Tuesday, July 24, 2012


With my pets, health is always on my mind.  Our vet and the staff know my voice when I call the office.  They recognize my car (even when I had an inconspicuous Chevy Cavalier) when I pull into the parking lot.  I am surprised they don't turn off the lights and lock the doors when they see me coming.  Luckily, they are wonderful and have helped us through The Great Gum Catastrophe of 2011, The Great Aleve Catastrophe of 2012, and several other more minor incidents.

Today, I felt like I spent my entire morning preempting bodily fluid attacks on my carpet.

The day started out with Barley in rare form.  She's often in rare form obedience-wise, but never when it comes to food.  That dog takes after her mama and lives to eat--we both schedule our days around our meals and snacks.  Barley's favorite phrase is "Are you hungry?"  This morning, I knew something was off because she let me sleep in until 9:30, and often I'm woken up at 7 by her stomach growling.

Every morning, whether I'm working or on summer vacation, we have the same breakfast routine.  I soak Soth's wet food dish from the night before, I start the coffee while it soaks, I finish washing his dish and refill it, and then Barley gets her breakfast.  At every meal, Barley has to keep eye contact with me for approximately 10 seconds until she hears the command "Ok" and then she starts to eat (she's so good that sometimes I've forgotten to say ok, walked away from the kitchen, and come back a few minutes later to find her still sitting by her full dish).  The eating usually takes less time than the eye contact does.

This morning, though, I had time to fill my own bowl with Greek yogurt, honey, and granola--and put all the ingredients away--before she'd really made a dent in her breakfast.  I noticed that she was taking a few bites, running into the dining room, coming back for a few bites, and running back into the dining room.  The only other time she's done this, she had a worm.  I'll spare you the details, but my carpets were very happy when I bought a steam cleaner soon after that experience.  So, I panicked.  I was sure she was going to vomit--because like her mama, she can't stand leaving a bite behind even when she isn't feeling well.  I took her onto the back porch and ate my yogurt.  I called my mom for moral support.  We sat in the yard for 30 minutes.  Nothing happened.  I wasn't convinced we were in the clear yet, though, so I closed all of the bedroom doors to limit her roaming room.

Then I got to deal with Soth.  My sweet kitty has Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD), which basically means that when he's stressed it irritates his bladder; crystals form and irritate the lining, he constantly feels like he needs to urinate, and it's painful, so he associates his litter box with pain and goes outside of the box.  As I've mentioned, Barley has a knack for herding Soth, so she's often a good partner in herding him back to his litter box when he starts to squat.  But, this started around the same time that Barley entered our lives.
Seriously, what does this cat have to be stress about? He has his own castle!
We spent months going back and forth to the vet.  He eats a prescription diet.  He was on anti-anxiety meds (in three different forms: pill, liquid, and gel) for months until we decided it was causing more anxiety for both of us. It's gotten better, especially since we've started using a Feliway diffuser (or as I call it, Cat Juice).  He doesn't cry as much and he goes in his box more and in my shoes/on the carpet less.  Sometimes, he'll even cuddle with his sister.
It took 11 months for this to happen.
But sometimes he still has flare ups that are pretty intense.  Luckily, the vet has seen him often enough that now I can just call and ask for pain meds and he gets them.  Right now is one of those times.  We've been traveling back and forth to my parents a lot--and they recently inherited a cat--so there's been lots of extra stress in his life.  Today, every time I sat down, Soth was heading for one of his usual tinkle spots.  Maybe this was just a way to get me to get off the couch and get a mini-leg workout with the constant sitting, standing, and chasing, though.  

Finally, I got a little pain meds in Soth and he quit causing stress.  Then Barley and I got in a brief walk, and I decided the danger had passed with her, too, and we could address her other health concern for the day: Lyme disease.

In December, Barley was diagnosed with Lyme disease at her regular checkup and vaccination appointment.  Since she was acting fine (still eating, chasing her brother, not acting sore or lethargic), the vet left further testing up to me.  I decided to ignore it, but by New Year's my hypochondria kicked in and I called the vet.  We scheduled blood work and when the results came back, she was off the charts with bacteria levels (ok, not really, but that sounds more dramatic).  The way I understand it, the test measures the levels of bacteria in the dog's blood.  If the levels come back under 30, it's not seen as a medical concern. If the levels are above 30, immediate treatment is recommended.  Barley's levels came back at 125, so we started a round of doxycycline that day.  We waited 6 months (the standard waiting period) and retested.  If the treatment was successful, the number should have been cut in half, at least.  Barley's second test came back at 155.  This either means that she needed a second round of treatments all along, or that despite being on flea & tick protection and getting checked every time we go hiking, she was reinfected.  So, we started another round of treatment and will retest again in 6 months.  Today was Barley's last dose of doxycycline and I didn't want it to come back up, so we postponed it a few hours longer than the every 12-hour instructions.  I'm happy to say she got the entire dose and kept the entire dose.  Keep your fingers crossed for us that it works this time around!

If all goes well, we won't see the vet for another 6 months (except for picking up Soth's food), but knowing my pets, that's highly unlikely.

1 comment:

  1. Poor pets. I'm glad my Bar Bar is ok! Hopefully Bun will be less stressed once you guys have somewhat of a routine back in place. We can be moral support during our wait times :-)