Life

I Had a Health Scare About My Best Friend

©PatrickKPhillips

For the past few months, I’ve been dealing with a health scare involving my Rough Collie. I just got the official report from the vet.

We’ve been on pins and needles for 72 hours after my Rough Collie underwent an ultrasound. It was a health scare that began a few months back, around his 10th birthday. When he turned 10, I took him to PetSmart and bought him a toy or two. I also bought a supplement with the compounds Glucosamine and Chondroitin.

There was no warning on the packaging for these treats about side effects. There should have been. Most dogs, it seems, tolerate them well. My dog, it turns out, did not. I noticed he started drinking more water.

Every Collie I’ve owned has drunk a lot of water. But this was a lot even for him. He’d ask for water because his water bowl would be dry. I’d pour in three cups or so and he’d stand there and try to drink all three cups at once. Then he had a couple of wetting accidents, which is as far out of character for him as it could get.

Meanwhile, the first treat with the Glucosamine and Chondroitin seemed to upset his stomach. So I stopped that and gave him a week or so to get past that. Then I tried him on a second from a different brand. The thirst and wetting accidents picked right back up.

I stopped the second treat, but not because I thought the thirst and urination was connected. Rather, I was just trying to get everything back to normal. I called the vet and told them what was going on, and they suggested a test for a urinary tract infection. It came back negative.

That’s when I started researching the compounds. In a relatively small number of dogs, they can cause excessive thirst, excessive urination, nausea and diarrhea and sleeplessness. The sleeplessness wasn’t a problem. But the first two definitely rang a bell. I know plenty of other older dogs use those supplements without issue.

For him, I’m convinced it was the first problem; the timing was too perfect for it to be coincidence.

When things didn’t return to normal, I called the vet again. This time, they did another urinalysis test and found traces of a UTI.

That was just the beginning

They gave him an antibiotic and he seemed to get a little better. Another urinalysis showed a small presence of red blood cells, which raised a degree of concern. The vet then wanted to rule out two conditions I didn’t think he had: Addison’s Disease and Cushing Disease. Other than the excessive thirst and urination, he exhibited none of the other symptoms of either.

That test confirmed he had neither one. But because of the trace of blood that still showed up, they suggested an ultrasound. When I dropped him off at the vet’s office, I met an older couple with a dog who’d previously had bladder stones.

If you had never heard of bladder stones, you’re not the only one. I’ve heard of kidney stones and gall stones, but I had no idea stones could build up in one’s bladder. They told me their dog had to have surgery and they left with a ziplock bag full of the stones.

Yes, I wondered why they’d want that kind of souvenir. No, I didn’t ask why they took the stones home.

In any case, the cost of that surgery was going to be about $1,500 if that turned out to be the problem. In the event of cancer, it could have gone into the thousands.

The doctor who performed the ultrasound took two days to go over it before submitting a report to the veterinarian. I appreciate the thoroughness. But honestly, given that much time, someone like me will disasterize his way through all sorts of anxious “what-ifs.”

I’m enough of a hypochondriac that I’m even able to project that kind of worry on the dog, too. Meanwhile, he was stretched out on the couch most of the time, blissfully unaware of my fears. He was just glad to be back home from the vet.

Finally, the phone call

The veterinarian called me late Wednesday afternoon. She had read the ultrasound report and reviewed his file. The ultrasound detected no problems. No masses, no stones, no cysts. She said it showed his organs are in good shape, including his bladder, where the most concern was focused.

They suggested one more urinalysis test to make sure that there’s no more sign of blood. (If there is, I imagine there’d be one more round of antibiotics.) But there’s no major concern now about something more serious.

That’s the best news I could have hoped for, but of course, it wasn’t the news I braced myself for.

He’s gotten even more cuddles lately and I don’t think he minded that at all. He even got a new toy out of the deal. He didn’t object to that, either.

I’m hoping I have many more years to come with him.

the authorPatrick
Patrick is a Christian with more than 30 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.

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