Wednesday, April 6, 2011

BIG Scare

And I mean BIG... for me, anyway. Very early this morning... like 1 AM... I went into the computer room to do some computing. The Whoodle gals (Em and Cotton) and Diamond live in there, along with this or that other dog who wants to... right now it's Wombat, the Goldendoodle puppy, although she's confined in there because she's just going out of her first heat and her friend, Ost the Labradoodle, would like to "talk" to her, up close and personal. Anyway, I noticed that Cotton was standing up, away from everyone else, her head drooping almost to the floor. She just looked unhappy. When I said her name, she didn't even bother to look up. Now Cotton is quiet, as in unboisterous, but she's usually pretty bouncy and wants attention. She seemed fine earlier in the day. She definitely was NOT fine at 1 AM. I felt her and it didn't seem like she had an elevated temp and her noise was cool and slightly moist. Couldn't see any owwies and her abdomen wasn't tender. I was in there for about an hour and Cotton stayed right where she was, standing up, which in itself is a "not good" sign. My first thought was pyrometria which is a VERY serious uterine infection dogs can develop shortly after being in heat. It is so serious it is the only reason I like to see nonbreeding females spayed. An "open" (draining) pyrometria is bad enough, but unfortunately, the mouth of the uterus often stays closed and there is no discharge of pus and mucous to warn you the dog is very, very ill. More often than not, the owner... even experienced breeders... don't know there is a problem until it is almost too late to save the dog much less save her uterus. This was not a wait and see how she feels on Thursday or Friday situation. Since I had to be at the airport to ship a puppy this morning, I couldn't go to the vet until around 10:30 and, as a walk in, that meant I could be sitting over there most of the day. It pays to have people in the office who are willing to work with you! Cotton and I got in to see Bill after waiting just a half hour or so. I felt her tummy again... still cool... and her nose was moist and cool while Bill was taking her temp. I almost fell over when it turned out her temperature was 104+! He took some vaginal and rectal samples, which showed nothing. Then we talked over possible diagnoses and treatments... of course, treatment is complicated by the fact she was bred exactly 3 weeks ago and could be (I'm hoping!) pregnant. (And, no, there aren't any reliable pregnancy tests for dogs.) We decided to take a blood sample to check for an elevated white count and Bill took her off to the back where civilians generally aren't allowed... in 10 years I've only been invited back there twice and I felt honored both times. A few minutes later, here came Bill without Cotton. He did bring me a gauze 4 x 4 with about 2 dozen ticks on it. Most were very tiny. One was slightly engorged. The adult dogs are getting Frontline on the 15th of every month, so they aren't due. The packaging says, and I quote:
Frontline Plus kills ticks for at least one month.
It should probably be changed to add: usually, maybe or some times.
Every animal in this house is getting a dose today. A few minutes later, Cotton came back to the room, sans a few more ticks one of the techs had been pulling off her, and Bill and I found several more while we talked. Eventually, the blood sample was ready. And it showed just a slightly elevated white count... which could mean there isn't anything going on OR it's very early and hasn't had time to raise the count as yet. We decided to put her on Clavamox, which is safe for the pregnancy, give her an 81 mg aspirin to help get the temp down and to continue to monitor the situation all day. If she starts feeling worse, she's to go back right away and I have to call Bill first thing in the AM with a temp update. About a half hour had passed since the tick removal. I noticed her head was up and she was watching people come and go down the doctor's corridor and raising her ears whenever there was a sound outside the other door. I pointed it out to Bill, and gloomy gus that he is, he said "Give her the antibiotic and the aspirin and take her temperature every few hours." And then he grinned and said "You know, there is a tick disease...." Which I did know having learned about it shortly after moving to the South. Some ticks... some FEMALE ticks... carry something that can cause paralysis in dogs. The animal only has to have ONE of these ticks biting it and you'd think the dog had polio. Remove that tick and in a VERY short time, the dog starts getting back to normal. One of the ticks Bill pulled off Cotton was engorged.... In MY head, we have found the problem and fixed it. Of course, when I got her back home I gave her a Frontline treatment, an aspirin and Clavamox AFTER taking her temp. Which was down to 103. She went into the pen, snapped at the pushy Goldendoodle puppy, got a big BIG drink of water and is stretched out asleep alongside her mom and grandma.
In the "all's well that ends well BUT" category, we have discussed what we're going to do IF that was not the problem or if the ticks have set up some kind of reaction in her that the Clavamox can't fix. My first priority is always my dogs no matter how much I want the puppies. In this case, the solution, heaven forbid, includes aborting the litter if she is pregnant because the treatment can adversely affect the pups, causing deformities and/or life long problems. We'll know in a couple days.

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