Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Confessions From a Heartworm Positive Dog Owner

Joey's Heartworm treatment has been progressing well.  The week after his first Immedicide shot was the worst- although he wasn't as sore as I've read some dogs are, he was pretty tired and quiet. Was this from the tramazone or just from the excitement of being at the vet's all day? Maybe a bit of both? I was worried.

Heartworm directive calls for several weeks of crate or bed-rest following treatment, with only short potty breaks.  This is to give the worms time to break up and dissolve without causing a clot or embolism from running/jumping/playing. Makes sense. BUT now comes confession time: I wasn't as great about this as I should have been.  I mean, first week I was pretty strict (for me, and I’m not that great with regimens): Short leash walks, no wrestling with Lela. No going upstairs into the loft and our morning jogs were stopped.  During the day I was at the office and per usual, Joey was crated. When I was home in the evenings, we spent the time hanging out on the couch (yes, I let him get on the furniture).

A few days after the initial shot, Joey got very "phlemy." I heard that this is part of the worms breaking-up process.  It only lasted a few days but boy was he loud! I was especially careful to keep him quiet during this time since things were breaking up. Saturday and Sunday he got more tranquilizer pills to snooze the days away. Lela was a bit miffed that there was no wrasslin' or action of any type, but I tried to get her out on her own and keep her happy. It pretty much worked. She didn't try to kill me in my sleep anyway.

So, that was that. A Good, Quiet First Week.

The Next Two Weeks? 

Yeah. Discipline kind of went out the window. I did try to keep the dogs from wrasslin', and our jogs were still on hiatus, but Joey had walks (nothing like our usual 2+ miles though) and would run around the yard barking when I let him out to potty- his typical M.O. He got to experience his first snow, too, which was phenomenal- how do I stop him from playing in THAT?! There was no clot, no embolism, he was fine afterwards. Was I being risky with his health? Maybe. Was I a horrible disciplinarian? Hell yeah. I've always sucked at structure. *Sigh*

Joey had his last two shots last week, back to back- another shot re-administered on the left side of his back (the same place as last time), and then the right side as well. He was definitely sore and swollen this time with both so he got a prescription of Rimadyl for pain. We still had Tramazone left over to use as needed (and I did use it the weekend to keep him mellow). So things were super quiet the first two days after. But now the work week has started up again and I'm exhausted and emotionally unfit to be Miss NoPlay. So Joey has had free time in the yard to explore at will and is loping around to his heart's content.  I suppose I should be uber-strict and leash him, then crate him otherwise, but I just don't have it in me. I wasn't at enforcing bed-rest with my greyhounds (Jack and his Illiopsoas tear) and I sure as hell aren't any better with Joey and his Heartworms.

My vet told me that the first week after the shots is the worst- you really need to worry about them moving around to much. So I really tried after the shots were administered but admittedly was a bit lax beyond that. As of today, Joey is 11 days out from his last 2 shots and doing fine. We even started jogging again yesterday (well, it's more of a slow trot for him) and  have resumed our longer (3+ mile) walks.

I decided to blog this "confession" after trolling the internet and finding nothing but stories of devout dog owners who stuck tooth-and-nail to 2 months of bed rest/crate rest for their Heartworm Positive dogs. Who came up with awesome and fun activities to do while stuck in a cage, who dealt with the impatience and whining and stress like Saints. Sorry universe, I'm not that patient!!!! And thankfully Joey - who had a "light" HW case and had no organs affected- came out okay with that. Thank you God and Amen.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Cody, the Pet Portrait Pup!

Back in November I wrote about the Team Inch Pet Portrait Auction, and how I was one of the artists asked to auction off a pet portrait with the proceeds going to Team Inch Sighthound Rescue. Would you believe the winner of the auction asked me to draw a Havanese!! They are a rare Cuban breed that only became AKC-eligible in the late '90's. Here's Cody, owned by winner Barb- isn't he a cutie?

Getting started on the portrait....

And here it is finished!

"Cody" - 8x10 colored pencil on black Canson paper 

I love working with colored pencil on black paper. It really makes the color "pop" and gives a different texture and atmosphere than cp on white. My first dog, Rudy, was a cockapoo-terrier mix and although she was bigger and differently colored than Cody, she had that same rakish look. Working on Cody brought back lots of memories of the MILLIONS of drawings I used to do of her. She was born in 1985 and passed away in 2001- quite a girl! Viva la scruffy dog!


Friday, December 5, 2014

Sick as a Dog

It's been a bummer of a month at the Zalewski house. Joey began his Heartworm treatment and is on "crate rest." Lela decided to kick off the holidays with a colossal allergic reaction to something that put her in the hospital three days in a row.

 I remember as a kid that Heartworm was a death sentence for an animal. Nowadays there's hope, which is great for Joey (and Lela, who also had it). It's a dangerous disease; but I have to admit that it's mostly EMBARRASSING. Heartworm is entirely preventable with a once-a-month pill. I sweat bullets posting Joey updates on Facebook or when I call the vet for his Heartworm treatment appointment because I worry people will think I'm a bad dog owner. Do they think I skipped his preventative because I was cheap? Do they think I'm neglectful?!? Careless?! That I was playing Russian Roulette with his life?!?! Total paranoia, right? But I didn't give Joey Heartworms, he picked it up when he was living down south. In this former home. During his time at the shelter. Somewhere, SOMEWHERE, but not here.

But still.

I think I'd be less paranoid if he had an STD or something, for gosh sake!!

Anyway, for any readers wondering about the treatment of HW- there seems to be a 2-stage treatment. No, 3. Let's call it the 3-Prong Attack on Beating Heartworm, if we must. 

First Line of Attack is pre-treating the heartworms

Second Line of Attack is the round of immedicide shots (Joey will have 3)

 Third Line of Attack (worst for the owner, I think) is 2-3 months of CRATE REST for the infected dog, as the immedicide works its charm. 

  • Joey started his First Line of Attack, the pre-treatment, in September. That included:
  • Bloodwork checks (Joey had 3 actual tests JUST to make sure he was HW+, because he threw a false-negative at one point. Oye vey). 
  •  Had a screen for microfilaria (baby Heartworm) 
  •  X-rays to make sure he didn't have any organ damage from the infection, and was healthy enough to undergo treatment. 
  •  About 2 weeks of Doxycycline pills, to kill an infection that Heartworms carry.

This took approximately 3 months, and during this time Joey was given Heartguard pills (once per month) to kickstart the Second Line of Attack:

On November 21st, Joey was hospitalized for the day to get his first real "treatment." First of all, he received a Tramazone shot (light sedation, to calm the wigglies) and then a shot of Rimadyl for pain. A small patch was shaved on his lower back, right to the side of his upper pelvic bone, and he was injected with Immedicine. Apparently it's a very painful shot and very large. Joey spent the day in a crate at the vets being monitored. He'll get two more shots like this on December 18th and 19th.
Now, is the hard part, which is the Third Line of Attack, which kind of coincides with the Second. And this is waiting for the Immedicide to kill the Heartworms.  "No heavy activity," the vet said. "Crate rest. Leash walks in the yard. No running, no jumping, no roughhousing with other dogs." The worms are dying in Joey's heart. If he gets his heart racing, clumps of the worms could break off and migrate into his bloodstream causing a life-threatening clot.


How do you keep a wiggly, on-the-go Foxhound down?? 

Not to be outdone, Lela woke up Thanksgiving morning with the right side of her face the size of a football, and her one eye practically swollen shut. What the-??? Immediately I was in Freak-Out mode. She had been restless all night but I had attributed that to a lack of exercise the day before- it was snowing pretty hard so I decided to keep everyone indoors. Sorry Charlie, no walkies. Lela's a pretty active dog and she can also be a bitch, so I just assumed the restlessness all night was payback for no walk. Nope. It looked like she had, at some point in the yard, ran into a branch or tree limb and did heavy damage to her face. Plus there were 2 spots of vomit in the living room, and Lela isn't a puker. I loaded her in the car and we made it to the Emergency Clinic just before the Turkey Day rush. Huzzah. After a thorough check, the vet diagnosed an allergy attack treated her with shots of Benadryl (for swelling) and a shot of Pepcid (for her stomach).

"Are you sure?" I kept asking. "Are you sure she didn't run into a tree?"

Within 25 minutes of the shot, Lela's eye was open and her face was relatively normal (magic). So yeah, I reluctantly agreed the vet was right. $150 later and we went home and packed for Thanksgiving at my parents' house. Lela was a little subdued but normal. She got no leftovers. Once home, I cooked up a bland rice & white-turkey dinner.

About 8 o'clock she threw it up. And she continued to throw up ALL THROUGH THE NIGHT. In the morning, her face was swollen up again, poor kid! She looked awful!

I called my vet as soon as they opened at 7:30 and instead of spending money on Black Friday shopping, we spent it for Black Friday vet work.

Poor Lela was severely dehydrated and was in the hospital all day. She received IV's for fluid and more shots of Benadryl and Pepcid. Normally they'd also do steroids, but because Lela had such an upset stomach they decided not to.

Lela came home with a prescription for Cerenia for her stomach, felt much better and spent the night relatively well (except asking to pee a few times, but given her IVs all day I wasn't surprised). She didn't really want the canned EN special-diet food for dinner, but it didn't look that appetizing to me either. So I chalked it up to being too blah and a too-big day.

NEXT day. Saturday morning. I got up, looked at Lela, and was like- "Huh. Is this dog swelling up again??" 


Off to the vet AGAIN. THIS time they decided to do the steroids, despite her stomach. She just needed something powerful to get her over that hump. Poor LeeLee got a shot of Predisone and to stave off dehydration –the hospital closed at noon and the next day was Sunday- they gave her "subcutaneous fluids." It was the grossest thing I ever saw. The techs took her out back and inflated her neck with fluids- like a misshapen canine/camel monster- so that during the day she'd be hydrated even if she refused water or vomited more. Now- I admit, I have a queasy stomach- but it was so horrific I actually started dry-heaving in the waiting room, staring at that hump and watching fluid trickle out the needle hole. No, no, no. 

NO. But no worries. I ended up holding my cookies (thankfully). And over the rest of the morning at home, Lela absorbed the water in her neck like an good canine/camel monster would. She got 3-4 small meals of the EN canned food per day (which she ate right up) and prescriptions for more Prednisone, the Cerenia, and Flagyl. She also got 2 Benadryl tablets 3 times per day (per vet's orders, the regular stuff you get at the pharmacy).

AND now, a week later, Lela is "relatively" back to normal. She's done with the Cerenia. Done with the Benadryl 3x per day. Done with the Flagyl. Pred is down to every 2 days. Her stools are a little loose but better than before. And I'm left wondering, WHAT THE HELL DID MY DOG GET INTO TO CAUSE SUCH A COLLOSAL ALLERGIC REACTION????


There's been no food change lately. No scraps out of the ordinary. No biting bug infestations in the house (and it's November and freezing outside, so no bee stings to worry about). No new cleaning products or laundry detergent. The only thing I can think of is that 4 days before the outbreak, Lela and Joey got generic pressed rawhides from the local feed mill and they had been working on those for the past few nights. They were sealed in unlabeled, clear plastic bags. But Lela has been getting rawhides and junk (Dentastix, Chewnola, the like) several times a week for the past 3 years. Sometimes EVERY night. Would that trigger something now--?!? It just seems so… random.

So that is the really long drawn-out detailed drama regarding our November. Fingers crossed Lela continues to improve and Joey's final 2 Immedicide shots go as planned. I can't take the stress!