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September 08, 2005

Zeke

I think Zeke's fans out there on the Interblogosphereical Highwaytopia could probably use a distraction. I know I could.

We've had a bit of a veterinary roller coaster here the last couple of weeks.

Zeke was on an antibiotic for his dog bite, and as he started that course of Clavamox we changed his arthritis medication to something a little stronger. And then he started barfing. Nothing serious, not for a dog anyway. Just one small, daily episode. He can keep food down just fine, but every morning, usually on the way back uphill from the park, up comes maybe a quarter cup of well you get the picture.

This is not a big deal for Zeke. Until we found the dry food he's been eating for the last few years, he routinely ate each meal twice. Still, I thought I'd see whether we could discontinue the Clavamox, which had nausea as one of its untoward listed effects.

So I called the vet last week, and they agreed that if Zeke's lacerated ear didn't seem inflamed we could probably discontinue the antibiotic safely.

And then a couple hours later the vet called again. Zeke's most recent blood work had shown an elevated Blood Urea Nitrogen level. Not too high, less than twice normal, well within the range a healthy dog might display were he slightly dehydrated. But a high BUN is also diagnostic of kidney failure, which also has nausea as a symptom, and could I bring him in ASAP for the techs to collect a urine sample?

I hung up. I was working at home Friday, so I had the dog right there. "Zeke, do you want to go get in the car? Go get in the car?" Works every time, even though it mainly ends up in a trip to the vet these days.

I lost my cat Zoom to kidney failure 20 years ago. He died the day after my 25th birthday. Kidney failure in a pet is not fun, involving forcing the animal to eat distasteful low-protein food when the animal doesn't feel like eating to begin with. Zoom's kidney failure was four months of finger-feeding of baby food and low-ash cat food, weekly vet visits, and increasingly frequent and finally daily administrations of subcutaneous fluids. Let me tell you, sticking a needle into your cat's back every single damn day and expecting it to cooperate is no fun for either party. And Zoom felt like shit the whole time. It was a blessing when he died.

By the time kidney failure symptoms appear the damage cannot be reversed, and all you can do is delay the inevitable through strict diet and close attention.

On Tuesday we got the call, with news I halfway expected: Zeke's kidneys were in perfect working order. Next on the list of potential elevated BUN level causes: bleeding ulcer. We'd seen no tinging in vomitus or stool, I explained, and the doctor said that while that was good news, some ulcers can be fairly cryptic. The good news was that they have an efficient, inexpensive test they can do on a stool sample to confirm an ulcer, and that ulcers are easily treatable these days.

"The thing is," she said, "he can't eat any meat for three days before the test." No treats, no kibble with bone meal or chicken parts or whatever. Just grains, vegetables, and dairy.

Zeke is already a hellishly picky eater, unless you happen to have a slab of flesh of some sort. Or unless you're eating something, in which case he wants it on general principle. The doctor mentioned a couple brands of vegetarian dog food, a product I never in my life expected to even think about buying. I imagined three days of increasing desperation on Zeke's part, wondering why I was so cruelly forgetting to give him jerky and wining at the food bowl with the lentil crap in it, me hearing the squeak of nose on floor as he "buries" the vile stuff in the kitchen. The vets are on us about him losing weight because he won't eat dog food that has the usual snouts and esophagi and unmentionable parts in it, and now he's expected to eat dog food without those tasty items?

It's the funniest thing. Turns out he really likes the lentil crap. We might just add it to his usual regimen, along with a big steak or two on Saturday afternoon.

Posted by Chris Clarke at September 8, 2005 07:47 AM TrackBack URL for this entry:
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Comments

Oh, Wonderful Zeke. This dog leads a charmed life, I'm telling you.

And lentils are good.

One of Binky's favorite treats is carrots. He'd eat them all day if he could. But then he's very fond of chicken, too.

Posted by: Vicki at September 8, 2005 09:24 AM
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I'd be tempted to lay all the blame at the Clavamox. It's horrible stuff.

A few years ago I took my cat Britten, also a slightly fussy eater at the best of times, to the emergency vet for a sore, and they put her on a preventative dose of Clavamox, even though it didn't look particularly infected. Just in case, you know?

The day after she started the Clavamox, she puked. The next day she stopped eating. The day after that, she stopped drinking. At that point I was able to get her in to see her normal vet, who immediately rolled her eyes and said, "Yeah, that stuff's notorious for making cats and dogs sick, especially if their digestion is fragile to begin with."

Even after we discontinued the meds, I still had to force feed her through a syringe for the next two weeks until her stomach calmed down. So much fun, especially after the first couple days when she'd started to get her strength back.

Meanwhile, the original sore, the cause for the Clavamox in the first place, healed just fine on its own.

Posted by: Emily at September 8, 2005 09:25 AM
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"I lost my cat Zoom to kidney failure 20 years ago. He died the day after my 25th birthday. Kidney failure in a pet is not fun, "

You said it.

My wife and I lost one of our cats to kidney failure this Spring. Did the subcutaneous fluids thing for a whole year; towards the end, it was intolerable for all three of us.

So glad to hear Zeke has been spared this treatment.

Posted by: Mike Anderson at September 8, 2005 09:40 AM
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Zeke has a delightfully discriminating palate. A true connoisseur of doggie foods. I am not surprised.
You take such good care of him. He's a very lucky dog.

Posted by: Rexroths Daughter at September 8, 2005 09:40 AM
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It would be great if it were the Clavamox since you stopped it.

Posted by: eRobin at September 8, 2005 09:44 AM
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good thing he likes the lentil stuff. otherwise......"Or unless you're eating something, in which case he wants it on general principle." hmmmmm. did you taste it? could you have fooled him without actually eating some?

glad he's ok. hope he has many years left.

the only time i had to give our cat antibiotics, for a cat bite, it was the same pink, bubblegum flavored stuff human kids get. the cat didn't object too much, but he did look silly with pink sticky stuff around his mouth.

Posted by: dread pirate roberts at September 8, 2005 10:35 AM
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Agh, the pink stuff! That stuff is horrible! We had to give one cat it daily when she lost a tooth, and, damn, it gets everywhere!

I'm glad Zeke likes the lentils.

Posted by: Rana at September 8, 2005 11:18 AM
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glad zeke's on the road to recovery! and whodathunk about the lentils? our dogs always love going to the vet, because THEY GET TO RIDE IN THE CAR! and THERE ARE OTHER DOGS THERE!

we have a "pirate" cat, the duke of earl -- a cheerful formerly feral guy who lost an eye to infection after he was rescued, and is mostly blind in the other eye too, which continues to be prone to infection. (this doesn't slow him down -- it is pretty incredible how he compensates using smell and sound and what his fur-brain remembers about where things are and the habits of other family members. he even likes playing with the dogs, who are about 10 times his size...)

i can manage the eye goop ok, but the bubblegum amoxil is a trick to get down! [a] bribe cat with wet food treat! [b] grab cat (sharp sides out), force open mouth with one hand, squirt pink stuff down throat with other hand. [c] apply antibiotic ointment and bandaids to self; repair rips to clothing; rest with feet up...

Posted by: Kathy A at September 8, 2005 11:28 AM
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Love your dog! The pictures and the stories I read ...
Wish you the very best, Zeke!

Posted by: Yubi at September 8, 2005 12:00 PM
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Oh, Zeke! You drama queen you! Always with the medical crises, and making strangers fret over you. You're a good boy for liking the lentils. I can't stand them myself-maybe the next time some well-meaning soul makes me lentil loaf I'll save it to send to you. And enjoy that steak on Saturday!

Chris, I always thought that vegetarian dog food was the one of the dumbest ideas ever-who knew that there was actually a legitimate use for it?

Dread Pirate Roberts and Rana: I always thought the pink stuff was dreadful, but one time our vet gave one of our cats some big white pills that weren't supposed to get crushed (because that would have been the more convenient, and less bloody way to administer them, I suppose). We had to give them to Salem whole, and no matter how careful we were to poke them down his throat and wait for him to swallow he always managed to cheek them until we let him go. Then he'd shake his little black head, and foamy white pill pieces would fly out everwhere. I assume there's some loss written into the formula when they prescribe these things, because he got better just fine, and he can't have consumed more than a third of the prescription.

Posted by: Stephanie at September 8, 2005 02:22 PM
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Zekey. :)

I remember zoom, I remember when we took him to the vet and she saw that he was not going to get better and he was purring and she cried a little... nice vet.

JC died from kidney failure. His last moments were horrible and fill me with guilt.

Posted by: craig at September 8, 2005 05:26 PM
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A cat of mine went on Clavamox after oral surgery. It made him so sick I took him off of it without even asking the doctor, even though I knew it meant risking infection, but he was also hyperthyroid at the time and needed all the calories he could keep. The nausea stopped after a day or two. No permanent damage appears to have been sustained.

As you noted, this is a known side effect of this particular med, with really quite extreme nausea being very, very common. I am surprised there's not a better alternative.

Posted by: Sara at September 8, 2005 06:54 PM
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Thank you for the Zeke update.

Posted by: Charles at September 8, 2005 08:00 PM
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Bailey sends her best, and says to tell him the French le Puy lentils are the best.

French bread isn't bad either, but you have to wait til the adults are gone before you sneak it off the counter.

Posted by: KathyF at September 9, 2005 03:28 AM
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Hope things are continuing to improve. How did the test go on the ulcer?

Posted by: susurra at September 10, 2005 11:00 PM
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He's got one! Due to the NSAIDs he's been getting for the hips. Back to the drawing board on that.

(The ulcer is easily curable.)

Posted by: Chris Clarke at September 10, 2005 11:13 PM
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