I didn’t sleep Saturday night. Or Sunday morning. I had a headache from 2:00 a.m. ’til noon. And my anxiety levels were through the roof.
The dog is sick.
Saturday afternoon I had a perfectly healthy dog romping with the kids. At about 7:00, The Middle Child took him outside and spent ten or fifteen minutes throwing the ball for him. When he came back in, he started coughing up bits of water and saliva. I thought he had swallowed too much air running around, then drank too much and too fast after. I held off feeding him dinner, but took him for a short walk at 9:30, which he enjoyed with his usual enthusiasm. At around 11:00, I gave him a small treat; within five minutes, his bed was covered in yellow bile.
I took that to mean he’d gotten rid of whatever was bothering him, and put food in his dish to fill the now-empty tummy. He ate happily, albeit a bit slower than usual. The food never reappeared, but the coughing continued, and the watery, saliva-ish bile turned milky white. I called the 24-hour vet line. They said any vomiting should be seen immediately… but it was midnight by then, he was keeping his food down, his nose was cold and wet, and his general demeanour seemed fine. I decided to wait a bit.
I read until 1:30. The Spouse watched a movie. By 2:00, Our Best Friend was asleep and hadn’t coughed anything up since about 12:30. I tried to sleep too, but I had one ear open, just in case. And sure enough, at 3:00, I heard a hacking, sputtering noise, and found him in the hallway, standing over a large amount of white liquid. I got dressed, wrote down the directions to the 24-hour clinic, and loaded him into car.
My sleep-deprived brain, which doesn’t process numbers at its most functional times, forgot to bring the phone number to the clinic, and confused the numbered streets I had to take to get there with the street it was on. To make matters worse, my GPS refused to recognize the address. I drove around lost through an industrial area near the airport. At first Our Best Friend was calm, but as my driving grew increasingly erratic, as we ventured on expressways, and even got stopped by a train, he grew more and more anxious and started to cry. I almost did too.
In desperation, I set the GPS to one number off the address given, and by some miracle found the clinic. We were the only ones there. I gave the receptionist the story, she weighed him, and he promptly threw up white bile on their floor. Then came the vet exam; OBF’s temperature was a drop above normal (39.2°), but not a cause for concern; he didn’t cough once during the exam; and although he yelped when the vet palpated his abdomen, we were both sure it was more from nerves than an obstruction. I declined x-rays for the moment, and the vet narrowed it down to two possibilities: an abrasion in his throat that was irritating him and causing the cough, or kennel cough, picked up from dog unknown at the park on Friday.
At that moment (by now after 4:00 a.m.), the throat abrasion seemed the most likely case. He didn’t even seem sick; he was just coughing up slime from time to time. The vet prescribed a medication to be taken every eight hours to coat the throat and esophagus and relieve the irritation. He told me no exertion for the next few days: no walks, no ball-chasing, and obviously no dog park. I drove home without getting lost (much), and feeling less worried.
That didn’t last.
By 5:30 or 6:00, he was coughing much more, a hacking, awful sound. I still hadn’t slept. The heavens opened suddenly at exactly 5:56 a.m. and it rained almost continuously all day Sunday. We were supposed to take the kids and my niece on a day trip south of the border; the rain scuttled that, and I’m glad it did, because no one could blame my need to watch the dog for ruining the day.
The cough came and went all Sunday. He could go more than an hour without a sound, then hack out slime (which he then licked back up, over and over) for ten minutes. Thankfully, it lessened throughout the evening. His nose went from warm and dry mid-afternoon back to cool and moist. He slept a lot, but ate dinner with good appetite. When I took him out for a potty break, he was his old self, eager to play ball, eager to run around. By evening there was no more white bile, just a hoarse, horrible, cough. I spoke to the regular vet clinic today, and they said to watch and see. Yes, it might be kennel cough, but we’re not going to run tests to find out. They don’t think it’s necessary, and I’m grateful can spare the expense without feeling guilty about it.
I don’t do well when those I love are sick. Money worries make it worse. My kids, the Spouse, and myself are all covered by socialized medicine. The dog isn’t. Thank goodness he’s already much better– no more bile, much less coughing– without hospitalization, IVs, or thousands in treatment. That would be a nightmare situation for me– having something serious but fixable, without the means to fix it.