squirt the area with vinegar and water. I know, though, there are many dog owners who would understand a cartoon or meme of a shady back alley deal between a desperate dog mom and someone with the ability to get their dog to stop vomiting.
Of course, I will be setting an alarm for the moment the vet’s office opens tomorrow morning to try to get a same day appointment for him. One of the benefits of staying with the same doctor and clinic for so many years is that they know me and are great at trying to get me in for these last minute things. I feel confident that the vet can fix him up, but I also worry about why he is going through this so soon after the last time.
Is this a sign of what’s to come now that my big boy is a middle aged dog, or is this simply because I have to keep switching to our backup brand of food due to the venison shortage in New Zealand that is likely impacting the availability of our regular food? His regular food has prebiotics, probiotics, and all sorts of ingredients that promote healthy digestion, so it could make sense that to put him on our second choice for food could be wreaking havoc without those special ingredients that he has eaten literally his entire life, even if the protein and binding agent are similar or identical.
As a dog blogger, or any sort of blogger, I feel like I should try to share the best parts of dog ownership, the helpful tricks and tips, the funny stories, the heartwarming moments. But sometimes, dog ownership is hard and stressful, we lose sleep, we clean grass and bile out of our carpets, we sit on our deck at 3 a.m. on the verge of tears while our dogs eat grass that we know they are going to puke back up, we count down the hours until the vet’s office opens, and we worry about why our babies are so under the weather. I know that we have all wanted our dogs to be able to just tell us what is the matter and what they need to feel better, and at the same time have them understand that if they just moved a few inches to the left that they could puke on the tile floor instead of the carpet.
At the end of the day, this is what we signed up for. The good, the bad, and the yucky. I wouldn’t give up a single moment of time with my dogs or wish away any of our experiences, although if you know anyone who wants to give a blogger a nice massage and maybe a nap under a warm blanket, I will happily write about that experience, too.