Thursday, January 1, 2009

I Resolve to Resolve My Vet Bills

Welcome to 2009. We managed to keep the kids awake with back-to-back episodes of Most Extreme Elimination (one of my many guilty pleasures in life) and some rousing rounds of Stamp Stamp Revolution (thanks Daun -- that one is going to stick). It was all very pleasant.

I'm sad to report that 2008 went out with another big vet bill. Yesterday morning David was playing in the crunchy snow with the dogs and Willow started to bleed from abrasions on all of her legs. She is thin-skinned and I didn't worry too much about it until one of her forelegs swelled up like a baseball bat. I feared that something was broken and called the vet who was able to see us in the afternoon.

We stopped at the beach en route to the vet so that my sister, brother-in-law and nephews could do some eagle watching. Willow was waiting in a crate in the truck, but Tilley and Watson were out with us. We noticed that Watson's urine appeared bloody, so I just phoned the vet and asked if she could test him for a urinary infection while I was there.

When I got to the vet she looked at Willow's swelling and abrasions and asked me almost immediately if she had been into any kind of blood thinning agent -- aspirin, ibuprofen or warfarin. Then we brought Watson in and she drew a urine sample with a catheter. It was not blood in his urine but bilirubin, indicating a problem with his liver function. When I got Willow home she immediately took a big, red pee.

Much brain-wracking and discussion ensued. The vet is quite sure that Willow and Watsom must have eaten something killed by warfarin, which is possible as our neighbor across the street has a rat problem and they like to explore in her field. Tilley is fine, but she doesn't eat unusual things off the ground. This morning's test results indicated that liver function is fine in both cases so they have managed to detoxify the poison and dodge the bullet. We did not dodge the $400+ bill.

In horse news Tonka's sheath took a turn for the worse two days ago, and this morning the tips were swollen up like a couple of baseballs. I could have knocked them around a little with Willow's leg. Kerstin is on holiday now, but some online research suggest that this problem is semi-common for older geldings in winter. Others suggested that a gram of bute would go a long way, so he got that with his dinner. Keep your fingers crossed for the poor guy.

And in goat news we trimmed hooves again this afternoon. It went pretty well, except that I cut too much off of Roland McNugget's hind right and he bled like a stuck pig (sorry Jean). A sock full of corn starch staunched the bleeding, but he is limping quite badly. I'm hoping that he will heal up before we have to get another vet involved...


Black Jack's Carol said...

Yikes! Things really do seem to run in cycles. I hope this animal-crisis one is over and the new year will bring excellent health for you and all of your dogs, cats, horses and goats. Very concerning about warfarin- I always worry about pets that pick up stuff (as every single one of mine has). Along with a perfect recall, I long for a "leave it" that is 100% consistent. Even then, if they get roaming privileges, which I imagine is one of the many benefits to your lifestyle choice, there is always that risk, I guess. Anyhow, here's to no more vet bills in 2009. (It's interesting that Carol, at Saints, talked of paid off vet bills as well.)

Anonymous said...

Hey Carol, check out a dvd called "Really Reliable Recall" by Leslie Nelson. She's got great training tips on making the recall really stick.

dp, I hope all the critters get to feeling better soon and stay that way.

Happy New Year!

Brandy said...

Carol -
I taught my Gus a permanent perfect recall using the Koehler Method of Dog Training.

It can be taught in a few afternoons, with a 30' leadline and lots of love. Sit stay the dog, with the rope or leadline attached to the properly worn choke chain. Walk 10 or so feet away to start, gradually increasing the distance. Call the dog, and immediately begin reeling in the line, and the dog. Praise it as SOON as it takes a willing step toward you. Have the dog Sit in front of you, and praise him! As the dog gets the idea, always PRAISE it immediately when it willingly comes to you. Repeat until the dog is coming faster than you can reel him in.

Next day or two, repeat.

For the REST OF THE DOG'S LIFE, EVERY SINGLE TIME you command to 'come', PRAISE the dog as he is coming when commanded!

Even if he's just made a purposeful, naughty mess in the house, or chewed something, PRAISE HIM FOR COMING TO YOU! He did THAT right. THEN point out the dog's error and correct him as needed.

The dog learns that coming to you, even when he's totally in trouble, is not the worst thing, in fact, it's a good thing! My pupper took one afternoon to get the idea, because he wanted to be near me anyways, and at the very worst, he would slowly and sadly walk to me when he knew he was naughty. But he ALWAYS came, and was ALWAYS praised for it. (Which amused me, and made me less angry at him, as I knew he was really a good dog, so I could correct him much more effectively!) Even at a full run heading for a street, he would return immediately instead of continuing into danger. So I never had to teach him a drop stay, although he tried to do one if commanded!

Arg, dp, my Xmas wish for you is all your animals get and stay healthy for as long as possible!

Poor pups, what a week! Thank goodness they seem to be ok thus far! Worth the money for that outcome!

Perhaps you can ask the neighbor to not put out rat poison in an area your dogs might easily get too? Or put invisible fence.... I think poisoning is the #1 fear of dog owners. Even an inside only dog can get into trouble in an instant from an unlucky bite at 'free food'.

Poor Tonka! Maybe he needs a sheath cozy, or a heated crotch cover? A wooly bellyband? Except the tip kinda still has to be exposed.... sigh.

Poor Roland! If he's still limping after today, I'd be surprised. And worried. But he should forget about it by then. I like your "goat press"! VERY handy!

A Happy New Year to all!

Funder said...

OMG, your poor animals! AND your poor wallet!

You should demand a ride on Kerstin's boat, since you're buying her one. :P Seriously - the dog news is really worrisome; I hope they pull through quickly and completely.

stleco: St. Louis ecological group.

dp said...

Lest you think us completely negligent dog owners please know that the dogs are never left to their own devices out of doors. They are carefully supervised and all have great recall. This mostly likely happened when David was walking them at night -- they are not on leash (yes, one of the perks of rural living), and if they might have gotten into something beyond the range of his head lamp. They all know not to eat things off the ground when we are watching, and commands like "leave it" and "drop it" are solid and obeyed. Still, Watson and Willow are indiscriminate eaters and accidents do happen. We were lucky in this case.

Kerstin is only the horse vet, so she didn't get this $400+. But I had to put an emergency call into her today because Tonka's sheath was so swollen that the skin was beginning to split. She will likely come out tomorrow, but she called an antibiotic prescription into the human pharmacy for me this morning. He is coated with Zinc Oxide on the outside so let's hope that the split doesn't pick up a secondary infection. Horse ownership hasn't been as much fun as it should be over the last couple of months...

dp said...

PS: Roland is still limping on the snow, but OK when off the snow. I guess it is sensitive to the cold. That is not my goat press, but I sure wish that I had one.

Brandy said...

PS - re: MXC

It was taken from a show called "Toshii's Castle". When I was stationed in Japan, I used to watch it. It was pretty amazing, the way these contestants would fling themselves into the most dangerous and painful situations. I was happy and amazed to see the show being resurrected as MXC. The voice-overs and contestant names bust me up more than the action nowadays! Brilliant show!

Glad you guys had a great night!

Ressive: not feeling ag or dep?