Friday, January 7, 2011

The last 24 hours

Yesterday morning, Jamie was vomiting blood.

Oddly, this wasn't as dramatic as it sounds.

Oh sure, I rushed his furry butt to the vet but our visit there was just another step in what is becoming a very odd journey and I have no idea where we are going.

Flashback to November: Jamie barfing all over the house one morning, including the infamous "behind the entertainment center/down the heat vent" episode. We went to the vet then, because in addition to the barfing, there had been some occasional diarrhea and he would randomly refuse to eat his breakfast.

What worried me most was the refusal to eat. When I got Jamie, I had my shelties, Jess and Connor. I joke that Jamie was raised by shelties - he has incredible food drive. So not eating was kind of a big ol' warning light.

His November visit to the vet was inconclusive. She pronounced him hale and hearty. His bloodwork was within normal ranges and no swelling, hardness or tenderness of the abdomen. No alarm bells. The vet suspected acid reflux or something similar and sent us home with a week of Pepcid.

Barfing stopped. Eating resumed. Diarrhea ended. All was good.

The holidays came and went. Jamie occasionally blew off a meal but since he was bright eyed and energetic, chasing Phoenix around, poking the Farmer in the butt and begging cookies at every turn, I didn't think there was anything wrong.

Last week saw a return to the "I don't want breakfast, let me go barf behind a chair" routine. His overall attitude and energy level were good, however. He didn't ACT sick and I didn't get too excited until Thursday morning's bright pink, blood-flecked vomit episode.

Being the slightly OCD dog owner that I am, I scooped up a sample of the barf and took it to the vet along with a very disgruntled Jamie.

The vet ordered x-rays and an ultrasound. Strangely enough, the local clinic's x-ray machine isn't big enough to accommodate Jamie. (I thought that was odd, he's not THAT big of a dog.) So Saturday we are off to a clinic in Iowa City that can do both the x-rays and ultrasound.

Our vet suspects a bleeding ulcer or stomach cancer. Yeah, I'm little freaked about the latter. Stomach cancer in tervs presents at 8 times the rate it does in the general canine population and it seems to be epidemic in the breed now. It's high in Belgian sheepdogs, too, but practically non-existent in Belgian malinois.

The x-rays will show any mass in the stomach or the possibility of a foreign object. I think the foreign object is unlikely but who knows. The ultrasound will show thickness of the stomach lining, which can be an indicator of stomach cancer. It will also show the general size and placement of other organs.

Then we'll go from there. Endoscopy might be the next diagnostic, pending the outcome of the x-rays and ultrasound. I am really hoping for something conclusive. I hate not knowing.

Ironically, this is the same clinic where I took Connor for his liver cancer diagnosis and surgery 6 years ago. At that time, they were in the process of building a brand-new state of the art veterinary clinic just down the road. I am sure Connor helped fund a good portion of it so I'm looking forward to seeing the new facility and wonder if they possibly named an exam room after him. Or maybe a microscope or even a chair in the waiting room.

When I left our local clinic on Thursday morning, the vet picked up the plastic container with the sample I'd brought in.

"Do you want this back?" she asked.

I considered.

It wouldn't take much hot water and soap to clean it up and it was a handy, dandy little container for taking leftover and snacks to work.

"No," I said, shaking my head. "You keep it. No matter how long and hard I scrub that, it will always be the container that had bloody vomit in it."

She agreed and we had a good laugh.

Jamie is taking Pepcid and carafate to ease his stomach until we figure out what to do next. So far, so good. He ate with enthusiasm both last night and this morning, something that hasn't happened in about a week.

Believe me, there is a learning curve when it comes to crushing a carafate tablet, mixing it with water and giving orally via a syringe. I'm happy to say this morning's dose went much better than last night's. I got more in Jamie and less on me and the kitchen cupboards.


  1. Oh Melinda, I can only imagine how scared you are. We're thinking of you & Jamie here in MO, and sending prayers for good news.
    -Siouxsan Eisen
    Kearney, MO

  2. Melinda - prayers are coming your way from Michigan. I have been encouraged about the number of Tervs who turn out to have an ulcer vs the dreaded stomach cancer. Given how sick they can be with an ulcer, I have to wonder if some number of the dogs pronounced with stomach cancer actually had an ulcer - but vets are still so unfamiliar with diagnosing ulcers in dogs, they miss that diagnosis? In any case, keep us posted and I'll keep up the praying. Hugs!

  3. Thinking positive thoughts for tomorrow!!

  4. I hope that it isn't anything serious and I'm with you and the crushed pill syringe bit - that is how Seek has to get her morning meds as well - we've got it to an art (thanks to years of handfeeding baby parrots) - hot water, dissolve a little honey, suck a tad into syringe, put crushed pills in - fill the rest of the way up and apply. We too though still have occassional sticky spots (or crushed pill stuck in syringe). Sigh. Best of luck to Jamie and you!!! PS You are allowed to be a bit freaked out!

  5. Are the carafate directions from your vet? My dog has been on carafate (to buffer the effects of piroxicam) for 9 months now and I've just been giving it to him inside a smear of peanut butter. It seems to be doing it's job this way.

  6. Thanks Cynthia, I will ask my vet about this. Ended up getting the carafate from the local pharmacy because vet was out. Vet instructions said crush, pharmacy instructions said swallow whole. That would be a LOT easier. In the meantime, will try MTWaggins' hot water and honey method.

  7. Oh man! That sounds bad. However I appreciate your sense of humor regarding the vomit container. When Mango pooped out a tube sock entirely intact I thought long and hard about running it through the wash and reintroducing it into my husband's sock drawer.

    Hope that you can get those meds in to him and that the vet has a solution.

    Mango Momma

  8. In theory you can give it whole, but I always thought it made more sense to give crushed since the idea is it coatss the stomach. Best wishes-hope it's something simple!

  9. I hope it is just an ulcer and quickly resolved We will keep Jamie in our thoughts that it is not serious... Waiting for the results is so hard. Our boy GSD Blitz just had a biopsy for Mast Cell Cancer and it took about a wk but the results are NO cancer. Thank Goodness....

  10. Crossing fingers out here for Jamie! Here's hoping it is "just" an ulcer.

  11. Thinking positive thoughts for Jamie and you. Been thru the cancer bit with my heart dog and don't want to imagine anyone going thru that with theirs.
    Had a horse that I had to give tablet Bute to for pain and did the crush-mix with applesause-suck into a syringe bit too. 1000# horse is a bit bigger than a dog and it worked very well.
    Good luck with Jamie!

  12. Hope you get good report from the Vet. Thinking of you and Jamie. Waiting is so difficult.

  13. Oh no! Poor Jamie. I hope he's feeling better. Tell him he's my favorite (but not in front of Phoenix - unless that'll make Jamie REALLY feel better).

    How much Carafate is he on? We have liquid form of it. I don't know how much he has to take daily, but you could put it in a syringe and squirt it in his mouth.

    Sending good thoughts, vibes and prayers your way!

    PS ~ If they DO have anything dedicated to Connor, please be sure to take a picture.