Thursday, March 4, 2010

Chloe's health is worsening

Yesterday I had the mobile vet come to give the dogs their annual shots and check-ups. Usually the dogs go to our regular vet, but Darlin’, our rescued stray, needed a heartworm recheck so I decided since I was paying the vet to see Darlin’, I might as well have them all taken care of at home. It sure beat splitting them up in pairs and taking them at two different times. It was very convenient having to only walk out my front door to her mobile unit.

Darlin’ went first. She was fearful as I expected, but she did walk up into the truck alone. She went and cowered on the scale so getting her weight was easy. She weighed in at 47 lbs and is overweight. No surprise, she is inactive and prefers to live her days and nights at my feet. She was 34 lbs one year ago when she saw the vet the first time. At that point I had been feeding her 8 months, six months while living on the streets and two months here at home. She had a lot of exercise while living alone and out in the elements. Now the most exercise she gets is a little time out in the yard and occasionally a good run with Toby, her buddy who she’s bonded with. I knew she was too fat, but 13lbs up was a shock to me! All of the skin that hung below her tummy from having puppies before we met has filled in and is nothing but fat. I’d like for her to lose 10 lbs. She didn’t budge or make a sound during her exam and shots. She is heartworm negative! I had a feeling the results would be good because she no longer has labored breathing. We are thankful.

stray rescue

Toby was next. He had his shots, his teeth examined, and his nails trimmed, as they all did. He does not like his feet or ears messed with. Last week it took 30 minutes of massaging him for me to trim the five longest nails! The technician had to hold him tight as he wiggled and moaned to free himself from her grasp. Every time the vet trimmed off a nail we would say, “Good Boy!” His tail began to wag and it got easier. Her scale weighed him at 14.8 pounds. She was amazed, but he doesn’t have an ounce of fat on him. She commented about how much muscle he has now and how he only weighed 11lbs when she trimmed his nails for me last year. I told her how he had only been out of the pound a month at that time and that we think he was right at a year old. At one year dogs are at adult size, but most dogs are not at adult weight until they are 1 1/2 - 2 years old, under normal diet and circumstances.

broken coat jack russell

Bonnie was very submissive, tail lowered and curled under as much as it could. She didn’t make a sound when she got her shots or her nails trimmed and she trembled like a leaf when I carried her out. Bonnie doesn’t like visiting the vet at all; no amount of sweet talk will get a tail wag out of her. She weighed in at 19 lbs, exactly what she weighed last year. Bonnie could lose 1-2 pounds which won’t be hard now that our weather is warming up.

jack russell

Sam, the role model and perfect mascot for any mobile vet. He ran up into the truck wagging his tail and greeted the vet and assistant with tail wags and kisses. He went straight to the scale to sniff and his weight was 56.7 lbs! He weighed 48 lbs when we adopted him less than 5 years ago. He did fine with his exam, nail trim, and check-up, but he screamed when she drew blood. Sam will be 10 years old this December. Because of his age she prefers to do a blood test on older dogs to check for early signs of kidney problems or other possible diseases. If the vet had allowed me to hold his leg still instead of letting it dangle, he wouldn’t have pulled back and lost the needle three times. Next year I will hold his leg and she will only have to stick him once! After he had his blood drawn he sat there with his ears flat against his head and looked like a wounded puppy, but he still had it in him to lean over and kiss the technician. You gotta love Sam!

blue heeler

Chloe was last. She ran into the truck excited and ready to meet and greet. Chloe has a collapsed trachea so I talked to the vet about her snorting like a pig when she eats, her frantic breathing when she gets excited, and her teeth because I swear this dog has gum disease for being so young. Chloe had lost two teeth before she was three years old, she has the plaque and tarter of an old dog and her breath is so bad sometimes it will turn your stomach. Last year my vet complimented my dog’s teeth and asking me what I fed them. At the time I questioned whether he had examined them thoroughly because Chloe’s teeth and breath were already bad for a five year old dog. I suppose what I told the vet led her to look further. She asked if she could x-ray Chloe. I thought she was going to see if her trachea was narrowing more. She took x-rays of her chest instead. When she put the x-ray up for me to see, she said, “If I were to just glance at this x-ray, what do you think I would say to myself?” I looked at the x-ray and without a doubt in my mind I knew, “She has an enlarged heart.”

canine heart disease

enlarged heart

Chloe weighed 24 lbs so she needs to lose 4-5 lbs. I’d like her to have an ultrasound to make sure that her distended stomach is not a fluid build up related issue. Chloe always feels bloated to me, especially after she eats, which has concerned me for the last few years.


So what causes Coronary Heart Disease in Dogs? Some dogs may be predisposed it. Chloe probably is considering her declining heath since she was a year old when we discovered her collapsed trachea. Some research shows low levels of Taurine deficiency may contribute to enlarged heart. I found this website helpful in researching dog food and canine dietary needs, The Dog Food Project.

My dogs eat meat several times a week and eat canned dog food, supposedly a meat food. I checked the label of Predigree and what do you think the first ingredient is? Water! Grains and by-products too. Dogs don’t eat grains naturally. If they lived in the wild they would get their grains from the stomachs of the animals they eat, not by going out and grazing in a wheat field. I have tried a raw meat diet, but I don’t live near a butcher so it’s not something we can afford.

People should feed their dogs what they can afford. I have recently cut down on our dog food expenses by mixing some dry into their dinner. I’m switching to Taste of the Wild Wetlands dry and going to spend the money I would on canned food for five dogs to whole foods and prepare their foods myself. I already boil chicken once a week for them so now I will make enough chicken and ground beef to take the place of their canned food. I’ll probably give them the ground beef raw. I think it would be cheaper for us than to buy the highest quality canned food. I’ll let you know if I can do this. The dogs need to lose weight so a higher protein based diet should help. The only carbohydrates they will get will come from natural occurring starches in sweet potatoes and carrots, maybe some peas. I have more research and reading to do. The vet thinks cutting out on a few treats a day will help with their weight loss. I’ve already been breaking treats in half and my husband understands the importance of doing his part now. He sometimes gives two treats! It’s his fault! ;o)

I’ve checked my records from a year ago and there are some weight discrepancies between the two vet’s scales, but it’s obvious that at least three of the dogs need to lose more than a few pounds. Other than the weight issues and Chloe’s findings, the other dogs were all healthy.

You may have noticed we had some snow last month here in Alabama. It was nice for the dogs, but not so good to me. I took this picture right before I fell down these stairs!


The water in the wood was frozen which made the steps very slick. I managed to break my fall by grabbing the railing. My foot prints were on the bottom two steps so I slipped down 13 of them. I was pretty bruised up. My arm was really bruised from breaking my fall, I guess it slammed into the railing. My butt was black until about a week ago. The worst was the back of both calves hit so hard one still has bruise all the way across the back and is just now turning blue. It is and was quite deep in the muscle. I have a lot to be thankful for since it was no worse than that. Not long after I fell I had my son put up baby gates and we used the downstairs entrance until the temperatures warmed up.

Our area didn't get an inch, other areas had several inches.

alabama snow


  1. Isn't it interesting how the different pups react differently to being examined? We are so sorry to hear about Chloe's issues. We will keep our paws crossed that things will work out.

    That was one nasty fall. Ice on wood steps is really treacherous. Be careful and feel better.

    Woos, Phantom, Thunder, and Ciara

  2. I loved your account of the mobile vet! We have nothing like that here where we live in SA. It's something to think about since my daughter is doing veterinary...mmm. Your vet sounds very nice and very thorough too. How nice for the pack not to have to travel out of their environment for these examinations!
    Im really sorry to hear about Chloe. she looks such an adorable fluffball and I know how these health issues eat at us(Their owners). Hang in there - and do get better from that horrible fall.
    Sorry I haven't been around for a while. I love your blog and I enjoy your writing.

  3. We are so sorry to hear that Chloe is worse. She looks so pretty and happy. Hope all your bruises heal quickly.

    love & wags,