The last few months have been populated with several visits to the veterinarian. Natty has battled a stubborn ear infection. Pyxi’s had vulvitis, a bladder infection and some periodic incontinence. Ear drops and sprays for Nat, antibiotics for both of them have been our norm. Neither one of them has eaten well, in particular Pyxi. She’s been consuming less than half of her normal diet.
Both of them put on a couple of pounds while I was dealing with my chronic foot issues. They were not getting their customary amount of exercise during that time, plus it’s been so blistering hot that even when I can walk, I don’t push it with their little fur-coated bodies. During the summer, I don’t walk them later in the morning than 8 a.m. In the evening, we don’t go out until after 7 p.m. If you’ve ever wondered when the pavement or street are too hot for your dog’s paws, here’s an easy test. Hold your fingers or palm of your hand to the pavement for 7 – 10 seconds. If it’s too hot for you, it’s too hot for them.
Pyxi, dropped the most weight and I’ve been concerned that something else might be happening, but waited until she was done with her antibiotics to see if she would start eating more regularly again. However, by the time their follow up appointment arrived earlier this week, I was starting to get scared.
Our vet is wonderful. He ordered a full blood panel. While we waited for the results, he thoroughly examined her again from nose to tail with diagnostic instruments and hands-on touches. He called up her recent x-rays and studied them again to make sure nothing had been missed the last time. Thankfully, he neither felt nor saw any masses, misshapped organs or other things.
The blood results came back and some key levels were elevated, indicating kidney issues. Her kidneys are functioning at about 60%. My heart jumped and fluttered and I could feel myself getting scared. My vet and I have been friends a long time and he swiftly made sure I knew that this could all be a result of the recent infection and the strong antibiotics. He also went through the blood test line by line and showed me how other levels right away helped him rule out a couple major problems. I started to breathe again.
The first thing he wanted to do was to put her on a lower protein diet for two weeks and then run another blood test to see if her levels normalized. To achieve this diet, he wants me to cut out a third of her regular kibble and replace it with rice or pasta. In their evening meal, both dogs get a small scoop of some wet food too. Instead of that over the next two weeks, Dr. Mike wants me to give Pyxi some chicken. “I know how busy you are, but this won’t be too much for your to accomplish, will it?” he asked, although he already knew my answer.
I wouldn’t care if my days were three times busier than the President’s. If my dogs need me to cook rice and chicken for them, I will. I assured him it wouldn’t be a problem. (I cooked for my old Irish Setter for two years before he died.)
Thankfully, that night I still had some leftover grilled chicken in the fridge and some rice in the cupboard that I could cook up. I also boiled some pasta for variety. Friday night I bought a roasting chicken and some brown rice. All three of us will be eating from that chicken for much of the week. Let me just tell you that the dogs are loving it. I’m not sure whether Pyxi started to feel better after her appointment and naturally has more appetite than before, or whether it’s the novelty of rice, pasta and chicken that stimulates her eating, but she’s cleaning her bowl at both meals. (Natty doesn’t need the rice/pasta/chicken, but I don’t have it in me to deny him some bites when his sister is getting it. I don’t give him as much, but he too is now eating more reliably than he was.) I am relieved that she seems to be improving and am hopeful that her re-test in a week and a half will show that her levels are back to normal.
Here’s my point in tell you all this story. As soon as the veterinarian prescribed a change in diet for the sake of my dog’s health, I immediately complied. I went right into action mode to help my little girl feel better and recover from her ailment.
Doing this for her was automatic.
Unlike all of the years when I knew I need to change my food choices and eating patterns for the sake of my own health but didn’t make the necessary improvements.
Let this be a good reminder to myself. I should always resolve to treat myself with at least the same high level of caring and commitment as I devote to my furry family members.