Cooper’s Tummy Troubles

Poor Cooper recently had a bad bout of tummy troubles that at first I wasn’t too concerned about, but it soon reached a point that had me very worried.

It all started with him vomiting one Monday night at about 2am. I woke up when I heard the convulsing, and waited for him to finish as I soothed him in my half asleep state. The vomit was clear (like spit) with a few grass blades in it. I then took him outside where he happily ran around, sniffed a bit, drank water, and generally didn’t seem to bothered. We then both went back to bed and all was fine. I just assumed it was a normal bringing up that dogs often cure themselves with through eating grass.

I started to get a bit more concerned when this happened every night for the next 4 nights in a row. All the same story: happily fast asleep, the hurk-hurk convulsing sound, spit-like grassy vomit, frolic in the garden, water and happily snoozing again. Even though he didn’t seem very bothered by it, I figured something was a bit off. By the weekend he was vomiting like this twice in the evening and I realised I would be needing Veterinary intervention soon if it carried on.

Throughout the week I was monitoring his food and water intake, swapping to a day of only boiled chicken and white rice for both the dogs, and doing thorough sweeps of the garden to make sure there weren’t any old bones or pieces of stolen trash that Cooper was secretly snacking on during the day. All seemed good, and despite this rude awakening every night Cooper seemed to be in tip-top shape.

Until the next Monday morning (7 days since the first sign of tummy troubles). I once again woke up to the now familiar hurk-hurk sound and was slowly coming over to soothe him, clean up and take him out when the smell hit me like a double-decker bus. This clearly wasn’t just spit and grass that he was throwing up anymore. When I gingerly turned the light on I realised that he was now vomiting up a light brown sludge that looked and smelled awful. In fact, if I had not been there to witness it, I would actually have assumed that this was an accidental case of explosive diarrhea, and not vomit.

Clearly something was very wrong.

When we went outside Cooper vomited a bit more, but didn’t really want any water or to go back inside immediately. I sat with him for a while in my lap and then in a moment of panic woke up my Boyfriend and asked if he thought it was necessary to go to an emergency Vet. After spending a few more minutes with Cooper he perked up again, drank water and snuggled back on his bed as if nothing had happened. I decided it was safe to have an (uneasy) sleep for 2 hours until the Vet opened when we could take him during consulting hours.

We arrived early at the Vet and they were happy to take us. The Vet did a basic check of Cooper and decided it would be best for him to stay the day while they checked every option as there could be a number of reasons for his situation and all things had to be ruled out through different tests and procedures. We reluctantly said goodbye to Cooper and hoped that he wouldn’t have to be away for long.

Before we left, the Doctor explained the most likely causes and actions, as well as how they would test for everything. This really helped to set us at ease as we knew what was happening and the most to least likely diagnosis.

After spending the night under observation the Vet called us to collect Cooper and take him home for the rest of his recovery. It turns out that he had a bad case of reflux which was getting worse, and slowly disrupting his digestive system more and more. We were a bit worried, but the Vet put us at ease explaining the medication and food needed to make him healthy again, and as it was caught before any serious damage was done, he should recover fully within a week.

Combined with a diet of soft, saltless chicken and rice meals we were given a course of medicine for the week. The medicines were:

  • Amoxicillin: a penicillin-like antibiotic that fights bacteria in the body.
  • Lokit: to treat ulcers of the stomach and the first part of the small intestine that connects to the stomach. It is also effective in treating gastro-oesophageal reflux, the backward flow of stomach acid contents into the oesophagus. (Also called Omeprazole)
  • Metronidazole: antibiotic treat various conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease, nonspecific diarrhea disorders, infections caused by Giardia, and periodontal disease
  • Ulsanic Syrup:  a gastro-intestinal medication, mainly used to treat ulcers
Cooper Medicine

The full medical treatment for Cooper’s tummy ache

So how is Cooper doing now?

After a week of the medicine and a careful diet Cooper has thankfully bounced back completely to full health once again! It’s great to have the whole house getting a full nights’ sleep free of any tummy aches, vomiting or general unease!

Cooper happy

“Woof!” A happy, healthy Cooper!

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Cooper’s Effectiveness Summary:

Issue Addressed: Dog vomiting, Digestive reflux, Digestive health

Tool(s) Used: Various antibiotics and medications

Cost: Medium to High

Ease of Implementation: Moderate. If your dog is ok with Vet’s and taking medication then this is easier

Cooper’s Effectiveness Rating: 5/5. This ailment was not one that could be solved at home and needed Veterinary intervention. At home I could take care of his diet, but he wouldn’t have made such a speedy recovery without the Doctor’s interventions. I’m happy to report that this was a simple problem that was nipped in the bud, and left Cooper finally feeling much better and healthier!

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Have you had an experience with similar ongoing digestive or reflux problems with your dog? How did you treat it?

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The Story of the One-Eyed Rockstar!

There’s been lots of excitement and adjusting to new routines here in the house since the arrival of Rocky and Bella. One of the biggest adjustments for Rocky however had nothing to do with the new environment, but with an overdue medical issue that needed to be addressed urgently.

The Diagnosis: Glaucoma

Rocky was diagnosed with Glaucoma a few weeks before he came, and though he was receiving medication for it his eye had been damaged badly enough that his eye would have to be surgically removed. This was a condition that I knew nothing about, so I had to do some research on it quickly!

For a more complete understanding of Glaucoma in dogs you can click on this, but I’ll try to give a short explanation here as well. In a nutshell, Glaucoma is when the eye is unable to drain fluids as normal which leads to massive pressure building up within the eye and causing permanent damage to the eye itself. This can happen very suddenly, and though medication can treat and slow the symptoms, 9 out of 10 times the eye will eventually have to be removed. This also causes great pain and discomfort for the dog so it is something that must receive medical intervention as soon as it is suspected and identified.

dog glaucoma

The Treatment: Eye Removal

With the pain and pressure slowly building in Rocky’s eye the only option was to have his eye removed. And seeing as “sooner” had already come and gone, we were now already at the “later” stage and he was whisked off to the Vet on the second day after his arrival at the house.

As we already knew the prognosis and that this was overdue we didn’t even have time to sit and worry about whether we were making the right decision, all we needed to know was that he was in pain, which made it a simple decision. We weren’t however sure of how well he would adjust after, what possible complications there may be etc, so we were a bit nervous.

After dropping Rocky off at the Vet after an evening of fasting we were told that he would be operated on that morning, and that he would be able to come home that evening. The Vet called to tell us that the operation had gone well and that there were no complications – a great relief! When we collected him later we expected him to be a bit grumpy, but he was very happy, though a bit groggy and “drunk” from the anesthetic that was still in his system. He slept like a baby for the next 2 days – though to be honest, I don’t think that had anything to do with the operation because that’s pretty normal for him anyway.

Rocky was healing beautifully! The area that was stitched looked a bit raw, but there was no swelling, bruising or pain for him. The wound never bothered him, so luckily we also managed to go through the entire healing process without needing a cone – hooray!

dog glaucoma eye removal

Ten days after the surgery we took Rocky back to the Vet to have the stitches removed. The Vet was very impressed with how well Rocky had healed. The only thing he was sure to make us understand was that we would need to watch Rocky’s other eye carefully as in many cases a dog will develop Glaucoma in the other eye as well. Fingers crossed this doesn’t happen!

The Recovery: Life as a One-Eyed Dog

We were so pleased at how well Rocky recovered, but I must admit that for the first few days it was very strange to look at him. I had seen many pictures of dogs with eyes removed on the internet, but to see it in real life is still a bit disconcerting to be honest. The stitches made it look worse, but now that they are out and his fur is growing over the area we hardly even notice it.

One forgets that it’s us vain humans who place so much value on having “normally” functioning bodies that fit the accepted look. Rocky couldn’t care less about how he looks, and neither could we!

..... I do however have an idea or two for next years' Halloween costumes ;-)

….. I do however have an idea or two for next years’ Halloween costumes 😉

The one question everyone asks is whether he is ok, and if he walks into things. The answer is of course ‘No, he doesn’t walk into things!’. Dogs take disability in their stride, with no time for self-pity or refusal to adapt. In fact, I would say Rocky is even more energetic and lively after the eye removal – probably because all that pain and discomfort is gone. Rocky had also already adjusted to life with only one eye due to the cloudiness and pressure before the operation so he pretty much already knew how to get around.

Totally Rocking the One-Eyed Look!

Totally Rocking the One-Eyed Look!

Rocky’s Effectiveness Summary:

Issue Addressed: Glaucoma

Tool(s) Used: Veterinary Care, Eye Removal

Cost: Medium to High, depending on your Vet fees

Ease of Implementation: Moderate. We followed all the Vet’s instructions meticulously and Rocky proved that he truly is a Rockstar by healing and adjusting to one-eyed life beautifully!

Rocky’s Effectiveness Rating: 5/5. With the removal of his eye Rocky has been happier than ever, and hasn’t really even been too concerned that through the entire thing he had been uprooted and been moved to a new home. I would call that the most effective outcome one could hope for!

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Note: When I was looking for information I stumbled across a blog called “The One-Eyed Dog” where people can post about their own experiences and concerns. Go check it out if you’re curious or are going through eye removal with your own dog.

New Years’ Fireworks Coping Mechanisms

Happy 2015! Here’s wishing all you bloggers and visitors out there a joyful and happy 2015! Whether you are staying in for a quiet night with the family, or going out for big New Years’ celebrations, be sure to spare a thought for your furry loved ones who may experience a lot of stress if there are fireworks and noise in the neighbourhood.

Where I live the use of fireworks is thankfully very limited and regulated by the police and city council, but on special occasions there are still some people who shoot off fireworks illegally. Since you do not always have control over this, and might not be able to pinpoint the location of people setting them off, here are a few tips that might help to calm your anxious animals who are afraid of the loud noises:

  • Use herbal anti-anxiety medications such as Calm Eze or Rescue Remedy. Be sure to test it’s effectiveness before hand so that you know what works and in what dosages.
  • Use Vetrinary prescribed anti-anxiety medication. Again, be certain of dosages and only use exactly as prescribed by the Vet.
  • Put a thundershirt on your nervous dog or cat
  • Play calming music or other sounds above the noise of the bangs as a distraction
  • If you are with the dog do something to make them feel less stressed. I personally don’t think that soothing a dog is a terrible thing that teaches them fear is to be indulged – fear is real and soothing calms them. But rather than just coddling them, distract them through play and activities they enjoy
  • Give a Kong that will keep them busy and focussed
  • Keep them in a safe place like their crate or a locked room where they can’t hurt themselves should they get spooked. Many dogs get injured trying to run away from the noises by jumping over fences, through windows etc. On that note, also make sure your pets are tagged and chipped so that if they do manage to escape they can be safely returned as soon as possible.
  • Report any unsafe fireworks to your local authority or City Council. If you are in Pretoria, note that bylaws clearly state under the Explosives Act 26 of 1956. article 10.34: “it is unlawful to discharge any firework in any building on any public thoroughfare or in any public place or resort without prior written permission of the local authority” and “no person may discharge fireworks on any property without the consent of the Chief Fire Safety Officer.” Any complaints can be referred to: Chief Fire Safety Officer Pretoria on (012) 3586255.
Fireworks awareness  poster created by the Animal Anti-Cruelty League Johannesburg. https://www.facebook.com/AACLJHB/timeline

Fireworks awareness poster created by the Animal Anti-Cruelty League Johannesburg.
https://www.facebook.com/AACLJHB/timeline

May you all have a wonderful, fear fee night for all family members!

Blogtober Day 27: What’s your favourite treat?

Cooper says:

Did you say treat? Oh I’d love one, thank you! I’m known to gobble anything in my reach, so picking favourite would be a tough one…. Hmmmm… Here’s a short (and most certainly not exhaustive!) list of my Top 3 Treats:

  1. Biltong. My all time favourite! But I’m not actually allowed to have it because of the high salt content 😦 I still try to steal it from my Mom and Dad whenever I can though!
  2. Vienna Sausages. The chicken ones are great, but my folks won’t use them for training anymore because I get so obsessed with the sausages that any thought of following instructions flies out of the window in my frantic search for more of them.
  3. Dog Biscuits. Any kind will do, whether they’re my Mom’s home-made ones, or store-bought, I’ll wolf them down in delight!
Phoebe and I take our job as Mom's helpers very seriously... When she bakes those yummy Peanut Butter Biscuits we help out by cleaning the utensils! :-)

Phoebe and I take our job as Mom’s helpers very seriously… When she bakes those yummy Peanut Butter Biscuits we help out by cleaning the utensils! 🙂

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Phoebe says:

Like all dogs I also have a weakness for delicious treats. Though I’m nowhere near as obsessed with them as Cooper is. I also differ from him in that I have excellent manners and will only politely take a treat if it’s clearly offered to me by my Mom. Digging up food, or even munching on stray food on the kitchen floor or from overflowing garbage cans is just so unladylike!

My Top 3 Treats are:

  1. The delicious chicken liver biscuits my Mom and Gran baked. Yummy!
  2. Peanut butter! Whenever I need medicine, or the odd treat, my Mom will give us a teaspoon of low-salt peanut butter. She also even made us some peanut butter biscuits that I just love!
  3. Popcorn. It’s so exciting whenever my Mom and Dad settle down on the couch after I hear all that pop! pop! pop!-ing from the kitchen. The crunchy, lite popcorn is the best accompaniment to a movie marathon for the whole family!
Yummers! Mom's famous home-made biscuits! My favourite!

Yummers! Mom’s famous home-made biscuits! My favourite!

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You can check out the full 31 Day Dog Blogtober Challenge here

Blogtober Day 26: Do you have any ongoing health niggles?

mind-2-body-pilates-gym-inspiring-fitness-quotes-sayings-take

Cooper says:

Nothing serious, but I have very itchy skin. It’s not bad enough for veterinary care, but my Mom has to make sure I get special food and that I regularly get a bath to keep my coat shiny and my skin irritation free!

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Phoebe says:

My ongoing health niggle is my ears. The infection was so bad when I first arrived at my Mom that the Vet and Mom thought there may be a chance that it had caused so much damage that I may actually even be deaf. Luckily the infection cleared up and I have no damage to my hearing, but I still have to have my ears regularly checked and cleaned. My ears get the most irritated when it’s about to rain, so at least I help my Mom by being an unintentional Weatherdog! 🙂

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Mom says:

Keeping Phoebe and Cooper healthy is an essential part of their overall care. Because they were both rescue dogs from dubious backgrounds they came with quite few problems. Through them I’ve learned the importance of the process of elimination when it comes to understanding a “problem” behaviour – are they acting out because of a hurt paw, upset stomache, aching ear, or is there a psychological, behavioural problem on its own. Having a great Vet and Behaviourist who respect the importance of each others’ professions and opinions has helped me put Phoebe and Cooper on the road to living happy lives in every sphere!

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You can see the full 31 Day Blogtober Challenge here

Keeping the parasites at bay

Summer is fast approaching here in the Southern Hemisphere, which means more activities and time spent outdoors with the furkids. But it’s important to remember that it’s not just us humans who “come out and play” in the warm weather.. all kinds of critters come out in this time, and it’s our job to try to protect our pets from those ones that can harm them.

As with all problems in life, the motto “Prevention is better than Cure” is especially important when dealing with ticks, fleas and the like. Out of habit, I happen to always use Frontline to protect my dogs, but I’m aware that there are many similar products out there, though I am not familiar with them. I have been told that you should occasionally mix up and change the brand you use to prevent “tolerance” from building in the pests making the treatment less effective. But what brand to choose?

While I was considering it I received the perfect newsletter from the online pet store Petlovers.co.za that gave this great graphic summary of which products are available and what they each do.

A really great summary of the various preventative tick and flea treatments available

A really great summary of the various preventative tick and flea treatments available

I highly recommend that you check out the site and sign up for their newsletters. I love that their newsletters aren’t just annoying sales pitches, but that they are also always informative on one or more pet care issue. They have great prices, friendly staff and deliveries are always fast.

… And no, I am in no way affiliated to them, and receive no benefit from this post – I just want to share a site that I think deserves a boost in patronage! 🙂

Phoebe and Cooper’s Effectiveness Summary:

Issue Addressed: Pests and parasites

Tool(s) Used: Frontline preventative tick and flea solution (or similar)

Cost: Medium

Ease of Implementation: Easy

Phoebe & Cooper’s Effectiveness Rating: 5/5. Phoebe and Cooper are both flea free (and so are the cats!), so this definitely works. Though your household will not be immune to the occasional infestation over the years, this will be more due to environmental factors that allow the populations to thrive. Put this on your pets regularly to avoid major infestation and harm

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Which types of tick and flea preventative items do you use for your pets?

Phoebe’s Luscious Liver Treats

Dog treats. They’re an indispensable item for you and your dog. Why are they so valuable? Well, you can use them for training, reaffirming positive bonds and trust, distracting, to add nutritious vitamins and nutrients in your dog’s diet, and in some hair-raising situations they are especially handy for when you need to bribe your dog! (I know, I know, I fully believe in the Learn to Earn program, but there are times when you need to get your dogs attention pronto!).

I wanted to start making my home-made treats for Phoebe as we were doing a lot of training and I hoped to save money on expensive store-bought treats as well as making sure she was having something nutritious in the process. But there was one teensy hurdle to my grand plan of being a world class Doggy Biscuit Baker… I’m an absolute failure in the kitchen!

My kitchen skills lean more toward Domestic Disaster than Domestic Goddess, if truth be told. But I wasn’t going to let that stop me from experimenting and learning! Luckily my Mom was visiting, and she decided (as all mothers do!) that the best way to show her love for her newly found adoptive fur-grandchild was to whip up something tasty and delicious in the kitchen! I got the chance to learn to bake, my mom got some bonding time, and Phoebe got some treats – An all-round ‘WIN!’ for us all!

Phoebe loves the treats her Granny taught her Mommy to make!

Phoebe loves the treats her Granny taught her Mommy to make!

I’m happy to report that even though my culinary skills occasionally left my Mom exasperated, we managed to whip up a delicious and nutritious batch of liver biscuits for Phoebe. Here’s the recipe:

Phoebe’s Luscious Liver Treats:

Ingredients:

  • 500g Carrots
  • 200g Pumpkin
  • 3 x Potatos
  • 2kg Chicken Livers
  • 6 x cups (250ml each) Flour
  • 2 x cups (250ml each) Raw Oats

Directions:

  • Boil carrots, pumpkin and potato till soft
  • Put chicken livers in a pan, add a small amount of water and boil till cooked
  • Mash vegetables. Or put in food processor for a smoother consistency
  • Add Chicken livers to processed vegetable mix
  • Pour contents into a large bowl
  • Fold (or blend) flour and oats until the dough has a “play dough” consistency (add egg if necessary to get right consistency)
  • Grease oven pans
  • Roll dough and cut or press into desired shape
  • Place in oven at 180C for 20-30 minutes. Until golden brown
  • Allow to cool on a cooling rack

What would an online recipe be without some step-by-step pictures? ->

These will last in an air-tight container for about 2 weeks, but can also be sealed and frozen in the deep freeze for up to 3 months.

Next up I want to try a peanut butter based doggy biscuit recipe. I’ll post about it here to let you know how it goes!

Phoebe’s Effectiveness Summary:

Issue Addressed: Training, Nutrition, Food, FUN

Tool(s) Used: Your kitchen and baking skills

Cost: Low

Ease of Implementation: Easy (Assuming you know your way around a kitchen 🙂 )

Effectiveness Rating: 5/5. How can you go wrong with delicious meaty treats that are nutritious and tasty?! Phoebe loved these, and there were a lot of treats so this went a very long way – I even had enough to freeze, as well as give as gifts to all my friends with furbabies. The only note of caution is to give these sparingly – they are good treats, but as with all treats, moderation is key!

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Have you got any suggestions for any other treats I can make? Remember: my kitchen skills are limited, so it must be easy and Domestic Disaster Proof! 🙂