The last three months have been shitty in every sense of the word. I think it was some time in mid-April when Sophie developed spectacular diarrhea, pretty much out of the blue. It was so spectacular, it would have been comical if I didn’t actually fear for her life. (As long as this post is, it is a highly condensed version of what was actually an over two month long, incredibly expensive and exhausting saga.)
So, Sophie had a gastrointestinal situation. She’s also the smartest and cleanest little dog ever, so this was as distressing for her as it was for me. Did I mention how smart she is? When Sophie has diarrhea, she runs to the master bathroom shower. I didn’t train her to do this, of course, I have no idea how she figured out that the shower would both contain her poopsplosions and be super easy to clean afterward, but she used the shower faithfully during this very trying time. I kept a spray bottle of bleach solution handy for cleanups, and the old grout in the shower has never looked whiter. (Bonus!)
Of course I took her to the vet at the start of this mystery illness, and she was on a steriod and an antibiotic AND expensive prescription food; none of which was helping. Because she’s a very clean dog and doesn’t want to poop in the house if she can help it, she would wake me at all hours when the urgency hit, so we were both miserable.
Weeks went on this way. She seemed to be getting a bit better, then, nope, liquid again. In one particularly impressive burst, she was squatting in the strip of grass beside the driveway, and it burst from her with such force that it SPRAYED ACROSS THE ENTIRE SINGLE CAR DRIVEWAY, which is about 10 feet wide. I was thankful that it was my driveway and not a neighbor’s.
The Driveway Poopsplosion was frightening. Let’s remember that this is a small Boston Terrier, 12-13 pounds on her biggest day, and I was worried that’d she’d become dehydrated quickly, so I immediately called the vet’s office, and was told they couldn’t see her that day, call somebody else.
This is the veterinary office I’ve been taking my animals to for about 25 years, and yeah, things haven’t been the same since they sold out to VCA. I don’t blame the doctors; they’re preparing for retirement and winding down their practice, and they have to do what makes sense to them. But there are a lot of new faces on staff, and the girl on the desk had no idea I’d been a client since before she was born, and probably wouldn’t have cared. So I called another clinic, and eventually ended up at a very nice clinic a bit further away. I liked the vet so much that when my long-time vet does decide to wrap up and retire, I’ll probably switch to her practice.
BUT – of course this doctor had never seen Sophie before, so she understandably wanted to do a thorough exam with a new patient. She shared my concern about dehydration and gave her subcutaneous fluids and a B-12 injection, and more medication, and told me to follow up with her or my regular vet if she didn’t improve, and another few hundred dollars were spent.
A week later we were back at the regular vet, who said the next step would be to send a blood sample to “the Texas lab” – which turned out to be at Texas A&M, and apparently specializes in canine gastrointestinal distress. Let’s pause a moment and salute the brave lab techs who deal with THOSE samples all day. That test was over $200, but finally, finally we should get an answer about the root cause of the issue.
BUT – remember I said the new vet had given her a B-12 injection? That shot meant that the blood test would be screwed up, and we’d have to wait 30 days before we could do it. So the saga continued; Sophie got better and worse, the poopsplosions became less frequent and dramatic but still, she wasn’t really okay.
(I forgot to mention that we also switched her food to something called “hydrolyzed protein,” which must be made in a magic kitchen high in the Himalayas or something, because that shit costs over $4 a can. I counted my blessings that she wasn’t a Great Dane.) Fortunately, my picky eater LOVED the stuff and cleaned her plate at every meal, and the diarrhea slowed to a weird yellow sludge, but never really went away.
We finally did the expensive Texas A&M blood test – at last we will get a diagnosis and know what’s going on! And it came back: Inconclusive. Yes, her blood showed evidence of the gastrointestinal distress, but not a clear cause.
By now her poopsplosions had slowed to a fairly normal poop schedule, but her poop was still that odd yellow sludge. She obviously was feeling much better. I had spent well over $1000 on this saga, and decided to take a break from further and increasingly expensive testing, and just see how she did. Last week she decided she didn’t like the super expensive food anymore, so I decided to throw caution to the winds and try her on the prescription gastro low fat food I still had in the pantry, instead of the hydrolyzed protein.
She liked it more than the HP, and her poop actually became a bit firmer and more normal looking! It appeared that our long gastrointestinal nightmare was OVER! She was feeling fine, she liked her food, the entire household started getting some sleep.
Then, the night before last, she woke me at 2 am in distress, AGAIN. She was peeing very frequently, and her pee had traces of blood in it, and she was obviously very uncomfortable. Yep, she as a urinary tract infection. It was kind of inevitable, if you think of the anatomy of a female dog: her ladybits were in frequent contact with runny poop, no matter how I tried to keep her clean. We were back at the vet yesterday, her pee is at the lab and she’s on a different antibiotic, which hopefully won’t bring back the diarrhea.
And now you are up-to-date on our very shitty summer.