How Far Would You Go For A Dog That Isn't Yours?

After all these years in the pet industry I have handled many many animal first aid issues. Bite wounds, mouth bleeding, bloody poop, insulin shots...and the list goes on. No one said it wasn't a messy business! I recently learned a new skill, from a vet for a clients dog, and I thought I'd share that interesting/scary/nervous/eventually totally worth it in the end journey...

In the beginning of this story, Miss Kiki is an overweight Cavachon pup who is just the sweetest girl. I fondly call her Chunky Monkey, she licks me in return! As far as health issues, the worst of it is some arthritis in her back legs so I take her to the vet once a week for cold laser therapy (which is completely amazing and whole other story - stay tuned!) She is one of my regulars so I've been taking her for a few years now.

One day not so long ago, her owner asked me if Miss Kiki was acting at all odd for me after our visit. She was perfectly fine to me, and I've trained myself to be hyper-alert on how a dog is acting. We were just at the vet's office, they would notice if something was wrong. Right? The owner said she seemed a bit sluggish and had some issues with sleeping the night before, that she would wake out of a sleep gasping for air. Again, I said I didn't notice anything different but to next time ask me BEFORE I go to the vet's, so they can check out any concerns. She said it wasn't a big deal and see you tomorrow so off I went.

The next day I get a call: "Can you please come and take Kiki to the vet for me today? She had another bad night and I'm worried."

Fast-forward two weeks later. In those past two weeks I have taken Kiki to the vet 5 times, while the owner has taken her twice at night as an emergency. Lots of blood work, tests, xrays and $$$$ later Kiki is a very sick pup who been staying at the vets office for 3 nights. Her kidneys and liver were not working properly. They needed time to find the right solution to basically save her life. And they did! A bunch of medication, plus supplements and a complete diet change appeared to be the winning combination. On top of that she would have to come every 2 or 3 days to get fluids to help circulate all that medication/supplements and keep her organs clean and hydrated. An extra trip or two a week to the vet office, no problem I can handle that.

One week later I take her for her first blood work since being hospitalized. We patiently waited together, not nervous in the least because she has been doing so well. But of course, bad news. Her levels are off and the only way make them rise is for Kiki to get fluids every single day. The vet goes on to say that giving subcutaneous fluids is relatively easy, so if my client wanted to save some money they would show me how to give the fluids to Kiki. Translation for non-vet/medical people: instead of admitting her and making her stay overnight hooked up to an IV bag, they do a procedure called subcutaneous fluids (aka sub Q fluids). They insert a needle into the dog's skin, usually between the shoulder blades, which is connected to a hose and fluid bag. They pump the electrolyte fluid right under the skin, squeezing the bag to make the fluid come out quicker. Takes maybe 10-15 minutes total for the whole thing. This results in a hump back look for the dog but the fluid is quickly absorbed into their bodies in less than 30 minutes.

Now, I don't mind needles at all. Our old pup Daisy had diabetes so I was giving her insulin shots twice a day, not to mention the diabetic clients that I have. The tricky part to subcutaneous fluids, for me, is making sure to find the right spot to put the needle in. This wasn't really a factor in the beginning, she had fresh skin to work with. But when you get poked everyday there are sure to be sore/tender spots so it's important to move the injection site around.

Honestly, I was a bit nervous when the vet asked me to learn but hey, if a vet who sees me multiple times a week thinks I can do it who am I to argue? He showed me the whole thing, and I kind of laughed. That was it? How much do you charge people to do this? (yeh a lot) I got this. They gave me a nice bag with everything that I needed in it: fluids bag, hose, needles and alcohol wipes. I felt confident and ready to go. I was learning something new AND helping someone save money. Doesn't get any better than that!

I was riding that euphoric high until we got back to the house and the owner asks me to show her son how to do it as well so he can be the backup. Which I have no problem doing BUT the next day would be my very first time doing it and the last thing I need is someone watching me! But alas, I'm the type of person that has a hard time saying no...

I was nervous for no reason at all. The next day things went off without a hitch. Miss Kiki never made a sound, stayed calm and was wagging her tail the whole time. I think she secretly laughs when she sees me raising the fluids bag and squeezing it. It also helps that she has a very calm demeanor about most things. If she wasn't so calm it wouldn't be so easy.

One month in of daily fluids with two more months to go until Miss Kiki is tested again.She still sees the vet three times a week. She gets her cold laser and they happily do her fluids on those days. The other four days a week I take care of giving her the fluids, I'm a pro now! Kiki is still improving, she has lost weight and is much more mobile. She's happy and healthy for now, and that's all I need.

Next article My Dogs Are Overweight