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Did I overreact?

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Peanut (little shih-tzu, 7 years old, hasn't been to the vet in a few years) had very bloody stool this afternoon. In addition she didn't eat her breakfast (VERY usual for her), she was acting quite lethargic, and her gums were a very pale white color.


She seemed to be acting worse after a couple of hours so we took her to a 24 hour clinic. Now, we had just switched kibble (from Canidae to California Natural) for the little dogs so that was my first thought as to what the issue would be. BUT, the little ones have iron stomachs and have never had an issue with changing foods - and we were still mixing about 50/50. So I wasn't sure that it was as simple as that.


By the time the vet actually saw her, she did look a little better (this is about an hour later) and her gums were now nice and pinkish. All of her vitals looked good :D so the vet recommended we didn't do any more tests just then because she looked okay. He also recommend some different kibbles - I sort of closed my ears for that after he stated that switching foods is bad unless something is really wrong, and dogs don't need any kind of variety in their diets. It was obvious that he was the type that would probably have had a heart attack if he knew the variety of stuff Dazzle gets. :rolleyes: Anyway, he said it was most likely just the food switch and gave us a stool softener and we went home.


So, $110 later, did I overreact by taking her in for this? :D I will certainly sleep better knowing she is okay, but was it really necessary given the symptoms? What would you have done given the situation?

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If my dog had bloody stool and pale gums and was lethargic, I definitely would have brought her in. Sometimes piece of mind doesn't have a price.


If my dog was limping etc (River did this one, must have pulled a muscle while outside playing) I would seriously consider bringing her in... but in the end, I did not and decided to wait it out. But pale, blood & lethargy together sounds like something that waiting might not be the best thing.

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So, $110 later, did I overreact by taking her in for this? :rolleyes: I will certainly sleep better knowing she is okay, but was it really necessary given the symptoms? What would you have done given the situation?


Gee, I'm the Queen of over-reacting, but I think I would have taken my dog in given the lethargy and pale gums.


You know, sometimes "overreacting" pays and not just in terms of peace of mind. Back in September, I came home to find my Lhasa, Chili, had thrown up repeatedly all afternoon. He then had diarrhea when I took him out. I took him in to the vet right away which probably was over-reacting. No fever. Gums looked ok but the vet was bothered by how subdued he was (he knows Chili for the pistol he is). He gave him a shot to help settle his GI tract and said to bring him back in the morning if he wasn't improved. Chili threw up repeatedly during the night so I dropped him off at the vet's on the way to work. That afternoon, I got a call from the vet that Chili was doing very badly, had started to go into shock, and would need to spend the night. The diarrhea became so bad that the vet checked for Parvo though he knew it was a long shot. When I stopped by on my way home, the vet and techs were thrilled that Chili stood up in his crate when he heard my voice. Earlier that day, he had been lying in his vomit and diarrhea.


Chili came home the next afternoon and by the end of a week was back to his normal, awful little self :D My point is I'm quite convinced that if I had left him home that day, I would have come home to a dog who was dead. I knew he was sick but had no idea he was going to get that bad in the matter of a couple of hours.


I'd much rather be safe than sorry. But that's just me.

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I don't think so. A few years ago RD looked "off" to me and had rejected his dinner. I took him straight to the vet and argued with him about getting bloodwork. He wanted to just send us home, and said "sometimes dogs skip meals, your dog looks fine." We battled it out and I got the bloodwork.


That afternoon he called and said "bring him in ASAP." RD had Lepto and was very very sick.


You know your dog better than anyone. If you're concerned, it's your right to do what you need to do to address those concerns.


Glad your pooch is better!



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I agree with everyone else (and I think $150 is pretty cheap for an emergency vet visit--Lark's day at the vet after being HBC was nearly three times that, and that was for a regular vet during office hours). I've been accused of being too quick to go to the vet, but after an incident with my first dog, Indy, I just ignore those sorts of snide comments. My story echoes Liz'. I came home from work and was supposed to go to the movies with my mom that night. Indy was lying on the floor in the dining room, not as bouncy as usual but I didn't think much of it. After hearing from my mom that she couldn't make into town for the movie, I decided to take Indy for a walk (I wouldn't have had time for that if we had gone to the movie). He was by no means his usual bouncy self as I headed out the door with him, and within half a block he was lagging behind and it was obvious something was wrong. I automatically check color on any lethargic dog, and when I put my hands on his head to check his gums, the first thing I noticed was that his ears were cold. A color check showed him to be pale. It was near closing time at my regular vet, so I rushed him over. She examined him and made a best guess that he had been poisoned, either by eating something or coming into contact with some poisonous critter. He was well on his way to shock and likely death if we hadn't done something. Since it was near closing time, we made the decision for me to take him to the emergency vet where he received overnight care. He pulled through. We never did determine what caused him to go into shock, but the best guess was a poisonous insect or a bad reaction to something like a bee or wasp. Had I headed out to the movies that night, I might never have noticed how ill he was and he might not have survived.


I think any time an animal has cold extremities, has pale mucous membranes, or other similar symptoms (and excessive vomiting and bloody diarrhea fall into that category), a trip to the emergency vet is in order. If my dogs even seem off, I do not hesitate to take them to the regular vet. I'd rather overreact and be out a few dollars than lose one of my beloved canines or have my slowness to react cause them greater or more prolonged illness.



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Ditto to everyone else. Renzo once ate a bag of chocolate and we wondered if we should bring him in since he seemed fine--good thing we did--he ended up needing IV fluids overnight or could have easily gone into shock.


I figure going in to the e-vet a couple extra times is still cheaper than getting the veterinary education myself..... :D:rolleyes:

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Pale gums always mean "Vet, do not pass Go", to me. I've got a list and that's one of them. Other examples: neurological symptoms (staggering, seizing, balance problems, pupils dilating slow or asymetrically, twitching, tics), extreme pain/distress responses like salivating and rapid breathing and vocalizing, extreme temps, simultaneous vomiting and diarhea, black or extremely foul smelling stools, any multiple diarrhea incidents in pups under five months old, and of course "that look" - you know, the one that says, "Do something or kill me now, please." And the obvious - impact injuries of any kind, deep bites, and bleeding that won't stop. That's not a complete list. I'm sure I'm forgetting something.


I'm a proud member of the overreactor's club too, but over the years I've developed some guidelines (sanctioned by multiple vets) of when not to panic. For example, diarrhea is kind of a non-event in an adult dog - it's not the tragically uncomfortable situation it is for people, many times. And it's highly treatable at home most of the time. I give a bout a couple of days before reaching for the phone, if it's not accompanied by any other symptoms.


Vomiting is even more of a not-a-big-deal thing in DogLand - by itself. I give it one day, then if it keeps up to day two (ie, three barfed up meals), the vet gets a ring - emergency vet on a weekend.


But, multiple symptoms trip my trigger.


There's so many things out there that can be ameliorated with getting care as early as possible that it's hard not to be a bit of a freak about it.

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I don't think you overreacted either.


Last March I could have lost my toy poodle because I under reacted. He was a little lethargic but not too bad. He had diarrhea and had an accident in the house. I decided to watch him for a day or 2. Well the next morning he was about the same. I got home from work and he had bloody diarrhea all over the place. I called the vets and rushed him in. While on the phone with the vets I scooped up some diarrhea and put in a baggy, just in case.


He was diagnosed with hemorraghic gastroenteritis. He was put on a bunch of drugs, fluid pack in his back. The vets would have kept him for a couple days because by then he was very weak but they know me well and let me take him home. They said another day and he may not have survived.

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So, $110 later, did I overreact by taking her in for this? :rolleyes: I will certainly sleep better knowing she is okay, but was it really necessary given the symptoms? What would you have done given the situation?


Not over reacting in my book. I am fortunate though that I can call my vet at home. Of course this only happens on a weekend in the middle of the night :D I had to press my vet recently, after three trips and numerous tests he finally believed me...off to UF we went and my vet thanked me for pushing him.


You know your dog best, go with your gut and don't second guess yourself!



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I don't think you overreacted either. Not only that, but you had an experience I never expect to have in my lifetime -- hearing an emergency vet say that he didn't recommend doing any more tests. Not many people can make that claim. :rolleyes:


N.B. No offense intended to the veterinary profession as a whole, or the many fine and dedicated vets it includes. It's probably worth mentioning that the last time a dog of mine went to a 24-hour vet, she was brought in by a friend who was taking care of her while I was away, and she was given several hundred dollars worth of tests for what I (had I been there) would have immediately recognized as the symptoms of scraped paw pads. :D

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I think that the emergency clinic here has a special note on my file: "Humour her, check vitals, pet dog, send her on her way". Some shameful moments, hmmm ....


There was the time I thought Wick was having seizures b/c I would find her standing stock-still, staring at the floor. The transcript reads something like this:


Vet: What seems to be the problem? She looks fine to me.

K: She was just staring at the floor, and she wasn't moving.

Vet: Did you call her name?

K: Yes

Vet: Did she respond?

K: Yes, she came over immediately.

Vet: Did it ever occur to you that she was bored?

Summary: Wick has a mode akin to "screensaver" and it is not a fatal neurological condition.


And then there was the coughing. Again, the shameful transcript:

Vet: Hello again. What's wrong tonight?

K: I think she has SARS.

Vet: SARS?

K: Yes, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome.

Vet: Er, because ....

K: She was coughing

Vet: She might have kennel cough.

Wick: <cough>

Vet: Yes, she has kennel cough. If it keeps you awake, give her some Robitussin.


We won't even get into the Bear stories!

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Whew. I feel better now. The vet guy was just so sure that nothing was wrong that I began to completely doubt myself. It seems that dogs can go downhill so much faster than people, it is nice to know that I am not going crazy for thinking this could have been really bad - that way I won't make a dumb call that I know I would regret in the future.


:rolleyes: Kristi that sounds like what I am turning into! It took all I had not to rush Popcorn in when she sneezed for 5 minutes, Dazzle when she ate a just little too much food, and Peanut when she was dreaming more than usual (twitchy paws - you never know what that could mean! :D)


I don't think you overreacted either. Not only that, but you had an experience I never expect to have in my lifetime -- hearing an emergency vet say that he didn't recommend doing any more tests. Not many people can make that claim.

I must say I thought it would be loads more expensive! For a full physical, plus some cheap medication, at a 24-hour vet that price was quite reasonable I think. And the people there seemed to be very cost-conscious, and didn't want to charge us for stuff they didn't think we needed. It wasn't the closest place, but if I ever need them again, we will certainly be going back there!

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Good gracious, what is going on with the sudden pale gums and lethargy of little dogs this week? I just took Godiva in for the exact same thing (minus the bloody stool, but plus vomiting and what looked like vague weakness/staggering/balance issues) on Monday morning, except that I emerged with a SEVEN hundred and fifty dollar bill, and with an appointment during regular office hours, too. :rolleyes: I am so sorry to hear that your little Peanut was not feeling well, but am **very** happy to hear that she is better now.


Godiva, unfortunately, is still not out of the woods--after all that testing, my vet pronounced that he has "absolutely no idea what is wrong, but that she is extremely ill." Fantastic. The initial suspicion was stroke, but there were no laterialized or focal neurologic signs on exam. Her bloodwork and x-rays showed that everything is normal except that she has a whopping BUN of 137 and is indeed slightly anemic, and we are still waiting on a urine culture. I personally believe that she is having a CRF-related uremic crisis that may or may not be related to a new episode of pyelonephritis, but I have not yet figured out why she is anemic (she has never been anemic before, and only has moderate, not advanced, CRF at the moment--creatinine = 3.8--which is actually better than normal for her...hopefully, this is not the beginning of advanced CRF).


Speaking of going rapidly downhill, what is so strange about all of this is that Godiva was feeling completely and totally fine up until Sunday just before midnight, bouncing happily around after Mojo and barking for food. We had just lit a fire and the whole family was happily enjoying some time together....but then, around midnight, she began to pace back and forth, scurrying from room to room in the house, only lying down for seconds at a time before getting up and going to a new location, and thus, I was up all night monitoring her. **ETA: I initially suspected some sort of GI problem, possibly even obstruction or torsion, but her belly was always nontender and soft, and I could hear gurgles on both sides of her abdomen, which is why I waited out the night to see what would happen and I didn't bring her in right then.**


By late Monday morning, however, she had made the transition from frantic pacing to being almost completely comatose, shivering, and refusing to acknowledge me or Mojo or anyone, let alone eat or drink. If placed on the floor, she would remain there with her head on the ground while standing up, and then eventually her whole body would sink to the ground....I've never seen her like this before.


For lack of a better or more appropriate treatment, she is now on a serious broad-spectrum antibiotic (chloramphenicol) in lieu of the pending culture result, and I have tripled her daily subQ fluids to keep her hydrated. While she has greatly decreased her shivering and takes more interest in her surroundings, now, she still won't eat and barely drinks, and it has now been three whole days since her last proper meal. She is an extremely thin thirteen pounds at 11" at the shoulder, and she just can't afford not to eat for that long in her condition, but the best I've been able to do is syringe maple syrup down her throat. To tempt her appetite, I have offered her bacon, lamb chops, sirloin steak, sushi, cinnamon buns, vanilla cake, ice cream, yogurt--all very deliciously smelly things--but you name it, she won't eat it. If we thought she had pancreatitis this would all be forbidden, of course, but we don't (cPL, amylase, and lipase are all within the normal range).


Finally, not one hour ago I was able to coax her to nibble voluntarily on half a slice of ham and she licked a dab of ketchup from my finger, and so far, she has not thrown it up, and thus, she is sleeping and I am watching over her now while I try to catch up on some work. I wasn't going to post about her, but I just saw this thread about Peanut and I could hardly believe it. I really hope that Peanut continues to do well--my best wishes to her!--and YES, to answer your question and just as everyone else has concurred, you were absolutely and totally right for bringing her in. Even without the pale gums and lethargy, bloody stool in itself could have been colitis, and with the pale gums and lethargy, major GI bleeding could have been a possibility. Shame on the vet for making you feel that you were overreacting, but at least he was confident that Peanut was okay, which is the most important thing.


ETA: how could I forget? P.S.: Mojo just had the third seizure in as many weeks this past Saturday, right in the middle of the dog park. Luckily, I saw the signs in time and was able to carry him safely to a corner before the rest could mob him. We still have no known cause for the seizures, but I refuse to accept idiopathic epilepsy at this stage. I was just planning to bring him to a neurologist for an evaluation when this thing happened with Godiva not 24 hours later. This has NOT been a good dog health week for me. :D

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