Thursday, December 30, 2010

Do Dogs Have Nine Lives Too?

We nearly lost Chester last night.

He has a tendency to gobble whatever food he can find and or sneak. Yesterday afternoon I found him with his head in the dog food bag which I thought I had twisted shut. Apparently he found a corner open and was doing his best to empty the bag and fill his belly.

What I didn't know at the time was how much he got.

An hour later I fed the dogs and I noticed that Chester wasn't eating. That is highly unusual, to say the least! Then I noticed he was looking slightly uncomfortable and his belly seemed to be larger. I figured that was probably from earlier. He's bloated before from getting stuff out of the garbage so I thought I'd just keep an eye on him.

About an hour later he looked even rounder. I forced two anti gas pills down his throat. That has always been my past remedy and though he would be uncomfortable by the next morning he was always better and the belly swelling was always reduced.

He wanted out so I let him out. A couple minutes later I went to call him in but he didn't come. Since it was dark by this time I got the flashlight and found him laying in the cold, wet grass. I got him up and was shocked at the size and tightness of his belly. I got online and found an emergency vet. It turned out to be the veterinary hospital I had been planning on taking the dogs and cats to when it was time anyway.

I called the number and the operator said he'd have the on-call doctor call me. Within minutes I got a call back and he told me to meet him at the clinic. My husband and I packed Chester into the car and away we went.

Minutes later we met the vet and he did a quick exam. He wasn't very optimistic about Chester's prognosis. He was fairly certain his gut had twisted and he said even with surgery there was only a 50-50 chance of Chester making it through. We kind of hemmed and hawed, neither one of us really wanting to make "the" decision. Then the vet suggested an x-ray, which would show if it were a twisted gut for sure. We quickly agreed to that and the on-duty tech was called.

She arrived moments later and Chester was whisked into another room for x-rays. In just another few minutes we were called in and the vet showed us where the stomach had expanded and was pressing the main veins (arteries?) along the spine, effectively shutting off blood flow, and the bladder and small intestine were pushed way back from where they were supposed to be. So no twisted gut.

The vet thought at that point that surgery wouldn't be necessary and Chester may be able to be saved. He put a tube down Chester's throat. The hope was that the stomach would essentially be pumped, thereby relieving the pressure. The problem now seemed to be that the tube was getting stuck at one point. He and the technician tried several times and even switched to a smaller tube. They switched back to the larger tube and finally the tube went in.

But now nothing was coming out. They sucked on the tube in an attempt to get things moving but nothing was happening. Once again the vet gave us our options. One was surgery to manually remove the stomach contents. But now the chances of surviving the surgery were pretty close to nil. The other option was to "let him go".

No sooner did the words "no surgery" come out of my mouth than the technician exclaimed there was movement in the tube and the stomach contents were coming out. The vet went back to work. After about thirty to forty minutes of pressing on his belly and repurposing the operating room suction machine (usually used to suction blood during surgeries) to help Chester's abdomen was finally getting down to normal size. Another x-ray showed the pressure was definately off the veins but the small intestines were still not quite where they should have been.

Chester was allowed to wake up and he was placed in a kennel with a heating pad, hot water bottles, and blankets, and was hooked up to an i.v. He received several injections to help with pain and residual gas. He wasn't out of the woods yet but the worst was over for now.

This morning I got a call from the vet informing me that he and Chester had gone for a walk around the parking lot and the difference was remarkable. Chester managed to gobble a 1/2 cup of food down and was obviously feeling better. After a few more tests to check potassium levels and whatever else he would be able to go home this afternoon.

Chester is home now and he looks like he feels great.

My husband wondered if we'd need to take out a loan to cover the bill. I was cringing right before the receptionist told me the amount. Was I in for a shock. It was probably about one quarter of what I would have had to pay the emergency vet in Bakersfield.

Another thing about that veterinarian. It just so happens that he is originally from Bakersfield! It's a small world, isn't it!


Anonymous said...

It is a remarkably small world indeed!

I am so glad Chester made it!! His story, as relayed by his owner, is moving and compelling. Even though I saw his photo (with tell tale bandage) and knew he was alright, fingernails were bitten due to the tense situation described, and the potential cost of such excellent care. You are very blessed to have such a good vet on such short term (emergency) notice. I'm glad that "all is well"!
Love, M

Anonymous said...

That poor little guy!! How scary, but they are our family!
I guess the Anniversary dinner probably came out of a take out bag at this point!
Glad he is home!!
(Perhaps a tight fitting garbage can/lid) :0)

Kathy said...

Oh scary......glad that Chester is going to be OK.
I'm betting that he saw Dr. Martin at Baileys! :-) We love the Vets there!
(((hugs))) Kathy H

~M~ said...

Oh how scary! I know how hard it can be when you have to make such an important decisions with pets. What a relief it must have been when things started to look better for him!! I am glad he's okay! I too was wondering about the extreme cost of his emergency care!! Thank goodness it wasn't as bad as you had thought! :o)


tina f. said...

Kathy, you are 100% right! They are so nice there! And thanks Patti, M, and ~M~! ☺

Anonymous said...

Oh my goodness! Very scary. Glad Chester is OK!

What a small world, indeed.