Monday, January 19, 2015

Smooch's work-related stress disorder


Spoiler alert: I know some of you will worry as today's story unfolds, so I will tell you now that it ends well.

Our story begins the weekend before last. Smooch awoke in the middle of the night and barfed. No big deal. Dogs barf all the time. The next night, Smooch awoke twice in the pre-dawn hours and asked to go outside. Each time, she ate grass for a few minutes, then came back inside. No big deal. Dogs eat grass when their stomach is a little upset. The next night, same thing. Up twice, still eating grass.

She was otherwise being her normal active self, alerting me to the ever-present coyotes, digging holes, and playing with her toys, so I wasn't too concerned. I started adding some pumpkin purée to her meals, knowing it could help whatever digestive upset she was experiencing. We went on our daily two-mile walks and all was right with the world ... until this past Thursday.

Smooch and I left the house about noon. The snow was melting fast, but Smooch and I persevered down the muddy road and remained upright. As usual, Smooch stopped and sniffed every coyote and rabbit track we crossed, tugging me from one side of the road to the other. Think water skiing on mud. About a half mile from home, I felt all the energy fall out of Smooch's leash. She stopped and lay down in the mud. WTF? It was almost as if she were too weak to stand. After a minute or so, she got up, then we turned around and headed straight for home. I considered carrying her, but she seemed willing to walk on her own. A few minutes later, she pooped. It was not pretty. I will spare you the details. During the rest of the walk home, I formulated my plan for the afternoon: get home, call vet, drive to vet, hope the truck doesn't get stuck in the mud on the way out.

We made it home, with my concern elevating each time Smooch stopped to rest. The second we arrived on the back porch, Smooch did a downward-dog yoga pose, which she held for about a minute. What was that about?? When I tried to wipe off her muddy paws to come in the house, she cried out in pain. I let her in the house with muddy paws.

I called the vet, got an appointment for 2:15, and we left right away, stopping only to bag a fresh poop sample from the backyard. The usual 30-minute trek to the highway took 75 minutes because of the mud, but we didn't get stuck. I told Smooch that if she ever gets sick again, she has to promise to do so in better weather.

The vet tech examined Smooch first and I gave her all the details I've just shared with you. We reviewed her diet, her environment, and her daily routine. Then the vet came in and we reviewed all of the same stuff, while the tech went off to test the poop sample, which turned out to include all sorts of bad bacteria that wasn't supposed to be there.

Since Smooch's diet had not changed, nor had the stuff she has access to in her environment, the vet ruled out any sort of dietary indiscretion. Then she asked me, and I quote, "Has she been under any unusual stress lately? Have you been packing boxes? Have there been alot of coyotes around?" Alot? How about a pack of nine every day for a couple of weeks?

The vet told me that the stomach is the dog's stress organ - it's the first thing to react when a dog is under a lot of pressure. I had no idea. Since the timing of Smooch's stomach issues and the daily coyotes coincided, the vet is relatively certain that stress is at the root of the problem.

She gave Smooch a shot of cerenia to calm her stomach and sent us home with an 8-day supply of metronidazole (an antimicrobial antibiotic) and a couple of cans of Hill's w/d, which she described as "pumpkin on steroids." She said I could expect to see daily improvement in Smooch's health, which I have. Yippee, hallelujah, and amen.

Until the daily coyotes disappear, which I expect will happen once mating season concludes, Smooch shall be a full-time house dog, though what she probably needs is a vacation cruise someplace warm. Oh wait. Maybe that's me.








36 comments:

  1. So scary! It's the worst when fur babies are sick. I am so glad she is ok. Sounds like your vet is amazing.

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  2. Yippee, hallelujah, and amen, indeed. Get 100 percent well, Smooch, and I hope both of you can relax SOON!
    (I really appreciated the spoiler alert!)

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  3. Who woulda thunk it? Stress illness! Just proves what a conscientious guard dog Smooch is. I'm SO glad she is mending & will, coyotes willing, soon be doing her rounds. Gosh, learn something every day -- especially in blogs like yours. I'd say I have to remember this, except I am sure stress is the last thing to affect my airhead Siberian, Charlie. Adorable as she is, there isn't enough going on between her ears for stress to register. She ain't no Phi Beta Kappa like Smooch!

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  4. This was very informative. I had no idea stress could bring this out in a dog. Good to know. And so happy that Smooch is on the road to recovery…it's hard to be in charge of ranch security! :)

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  5. Oh no! Smooch is having a burn-out! Precious Smooch. She feels the weight of being the sole security guard around the middle of nowhere. Happy recovery Smooch. Use the time to get spoiled wrotten.

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  6. If a pack of 9 coyotes were circling my livestock every night for weeks, my dog would not be the only one with a stress-related disorder. I'd be needing a shot of something too.

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  7. I'm glad the treatment is working.

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  8. I am so glad that Smooch will be fine. It is very worrying when our pets are ill.

    By the way, thanks for posting the spoiler at the top of your post.

    Laurie

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  9. Alexander (the Great)1/19/15, 6:44 AM

    Hugs!

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  10. Echo Laurie. Thanks for first telling us it was okay. I did not realize that the stomach was the dog's stress organ, but it makes sense. Actually, it is also OUR stress organ. Years ago, I had an Invisible Fence installed around five acres. My Rottie got too close to the wire, down in a dry wash, and was shocked multiple times before we could get him away. He was so afraid after that he wouldn't leave the area of the house. I tried to get him to follow me out into the acreage so he could re-establish his boundaries. He wouldn't follow. Then he threw up. So I left him to discover on his own. Took him about a month to feel comfortable to wander about. Just in case anyone thinks this was "cruelty," it sure beats the pants off what was happening before. He would get out of my "dog proof" fence, go out onto the highway and stop the cars.

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  11. I'm glad Smooch is improving, and thank you for the spoiler alert! Thanks, too, for shedding some light on a periodic problem one of my own dogs is having - a light bulb just went on for me as I read Smooch's story. By the way, the downward dog position is what dogs do when their stomach is hurting - it stretches out the innards and provides some relief.

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  12. You know us too well-thanks for the "good ending" alert at the start of the story. Hope those coyotes leave the area soon and Smooch's stress level decreases.

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  13. I hope Smooch and you are feeling better soon. It's hard when a pet is sick! And coyotes, be gone!

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  14. I am so very glad you included the spoiler alert. All of that behavior was so much like Marly (Smooch's lookalike doggy here in the east) when her final illness was at hand that I would have worried. My stomach is my stress organ too, and it wouldn't have been pretty over here either!
    I'm glad our girl is getting better, and I'm glad you're such a good dog mom. I would not have thought that the coyote visits would be so stressful for a dog, but now I know!

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  15. I'm glad Smooch is alright. Poor girl, if she weren't such a good protector of her humans and animal friends I guess she wouldn't get upset with the coyotes and her stomach problems would disappear quickly. Hope they leave soon. Glad she's on the mend and you're feeling better too.

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  16. You know, I'm sure there's a theme cruise somewhere for people and their pets....

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  17. Maybe you should fire a few warning shots over the heads of the coyotes ...to try to get rid of them.....

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  18. Maybe a little overnight roadtrip distraction. Motel 6 will leave the light on for you and Smooch. Glad she's feeling better (and you too!).

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  19. Hills W/D is what the vet put Scrappy on when his digestive tract started going downhill, and it did correct the problem. I'm glad your vet and my vet are on the same page.

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  20. Also coyote related, I wonder if Smooch picked up some parasite/bacteria from them doing their own poops in the area.

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  21. So thankful sweet, beautiful Smooch is on the way to recovery. I appreciate the spoiler alert at the beginning of this post too. I think you and Smooch deserve a vacation!!

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  22. Poor girl! All that vigilance really gets to a person! Glad shes on the mend.

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  23. poor girl! overworked, overstressed! hope you can find a nice cruise holidays with her in the spring

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  24. That was scary and glad you said all okay first. I can see how the coyotes would upset her as they are predators and would threaten all that she protects. It's hard to fully grasp how animals think about something. Good vet :)

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  25. An American in Tokyo1/19/15, 5:52 PM

    Omigoodness!! Thank God you know Smooch well enough and that she is getting better now. =)

    I hope the coyotes go away sooner than later...

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  26. Oh Carson, what a scare!!!! Glad she is on the mend. Diffuse some lavender at night to help her with the stress of such a hectic job :) Glad you are letting her take some time off from her ranch security post. Everyone needs a break from time to time.

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  27. That girl takes her job seriously! I would say she could come here for a little r and r but we have those dang coyotes too.

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  28. Coyotes. Too many! Must go! Aunt Jean

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  29. I just spit my night time bagel out due to the fact I was scared reading this info. I know you warned it turns out good. Mercy, shoot at those buggers, not to kill of course. Prayers for the best looking guard dog in New Mexico!

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  30. I can't believe how well you know us....as I paused my skimming through quickly,,planning to skip all to the end to face the potential disaster, my eye caught what I had rushed by in the very beginning, your note that it ends well...lol. Thank God. Phew. Keep us posted. Is there no coyote repellant? 💗

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  31. Glad Smooch is recovering. That was very scary and yes, thank you for the spoiler alert! I think I would be upset, too, if all those coyotes were on MY property (from Smooch's point of view!)...Is there some way you can scare them off?

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  32. I am so Glad Smooch is ok. I had no idea about the stomach in dogs that it was their stress center. Very informative. Thanks Smooch for the lesson, but I feel bad you felt bad! Ignore those silly coyotes! Go dig a hole and pretend you are burying them critters! Good Stress relief right there! :)

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  33. 9 are too many to have around! Have you considered thinning the pack? I shot one and then never saw a coyote for 6 months. They learn fast!

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    1. I fired a warning shot above their heads today and they all ran off in different directions. Let's hope they got the message!

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    2. An American in Tokyo1/20/15, 5:30 PM

      Yay! Good!

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  34. I knew the good outcome, and my stomach still knotted up. Hallelujah.

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