We are participating in the Caring For Critters Round Robin hosted by Heart Like a Dog. Think of the Round Robin like a relay race, each blogger will be passing the virtual baton to a fellow blogger, who will share their experience in caring for their ill or injured pet. Tomorrow Joanna Paul at Creature Clinic will pick up the baton!
I mean this in the kindest, most loving way: Cooper has a screw loose. Or two screws.
The fact is, Cooper came from a bad litter. Over the years, we’ve learned the fates of other dogs from his litter, and combining that information with his health and behavior history… bad litter. Regardless, he is my little beanie baby who I love and adore. But it’s given us some challenges.
Setting the behavior issues aside, when the theme of this blog hop – caring for an ill pet – first sunk in, I realized Cooper was the prime candidate. Yes, the others have their own health issues, but I wanted to write about Cooper so that anyone who’s caring for a dog with chronic health problems knows, you are not alone!
The overarching problem that directs our pet care is his allergies. I know there are debates about allergies versus intolerances, but for the sake of simplicity, I’m lumping it together as allergies. In his four years, I don’t think there’s been a single week without diarrhea. His food allergies include all sorts of things like beef and chicken (which means he can’t have meds like Heartgard, which are flavored with those proteins). Beyond food, he’s allergic to bug bites and tree pollen and we don’t have any idea what else. He’s had waves of rashes and hives. He’s lost fur in chunks, and he develops a ping-pong-ball sized bump every time he gets vaccinated because he’s allergic to some carrier that’s added. But the GI issues are the worst. He gets pumpkin and coconut oil and yogurt, but one bite or sniff of an allergen and his stomach is a disaster.
On top of that – or maybe as a piece of that – he has a bizarre condition called idiopathic head tremors. I’ve written about it before (first post here and second post here) so won’t go into too much detail, but there’s no known cause and there’s no known treatment. Luckily it doesn’t seem to bother him. But I think the tremors, like the allergies, are a sign of a weak immune system.
I know there are many of you with dogs like Cooper, and I know those stressful trips to the vet. The piles of pills that may or may not clear up the problem but might have some undesirable side effects. I know the helplessness of watching your critter suffer… and not being able to do anything about it. I know those nights of staring at the ceiling, reviewing test results over and over in your head and asking, “What are we missing? What else can we do?”
When you love a dog with chronic health problems, you suffer through a lot of heartbreak!
But you’re not alone. There are many of us who know the strain and sadness that comes with not being able to do anything. Although, when you feel stressed or frustrated, here’s what I want you to remember: You are doing something! You are caring, feeding, loving, fretting, and – of course – driving to and from the vet’s office. There are so many times that I’ve felt completely helpless because I want to fix him. In those moments, I try to remember that I am keeping him well (or, as well as possible) and, most importantly, making sure he’s happy.
If your dog has chronic or un-diagnose-able issues, my heart is with you. I know it’s rough. But you are doing everything right. I promise! And if you need to vent or bounce ideas, drop me a line!