On HGE and your dog

September 3rd, 2014

If you are squeamish or adverse to reading about bodily functions, you may want to skip reading this post – that being said, if you have a dog it could help save your fur monster’s life, so please read on if you can. I’m going to try and be as detailed as possible in the hopes that it might be helpful to somebody.

Our beloved Panda bear is fine today. Bouncy, smiling, eyes and coat shining. Ten days ago she almost died. We still don’t know why, and likely never will, but her symptoms were specific enough that I think it’s important to share them.

On a Monday, Panda started exhibiting signs of minor indigestion. You know, nothing serious, just softer poop than usual. Every dog owner has experienced this. Dogs eat everything. Panda proudly subscribes to a strict policy of “eat now, ask questions later”. So naturally I decided to let things run their course, but I kept a watchful eye on her. A few days went by, nothing changed – she didn’t get better but she didn’t get worse, either. Everything else was the same. Appetite, mood, energy levels were all normal. I Googled “how long should I wait if my dog has indigestion”… I didn’t get a good answer, but I did stumble on a bunch of articles about a condition called HGE: Hemorrhagic Gastroenteritis. I had never heard of this condition before, and it sounded terrifying. I started watching Panda more carefully just in case, but she really seemed to be fine other than the mild tummy upset.

On Wednesday night, Panda woke me up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom. I let her out, puzzled – she’d never done this before. It was 3am and pouring rain; I followed her around with a flashlight, in my bathrobe and rain boots. She didn’t seem sicker than before, but the situation felt odd. We went back to bed and watched tv together before catching a few more hours of sleep. Thursday was business as usual: several walks, meals anticipated and enjoyed as always, chasing the ball in the backyard that evening.

On Thursday night, Panda woke me up three times. We must have slept two hours that night. She would try and go to the bathroom and very little would come out. She was acting a little hyper and I knew it was because she felt uncomfortable – I was really concerned at this point and decided to call the vet as soon as they opened the next day.

Friday morning, sleep-deprived and worried, I called the vet – thankfully they had a spot for me in about three hours’ time. I decided not to give Panda her breakfast just in case she had some kind of obstruction. She wasn’t happy about this but I somehow resisted her irresistible face. While we were waiting for her appointment to come around, Panda threw up. I got more anxious. She was getting worse. She went outside and lay down – this was the first time all week that she was showing signs of not feeling well. I sat near her and watched her. She stood up, began to go to the bathroom… and all that came out was a lot of water and blood. I felt my stomach drop down into my toes as total panic and fear took hold. No! I packed her up into the car and we arrived at the vet early – luckily they were able to see us almost immediately and within about 90 minutes from that terrifying moment in the backyard she was isolated and hooked up to an IV.

On HGE and your dog

Since Panda is a rescue, it was particularly heartbreaking as I knew that she probably thought I was abandoning her at her weakest and sickest – I went back that afternoon with a big towel that smelled like home and the vet was kind enough to let me sit with her for an hour. She tried incessantly to crawl out from under my feet and begged me with her eyes to let her come home. Nobody was able to tell me that she would be ok so it was a terrifying day. By that night they felt more confident that she was stabilizing so I went home and tried to eat, but the heartbeat of our house was gone and I could barely stand to be there. Third sleepless night, coming right up.

On HGE and your dog

The next morning, I called the vet as soon as they were open and received the best news: Panda was smiling and had eaten a tiny bit of food. So far she was holding it down. If she was able to hold down food, she’d be able to take her medication orally, and she’d be able to come home. A few hours later I got the ok: come and get her! Much to the hospital’s chagrin, as they had all fallen in love with her. Why am I not surprised.

Panda had to follow a pretty involved food and medication schedule for the next week, and she continued to lose a bit of blood for a few more days before things cleared up. But she continued to improve and is now back to her kibble, her carrots and her usual self. Needless to say, I have become a hovering nightmare. Panda has added “puzzled and annoyed” to her gallery of daily expressions.

Why am I posting this long story? Because: another sweet doggie in our neighbourhood got the same thing. Unlike Panda, she started bleeding in the middle of the night – and by the time she was seen by a vet the next morning, it was too late. She passed away hours later. I can barely imagine the kind of pain and sadness her family has experienced. She was a friend of Panda’s that we always made a point of saying hello to and cuddling with, and I was devastated to learn that she had died. The entire neighbourhood is in shock and worried for their own pets.

There are many theories circulating – it’s been a very rainy summer, things have been more damp than usual – maybe they ate a bad mushroom, or perhaps bacteria was growing on a toy or a bone and they ingested it accidentally. Perhaps they inhaled some pathogenic spores. Or, worse, perhaps they consumed poison that was left out by somebody – for rats or raccoons I guess, which is bad enough, but I can’t even bear to think that anybody was deliberately trying to poison anybody’s pets. I can confirm that Panda has had all of her shots and has been vaccinated against Parvovirus, which is a very serious and highly contagious disease that exhibits symptoms similar to HGE. I spoke with some officials at city hall, discussed the situation with a well-respected local vet just to get a second opinion, emailed all the neighbours I knew who had dogs, and went door-to-door for those whose names I didn’t know and whose emails I didn’t have. I’m writing this blog post because perhaps sharing what happened will help save your dog’s life.

All I can say is that I’m convinced Panda and our neighbour/dog friend were affected by HGE. This is a general condition that can be caused by many things, so it’s not very comforting to identify it as a cause because it doesn’t mean you can protect your dog any better. The only solution to HGE is to catch it as soon as possible, go straight to the vet, aggressively re-hydrate via an IV and pump their system full of antibiotics. Dogs often don’t show that they aren’t feeling well until they are in really bad shape – Panda was eating and otherwise behaving normally until Friday morning, but then she became dehydrated at lightning speed. In smaller dogs it can happen even more quickly.

If you ever see blood, or suspect dehydration, don’t wait – if it’s the middle of the night, go to an emergency animal hospital. But please, please – do not wait. Panda sends her best. xo

On HGE and your dog

And the winner is….

February 24th, 2014

Annabelle! Congratulations!! I’ll be sending you a 2014 My Dog Panda calendar tomorrow!

With a whopping three comments, this giveaway had VERY good odds, haha :) Thank-you so much, dear ladies, for participating! Panda sends you all kisses! xo

Happy Pandaversary!

February 21st, 2014

Happy Pandaversary!

*This giveaway is now closed – congratulations to Annabelle for winning!

Happy third Pandaversary! To commemorate three years of kisses, hugs, snow angels, grass rolling, car-trunk-hijacking, ball-non-retrieving, carrot-munching, cat-food-stealing, ear-scratching, tail-chasing and all-around smiley-ness and joy for life, I am giving away one of the few Panda calendars left in my possession. We have managed to sell almost all of them and I am so grateful – I can’t wait to make a collective donation to the Frontier Animal Society on your behalf!

Please leave a comment below if you’d like to participate for a chance to win a 2014 My Dog Panda calendar – I will be randomly selecting a winner on Monday. And as always, in honour of Pandaversary, feel free to do one of the following things today (or, continue to celebrate all weekend!)

- share hugs, kisses and smiles
- go for a walk outside
- take a nap or three
- eat some carrots

Panda will be getting even more love than usual today – if that is even possible. Have a wonderful weekend everybody!

Calendar Girl

December 17th, 2013

Here at Girlfriday, we like to give back. As 2013 winds down, I’m proud to have donated work and time this year to the very deserving and amazing Ten Oaks Project in Ottawa, as well as the tirelessly hard-working St. Mary’s Hospital Foundation in Montreal. This year, Panda asked if she could get in on the fund-raising fun – so we hatched up a little calendar project to give back to Panda’s favourite cause, because they are also the reason she is alive today. Now you can get your monthly dose of Panda even when the internet is out!

Panda Calendar 2014

I’m pretty excited to finally have a first offering in my Etsy shop, and extra-pleased that any profit these calendars make will be going straight to the Frontier Animal Society. We’re hoping to make this an annual fund-raising tradition!

Panda Calendar 2014

I’d like to give a big thanks to Mylène and Warren at Pazazz, who were very patient with me and did such a beautiful job on the printing. The 2014 My Dog Panda calendar is in a handy 5 x 7″ postcard format, printed on satin finish FSC-certified card stock – I love how it turned out. A special thanks also to my darling Christian, who helped take the pictures.

Click here if you’d like to purchase a 2014 My Dog Panda calendar for yourself or for the animal-lover in your life, and give back to an amazing, no-kill animal shelter to boot. It’ll give you the warm fuzzies, Panda style.

We love our calendar girl!

Happiness Is…

October 25th, 2013

Fall daydreaming. Best performed on a carpet of crunchy leaves, listening to the squirrels and taking deep breaths while the sun shines down and warms your fur face. Have a lovely weekend, everybody!

Fall daydreaming

Happiness Is…

February 23rd, 2013

A very furry mini side-project! As promised. All Panda, all the time. I’ll be posting several times a week with a mix of old and new at mydogpanda.com. Happy snowy weekend everybody!

Happiness Is... mydogpanda.com

Happy 2nd Pandaversary!

February 21st, 2013

Happy 2nd Pandaversary!

It’s the perfect day to come out of blog hibernation: it’s time to celebrate our second Pandaversary! Two years ago we met – last year we celebrated year 1. I can barely remember what life was like before Panda – she’s such a constant, happy, sweet, goofy presence in our daily lives. Her joie de vivre makes it really easy to appreciate things you would otherwise be groaning about – like mountains of snow in February. It comes as no surprise that Panda brings smiles to just about everybody she meets – she’s a real cheerer-upper, so if you’re having a low day, drop by my Instagram and prepare to smile. After some advice and requests from friends I’ve decided to start a Tumblr so that you don’t have to wade through the rest of my pesky life to get your Panda fix, so stay tuned for that. Here are a few ways that you can celebrate Pandaversary:

- Take a walk outside.
- Take a nap.
- Share kisses and hugs.
- Smile at a stranger.
- Eat some carrots.

Those are all on Panda’s agenda for today. We love you Panda! Happy Pandaversary!!

Don’t forget to support your local shelter. Thank-you Frontier Animal Society.

Happiness Is…

November 30th, 2012

Getting back into things after a few months away! Howdy and nice to be back. Everybody needs a little break now and then. Speaking of breaks…

Happiness Is... back!

Have a wonderful weekend everyone!

Crankiness Is…

August 30th, 2012

See what I did there?

Actually I’m not cranky anymore. But the past several days have been a little trying. Of course, it’s all because Christian was out of town – nothing like a change in your schedule for things to suddenly go wrong. And then, just like that, a bunch of good things happen and everything turns around. Funny, that.

Crankiness Is...

Last week:
I lose my medicare card. Generally not a big deal, but for someone who regularly visits doctors and pharmacists, it’s kind of a problem. I’m pretty sure I lost it while walking along a trail in Hudson (I’m thinking it fell out of my bag when I pulled out the camera) so I go to city hall to see if anyone has brought it in but no such luck. They give me the phone number of the trail maintenance crew and suggest I wait a few days and then call them.

Saturday:
Power failure. Last time Christian was away, we filled up the fridge with tons of food for me and then we had a 21-hour power failure that forced me to throw everything out. Luckily this one only lasts 2 hours but I spend every second thinking about all the food in the fridge.

When the power comes back on, I take Panda for a walk and come home to what looks like the hot water tank leaking (which would have been another kind of disaster). There’s a huge spill on the floor… oh wait… is it MOVING? ANTS. A CARPET OF ANTS ON MY FLOOR. COMING FROM THE CLOSET. I get the vacuum and spend the rest of the afternoon, evening and night vaccuuming anything coming out of the gap in the closet floor every five minutes. I’m afraid to stop and go to bed. Luckily the army stops its onslaught sometime around midnight, and when I come back down again around 6am, there’s a manageable little gang of them waiting to get sucked up.

Sunday:
Exterminators arrive in the morning. Tell me it’s the best case scenario, that they’ve seen way worse, that there are worse ants to have. That it’s good I called them because if we deal with it now it won’t become an epidemic that would send us to a hotel. Well that’s good. It’s time to spray the house. Do I have somewhere I can go for four hours? Hmm… I pack up some water for Panda, put Blue in the back yard with her water bowl, and off we go on foot to wander around Hudson for 4 hours. Did I mention it was 36 degrees Celsius with the humidex? And that we were out during the hottest four hours of the day? I try to make the best of it so we walk down to the beach, sit in the shade and watch kids and dogs play in the very low, very soupy lake water. We sit there way past the boredom stage, then I finally give in and let Panda sploosh around for five minutes. Then it’s off to cool down at the drugstore, thank goodness Panda is welcome there. I slowly examine every item I can. Another stop at the health food store, then the hardware store, then it’s time for the half-hour walk home. The house stinks to high heaven of cooked cabbage – that’s what the anti-ant chemical smells like. It’s 36 degrees, I’m blistered and slightly heat-stroked, I’ve just spent several hundred bucks on a bunch of ants and my house smells like cooked-to-death cabbage. I realize I’ve forgotten to eat today. I feel entitled to a little wallowing.

Monday:
Those five minutes I allowed Panda to sploosh in lake water? Deadly. She has bad hotspots on her lower tummy and back legs. If you don’t know what a hotspot is, it’s a very itchy rash that quickly spreads and becomes raw and very angry as your dog tries to lick away the discomfort and takes away all their fur in the process. It’s so awful. Poor Panda. No more lake water in the summertime. I make an appointment for the vet, briefly consider driving her myself before ruling it out (I’ve only got my learner’s permit) and make arrangements with the local cab company to pick us up. Panda gets antibiotics, anti-itch steroids and tons of cookies. A few hundred dollars later, we are back home in our cabbage-stinking house. Feeling pretty defeated at this point but there’s a little glimmer of hope: Panda has lost 7 pounds! Way to go Fuzzbucket.

Tuesday:
My medicare card arrives in the mail! Some kind thoughtful person found it and dropped it in a mailbox. Then the nice folks at the post office mailed it to me with a little note. Such a relief. My dear friend Marie-Eve comes by for a visit and I get to hold baby Theo. I try a new recipe for lunch and it’s delicious. Well well well. The tide has turned. Ants are gone, Panda is feeling better, my medicare card came home, and the smell is fading… a bit.

So – how was your week?

Happiness Is…

July 29th, 2012

Sunday sunset walks. There’s something contemplative about Sunday evenings – the week is officially coming to a close and weekend fun is winding down. The neighbourhood seems even more peaceful than usual as everyone gears up for the week ahead. Now that it’s a lot less buggy at dusk, I’ve been loving our sunset walks and watching the glowbugs as we return home. Have a lovely week everyone!

Happiness Is... Sunday sunset walks