Monday, June 18, 2012

A Trip to the Vet: Part 2

Last month, we took Desmond to the vet to address some things, the most pressing of which was his tendency to chug water and throw up. I asked you guys what you thought his problem/diagnosis was and if you had any suggestions for us, and you commented with vigor. All of your input is appreciated!

Today, I'm going to finally tell you what the vet said.

When the doctor was poking and prodding Desmond, my pup got very uncomfortable when the prods were directed at his gut. Though we had no reason to think Des had swallowed something, we had x-rays done anyway. And what did we find? Nothing.

Well, that's not completely true.

We didn't find any objects in there (unlike a certain Mr. Leroy), but we did find that his stomach was distended. My poor furry friend has digestion problems, as in, his system is very slow so he stays full of food for much longer than is normal. This is why when he chugs water--even if it's not a large amount--he often throws up right away. Most of the time, there simply isn't enough room in there for it, especially when he takes it in with so much gusto.

"Digestion problems? What digestion problems?"
Don't worry--we didn't let him eat that all in one sitting!
The vet didn't seem to think this was one of those emergency cases of bloat but more like a chronic issue that has potential to be a pretty serious problem. He prescribed Desmond some medicine: Reglan and Pepcid. Most of you probably know what pepcid is, but in case you can't be bothered clicking through to find out what reglan is, it's basically a drug that helps you digest faster.

In addition to the medication, he told us to split Desmond's meals into three times a day instead of two times a day.

We followed all directions--and then had to modify them a bit.

When we gave Des the reglan, the reglan gave Des other digestive issues. It was like he was now digesting too fast. The poor guy was running to the potty all day. So, we decided to give him only half of each reglan pill at a time (he was supposed to take two pills a day) and see if that stopped the side effect. It did. But we aren't sure that it did anything else. Meaning, Desmond was still throwing up sometimes.

He was definitely throwing up less, but I can't possibly attribute that to the reglan/pepcid alone, because we were also giving him smaller meals and we were watching him like a hawk with the water, removing the bowl from under him when necessary.

We finished all the meds, and nothing really changed. We sent an email to the vet to follow up, as they requested, but we didn't hear anything back from them (which is unlike them). Instead of harassing them for answers/information, we decided to make an appointment for a second opinion, because I had been wanting to explore other vet options anyway.

I honestly don't know if there's a medical answer to this problem is; my instinct tells me it's going to be a matter of making sure he doesn't get to drink a large amount of water at any time. On the other hand...

Aren't digestion & stress closely related?

Desmond definitely does still have anxiety issues--that I fully believe are only getting worse--and I have seen him throw up in times of great stress/great excitement (he also has other digestive problems when he gets stressed). So, perhaps addressing his anxiety will help with his digestion. I know that humans with digestion problems are sometimes prescribed anxiety meds.

At this point, I pretty much hope that the new vet--who specializes in behavior/training issues, although he is not a board certified veterinary behaviorist--wants to try anxiety medication for Desmond, because I think it has the potential to help him in a variety of ways (our current vet has said that Desmond doesn't need it, but my gut disagrees). If you aren't already thinking what I'm thinking, one of those ways is in relation to his reactivity.

Sure, most dogs get anxious when you start packing,
but Des shows this kind of anxiety often.
Many of you are well aware that with some dogs, no amount of behavior modification or desensitization is going to work on its own. If the dog is far too stressed out to be able to focus or even receive your verbal & visual signals, he won't be able to learn the appropriate new behaviors and associations, training is going to fail, and the reactivity can get worse.

I don't expect anxiety meds to be magic pills that will fix all Desmond's problems, but I do have hope that they would help him relax, in general, and that might settle all of his insides. We'll find out soon enough. Our appointment is next month.

In the meantime, we will stalk him while he drinks water, try to keep his excitement levels down, and manage his reactivity triggers the best we can.

There is a part of me that feels kind of bad, almost like we would be resorting to medication or like we're making a bigger problem out of this than it needs to be, but I think that feeling may be a result of my hearing on a fairly regular basis things along the lines of "he's just a dog."

Even though I know it's the option I want to try next, I feel very weird about it.

Do any of you know what I mean? Have you had to figure out if these types of medications are the right move for your dog? Have you seen a connection between stress and digestion in your pup? Tell me everything!
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