Another Medical Adventure

I was enjoying lunch, seated at a picnic table at the New York Botanical garden soaking up the unusually warm sunny weather on my dog free week- Eti was staying at a friend's house when I got the dreaded call from said friend- '....there's something wrong with Eti '.

I had recently had Magnus stay with us, and my reward was a swop - Eti was to stay with Magnus' family while I had a couple of weekends away and the weekdays were to be spent doing some long planned DIY projects, varnishing the dining table, some painting, some spring cleaning- all best done without a fume sensitive and curious dog around. So there I was on Day 4 when the phone call came, telling me that Eti had a swollen rear end and had been scooting all morning. By the time I got to him his swollen anal gland had abcessed and was oozing and bleeding. Off we went to our vets.

I have since learnt a lot about the anal gland - but I'll post about this another time. Thanks to the wonders of digital photography and email- I also have some gruesome photo evidence, that Magnus' dad sent me- which I'll spare you. Suffice to say Eti is making a good recovery. What I just wanted to say about this episode is a little more philosophical. First on the list - things happen and you fix them. I also gained a new perspective on my vet- although I have a couple of grumbles about the practise- I was very happy about their flexibility and ability to accomodate us at short notice- a good reason to stick with them. Surprisingly, I was also kind of glad to have Eti back home, despite the unfortunate circumstances. As always he can be depended on to raise a laugh with his antics. He now has to take medication after meals which I mix into some mashed banana, so has quickly learnt to wait by his food bowl until I come up with 'dessert'. He tracked down that silver lining right away.



Knowing Better

The update from our dismal weekend is-we got a diagnosis from the vet: No infection indicated in the urinalysis and culture and no stones in the x ray. No further treatment(antibiotics) required unless symptoms return-and they haven't returned.

It looks like what we had was a prepucial infection that was localised and didn't travel any further to infect the urinary tract or bladder.The reason for the infection was most probably a hygiene issue. French Bulldogs can't clean themselves down there so its my job to do that. I do, do that but from now on the procedure will be much more regular and much more elaborate. A three hundred dollar vet bill can inspire you like that.

I was very keen to rule out the possibility of a UTI because I have seen with other Frenchies how an undiagnosed one can take hold and become very difficult to beat they keep coming back and the antibiotic therapy needs to get longer and stronger. The situation was complicated by the vomiting but it seems like the two were not connected.

As our dog's caretakers we make decisions for them when we see symptoms that we recognize or whisk them off to the vet for diagnostics and treatment when we see symptoms that we recognise as potentially serious or don't recognize at all. It did occur to me during this episode though, what does an adult dog do, by way of his own natural instinct when he is experiencing symptoms of illness. From Eti's perspective the whole weekend was about not feeling well, dealing with nausea and pain. What was his own instinctual, innate response to the situation? Without my or a vets intervention in the wild, what would he have done?

Although the general guideline for vomiting and digestive upset is to fast for 12 hours, I decided to offer him food. Given a previous experience with vomiting and diahrrea where he refused food I figured -he has some kind of inner radar about this, lets see what he wants to do. He looked at the food as if he was thinking it over and then he turned to his water bowl and had a drink of that (he's never done this) and then he ate all of his food. Many hours later he puked up a little clear liquid with some undigested carrot. His food was ground lamb (with a little carrot) with some pieces of lean chicken -so it was interesting to see that his system had digested all the meat and bone but left the carrot intact.

The next meal he again looked at the food, it seemed he just wanted to make sure it was ok and ate it all. No more vomiting after this. He did however drink a lot of water. He drank at least five times his usual intake. He was obviously and intuitively flushing his system. In between meals he just lay on his bed quiet or sleeping. I think this distressed me most as he is generally such an active dog but I understand now that this is better percieved not so much that he is sick but that it is what he does when he doesn't feel well. Being quiet is curative and healing.

He's completely fine now. If this happens again, I'll know to just go straight to the vet in the morning- clumsily trying to get a free catch of a urine sample was a complete waste of time- the vet wanted to do a sterile draw with a needle anyway. I know now, as noted above the cost efficacy of increased penile hygiene procedures. I also got to know Eti a little better, and learnt to trust him a little more about some of the decision making when he's not feeling well- he knows a thing or two about how to make himself better.


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