Welcome to Shiba...What?

I chose that name because that was probably the first thing I said when I heard about the breed. And, I get that quite often when I have the girls out and they meet new people. Most people have never heard of the breed, although we do occasionally run into someone who actually knows what they are! I do know one thing and that is Shiba owners love to see other Shibas and read about other Shibas. I recently came across I Am Shiba and within a few days, read the whole blog. Many times I found myself laughing so hard I was on the verge of tears. LOL While not every dog is the same, there are enough similarities. Through this blog, I would love to share how I came to have these two beautiful girls, what we have been though and what we are up to. Occasionally even the girls will add their input, they can be very opinionated you know.

Friday, October 8, 2010

I just cringe.....

I'm sure a lot of you have watched the Shiba puppy cam.  I came across it when the first litter was about 2 weeks old. It was fun watching the Shiba puppies grow up and move on to new homes.  There is one thing that really bothered me by the cam, the fact that they let their dogs destuff the toys.  And, everyone thought is was so cute!  I don't think a lot of people realize how dangerous that seemingly innocent action can be!  There is a reason why most if not all toys for dogs have warning labels on them.

Dogs don't have the same abilities as humans to get things out of their mouths.  They are either able to spit it out, or swallow it.  Fluff tends to stick to wet surfaces like the mouth and most times it can end up being swallowed.  And, some dogs just seem to like to eat things that are not edible.  While small amounts of fluff rarely causes a problem, if large amounts are ingested at one time, it can lead to some pretty serious complications.  Let me tell you a story.

Sami and Miko were going on 2 years old when we decided to expand their horizons around the house and let them go upstairs.  Not the bedrooms, but the hallway and bathroom.  They had great fun going up and down the stairs.  One day it just seemed a little too quiet upstairs and I went to investigate.  Here Sami had figured out how to get the vanity doors open and she pulled the trashcan and it's contents out into the hallway.  I shooed her down the stairs and picked up the mess and closed the bathroom door.  The door remained shut to them until I could install baby locks on the vanity doors.

Fast forward 2 months and the girls celebrate their 2nd birthday with a venison and potato cake decorated with kibble and treats.  We used Sami's food since she has to eat a special diet.  She was diagnosed just a little over a year earlier with Inflammatory Bowl Disease.  She was doing great, so it was really a nice celebration.  But, little did we know that the damage had already been done when she got into the trash can 2 months earlier.

A couple weeks later, I noticed a change in her stools, they were the consistency of pudding.  I thought maybe she had eaten something she wasn't supposed to have and gave her just a little more prednisone.  By Friday morning, it didn't seem to be getting any better, but otherwise, she seemed to be doing okay.  I work 3rd shift and on Fridays I try to get as much done as I can before I take a nap.  Well, I was right in the middle of my nap when my daughter woke me up to say that Sami had thrown up.  She said other then that, she seemed fine.  Well, our vet was closing in just a few minutes, so I told her we would just keep an eye on Sami and if it got worse, we would just take her down to Indianapolis Veterinary Referral.

Saturday comes and she threw up a couple more times and her stools were not any better. So, I called down to Indy to see if Dr. Speiser was going to be on duty Sunday.  He was not, but they said a Dr. Smith would be there and that she had helped with Sami the year before and was familiar with the case.  So, I told them we would get there around noon on Sunday.  Another thing I had noticed that Sami had been doing the last couple days was pull her stomach up when I would put her harness on.  I thought that was just her way of protesting us putting the harness on.  (We later found out that that was a sign that her stomach hurt)

Sunday morning I got up thinking I would take a shower before heading down to Indy, but that was not to be.  Sami kept throwing up, over and over.  So, we just grabbed what we needed and headed down to Indy.  We took a trash can with us and Sami was very good about throwing up in the can.  We called on the way down and Dr. Smith was waiting on us.  She said that Sami was getting dehydrated and they would want to keep her on IV fluids at least over night.  She said she would run a few test so see if she could determine what the problem was and would call us if they found out anything.  So, we headed back home.

We were barely in the door when she called to tell us that Sami had Pancreatitis.  The only way to treat it was to keep her on an IV diet for three days to keep the pancreas from working.  She said she had never seen pancreatic values that high.  They actually had to dilute it to get the results.  Dr. Speiser called me the next day and he felt it was caused by the prednisone.  He said she was on such a small dose that he didn't feel she needed it anymore.  So, they took her off of it and after 3 days, the pancreatic values returned to normal and they had me pick her up.  They told me it might take a couple days to get her appetite back since she hadn't eaten anything by mouth for 3 days.  

Well, after a couple days, we still were not able to get her to eat much and when we did finally get her to eat something, she threw it up.  So, we called Indy and they said to bring her back.  They wanted to do an endoscopy to see if they saw signs of the IBD.  If they did, she would have to go back on Prednisone.  We had already discussed options on what to do if she still needed something for the IBD.  There were only 2 other options, the one medicine was known to cause Pancreatitis and the other medicine was so expensive, I would not be able to afford it.

So, they did the endoscopy and that is when they found the reason she got the pancreatitis.  They found a blockage in the duodenum which is the first part of the small intestine.  The pancreatic duct is located there.  Dr. Speiser called me and said it looked like a big wad of hair.  He said he tried to remove it with the endoscopy tools, but it wouldn't budge.  He said he would have to surgically remove it.  He said that since she didn't have a good appetite, he also wanted to install a feeding tube to use until her appetite returned to normal.  So, she had to stay there 2 more days and then we went to pick her up.

Poor thing, she had the big cone of shame on to keep her from messing with her staples and her neck was all bandaged up with a feeding tube sticking out.  He said he wanted the feeding tube to stay in at least a week after she was eating well on her own, just to be on the safe side.  He saved the hairball to show us and said it was the biggest hairball he ever removed from a dog.  It was human hair.  My daughter and I both have long hair and my daughter cleans out her hairbrush and throws the hair in the trashcan in the bathroom.  So, what we didn't know was that the day she got into the trashcan, she ate a big wad of hair.  Then over time, other things started accumulating with it.  This hairball was the size of my closed fist.  I ended up taking the hairball home to show my vet.  He in turn took it to one of the classes he teaches to let the students look at it.

So, something as innocent as hair caused a life threatening situation for Sami.  It was also a very expensive experience for me, her total vet bill came to just over $6,000.  But, she is so worth it.  She is such a good dog and she and her sister make my life so much better.  After all this, my daughter found a case on the internet about this dog that kept getting pancreatitis and they kept treating it.  The dog eventually died and they decided to do an autopsy.  They found out that the dog had chewed off the top of a rubber kong toy and swallowed it.  It too was stuck in the duodenum.  It has now been a little over 1 1/2 years since this happened and Sami has been healthy ever since, eating her special diet and taking a small dose of prednisone everyday.

So please everyone, keep an eye on your dog when they are playing with toys.  If they start tearing the fluff out or are chewing off pieces of the toy, it's cheaper to fix or buy a new toy then to have to go through what we did.  I don't want anyone to have to go through what we did.

Two is more fun then one.  

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