Nemo made yet another trip to the vet today. Week before last, he was there twice – Thursday and Friday. Two different reasons. So when he started to cough over the weekend, I was determined not to panic, but to just watch and listen for a few days. Yesterday the coughing got worse, so I made an appointment.
Thinking the worst (blastomycosis – a fungal infection in the lungs), but hoping for the best (kennel cough – not fatal), we headed off. His breathing wasn’t necessarily labored, but his exhalation was … noisy, wheezy, just not right. And he was still coughing. Dr. Jennifer Kim took a listen to his lungs and thought that given Nemo’s history with the pythium fungus, a chest x-ray was the right course of action.
Thankfully, nothing popped up immediately. The radiographs are being sent out for a consult, so we’ll know more later today, hopefully. (See update below.) Unless they come back with something, we’re going to treat Nemo as if he has kennel cough. He’s on antibiotics again (I should buy some stock in veterinary drug companies!) and if he’s not improved in a week, we’ll have to go back and do more tests…
I told Nemo he was going to have to go out and get a job to help pay for his medical bills. Anyone want to hire a clumsy, goofy, clown-of-a-dog? He can entertain small children, run around and exercise your dogs, and excels at napping in pools of sunshine.
Because he’s so cooperative with the doctors and staff, it’s easier for them to examine, diagnose, and treat him. The calmer and more comfortable your dog is with the veterinary office, doctors, and staff, the easier it will be for your dog to get the best care.
If you get anxious when you take your dog to the vet, he can sense it and it may make him nervous as well. Try to relax, take the time to concentrate on "un-hunching" your shoulders, putting some slack in the leash, and talking in a funny nonsense voice to your dog.
Take your dog to the vet for no good reason. Just hang out in the lobby, feeding him his dinner or some extra good treats. You don’t need to make an appointment with your vet to do this, but it would be helpful if the staff could spend a few seconds with your dog just saying hello and feeding a couple of treats in a no-pressure setting.
When you take your dog in for an appointment, take some scrumptious treats with you. Use them to keep your dog focused on you in the lobby. You can also use treats during the exam to help keep your dog facing a particular direction if the vet needs to get just the right angle to examine your dog.
Help your dog get used to being handled. Make it fun, though, like a game. For example, hug your dog for a second, then pop a treat in his mouth or throw a favorite toy as a reward for holding still for that one second. Begin to gradually lengthen the time you hug him.
Don’t forget to take a peek into his ears (just a quickie at first, lift the ear flap and then give your dog a treat), lift up each paw, and raise his lip so you can take a quick look at his teeth. If your dog objects to any of these fun games, don’t force it! Find a certified and reputable positive-reinforcement trainer (check out the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers) to find help.
A stress-free vet visit is a win-win-win because you, the dog, and the veterinarian all benefit!
Update: Just heard from Dr. Kim – the news isn’t as good as we’d hoped, unfortunately. Nemo’s scheduled to undergo a tracheal wash tomorrow morning. He could have bronchial pneumonia (either bacterial or fungal) or it could be cancer. None of those sound good. At least the tracheal wash will be able to yield some results for us. We’ll send it out for fluid analysis, and culture and sensitivity.
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