First sign: Vomiting…
Second sign: Not eating…
If I’d waited any longer, I would be writing his eulogy!
The Saturday before Christmas, Potato was spitting up some water that he’d drank. Saturday evening, he had not had any interest in eating, which has never happened… ever! Saturday night, it was non-stop vomiting, so we rushed to the emergency clinic. First thing Sunday morning, the first clinic I called had AT LEAST a 3-hour wait before we could see the doctor, so I called my second choice, and they said they could get us in much faster! I was anxious to get answers as fast as possible because he was getting worse by the minute. Poor Potato couldn’t even hold his head up, very lethargic and weak, and continued to vomit, although I had ceased all water so that it would reduce the chances of vomiting. His skin tent showed incredible dehydration, so I knew it was serious! He was still walking, but it was prolonged, so we slowly sauntered into the Center of Veterinary Specialty + Emergency Care in Lewisville, TX.
Let me be clear; I don’t live close to Lewisville, AT ALL, but in a pet emergency, I cannot express how important it is to go to a clinic you trust if your pet can safely make the trip. Disclaimer: Any breathing problems need to go to the nearest emergency clinic along with any emergencies in which the pet is not considered stable! If you have any doubt, please go to the closest emergency clinic and consider transferring your pet if they are deemed stable, and you want to make the trip to a clinic or vet you trust. Even better, make sure you are currently trained in Pet CPR & First Aid so that you know how to assess their stability and what you can do in almost ANY pet emergency on your way to an emergency clinic!
The entire staff was excellent and immediately saw how sad and pathetic he looked and agreed that he was getting worse by the minute, although he was stable. I was beyond relieved to see a vet I knew walk into the room (who I coincidentally didn’t realize worked at this ER), and she and I both knew he was going to need to be admitted. Dr. Crystal Eng is beyond amazing, and Potato would not be here without her! We were looking at three possible causes for his acute life-threatening symptoms.
- He was suffering from acute pancreatitis (many causes but can suddenly come on without any warning).
- He ingested something he shouldn’t have.
- He was poisoned by something or someone possibly in the backyard without my knowledge. (yes, this really does happen more often than you think!)
- He had ingested an object that was now blocking his stomach and or intestines.
His bloodwork confirmed his acute pancreatitis, so we began treatment for that, gave him pain medication, and started him on IV fluids. It wasn’t painful when Dr. Eng pushed all over his abdomen, so a foreign body obstruction was further down on our list. He was admitted into their ICU unit for the night, and I went to visit him about 6 hours later without much improvement at all. I knew it would take time, and he was in the best hands. I couldn’t sleep a wink that night!
The next morning I picked him up to transfer him to my trusted vet clinic. As soon as we arrived, they took one look at him and were immediately concerned, as was I. He, unfortunately, didn’t look much better that morning (if not, actually worse) than he did the day before. His body wasn’t responding to the pancreatitis treatment, which meant something ELSE was the culprit. Now, we just had to figure out what!
After much discussion, we opted to go into surgery and perform what’s called an exploratory foreign body surgery to look through his intestines to find a blockage potentially… but what could possibly be stuck in there?
I’m a really paranoid dog owner! My dogs only have limited access to toys, and IF anything is torn up, I know about it, and I put pieces back together to make sure everything is accounted for! My dog would NEVER have a foreign body blockage… or would he??
Dr. Rachel Neese with CityVet Oak Lawn opened him up Monday afternoon and was amazed at how impacted his intestines were, WITH STRING! Cats eat strings, NOT pit bulls! The worst part is that I have NO IDEA where he found this string! I don’t have any string, crafts, rope toys, etc., that he could have chewed up. My best guess is that he found something outside that either blew into the yard or put there on purpose. Terrifying possibilities!
She had to go in and do 5 incisions throughout his intestines and 1 incision in his stomach. It was a nerve-wracking 2.5-hour surgery that took 2 doctors and 3 veterinary nurses. The string was tangled up and corrugating his intestines, twisting them up! Every veterinarian agreed; had we not gone in when we did, he would not have made it. They were so thankful that I was willing to take the risk of opening him up, despite the lack of “obvious” signs that he was blocked. I am so grateful that they went with their gut feeling and recommended it!
He came through anesthesia with flying colors with some nice pain medication and a 12-inch incision that he could brag about later to the ladies on the streets! Although the blockage was removed, he still had to beat pancreatitis! He’s had a long recovery through the healing process from all incisions, but he’s made it to getting his staples removed!
I kept everyone updated during those first few days as he continued his treatment only because he couldn’t seem to get his vomiting under control. He stayed several days in the hospital to continue his IV fluids and is now on a very controlled special diet to help him regain the 8lbs that he lost.
We are both incredibly grateful to all those who kept him and me in their thoughts and prayers through the last 2 weeks. We are even more grateful to those who donated to this life-saving surgery. Not that I regret one penny, but it was truly the most expensive Christmas gift I have ever given any of my pets, to the tune of almost $3,000! And he is worth every penny… he has a lot left to give and an amazing legacy to leave!
**If you’d like to donate, you can donate on PayPal.com by sending money as Family/Friends and then entering my email Beth@ . I promise you it goes 100% to his care and the programs he is involved in!