Bel is better….

This one will be quick, and picture-less, I’m afraid. But still good news: Bel is feeling better. Bel is feeling MUCH better.   So much so that she is finding her continued confinement in Oskar’s big cage to be a sore injustice, and she lets me know by whining, barking and scratching at it.

She went to the vet yesterday and had the rest of her stitches out, and the vet agreed that her knee has healed well. It works well–it’s tight, but not too tight, and she’s walking on it. And as if to demonstrate how much better she feels, Bel hopped up onto the chair in the exam room. Right after we had the talk about how she shouldn’t be doing a lot of leaping and jumping. Sigh.

She’s also eating just fine on her own again, and the vet told me I did everything right in terms of treating her as if her liver were damaged. We did discuss the meds, and I wasn’t happy that this happened to Bel, but I also came away with the understanding that there were a limited amount of choices in treatment.

Bel had lost a pound from her illness, but otherwise is in good shape. We discussed what she could and couldn’t do: she could have her cone off, but she shouldn’t run or be allowed off leash. No jumping on or off furniture, etc. So I brought her home, put her in the little fenced in area that serves as a dog run, and went in to let Toby out. Which I did, and suddenly noticed TWO Shibas in the yard, both running–one rather fat one running to me, and another thin little Shiba chasing him.

Yep, Bel had gotten out of the fenced area. I suspect she got out by climbing over the fence then JUMPING down. And now she was RUNNING, running, running, just like she wasn’t supposed to do.

Toby, of course, still remembers how badly she hurt him, so he ran right to me and into the house. Bel, as usual, had no intentions of coming to me and having her newly found freedom curtailed, so I had to use Toby as “bait.” I took him out on the leash, and Bel danced around him, and when he peed, of course she couldn’t resist peeing over his mark, and in that vulnerable moment, I was able to grab her and put her in the house.

She didn’t seem to hurt herself, but the running and jumping is strictly verboten, so she’s back to short, leashed, potty breaks for now.  And she’s not pleased with that.  When I let her out of the crate earlier tonight, she immediately RAN out and then ran upstairs.  (Climbing stairs, another thing she’s not supposed to do).  Oh, Bel.

In other news, if you want to read a funny blog about why positive reinforcement is a good thing, and why you should be careful about what you say to your pets, check out this entry from Morning with Birds.  It also tells the story of how we think Bel developed multiple personalities!

Bel’s recovery: three weeks out and a setback

Friday, Bel was three weeks from her surgery for a luxating patella and for a very damaged ACL.  As you may recall, she has been wearing a splint.  My vet wanted it to stay on another week, but after careful consideration, I took the splint off on Weds.   I decided to do this, mostly, because the padded splint had gotten wet and was smelly and was probably uncomfortable.  I also knew that many vets don’t use a splint at all for these kinds of surgery, so it seemed to me Bel had nearly three weeks of immobilization, but probably didn’t need any more.   I also thought the splint was rubbing on her groin a bit.

So off it came, and indeed, Bel immediately put weight on the leg once the splint was off:

Bel out of her splint

There was a red spot on her thigh that was from the splint, and I think part of her reluctance to walk on the leg was because of that.

As you can see, her poor little naked leg looks as if it has had some atrophying of the muscles, so now we’ll need to work on that.   On Weds (when this picture was taken) and on Thursday and Friday, I was able to take her for some very very slow walks around the yard, and she was willing to put weight on that leg, until she got excited and wanted to run–then she tried to carry the leg.

Here’s another picture of our poor little thin-legged girl and her odd haircut:

She almost has a poodle cut!

I got some great tips from a Nihon Ken forum friend who has been through physical therapy with his dog, and had planned to start working with Bel more, but I noticed that on Friday evening, she was acting odd:  very restless and pacing, and drinking (and peeing) a lot.  She wouldn’t take her pills, though, and she usually takes them very well, provided they are nestled in something she likes:

Bel's meds in liverwurst

or cream cheese or peanut butter.  But on Friday night, she refused to take her pills, and wouldn’t eat her dinner either, even though it was particularly tasty:  a (raw) sirloin steak.

This worried me, but Bel has always had a bit of an eating disorder:  sometimes she eats, and some days she doesn’t, so I wasn’t that worried about it, though it did remind me, a bit, of when Toby stopped eating after he was seriously injured by little Miss Jezebel.  Toby had liver damage, and while he healed and his liver is healthy again, it was a very slow process.

This morning, she was still not eating, and was lethargic.  She would not take her pills, or eat anything I tried to tempt her with.  This worried me.  Her pee seemed a little brighter than usual too.  She drank some water around noon, then promptly threw it up with some yellow frothy bile–also a bad sign, and very, very similar to what had happened to Toby.

So I decided to look up the drugs she is taking.   And now I’m kicking myself for not doing it sooner, because of the six pills she takes twice a day, only one (the thyrosyn for her thyroid) does not affect the liver.  In fact, some of them are not supposed to be given together, or at least not without a great deal of caution, because of possible liver damage.   Bel takes phenobarbital for seizures, and this is what she has been taking for a little over three weeks for the surgery:  clindamycin (antibiotic), phenylbutazone, methocarbamol, and acepromazine.  All of those can affect liver function.

And her behavior is very much in keeping with a dog who has liver problems.  She is lethargic when she’s not pacing nervously.  She refuses food, and is vomiting.  Her urine is brighter than it should be.  She’s drinking a lot and urinating a lot.  I recognized these symptoms from when Toby had liver damage (his was mostly from the extreme injuries and infection he had, though I suspect it was exacerbated by being on similar drugs), though Toby was much, much sicker.   I did, however, check my suspicions, and found this list of symptoms on a canine epilepsy page I’ve used as a resource before:  Canine Epilepsy Guardian Angels. Bel does not appear to have jaundice, thankfully, nor does she have swelling in her abdomen and it doesn’t seem to bother her when I touch her belly.  Still, I feel fairly certain that all these meds are causing damage to her liver.

Thankfully, she is not as sick as Toby was.  I don’t think I need to rush her into the Emergency vet, and she was able to drink without vomiting this afternoon, including some pedialyte that I pretty much forced down her throat, and some water, so I don’t believe she is in danger of dehydration, as Toby was.  And I do remember the basic procedure for getting Toby’s liver back in shape, so I’m starting it today.  I’m stopping all her medications except the thyroid meds and her phenobarb, because that one is addictive, and if she is to stop taking it, she’ll have to slowly be weaned off it slowly.  And I’m going to begin the liver cleanse diet with her, which I’ll describe in another post.  I’ve also got some Milk Thistle and Vitamin B for her (both of which Toby had when he was so sick).  Toby also took SAM-E, and I will get some of that tomorrow.

I’m not a vet, so this is certainly not something I’d suggest for other people, but I am someone who has gone through this kind of problem with another dog, so I feel fairly confident about my approach.

And of course, she will be going back to the vet for a full liver panel.  And I’ll be having a talk with my vet too.  As much as I’m kicking myself for not checking the drug interactions on all those meds, I’m also pretty upset that my vet didn’t think about this and warn me….After all, I’m NOT a vet, so can’t be expected to know these things, but I do think they should have been much, much more cautious in what was prescribed to her.   I’m not happy about that at all.

Right now, though, Bel is resting in the big crate.  She’s drinking on her own, though she won’t eat, and as I recall from going through this with Toby, there will likely be a lot of force feeding in the days to come (it is important that they eat, even though they don’t want to).  I’m just hoping to get her through this.

Bel in her "cone" on Weds.

Up next:  the liver cleanse diet, and more general talk on what I feed my dogs.

Bel’s Recovery: Day Two

Day two was harder than day one.

Yesterday she slept.  Today she slept too (helped along by the Ace), but today I realized this was going to be more difficult than I thought. On me.  On her.  On all of us.

First, I realized the incontinence wasn’t a one day thing.  Today she has peed on herself twice, so far.  She really has no awareness that she’s doing it, and the only way I know is that she begins to shift around, and looks restless.   Then I discover the wet spot.

I got another comforter at the thrift shop today, so she’d always have one clean and dry.  I bought the only one there:  some god-awful thing in a floral no-natural-fiber that is queen sized.  Folded into quarters, it fits very well into the giant cage.  And she is also covered up by another thrift-store find, a rather hideous Route 66 polar fleece throw:

Bel, recovery day 2

I put a plastic garbage bag under everything (because pee does and will soak into our brick floors, which then comes back to haunt us in the summer).  What I discovered is that the no-natural-fiber works very well to NOT be absorbent, so I was able to turn the comforter over after she’d peed on it twice and find a very nice dry patch for her to lay on, so I won’t have to replace this one with the clean bedding until tomorrow morning, which is somewhat useful!

Mostly, though, having her in the big crate has been much easier:  I can clean the bedding, I can leave her food and water in there (she’s getting kibble–grain free!–until after she’s recovered, simply because it’s easier for her to eat, and can sit out til she’s hungry), and I can get in there with her and examine her.

Bel in the big crate

The photo above shows Bel the night before her surgery, but gives an idea of how big Oskar’s big cage is–there’s plenty of room in there!  (It’s the largest size Midwest kennels makes).  And I should say the big cage was yet another thrift store purchase:  I paid $5 for it.

(There is a problem with her in the big crate, which is that it is Oskar’s crate, and unlike the Shibas, who don’t really feel possessive about the crates, Oskar is VERY attached to his “home” and is very unhappy to be displaced.  He’s particularly unhappy at dinner time, since he’s used to dining in his crate, and so he’s been taking his dinner out of his dish over to the crate so he can still eat near, if not in, his place.)

Beyond the need to be cleaning up after Bel, though, the harder part is just the stress and worry.  I’m worried that she’s in pain.  I’m worried that she has to pee (I’ve kind of gotten over that one).  And the bigger worry?

Her leg is quite swollen.  The vet told me I didn’t need to bring her in til Friday, unless there was swelling.  Well, late this afternoon as I was changing her bedding, I noticed that her hock was quite swollen, and I went into something of a panic, as I knew I couldn’t get a hold of the vet til tomorrow a.m.  I’ve since become somewhat calmer as a quick google search shows me that dogs do have swelling after this surgery–at least now I know I can safely wait til tomorrow morning to call the vet and don’t have to take Bel to the emergency vet.

 

Swelling

Still, her poor little leg!   It looks awful!  And I do worry, also, that her splint–which is padded on the inside–is now pee-soaked and will cause an infection (yes, she’s taking antibiotics, but I am full of worries).  I know it’s making her cold and uncomfortable.  So tomorrow I’ll get up early–regardless of how late I go to bed–and call the vet and see what we can do to keep my little Jezebel comfortable and healthy.

My entire day has been spent watching her, listening to her, going over to see if she is thirsty or hungry, going over to make sure she is still breathing.   And there have been other dog issues:  Toby’s rapidly disappearing hair on his neck/chest; the fact that Oskar ate some de-icer and then drooled a lot before vomiting (he’s fine now, thankfully).  I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed with dog-related worries!

The first days are the hardest indeed.  Hard on the dog, hard on the worried guardian.  Hard on the other dogs, who get less attention.  Hard on the husband, who has been valiantly carrying Bel outside periodically so we can at least give her an opportunity to pee outside, and who must endure my anxiety.

I’m sure I’ll feel better tomorrow after talking to the vet.

Oh uh.  Looks like’s it time for a bedding change!

 

The First Days are the Hardest (Bel’s Recovery: Day 1)

My vet warned me the first few days would be the hardest.  I just didn’t quite understand what that meant.

We brought Bel home Saturday morning.  When we went to pick her up at the vet, she was wired….pacing, panting.  I asked if they’d given her Tramadol, and they had.  Someone had forgotten that Jezebel has odd reactions to certain drugs (Valium and Tramadol) and that they have an opposite effect on her, making her wired instead of sedating her.   So we loaded up on Acepromazine (which does work well on her) as well an antibiotic, a muscle relaxant, and an anti-inflammatory, and we took our little girl home.

Bel's meds

(At the moment, the kitchen counter is a veritable canine pharmacy, with all Bel’s meds and Toby’s pills lined up and labeled!  Thank god Oskar doesn’t need anything but the occasional eye drops!)

Doggy pills and supplements

Bel was ok when we first got home, and crawled into her crate to sleep.  I went into town to run some errands, and came home four hours later to a very agitated husband.  He’d taken Bel outside to pee, he said, and they were only out about two minutes or so. When he brought her back in, though, she crawled into her crate and started whining, then moaning, and shaking with deep body tremors.   He got her out of her crate, wrapped her in a blanket and laid her down on her sheepskin on her chair.  (I’m calling it her chair and her sheepskin, but this chair much loved by all the dogs, including Oskar who no longer fits in it.  I’m sure Toby would say it was HIS chair.  It’s very comfortable for humans too, but it is pretty much officially the dog chair now).

Bel 1 day after surgery

When I came home, that’s what  I saw:  a very sleepy Bel cocooned in her blanket.

We realized that she needed more of the Ace than we’d thought, not to keep her calm, but to keep her out of pain.

The next discovery was that whether because of the pills or because of the surgery, she was incontinent.  I didn’t realize she’d peed on herself and her chair til she started looking distressed (and Oskar began to sniff around out of curiosity).  Poor girl!  Like all Shibas, she likes to be clean, and so I unwrapped her,  and wiped her off as best I could, then put her in Oskar’s big crate on another bed, wrapped in a different blanket.  She tried to lick at herself (not the wound, but where she’d peed on herself) a bit, but once I covered her back up, she went to sleep again.

(A side note:  the sheepskin the Shibas love claims to be washable, thankfully, so I popped it into the washer along with her blankets and the chair cover last night.  Everything came out fine, except for this:  I had no idea how bad a wet sheepskin could smell!  It came out of the washer clean, but still….ugh!  What a reek!  I even dried it in the dryer for 20 minutes–though you’re not supposed to–to try and cut down on the odor, and it helped a little and made it fluffy again, but damn! I’ll take eau de wet dog over wet sheepskin!)

Later in the evening, she did wake up enough to want to come out of the big crate, and I let her out, and after drinking a lot, she went into the small crate.  Big mistake, because I realized that I couldn’t easily get her in and out of that crate, and late in the evening, she got agitated, whether from pain or confusion, I don’t know, but she started growling at Toby who was laying in her line of vision, and she wouldn’t stop.  I knew I needed to take her out to pee, but I couldn’t coax her out of the crate, and certainly dragging her was out of the question.   I finally got her out around midnight, took her out for a final pee, then got her arranged in Oskar’s big cage.  This will be her home til she’s recovered.  It’s big enough that I can leave food and water in there, as well as get in easily myself to check on her, and also, it is easy to change “the linens” in there, as it is clear the peeing on herself was not a one-time thing.

I stayed up quite late last night to make sure she got an Ace to keep her pain free through the night; she had her last one at 3 a.m.

More to her story in the next post, for day two, which was harder than day one.

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