Thursday, August 30, 2012

$11.00 [A Dog Toy the Size of Your Dog]

Betelgeuse has (finally) fully recovered from last week's sickness.  Thank you for your get well wishes!

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A few weeks ago, we shared a room at La Quinta Inn in Virginia Beach, Virginia with my brother, his lovely girlfriend, and their dog, Rigel.  My puppy nephew has gotten so big!

Rigel had this big plush squeaking bunny dog toy that he just loved.  He would squeak it, shake it, hold it, hump it.  I had never thought to get my little dogs such a big toy, but it was super cute to see Rigel and a Rigel-sized bunny locked in an embrace.  So on our way out of town, I stopped into a pet store to purchase Betelgeuse her own big plush squeaking bunny.  Only this pet store didn't sell big plush squeaking bunnies, so I got her a big plush squeaking blue dog instead.*  She loves it, guys.

And so now we have three dogs ($11).

*  I can't for the life of me find a link to the blue dog on the Internet.  It is difficult to come up with Google search terms for a dog toy that is also a dog.  Let me know if you come up with anything.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

$428.25 [Hemorrhagic Gastroenteritis]

Despite my love for them, my animal companions are constantly trying to find new and more costly ways to die.

In the last 48 hours, Betelgeuse, my three-year old 12 lb. spitz, came down with a case of Hemorrhagic Gastroenteritis, more affectionately known by those in the field as "HGE."  I would rank this death attempt in second place behind last year's rat poison consumption.

Spoiler Alert:  Betel is feeling much better now.  (Not all dogs are so lucky, RIP Ansel.)

Our timeline:
00:00 Hours.  Out of nowhere, Betelgeuse threw up her dinner in our bed.  We cleaned it up.  Then she threw up in the bed again.  And again.  And then on the floor.  And then again.

08:00 Hours.  We woke up for the day, although I'm not sure that we actually slept.  For every sip of water Betelgeuse would take, she would throw up three times.  Lulu, our control variable, was fine.  Kyler and I reluctantly went to work.  I checked in on Betel every hour or so on the webcam.

16:30 Hours.  Kyler got home from work.  Betel refused to eat anything, including tasty things like cooked chicken.

18:30 Hours.  I got home from work.  Betel drank some water and threw up several times.  And then she had bloody diarrhea.  For those of you new to animal companions or stumbling on this page from a Google search, in the event of bloody diarrhea, seek veterinary care immediately.

19:00 Hours.  At the vet.  Blood work ($35.00) and x-ray ($145.00).  X-ray was fine, but blood work revealed an elevated hematocrit level, which is how Betel got her HGE diagnosis.  She was given subcutaneous fluids for dehydration ($45.00), a cerenia injection (anti-nausea medicine) ($47.00), and a famotidine injection (an H2 blocker, which decreases the amount of acid made in the stomach) ($35.00).  We were told to monitor her overnight, and we made a follow-up appointment in the morning for additional blood work and more subcutaneous fluids.

32:20 Hours.  More bloody diarrhea, right outside the vet's office.  I took a picture of it with my iPhone to show the vet, which offended my husband.  I will spare your eyes and not post it here, but you can email me if you want to see it.  (And I know that some of you want to see it since "bloody diarrhea" is the search term that brought you here.  Note that in my email response to you, I will advise you to seek veterinary care immediately.)

32:30 Hours.  At the vet again.  Blood work ($35.00) and subcutaneous fluids ($45.00).  Betel's hemocrit level was lower, although still slightly elevated.  The vet said she could be treated on an outpatient basis and gave us medication for the next several days -- cerenia (anti-nausua) ($25.00) and flagyl (antibiotic effective against anaerobic bacteria and certain parasites/anti-diarrheal) ($16.25).  Kyler and I played with Leo the ferret and stunk for the rest of the day.

34:00 Hours.  Betelgeuse ate boiled chicken and white rice.  I decided to work from home.  Betel proceeded to sleep all day.  No vomit.  No diarrhea.

41:00 Hours.  She retrieved a ball from somewhere and tried to get me to play.  When I refused on account of work, she groomed Lulu.  She was clearly feeling better.

42:00 Hours.  She ate more boiled chicken and white rice with no adverse side effects.  She got her first at-home doses of the cerenia and flagyl.

45:00 Hours.  We are still waiting on a bowel movement from Betel.  And in the meantime I decided to blog about HGE in case any other pet owners out there are faced with these same sudden, inexplicable gastrointestinal symptoms.

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Hemorrhagic Gastroenteritis ("HGE")
Symptoms:  Sudden, profuse vomiting, bloody diarrhea, anorexia, depression.  Elevated hemocrit levels in blood, but no fever and a normal white blood cell count.
Causes:  Uncertain.
Contagious: No.
Treatment:  Intravenous fluid therapy to replace lost fluid volume.  Symptomatic treatment of vomiting and diarrhea.  Antibiotics targeting C. perfringens.
Level of seriousness:  The progression of HGE is so rapid that hypovolemic shock and death can occur within 24 hours if untreated.  Mortality is high in untreated dogs.  Less than 10% mortality with treatment.
Recurrence:  10-15% of cases will recur.

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We could have saved $145 if we turned down the x-ray, but at that point I wasn't sure that Betelgeuse hadn't eaten something weird that was lodged in her intestines.  I wasn't sure of anything.  But whatever.  With the help of our trusty veterinarian, and for a mere $428.25 (ugh.), we thwarted another death attempt and can rest easy.  For now.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

$12.50 [Wagatha's Organic Dog Biscuits]

My childhood dog, Patches, would go nuts over Milk Bones.  He liked them so much that it made me want to taste them just to see what all the fuss was about

Do you know what my current dogs Betelgeuse and Lulu will do if you offer them a Milk Bone?  They either (1) sniff at it and refuse to accept it at all or (2) take it in their mouths and then spit it out -- yes, they will open their mouths and let the Milk Bone fall right off their tongues.  And it's always some well-meaning small business owner or family friend offering the Milk Bone, so it's just embarrassing that my spoiled little Brooklyn dogs are so unapologetically, Thanks, but no thanks, we're too good for a Milk Bone.

New York did the same thing to my husband's and my taste buds, but we will graciously accept and eat the bland boxed mashed potatoes you offer us and then complain about them later when we're alone.  We don't refuse or spit them out.  In any event, we're supposed to have refined tastes because we're human.

So what is the (over)budget pet version of a Milk Bone, then?  Easy -- it's Wagatha's Coconut Grove Organic Dog Biscuits ($12.50 for 16 oz.).

These wheat-free bone-shaped biscuits are made with human-grade certified organic ingredients, including coconut and tart cherries.  My dogs love these things!  Wagatha's biscuits also come in Little Bites ($7.00 for 8 oz.) and in a host of other flavors, big and little, none of which Betel and Lu have tried.

I like to give each pup a biscuit or half a biscuit when I leave for work in the morning.  It's a little routine we've developed that seems to make my daily departure easier on all of us.  Betel and Lulu used to stand right by the door, holding onto a final hope that I was not in fact going to work but rather was about to grab the leashes so we could all go somewhere awesome together.  And then I would close the door in their little doggie faces.  Now, they settle down happily on the rug with a biscuit as I leave.  Sure, Milk Bones would be cheaper, but these two are worth every penny of that $12.50.

Bon app├ętit!