I am mom to an 11-year-old German Shorthaired Pointer mix. Except for some arthritis in his back hips, his health is good. Yet every time I read an article about a dog disease, condition, or other health concern, I’m obsessed with the fact that Riggins is suffering from said issue and near death.
Much like you, my Facebook feed is full of dog health articles. I simply can’t stop myself from reading “Why You Should Worry If Your Dog Presses His Head Against the Wall” or “What Those Bumps on Your Dog Can Mean.” I’ll start watching Riggins intently and wonder if he is indeed pressing his head against the wall, a symptom of a brain tumor as well as other serious conditions. And don’t even get me started on the lumps and bumps.
As a senior, my darling baby boy has his fair share of those. Any visit to the vet includes me going over each bump, noting when it was last tested, asking if it needs to be tested again, begging reinsurance that it is nothing to worry about while citing articles I’ve read about what it could be, even though, as previously stated, it has been tested before. There is no doubt I’m a nightmare for my poor sweet vet. You’d think my human doctor would have similar problems with me, but alas my disease obsession is focused just on my dog. I care more about his health than mine!
As another example of my insanity, let me tell you a little story. A few years ago, there were a ton of articles being published about dog bloat, or gastric dilatation volvulus. It was a bloat year. It seemed all I was reading was how bigger dogs were dying when their stomachs became twisted due to bloat. It was a terrifying thought. To reduce Riggins’ risks of this happening, I refused to allow him to play, run, walk, or hike until an hour after he ate. I got a slow eater bowl to keep him from gulping air as he scarfed down his food. Most importantly, I watched him like a hawk.
More than once I swore he had bloat and would have to talk myself out of it. One night I couldn’t ignore the signs. Riggins seemed uneasy. Looking back this was probably because I was acting like a unstable person, but hindsight is 20/20. His stomach looked extended, and he just wouldn’t settle into bed. After watching him for a bit and trying to soothe him, without success, I got him into the car and we flew over to the local emergency vet.
Thankfully, the emergency room was empty when I came in insisting that my dog had a twisted stomach. A vet tech and doctor came out to look at Riggins right away. The vet bent down, put her hands around Riggins abdomen, and pushed. Riggins let out a fart that echoed through the empty lobby. The vet stood up, explained that if his stomach was indeed twisted, he wouldn’t have been able to pass gas. My darling boy had plain ol’ gas vs. big bad bloat. He was free to go home. They didn’t charge me for the fart — thankfully.
That little embarrassing trip made me ease up on my stomach-twisting madness. Although, while re-reading about the condition before writing this story, I learned that a raised food bowl could contribute to a dog having the problem. Riggins just started to eat from a raised bowl after receiving a cute handmade dish from his grandparents for Christmas. Now I’m thinking his bowl may need to go back on the ground!
I just can’t help it. I adore my baby boy so much, and I want to do what’s best for him. Without keeping up on these articles, how am I supposed to know about a deadly dog flu going around — Riggins started getting a flu shot the first time I read about this. Or how a dog can choke on a chip bag — I obsessively cut any snack bag before throwing it away. Or that some jerky is a killer — I threw out every piece I had and never bought another.
I just need to find a way to not go too far, plummetting off the deep end and into a state of constant worry. I’m going to lose all credibility with the local dog community if I show up at the vet again insisting that Riggins is dying when he just needs to let one loose!
Dog health stories are so important, and I’m glad sites like Dogster publishes articles so I can learn what’s what. How do you react after reading these type of stories? Let us know in the comments below.