Perri and I had a scare this week. On Monday afternoon, Perri had some diarrhea. I chalked that up to all of the rich princess treats that she had at the agility trial in combination with the heat. Then she threw up bile that evening - Vince told me about this when I got home. He told me he was worried about her and I remember thinking that I wasn't. Not yet. The next morning she did not want her food - not really an event for Perri. I was working on the computer and she was laying in her bed and she got up and dry heaved. Then she brought up bile. I started to feel a little worried but thought it might be some empty stomach upset after having a goofy belly for the last day.
I left to take Ein to his cold laser appointment and run some errands and returned about 90 minutes later. I crumbled a meatball treat on Perri's food, I begged her to eat. She would not even eat a piece of the meatball and that worried me. Sometimes when Perri is refusing food, if I can get her to eat just one piece she responds like, "Oh yeah. I'm hungry!" No such luck this time. I got a shower and slowly got ready for work and walked upstairs to my bedroom to grab a shirt that I wanted to wear... My bedroom carpet was covered in splotches of brown, large puddles with spray marks - she had vomited with some force behind it. The dog bed was saturated in vomit. It was everywhere. And when I got closer to start to clean it up I started to see the blood clots. At least four of the piles and especially the dog bed had blood clots and chunks in. Cue: Panic! It terrified me how quickly the change happened. There was not a trace of blood in the bile that Perri had brought up either time, and none in the diarrhea. I remembered Monday morning, Perri refluxed and spit out saliva. I remember Tuesday she was refluxing and swallowing liquid back down - all of this was unusual.
My supervisor at work could spare me, my vet could get us in. They told me to come in right away. I was feeling some pretty intense terror. I will admit that I was shaking and crying on the way there. When I texted Vince what was going on he replied "Hang in There." and that undid me. I have never been so afraid for a dog of mine - there is nothing about blood clots in large amounts of vomit that can be good. Perri was unimpressed. She was extremely quiet and reserved. When we arrived the vet wanted a poop sample and I said I would try. Surprisingly Perri was willing to go after a short walk in the field behind the practice and I cringed waited to see what would come out when she "assumed the position" - but it was mostly solid with a little bit of soft. Okay. Whew. Good.
In the waiting room Perri was panting and that was not normal for her. She was also refluxing a lot. Perri does reflux when she is anxious but it is usually very mild. It was soon our turn and Perri was checked all over. No fever. The skin was checked for dehydration (the vet took a gentle handful of Perri's skin and observed the skin returning to it's normal position. In a dehydrated dog, the skin will stay pulled up.) Perri's abdomen was not tight and she was not guarding it when she was examined. Perri had an x-ray that was clear of foreign bodies (as far as an x-ray could show.) and she had bloodwork that came through normal. The vet felt the cause was gastroenteritis or a stomach ulcer. We both agreed that an ulcer is more likely in Perri's case. She is a generally anxious dog, she does have a history of mild reflux, she was in the heat all weekend at the agility trial...it just all could have added up to be too much.
I kept thinking over what treats Perri ate. What all she did. The lake water from her swims. What she was exposed to and what (asymptomatic) Molly was not. Molly has a more sensitive gut by far, but she was completely normal. I was feeding Perri some packaged dog treats that had been in my car since I opened them on July 8th...they were chewy treats. I wondered, but doubted, if that was the cause. I don't think I will ever know.
Perri was given electrolytes, injections: for nausea, of Pepcid and an antibiotic Flagyl. We were sent home with more pepcid and more flagyl. Perri is on a bland diet, we have been cooking her rice and hamburger and plain chicken. The first night Perri seemed in a lot better spirits. She ate her first meal of chicken and rice (as well as her first antibiotic pill) with enthusiasm, and then seemed to almost crash. She laid on the couch, nearly comatose, not sleeping but staring into space. She looked so uncomfortable. We had given her a small amount of food as we were told but it seemed like Perri's stomach was giving her a lot of discomfort dealing with food. A few hours later it was Kong time and Perri would not even look at her's - understandable but still sad for us. We knew she was feeling rough if she didn't want her Kong. (which was stuffed with more rice and chicken) I tried to get her to eat a Pepcid but she refused to eat even the small amount of ham that I had hidden the pill in (I know that ham is not ideal for her to eat, but it is her favorite and I wanted her to eat a pepcid.) When I took the dogs outside for their last potty of the night Perri wanted to go out, and in the excitement of my giving the other dogs their evening treats - she was willing to eat the pepcid laced ham. And then she slept so solid all night long.
Wednesday was better. Perri had an appetite and still absolutely no vomiting. She also had not pooped, which I was told is a side effect of the Flagyl. It would actually be over 2 days before Perri would poop again. Perri did not want her dinner but later that evening she was very excited about her Kong. She was chewing recreationally on one of the many bones laying around the house. Thursday felt very nearly back to normal. I walked Perri in the morning (to encourage pooping) and it did seem to tire her quickly. That is the one thing that is still lingering - Perri seems to tire quickly. Even last night we did two short Nosework searches in my cool basement and Perri was much slower than normal and panting when we were done. She was very excited when she alerted at source and her tail was wagging, I know she enjoyed herself, but it was a reminder that she will need time to feel normal again. And thinking about it, her stomach is probably still pretty raw if there is an ulcer in there trying to heal.
I still worry something worse is wrong with Perri. Time will only tell. The whole thing was a harsh and stark reminder of how quickly things can be taken away. Just that weekend Perri was running agility, swimming, rolling in dead clams and biting Molly. She was eating everything and anything. And just like that, she went downhill to very scarily sick. I am so grateful that she is feeling better, and has recovered in a fairly quick amount of time!