At the Vet

Mrs. Wigglebottom is at the vet. I am in full-on fret until I hear from my parents how it went.

UPDATE: So, Mrs. W. tried to bite the vet. Not my proudest moment as a dog owner. Also, apparently, her problem is in her knee. He wanted to do x-rays for another $150 and then send her to a specialist to do surgery. Apparently she needs a specialist because she’s “so big.” For the record, she’s sixty pounds. He says that there’s a danger her leg may atrophy as she realizes that she doesn’t need it and stops using it. Of course, as it is right now, she uses it 98% of the time.

So, I don’t know. We’re going to try giving her buffered aspirin twice a day and Dad thinks we should put an ACE bandage on it and see if that helps.

I mean, it’s not that she’s not using the leg at all. She almost always uses it, but sometimes you can tell that she’s not putting as much weight on it as she is the other leg. She only limps when she’s been curled up in the car or after she’s had to do something with her leg that she doesn’t normally do (like getting in and out of the bathtub).

I don’t know. I’m going to have to talk more to my parents about it and maybe see about getting a second opinion. I love my dog and I don’t want her to suffer, but I also don’t want to get sucked into shelling out a bunch of money on her for surgery if there’s some other way that we can address it.

And I’m confused about why he wouldn’t be able to do the surgery. I think of a big dog as being one that’s over 80 or 90 pounds.

I don’t know. Internet, advise me. Does this sound reasonable or sketchy? Should I call the vet at lunch and ask him to tell me what he told them, on the off chance they’re not relaying it correctly? And, if so, what questions should I ask? Also, how hard is it to get a dog to eat aspirin? Keep in mind that she eats everything from poop to tamales.

UPDATE, AGAIN:  I just got off the phone with the vet, who said that she’s got noticeable thickening of the knee tissue and he’s pretty sure, especially after talking to me about her activities, that she’s got a partial tear somewhere in her knee, either her meniscus or her anterior cruciate ligament.  But he wants to do an x-ray to make sure that it’s not a bone issue or, most unlikely, cancer.

If it is a partial tear, we’ve got some options.  We can make her comfortable and wait until it inevitably tears completely and then find someone in town who can do the TPLO procedure, which is going to run a couple thousand dollars.  He doesn’t do that procedure; he doesn’t know of anyone in general practice who does, but it’s got the best outcome for dogs like her.

I then channeled Exador and said, “Two thousand dollars?  How much to just chop her leg off?!” which worked well to bring the conversation back to the land of the sane, because, apparently, you can chop a leg off for a little of nothing (ha, it tickled me to hear my vet talking like a mechanic), but he’d want to get in there and just do what he knows how to do before we did anything as drastic as chopping her leg off.

So, I guess I called his bluff.

On the other hand, I am a weeping mess just thinking of having to take her to the vet and having her sedated for the x-ray.  Lord, folks, I really hope I’m the biggest baby you read or else I don’t know how you can stand the internet.

Anyhoo–I’ve got to talk to the Butcher because we’ve got to come up with the x-ray money at least and pronto.

23 thoughts on “At the Vet

  1. All the best pet-health wishes, Aunt B., until the good news comes back.

    In the meantime, a canine anecdote: A friend’s parents have a tiny dog (I think it is a Yorkie) that has free run of their house. The mom once showed me a pretty neat trick. She was in the basement, across the room from the dog’s bed, and said “Coco, I love your bed.” Coco immediately ran to the bed and stood in it, growling. I never asked the mom how she trained little Coco to do that.

  2. Is it her back leg? If so, though I’m sure you don’t want it to atrophy, whats the downside? I can’t tell you how many dogs I’ve known that do quite well with three working legs. Miha, for example, has a leg that pretty much just dangles, and she is still faster than her brother. She’s an outside dog, and hunts completely unfettered. Now, if she is in pain, ok, sure do all you can to alleviate it.

    I watched my brother spend tens of thousands of dollars he didn’t have to keep a beloved dog alive just a little longer. It got so bad I almost intervened and had the poor thing put down. I think I love my pets as much as the next person, but at some point, you have to consider what your finances will allow.

  3. Call the vet and ask him to explain to you what is wrong with her knee. Did she tear ligaments or tendons? Is it arthritis? These are necessary facts.
    The phone call is free. If he doesn’t know without the X-ray, I would probably do the X-ray.
    The need for a specialist sounds like crap to me.

    My vet just knocks out Zachary whenever he has to do something to him that Zachary doesn’t like.

  4. When Zachary got football knee, and the vet quoted me the price and probable recovery, I asked him, “How much to just take the leg off?”
    He laughed and said it was actually cheaper.
    Mrs Schwartz was not amused.

  5. I’m with Exador 100%. Your next step is to call the vet and get the explanation first-hand. No offense to your parents, but you don’t want to be playing “telephone” with something so crucial.

  6. If you’re not sure about the vet’s diagnosis and suggestion, I’d go forward with the second opinion.

    As far as getting her to take aspirin, I usually wrap pills in cheese for my dogs. If I try to give them the plain pill, they don’t usually take it down. I imagine, though, that you could just put it in her regular food.

  7. See, Exador, that’s exactly what I thought. If the danger is that she’s not going to use the leg and if it’d be cheaper to just take the leg off and if she can get around just fine without it, why not wait until it’s clear she can’t do what she wants with the leg and then take it off?

    I don’t mind $150 for x-rays, but we’d have to carefully consider when and if to do surgery on her. I love her dearly. Y’all know that, but I just can’t see spending all our savings on a surgery until we try everything else we can first.

  8. I echo Exador. From personal experience:

    1. Call the vet and speak to him directly.
    2. As the vet for a ten-day course of Previcox.
    3. Get some Glucosamine additive for Mrs. W.’s food.
    4. Do the x-rays to rule out something worse.

  9. Our dog has a similar issue. He sometimes limps (always the same back leg,) usually after after he’s been curled up for a nap. We started giving him a single baby aspirin a night and the problem went away almost immediately.

    Now we have cut back on the aspirin to one maybe every two or three days. Just when the limp starts to appear again. Your mileage may vary, but that’s what works for us. Good luck!

  10. Just a note about dogs and aspirin, though – you may need to give them something like Ascriptin, which is both buffered and coated, depending on the size and frequency of the dose. Aspirin is acidic, and some dogs get upset stomachs when given baby aspirin, even if it is wrapped in chees.

    I agree with Exador and Coble – talk to the vet first (especially if you want to give Mrs. W aspirin, because you need to get the dosage). Also ask around a little bit about X-ray costs, because $150 seems on the high side to me, although I haven’t needed to pay for a vet X-ray in almost 8 years, so I could be wrong.

    I hope Mrs. W starts feeling better soon!

  11. Jeez – wrapped in “cheese”, not “chees”. (Although maybe I really meant chees because I was thinking about the sliced stuff called cheese food.)

  12. Football knee!!!

    When Zachary got it, my vet said it could either be torn, or it could be just pulled.
    Since it sounds like she is generally ok, there’s a chance it’s just pulled.
    If it’s torn, it’ll depend on how bad the tear is.

    We’re still not sure with Zach; he’s generally fine, but if he does any crazy running (like another dog in the yard that he has to chase) then he will favor the other leg for a while afterwards. But hey, he’s 86 years old. I hope I can run as well.

    Check out the treatments online; they apply to dogs too. Rest, no running, etc.
    Lots of glucosamine and condroitin.

  13. The NosePicker and I saw the cutest little three-legged dog at the Humane Society over the weekend. It looked like Eddie from ‘Frasier,’ with a black circle around its right eye. I sure hope somebody takes it. We were there to get a female kitten (no name yet, get it next week after spaying), in addition to the other male kitten (Griff, abandoned) we took in last week, after our spelling cat Jinx died in April.

    It sounds like aspirin is the way to go, at least initially. My other thought would be, aren’t there a number of colleges and universities in Nashville? Some of them may have veterinary teaching hospitals, which may be cheaper than a vet ‘specialist.’ At least at the U of I it is.

  14. Peg, Jinx will always have a soft spot in my heart, just because of the brilliance of that post.

    As for vet schools, I think the closest one is over in Knoxville at UT. However, I’ve just been reminded that my employer offers pet insurance and so, if it looks like the $2,000 procedure is the way to go, I’ll sign up for pet insurance now and have it cover the cost of the surgery when we need it however far out we need it.

  15. Oh B!
    I hate that you and Mrs. Wigglebottom are going through this.
    Squirrel Queen and I are thinking of you and your canine child.
    Man, this sucks.

  16. Ugh. Been there done that. You get through it, even though it sucks. I don’t have all the posts about it properly categorized (or half the fucking site skinned, as it turns out) but you can see some stuff (and some gross xray pictures) here: http://www.afterhourspub.com/previous/bebes_tplo/

    Bebe looked suspiciously like Mrs. Wigglebottom. Man, I miss my pit bull. :)

  17. long time lurker, first time posting, but a huge pet lover.

    try some glucosamine first. you can get glucosamine sulfate at the drug store. animal dose is 1/10th human dose. it will lubricate the joints. and yes it sounds sketchy. can you find a homeopathic vet there? that’s not a large dog. i had a cat that i was told would require knee surgery from 2 other vets that healed on it’s own with supervision. don’t go for surgery unless you have a vet you REALLY trust.

    i love your site.

  18. Oh, I’ve been having something similar here. My old chocolate Lab mix has been limping on his right back leg — always after he sleeps or rests after a run/walk/play. He loves to play and chase his ball — he doesn’t go as hard or long as my black Lab, who’s younger, but it makes him so happy to play. But afterward, after he’s been asleep or just laying down, he limps, sometimes not using that at all.

    I’ve started the glucosamine a couple of months ago, and give him an aspirin when he has episodes. I’ve been dithering about taking him to the vet — last time we had to take the other dog, it was $250 for xrays!!! He’s an older guy, about 9, and I just hate to spend $250 + the walk-in-the-door fee just to hear, “he’s old, it’s arthritis.”

    Please keep everyone posted on Mrs. W!

  19. I think the ‘so big she needs a specialist’ part is BS. Maybe he’s just uncomfortable operating on such a ‘scary’ dog. Our dog is much bigger than Mrs. Wigglebottom and he doesn’t need a specialist. Of course he’s a golden mix so he’s about as threatening looking as a baby kitty.

  20. I’m so behind, but so sorry you and the Mrs. are going through all this. Thinking of you two and hoping for the best.

    I’m with W about the “so big she needs a specialist” part. My dogs of the last 10-15 have always been around 50-60 lbs and that’s a large dog but not extraordinarily big. “So big” dogs are like those dogs that weigh 150-200 lbs., come on. Your mileage probably differs but I am kind of sniffing some anti-breed dissent here, B, I dunno.

    In any case, thinking of you and the Mrs. and The Butcher with lots of hope for the best.

  21. One of the pet food companies – Heinz? – puts out a glucosamine/chondroitin supplement just for dogs. My cat eats their just-for-cats G/C as if it was kitty crack – to the extent I have to hide my own meds from her, because he thinks oooh, G/C!

    As a decent person, I feel bad for your whole family over Mrs. W; as a cat rescuer whose income went to the vet, for decades, I OWwwWWW on your behalf.

  22. “Hide my own meds from HIM.” Her. Sheesh. It’s one cat, one gender. It’s been a long week. And a long month. And a really, really long year.

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