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How Much is that Doggie, Part II?

July 17, 2012

According to the latest vet bill — $857.


It all started yesterday morning. I woke at 5 a.m. to find the cats pacing around the bed and the bedroom, waiting to be fed. Cooper was in his sleeping pen (yes, he sleeps in a pen rather than on the bed), whining. It was a quiet whine, so I didn’t think that it was much other than he wanted out and to be fed.

I let him outside, fed the cats and then places a bowl of food in front of him. He immediately scarfed it down.

That wasn’t unusual either.

By 6:30 a.m., when I joined my first conference call, Cooper’s very quiet whine started to escalate and he was hunched over, clearly indicating that his tummy was hurting. By the time I left the call an hour later, he was crying and biting at his stomach. Since he’s had these episodes before, I actually had some pain medicine on hand to take the edge off.

It didn’t work.

So, an hour later, I loaded Cooper into the car and headed for the vet’s office. The moment they saw him, they got him into a room, where he whined and howled and complained in front of the vet. She whisked him to the back and told me they wanted to keep him for the day.

They were — rightfully so — afraid that he had eaten a toy. He has a habit of that. And while he often has stomach episodes, the worst ones that require a vet visit are generally caused by him eating something he shouldn’t.

Well, at least six X-rays, a barium treatment and several doses of medicine and sub-q fluids later, I returned to the vet to find that they were still concerned. The latest X-ray showed that Cooper’s digestive track was not moving. A large blob of barium lit up one side of his stomach while the other side was black. The vet was worried that he had eaten something that had soaked up the barium and was holding it in his stomach.

So, I was sent home with him, instructed not to give him any food or water all night and return at 8 a.m. the next morning. If he wasn’t better and the X-rays weren’t clear, they would have to take him in for exploratory surgery. I spent much of the night worrying about the little stinker and listening to him alternate between whining and sleeping.

By the next morning, Cooper acted at least semi-normal. He followed me, looking for food. When we got to the vet’s office, they immediately took him to the back for more X-rays.

The good news? The barium had moved out of his stomach and to his colon.

The bad? One section of the colon was dark, indicating that either it now contained the obstruction or that the colon had contracted just as they took the X-ray.

Again, I was sent home, this time with instructions to give him small bits of food and make sure his intestinal track was moving again. We waited most of the day before it actually happened, but he eventually did his business.

Guess what?

No toy.

No stick.

No cloth.

No foreign object at all.

Just Cooper poop.

Which means that this was likely the most expensive stool sample in the history of pet care.

It’s a good thing I like the dog.

To be fair, not all of that bill was for the stomach issue. A small portion was for his biennial heartworm blood test and a year of treatment. All total, I think that portion of the bill was less than $100.

Again, it’s a really good thing I like this dog.

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