Gida’s had more veterinary activity in a month than she has in her almost-11 years combined. I chronicled her liver issue, lethargy, and general un-Gida-ness here. But wait, there’s more.
We described Gida’s symptoms to her breeder, a doctor of veterinary naturopathy. She theorized that a lifetime of kibble feeding and vaccinations was to blame for this major, frustratingly not-pinpointed slowdown. Her recommendation was a carnivore diet: straight-up meat like her forebears ate. She acknowledged that the au naturel approach is sometimes met with raised eyebrows, but we figured there was no harm in trying something new. We prefer to buy organic and avoid chemicals for ourselves, so why shouldn’t it be the same for the dog? We’ve been feeding her boiled organic chicken and she loved it immediately. Lick-the-bowl-an-hour-later loved it.
She seemed OK, then she was not OK for a couple days.
She wouldn’t move. She could move, but obviously didn’t want to. She’d stand and sit in weird positions. Her eyes were only half-open and tired-seeming. When she did move, she acted like it was the worst thing ever. I took the pic above during this uh-oh phase; she fell asleep on me like that, something she never does so easily. You can see the ridge of her spine.
The next day, the vet said she dropped to 9.8 pounds; she’s supposed to weigh 12, and she weighed 10.5 last month. It seemed like the culprit was pain. “Generalized joint pain” he said. She acted like she was in pain because she probably was, affecting her ability to move — including to her food and water.
X-rays (ADORABLE x-rays, I might add) showed a congenital skeletal issue in her back. It hadn’t been bothering her until now, but that happens sometimes with older age. It may or may not bother her again in the future. The timing was weird. First liver, now this?
We got some painkiller pills, which I wasn’t too jazzed about. We just talked about chemicals. I don’t know what’s in those. I only knew they wouldn’t impact her liver in case that was, in fact, still a problem. Since Saturday, I think we’ve given her about four of them, and I’d rather keep that number where it is.
She also had to be rehydrated. They showed my hubs how to give her subcutaneous injections of fluid if she still wouldn’t drink water. We never actually had to inject her after that first dose at the vet. That’s the preview of…
…the happy ending to this story!
So, maybe I should give the pain pills a break. That same day, she became old Gida. Like Gida from several months ago. They told us to keep her under control, since she could move too much too quickly once she felt better. She eats and drinks with gusto. She fetches, instead of acting interested and then acting bored next to a thrown bone. She greets me at the door again. She even jumps again, until we remind her that she could regret that later. (Though that is very bon vivant of her, isn’t it?)
The icing: they said her liver was completely fine, as shown by another blood test. She must have, as they thought, eaten something that wonked her liver enzymes last month. She is, generally, “oldening.” We carry her up and down our somewhat steep stairs, and we move her on and off the bed. Maybe those folding pet stairs will be purchased soon.
We spent roughly $1,200 on (adorable) x-rays, two blood tests, a urine test, sedation, an ultrasound, a bile test, some hydrating fluid, and veterinary expertise, with bonus headaches and worry thrown in for free. The testing was exhausting and confusing. I still don’t understand what went wrong, exactly, and when. Is that — her failed health and our confusion — our fault? Does it matter now that she’s eating, drinking, and being again? I wonder if all of it was really necessary to diagnose seemingly non-fatal problems. But people always feel that way when things turn out OK.
From now on, her food will cost more and she’s slightly more high-maintenance. I will take all that for at least a few more healthy years.