Ripley’s story – a medical emergency
Ripley is my 10.5 year old Golden Retriever who suddenly, one Saturday afternoon, started acting out of character by wanting to go out in the garden every few minutes to pee.
It was apparent that he was also straining and it was not really possible to tell if he was actually passing any urine – especially when I took him out for a walk in the dark that evening.
Again it was not like him, but he kept standing by the front door being insistent that he had to go out.
Walking seemed to make him feel more comfortable and in 30 minutes had squatted around 10 times.
I have heard of people who thought their dog was urinating as their dog was cocking his leg when in fact his kidneys were packing up.
Ever since then I have always checked for flow!
He woke at 4 30 am needing to go out so in to the garden we go – him trying to find somewhere to go and me following behind him with a plastic tray to get a sample. Luckily I always keep sample pots for such emergencies so that was duly bottled up for the vet – I also got a 2nd sample at breakfast time just in case. Two samples at different times can give the vet a better picture of what may be going on. (See How to take a urine sample)
Needless to say this was now Sunday morning but I am fortunate that my vet runs a surgery for 2 hours so was able to get him seen as soon as they were open.
I was acutely aware that something was sorely amiss with Ripley – excessive urination, straining and the urine was very dark and had a strong odour.
Upon examination the urine contained some protein and some trace of blood and he was put on antibiotics immediately.
We had to await the results as the sample had to be cultured.
We were due to go back on Wednesday morning for a check up and possibly to have X rays to check for kidney stones but then he started pooing a lot and they were “different” from his usual ones.
These were thin and “ribbon like” which can be a sign of prostrate problem so back we go on Monday.
Bless him he was as good as gold as the vet examined his prostate and she didn’t think the problem was coming from there (I was sort of relieved but still very concerned).
Apparently she would have expected him to “hit the roof” as she touched his prostrate if there had been a problem with it – Ripley just stood there looking a tad indignant!
Now Ripley has made a career out of eating bits of broken tennis balls that he finds on walks – in fact he actively seeks out rubber but in 10 years has managed to pass these pieces through without too much of a problem.
So did he have a blockage? He was not displaying the classical symptoms of one – vomiting and unable to pass faeces.
Wednesday morning arrives and no breakfast for him in readiness for his anaesthetic.
I always feel awful leaving them in the vets but he had to have investigations – we needed answers to what now looked like two different health issues.
A nail biting morning passed as I was waiting to hear back from the vet – assuming the worst of course.
When the call came it is sort of good news – no kidney stones and no blockage that can be seen but there are pockets of gas in several places of his digestive system.
I was then given two options – we open him up to see if there is something in there or we put some “beads” in him and re x-ray the day after to see if they pass through his system with ease. What an awful decision to have to make. My mind was all over the place – what to do?
But given Ripley’s penchant for balls I decide to have the vet operate. A drastic thing to have your dog opened up but what a good job I did!!
Poor Ripley had to stay in overnight as this was quite a big operation. Tara the vet nurse on night duty very kindly sent me a few photos of him so that I could see that he was doing ok. It’s heart-wrenching when they are away from you.
We are now day 7 after the operation and hopefully, he will make a full recovery. There is always a risk of complications after major surgery – the wound can break down and septicaemia can set in.
Ripley is a big dog weighing in at just over 33 kilos but he is only allowed 2 tins of special dog food a day spread over 4 meals so as not to over-expand his stomach and today we are allowed to give him an extra 1/4 of a tin a day.
He also had his first walk today – 10 minutes only.
I have to say he is being a brilliant patient!
The vet did say that tennis balls are bad news but not as bad as dogs that eat sticks – they can cause irreparable damage to the stomach and digestive tract.
So now Ripley will have to wear a muzzle as I can’t risk this happening again – it could have killed him.
I am not happy about this but its needs must so once he can have some solid food I will start conditioning him to wear it.
Moral of the Story
So the moral of this story is do know your dog. What is normal for him or her?
Be aware of any changes in behaviour which can indicate that your dog is not well
Don’t “wait and see” – 24 hours may be too long
Think about how you would tackle getting a sample from your dog and have sample pots so that you can save time getting it analysed
Have insurance! If you decide not to have medical insurance please do get 3rd party. This can be obtained from Dogs Trust. This will not pay for any medical expenses but in the event of your dog causing an accident, you do have a cover.
Emergencies can be very expensive especially if surgery is needed and you could always consider having a doggy saving account to help pay towards the bill.
Read about self-insurance at Martins Money Savers Expert