Rack in a Sleepover Cage

I’m not sure what to call these boxes.  I do know that leaving my boy at the rather excellent Dr Glass’ Family Pet Center in Fort Lauderdale was not done by my first choice of what to do this morning. 

But I really didn’t have a choice.

The thing is, that it was the best choice for him.  It also was a bit of a shock how it came to happen.

When they tell you that the mouth, dog or human, is one of the most dirty places around, believe it.

I’m having house guests this week.   My buddy from Atlanta, Craig and his dog Katie have arrived.

We went through all the normal precautions of how to introduce two dogs.   Both dogs were medicated with “Doggy Downers” so they were “toned down”.  Katie was let in our back yard after a 10 hour drive here.  She was feeling off, so we introduced Rack to her while on his leash.  She didn’t seem to care, so eventually we let Rack and Katie run free.   For a good half hour they were acting Normal.  Running around, sniffing, peeing, doing normal dog things.  We had no reason to expect otherwise.

When we all came into the house, after about an hour, Katie started coming out of it and Rack went off to his corner.

Then when he went to get a drink, Katie nipped his back leg.

Rack didn’t even  really react other than my running over, separating the dogs, and sending them to neutral corners. 

After 10 hours in the car, Katie had had enough of today.

By the next morning, this morning, Rack was tender from the bite.  We got him to the Vet and found he had been running a fever and was put on antibiotics and a saline drip.

Not too much more to tell.  It’s mid afternoon, my dog is probably in a really weird alternate universe.  We got a muzzle for Katie, a Gentle Leader for her, and some instructions to Craig on how to do some training exercises. 

I’ve got another hour before I can find anything else out.

Rack Was Attacked By A Pitbull

I will quote myself  here: “Stereotypes are Sometimes Correct.”.

Not every pit bull is a vicious dog, but when they are vicious, they are far too “good” at it.

Florida passed a law banning “Breed Specific Bans” in the state.  If you asked me last night when I was knocked off my feet while on the ground kicking the side of this more than 60 pound pit bull to get her off my dog, I would say it was a bad idea. 

Logically I know that pit bulls aren’t all bad.   My neighbor had a pit, Babygirl, who was the definition of sweet.  He now has a part-pit Ellie that is Rack’s best friend.

The problem isn’t the breed, it’s the owner.  In this case an owner that did not think that his pit bull had any problems with any other dogs and allowed her off her leash.

My neighbor’s part-pit part Heinz 57 dog, Ellie, knew this dog was trouble.   We all met in front of the house the night before.   While Rack was being his usual goofy puppy self, Ellie was doing a much better job of reading this dog’s mind.  It decided to pick on the weakest dog of the three in her mind, and started a fight.  I managed to pull Rack out of the middle and Ellie got yanked out as well.

From that point on it became a Dog Of Interest, or One To Avoid.

Last evening’s walk I didn’t have that option.  This pit bull was off leash in front of the property where the owner rents.  It spotted us before I did, at least 50 feet if not 75 away. 

Rack saw it first and began to back up to hide behind me.

Oh thanks, kid!

When I saw the dog, I grabbed Rack to lift him as high as possible to buy time.   It didn’t work.

The pit bull charged me landing on me and knocking me to the ground.  At the same moment it grabbed onto Rack’s front leg skin and would not let go.  This was when I tried my best to stop this by kicking the dog off of both of us.

The owner comes and finally collects his vicious pitbull.

He’s trying to tell me that the dog is not vicious.  He also told me not to call the police.

My response was “If it wasn’t vicious, it wouldn’t have attacked us”.

He of course said “If you are going to be crazy like that, I am not going to help you”.

I then immediately called 911 and got through to the Wilton Manors Police Dispatch desk.

What had to have been the entire police force on duty arrived in under five minutes.

I rehashed the story to the officers who arrived plus Dave in Code Enforcement. 

While you may not have Breed Specific Bans in place, we do have a very good law in town about vicious animals.   Whoever formulated this law has my gratitude. 

I will paraphrase the legislation:

If your dog attacks a human or domestic animal (dogs and cats) and draws blood, causes a laceration or cut, or any other sort of trauma, your dog is defined as being vicious.  Vicious dogs are only allowed in the city limits of Wilton Manors if they are registered with the City Clerk and a bond of $500,000 is posted.  All of this must happen in five business days.  The dog will be retained by the city and sent to the county animal control to make sure that all shots and licenses are up to date at the cost of the owner.   If this bond is posted, the dog may not be allowed off property without muzzle and other protection for the safety and the good of the people and dogs in town.

Since the person who owned this vicious pitbull is a renter and had moved in within the month, I sincerely doubt this will happen.   Most likely the owner is a flight risk, will abandon the dog, and move out of town.  With an absentee owner in Maryland, and the property managed locally, I doubt that he will be allowed to remain in the property.  I think it’s fairly obvious that the dog will be and should be put down.

I was told by the officers that we were very lucky in this attack.   Rack will heal.  The skin was ripped open for a “thumb length” and you could see muscle and sinew underneath.  We got him to the veterenarian who remained open for this emergency.  Rack now has a bare patch on his leg with some stitches as well as him wearing a spare T-Shirt.   He’s also sitting as close to me, physically, as he possibly can.

There have been pitbull attacks in Wilton Manors before where small dogs had their legs flayed open like a sleeve, and worse.  This is the reason for the law.  There are too many people in this city with dogs of all sizes that are badly trained.   While a Chihuahua with an attitude is bad enough, even comical, an aggressive pit bull is deadly. 

To say “Keep your dog on a leash” is an understatement.  There is never any justification for this sort of situation.  Some people shouldn’t own a stuffed animal let alone a deadly and vicious pit bull.  They make it harder for the rest of the people out there that are responsible owners.

Waiting on the Vet Day 4 – Not Good News At All

When I got to the vet at 5:30 last night, I got some bad news.

The number that was quoted to me was incorrect.  The nurse had read the wrong BUN number.  Since the right BUN number was almost unchanged from the first day, that basically says we need to consider our options.

We talked, and the conversation was basically a “You don’t have too many things you can try at this point” speech.  In other words we are pretty much on our own.

This morning I went to grab the food and feed Lettie.  A syringe took me about 25 minutes.   The second took 15 minutes.  That was for about a small paper cup worth of food or 2 1/2 ounces.  She should be getting 12 ounces of food a day minimum.  Doubled, I’m giving her 5/12 of her daily diet. 

It was a battle all the way.  Squirt in about a teaspoon.  She would grumble and almost immediately spit it out.  Keep squirting in teaspoons and sometimes she’d chew and swallow, but only about 1 in 10. 

This is a dog who has given up.  That is the nature of Chronic Renal Failure in dogs.  You can want them to last forever, but the reality is that they won’t.

So things don’t look good.   I have to bring her back to the vet today.  I’m really thinking that the best course of action is to schedule her end and stop treatments.

If things change, of course, I’ll let you know.

Finally, Some Good News From The Vet

This Chronic Renal Failure is a bear.  Especially in a pet since you can’t really do Dialysis or a Kidney Transplant. 

On the other hand, sometimes you get a pleasant surprise.

Lettie was in the Vet’s office for two days of fluid replenishment via IV.   When she first got there they did blood tests.  Her “Blood Urea Nitrogen” levels were three times higher than normal at 120.  

Today they were in Normal range of below 40. It wasn’t even listed on the “Exception” report I saw.

She snapped back.

Of course it still takes me 30 minutes to under-feed the dog.  That’s by her choice, not mine.  I’d give her cans of the stuff if she’d eat it.  My understanding is that there isn’t a dog alive that likes “I/D” food.

So today I get to bake a can down to “Dog Food Jerky”.  Slice the food down to under 1/4 inch thickness.  Roast at 350 until the thinnest pieces are crispy.

Only then will Lettie eat the damn stuff willingly.

That’s what Chronic Renal Failure does.  It makes you have to eat food that you don’t like.  At the end of it, you have to be forced to eat it.  One can is 10 syringes.  If it is roughly 700 calories per can, that’s 70 calories a syringe – about 1 1/4 ounces each.  She should get 5 in the morning, 5 at night.

Last night I managed to get 4 into her and 3 this morning.

If you are reading this because you’re researching feeding your older dog, that is why I am writing this down.  I’m also writing it down because I can be absent minded.

What happens is because the dog will starve themselves, literally, to death, you have to make allowances.   Push food at them.  When your dog is at the point that you are taking them in for IV Fluids, the gloves are off.

Today I got the following recommendation.   Since she’s starving herself, the “Creatinine” levels are high.  That indicates that she is “eating” her muscle mass.   To reverse that, feed lean meats – raw or cooked.   Just make sure that if it is cooked, it is cooked without salt.  If it is raw, make sure that it is clean.

Cook the chicken, cooked or raw meat from pork or beef. 

Chicken bones only if they are uncooked – Personally I will avoid that due to the risk of salmonella.

So Mrs Dog gets another day or so at the spa.   It will buy her some more time.  Maybe a month, maybe more, maybe less.  We just don’t know.

I strongly doubt I’ll put her through this again.  Her demeanor is much less “fiesty” than she had been.  Right now, on day three, she seems to be much more passive, as if she’s giving up.  This is an alpha dog, or a strong beta dog.   She’s also very fearful.  So to see her personality just “flatten out” says a lot.

For now, my friend will be sleeping next to my bed.  She will be waking me up no doubt since they’re
leaving the catheter in her leg and I’ll have to keep the blue “Cone Of Shame” on her.

But for now, we’re hopeful.

Waiting on the Vet – Day 2

This was the view when I opened the bathroom door this morning after my shower.

Mrs Dog, waiting on me, and our daily routine.  The problem is that the daily routine has been interrupted.

This is day 2 of the latest treatment regimen.  She’s been to the vet before, and generally doesn’t like it.  I can tell that she’s not feeling well because she’s a very passive dog about it all.

Yesterday’s results were very bad.  There’s a specific measurement of the “Blood Urea Nitrogen” levels.   It tells you how well the kidneys are functioning.  In my dog, they basically aren’t.  I was told “normal” is 34.  Hers was 120.

Four times higher.

While that was before any treatment, we do know she’s not feeling well and her kidneys aren’t working. 

What we’re doing is taking her to the vet for an IV drip of fluids to see if we can get the numbers down.  She’ll have her blood tested mid day today after a day of fluids yesterday and the morning treatment.  At that point we’ll see where she is.

Another day at the “Day Spa” for elderly canines.

Chronic Renal Failure is not an easy thing to treat in a dog.  If it were a human, she’d get dialysis or a kidney transplant.   For an almost 13 year old dog, that just isn’t going to happen.

Tips for Syringe Feeding your Dog with Chronic Renal Failure

Standard Disclaimer:
I am not a vet.  I am not a health professional.  Consult your vet.  Any advice you find here that is helpful, is merely intended to be that.  Help.

I keep mentioning that “Chronic Renal Failure” simply because as a part of the progression of the disease, the patient will slowly stop eating.  They basically starve themselves to death.

This is what happened with my own Lettie two weeks ago.   She survived because we realized we needed prompt professional veterinary attention.

What happens is that when the illness flares up, the dog gets nauseous and stops eating.  Nobody will last without food and when you’re not metabolizing it correctly because the kidneys are failing, there’s a very short period of time that you can act.

Sunday she stopped eating and drinking, utterly.   Monday she was in the vet.   They rehydrated her with intravenous solutions, and that continued through Thursday.   Her blood numbers for the various chemicals were extremely high, the hydration helped flush that all out.  When the week was done her numbers were either normal or very slightly “elevated”.

Now it is Monday as I write this, a week later.  She’s just taken her first bit of solid food from me and has more energy.   Clearly she is improving.

Chronic Renal Failure means for as long as she remains alive, she will continue to have these episodes and eventually hydration will not allow her to recouperate.  She must be on a prescribed diet that is low Potassium, low Protein, and low Salt.  The prescription food is pretty much despised by dogs so they won’t eat it without being tricked.

Since she’s refusing food, how do you combat that?

I was told after four days of intravenous fluids that if I couldn’t feed her she’s at her end.   I wanted to fight for her but how?  The vet tech Danielle at the excellent Family Pet Center in Fort Lauderdale gave me a can of prescription diet and two syringes.  I was to use these syringes to insert the food into Lettie’s mouth and basically make her eat. 

She is a 47 pound dog, or at least she was before she started losing weight as a result of this disease.   As a result she will need one can of prescription diet a day.   You will want to feed twice a day.   Larger dogs get more food, smaller get less.  Ask your vet how much you should feed.

The first trial I used a fabric Muzzle.   That was overkill.  Here is the list of supplies that I use:

Feeding syringes – five.  35 ML in capacity.  The opening at the end is about the size of a common drinking straw.  35 ML is about an Ounce and about a quarter.  Even if the dog or cat in question is small, you will need a large opening because dog (or cat) food is thick and won’t “inject” easily.  Five syringes will fill with 6 ounces of food by weight with enough “wiggle room” so you can work with the syringes to get them filled comfortably.  For larger dogs, you can get a larger syringe to make your work easier.

Microwave safe Large Coffee mug or mixing bowl of 16 ounces or more.  

Tablespoon to blend the food until all large clumps have been smoothed out – or alternately use a blender.  I found a tablespoon and a large latte or coffee mug to be perfect.

Microwave – you will warm the food to around “body temperature”.   Warm food that is around 100F or 40C will be easier flowing.   Colder food tends to be more firm.

Large light color plastic mat.   You will be feeding the dog on the mat and you will be on the floor.  Why?  Psychology.  You are big, the pet is small.   If you are “on their level” they will be more relaxed.  It really is all about the pet.  Your comfort is secondary, you are saving their lives.  The goal is to be at eye level or close to it with your pet.

Oh the light color is so that you can find any mess later.  A towel can be used but washing a towel after every meal twice a day gets tedious.

Sandwich sized Plastic Bag with a corner cut out.  You want a small, drinking straw sized hole cut in the corner of the plastic bag so that you can work with it like a pastry bag.

Scissors to cut a hole in the plastic bag.

Bowl of water.   The dog may need water during feeding.  You would have a beer or soda with your pizza right?

Dog Collar and Leash.  I find my own Lettie tries to wander off.   Keeping a leash “at hand” slows her down.  When she wanders, you can gently guide her back to task.  She doesn’t really want to eat, you have to help her along.  I basically sit on the leash and reel her in when need be.

Any medicines or pills that need to be added to the food.  

Assembly and Process:

Open the can of food.  I’m currently using Hill Diet I/D food.  She also has Pancreatitis on top of her kidney problems.   The food looks like a pate or a chopped liver paste.

Spoon 6 ounces (1/2 can) into the coffee mug.

Warm the mug and food for approximately 20 seconds.  It should feel warmish to the touch, but not hot.  Remember, you will be working with the food and you don’t want to burn your pet’s mouth as well as your hands.  The food will thin out a little bit and make it easier to work with.

Use the tablespoon to mix the food and break down any large clumps.  It should be smooth when you are done.

Spoon the food into the plastic bag and seal the bag. 

Tamp the food down toward the opening that you cut.   You will be using the plastic bag like a pastry bag.

If you are adding a pill to the food, you can add it after partially filling a syringe, then dropping the pill in the syringe, then finishing the fill.   Make sure the pill is broken small enough to easily run down the nozzle of the syringe.  You’re killing two birds with one stone here by sneaking the pills in the food.

Fill the syringes until you have a little more than one ounce in each syringe.  You will do this by squeezing the plastic bag and letting the food run into the body of the syringe.  Basically you’re decorating a cake.  

Tamp the food down to remove air bubbles.  Squeeze more food into the syringe if you have any leftover room.   I find that 6 ounces fill 4 1/2 35ML syringes.  Place the syringes on the mat.  Make sure the first syringe you feed is the one with any medicine.

Put the collar and leash on the dog and walk her over to the mat near the water and the syringes.  Place the muzzle near the syringes.

Sit down and talk to her.  Most importantly you will want to make sure your “energy” is calm and cool.   If you are hyper and bouncing around, your pet will definitely be the same way.

The muzzle may be used at this point if you have a bitey dog.  My own Lettie is fearful and she is a fear biter, but I was able to do this without using the muzzle and no biting.   If you do use the muzzle, remember to leave it loose enough that the dog’s mouth can be slightly opened.   You will need to get the opening of the syringe in that little gap.

Since I am not using a muzzle, here’s how I do it.

Seated on the ground, I gently hold Lettie’s head from under the jaw.  I show her the syringe and tell her “Hungry” as she understands that to say it is time for food.  Aiming the syringe, I get her to open the lips on the side of her mouth. 

There is a spot directly behind the main Canine teeth, the fangs, that there is a gap. 

Placing the opening of the syringe at that gap, I squeeze a little bit of food into the gap.   At this point the dog’s reflexes will take over.   If your dog really truly hates this process, she’ll clamp her mouth shut or snap at you prompting you to use the muzzle.   In my case, she opens her mouth slightly.   This was the signal for me to push the plunger on the syringe so that she got a slow but steady stream of food into her mouth.  

At this point she would begin chewing and accepting the food.   If you are pushing too quickly, the food will gather in the cheeks and she’ll back away.  This is one of those things in life that you have to “finesse” and find the right speed.   Watch your dog closely. 

I am able to actually get the syringe into the cavity of the mouth and empty each syringe one at a time while she’s eating.   This is after about 3 days of twice a day feedings.

After five days her energy is improving.  She won’t ever be perfect again, she’s just not going to recover.   This will buy some time with her but I understand that there will be another relapse and eventually The Final Decision will have to be made when I walk her to The Rainbow Bridge.

At least this gives us time to adjust.

LettieLettieLETTIE LEAP!

My old girl turned 12.  She’s definitely showing it, but Lettie is a textbook description of the breed.  She’s a McNab Dog, and it’s a breed that has all the intelligence of a Border Collie, and maybe more, plus she’s much more focused.

My Lettie expects everything to be Just So.  To the point that if I’m overexcited she’ll cling to me and try to “help”.  That usually just gets me more “overexcited” because now I have 47 pounds of mostly black dog getting in the way.

But that Just So Thing is important.

Everything really has a pattern.  In my life I try to at least keep things under control and she fits in perfectly.   Settling down to write this, I moved from my desk chair to the futon next to the window in the Florida Room and propped my feet up on an old Mac.   This is just not to be so she got up and began to walk away after giving me the look as if to say I have just lost my mind.

I may have.

When things are not “Just So” and she can’t control them, that’s when life gets comical.

Back in March she got sick and we were trying to figure out how to balance her thyroid medications along with her fading kidneys.   We spent way too much time at the Vet’s office.   Mind you, I really like our Vet at Family Pet Medical Center.  They saved her twice when she had her seizures, and brought her back after this latest episode.   I now have a dog who is on a very strict regimen of low protein foods and any time she asks for food she gets it.  It’s like watching someone go through cravings, they’ll eat what they want until they get what they need.

As much as I like the Vet, she doesn’t.

She wants in and out and home as fast as possible.  That’s a shame because she is really well liked by all there, and in about a month is going in for her check up.

Get ready Lettie, things will get Weird.

Last time there we sat in the waiting room long enough for all three of us to get fidgety.  She wanted out.  She was dragging me on the purple leash to the door as I repeatedly pulled her back to the seats.  We tried moving around the office and each time it was back to the door.  We tried showing her the TV but she wanted none of that.   She didn’t want the kittens either but I don’t blame her.

Then out of nowhere it happened.

A High Pitched Sound was on the air as the one Vet Tech came bounding out the door to get my Senior Dog.

“Lettie?  Lettie!  LETTIELETTIELETTIELETTIE!”

It was a siren of energy to a dog who is not exactly a fan of that.

Who knew a 12 year old dog with a bad pair of kidneys, thyroid problems, and most likely a fair amount of arthritis had it in her.

I was sitting on the bench next to Kevin when all the sudden there was 47 pounds of fearful dog leaping through the air.  She deftly thread herself between the two of us while in the air.

This dog must have invisible wings because I swear she changed her angle while she flew at the bench.

Tail got planted firmly between legs, jaw gaped open, and she started to shiver as she hid behind Kevin’s back on the bench.

We didn’t even know she that could hear at that point, even though now it was clear that on that day she could!

The reaction was so strong and so out of character that even the TV went silent for that moment before the room broke out laughing.

Calming the old girl down, we told her that it was her turn and she got the expert care from Family Pet Center that we expected.

She’s still out on that mat.  I’m still on the futon that functions as a couch.  I guess I’m being Weird.  She doesn’t do Weird.