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Tidbits – Pet Health

When Ray and Dave and I decided to get a dog, we did a lot of research first. We decided on the traits that were important to us – hypoallergenic (because of Ray and Dave’s allergies), smart, easy to train, etc. This narrowed the list of dog breeds considerably. We finally decided on Standard Poodles (because I prefer larger dogs). We then had to research what health issues were possible within the breed, such as Addison’s Disease.

My Sweet Phaedra
My Sweet Phaedra


We also looked up grooming costs for standard poodles because we knew that would be an added expense. If you’re curious, grooming can run anywhere from $65 to $120, depending on the groomer. The best groomer she’s seen used to charge $85. The rest have varied between passable and awful. This is why I keep trying to groom her myself. I feel like I can do passable. I’ve had some groomers who couldn’t do ‘neat feet’ on her.

Our next step was to contact the Florida Poodle Club and get recommendations for reputable breeders. Once we had some recommendations, we contacted breeders to see if anyone had an available puppy. We checked out Phaedra, her breeder, the health of the dogs in her family, etc. No dog in her line had ever had Addisons, so I thought that wouldn’t be an issue.

When Phaedra started getting sick during October 2009, we didn’t know what was going on. It can be very hard to diagnose Addison’s Disease in dogs. We thought she was going to die because of how ill she got and the vet gave her a DOCP shot as a last resort. When it helped her, I’m not going to lie, a part of me was heartbroken. I was glad she was alive, but I was heartbroken she was going to have a life long disease. She was diagnosed for sure in January 2010.

I felt like it was unfair that we’d put the time in to research Poodles, breeders, possible health concerns etc and had found a reputable breeder, yet we still had a dog with an illness. And it’s an expensive illness, even if it is easy to treat once you know it exists. It’s a $160 shot every 6 weeks. Without it, Phaedra would die. With it, she’s able to live a happy and healthy life.

She’s also on Prednisone. It’s a very small dosage, but it helps her body to function. It can also have other side effects. Phaedra is only 5.5 years old, but she’s now having incontinence issues. Recently I was holding her in my lap and petting her, and she relaxed and fell asleep. She then peed in her sleep. I was completely freaked out and took her into the vet, who kept her for observation and to take a sample of her urine. She didn’t have any sort of bladder infection, so he deduced that she may just be suffering from early incontinence, which is something you see in older female spayed dogs. It may or may not be from the Prednisone, which can cause it.

To treat the incontinence, she’s now on a low dose of estrogen. Now that she’s taken the estrogen pills daily for 4 days, we’ll be giving her 1 estrogen pill a week to help her maintain that hormone level. She takes a very tiny dose of Prednisone every other day. And of course, she gets her shot every 6 weeks. I’m grateful for modern medicine being able to let her lead a healthy life. I never expected to have a dog with health issues like this. I don’t really think that I could have done anything differently with Phaedra.

I feel like pet healthcare has come so far in the past 100 years. We’re able to treat and manage so many different conditions. But just like with humans, you never really expect them to get sick. I know I thought we’d done everything we needed to do to make sure we’d have a healthy dog.

I’m grateful that I’ve been able to take care of Phaedra with her health issues, and I’m grateful that medicine exists to treat them. I don’t  know what I’d do without Phaedra.

Have you ever had to deal with pet health issues? How did you handle them?

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  • Oh poor Phaedra. I teared up a little reading it! I remember when you were trying to figure out what was wrong with her and I’m so glad it is something that she is able to lead a normal life, even if she does have to take medication.
    One of my beagles (well, my parents’ now, but they originally got him for me) has epilepsy. Before we got him on medication the seizures he would have were so scary and heartbreaking. He didn’t understand what was going on and you could tell they scared him because he would just crawl up in your lap and shake. Before we got his medication right it would bother me so much to think about the possibility of him having seizures while no one was home to hold him. He now takes medication daily and has for the past 7 or 8 years. It keeps the seizures at bay, but he will probably die of liver or kidney failure just because of how hard the medication is on his system, especially taken over years. He gets to lead a normal life and that’s all that matters.  He’s getting older now and it breaks my heart to think of him dying. That is the hardest part of being a pet owner- saying goodbye way before you are ready to do so. But the impact they have on our lives with their freely given unconditional love is worth it.

  • Aww, sweet Phaedra, poor girl. I’m so glad that there are treatments available for her health issues <3
    You know about my 4 dogs. They’re all mainly in good health. Buster is a bit older, Bailey and Miko have no health concerns right now. And then there’s my Eddie. Eddie has troubles with pancreatitis and has to be on a low fat diet for the rest of his life. When he first got sick they only gave him a 50/50 shot of surviving. Luckily he made it. He’s had one other hospitalization for his pancreas since then ($900 each time that happens, yikes!). I now know what symptoms to watch for and have caught all other attacks early enough that he didn’t need hospitalization. He was able to be treated with a shot, rx for antibiotics and a strict boiled chicken and rice diet for a week or so (which he LOVES). It’s so hard when they can’t tell you what’s hurting them or when they aren’t feeling well. 
    My other Pomeranian, who died in 2004, had a few health issues. She had a heart condition, so she was on a prescription for that. She also had trouble with patellar luxation, which is kind of like your knee cap easily popping out of place. Luckily her case wasn’t bad enough to require surgery. When she suddenly had a seizure one Sunday morning, I called the vet immediately. They had me watch her closely and if she had anymore said to take her to the emergency vet. She had another that evening and I took her. They kept her overnight and ran tons of tests. She was diagnosed with leukemia, and she couldn’t be treated because of her heart condition. She quickly started going into multiple organ failure and I did one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. I held her while they put her to sleep. I had to do it for her, I couldn’t let her suffer. She was only 12, which is young for a Pom, and she was my baby girl. It was heartbreaking, but it was the kindest thing to do, I could see her deteriorating before my eyes. 
    I love what dixiesade said “You just take care of them the best you can, love them with all your heart, and allow them to live comfortably as long as possible.”. I always say that loving your pet and giving them the best life you possibly can is the best thing you can do for any animal.

  • I work at an Animal Hospital and having a pet can get pricey, but just the thought of how wonderful they are to the owner and lovable, makes you want to keep on paying those bills and fighting right along with the pet for their life.  My heart breaks every time an owner comes in and there are not so good news and all I see is sadness in their eyes because they are about to lose a part of their life.  I didn’t know how much a pet can change someone’s life until I started working at the hospital. I wish Phaedra many many years to keep rocking the bows ;).
    I personally don’t have any pets and have consider getting a puppy in the future, but we’ll see.  On other news, today I got excited because for the first time I saw two Irish Wolfhounds, they were huge.

    • Beautify_UrLife Phaedra has been my rock! I wouldn’t trade her for anything!
      Irish wolfhounds are cool but have pretty short lifespans from what I understand.

  • Yes! I can say it seems that it doesn’t matter how much research you do, you’ll never be able to guarantee a healthy pet. I have a 7 year old dachshund that has been paralyzed in her hind legs, but she’s now walking just fine after back surgery (which costs more than I’d like to admit I paid). And last year my pit bull mix was diagnosed with bladder cancer. That’s also cost a fortune.
    You just take care of them the best you can, love them with all your heart, and allow them to live comfortably as long as possible.

    • dixiesade You said it perfectly “You just take care of them the best you can, love them with all your heart, and allow them to live comfortably as long as possible.”

  • Yes! I can say it seems that it doesn’t matter how much research you do, you’ll never be able to guarantee a healthy pet. I have a 7 year old dachshund that has been paralyzed in her hind legs, but she’s now walking just fine after back surgery (which costs more than I’d like to admit I paid). And last year my pit bull mix was diagnosed with bladder cancer. That’s also cost a fortune.
    You just take care of them like they’re your kids and

  • Phyrra, I have had at least 10 cats in my life, and a number of health issues with some of them. Right now, I have 6 fur babies and 2 of them are 16 yr-old litter mates. A male and a female. The male has thyroid issues which is quite common in older cats. He takes Tapazole for it every day, and has doen so for about a year. He is holding his own, as they say.
    His sister, on the other hand, has a slowly growing mass in her liver  which does not seem to an issue right now. Her labs and especially her liver enzymes, are normal. Unfortunately she has a weird sinus and/or allergy condition which causes her to sneeze and cough repeatedly. She is eating, tho, so the vet says she is not in pain, but it is day to day with her, for me.
    I have another cat with asthma and diabetes. She has to have insulin injections 2x a day, and she takes Cyclosporin for her asthma. 
    Before this family of fur kids, I lost one cat to cancer (inoperable), one to a heart attack, and one to throat cancer. So, yes I have suffered deeply at the loss of each and every one of my kids. But you know what? I don’t regret having any of these cats, nor do I resent having to take care of them and watch them so closely. They were all rescues or adoptions, and yes, all the care has and is costing me a fortune, besides their food, litter, etc.
    It is not easy, Phyrra. Not at all. But I take a good deal of comfort in knowing that every one of my kids has had / is having the best life they can because of the care and love I am providing. They may not have gotten that elsewhere. And the love and appreciation they give back to me is immeasurable, as I know it is with you and Phaedra. That’s how I deal with my pet health issues. 
    And, I hold my breath every time the vet tests their blood or takes an x-ray.  >^.^<

    • Sandy615 It’s always good when they’re eating.
      Towards the end with Quasar (my Birman), she stopped eating 🙁
      The love is definitely immeasurable.

  • Cute Phaedra and she’s lucky to have you and your hub as dog parents. I can relate to your feeling! I can’t imagine a life w/o Winkles. She got so sick one time, she wouldn’t eat so we rushed her to the vet, my heart was crushed! Thank God she recovered quickly.
    Prior to having Winkles, we have 2 dogs (childhood dogs of my hub). I took care of them in their dying years. I’d nurse the bed sores, help them walk, give meds, etc. One succumbed to cancer, the other from heart failure (both over 20 years old). Our household was never the same again. Winkles came in 2 mos after the passing, barely 3 mos. old. She’s grown to be the sweetest dog. Hugs to Phaedra from us!!!!

  • I’ve had my share of pet health issues. about 3 years ago I lost one of my pets to cancer that we battled for 5 months with chemo, then i  lost his mother about a year ago , she was on 5 different medicines for almost 2 years for her heart issues and we also dealt with incontinence issues with her. Then when I was ready to get another pet I ended up getting two puppies one for me and one for my mom and they had parvo…. her’s didn’t make it and mine barely did, My mother in laws golden doodle recently passed not too long ago and it was very soon she wasn’t even sick. C’est la vie!! Everything has calmed down and I haven’t had any major health issues with our pets but it really is tough having to take care of a sick pet since it’s not like you can ask them how they’re doing. we all plan and hope for the best but life has a way of happening. Phaedra is lucky to have you taking such good care of her!!

    • ManicureAddict Very good point! I have my own health issues, but Phaedra helps me through them by providing joy and emotional support.
      And yes, it can be so hard to diagnose illnesses with pets because they try to hide them.

  • Phaedra is such a cutie. Lucky to have a good family, too. We’ve run the gauntlet on different kinds of pets and different issues. Most of our dogs have passed by now, but we’ve had to do shots for insulin, pills for epilepsy (all our girl dogs have had it), pills for liver issues, pills for gallbladder issues, pills for who only knows what else… lol (well I mean we didn’t just give things for funsies, but there have been a lot of medicines in our days) Our ferrets have brought all kinds of other fun, most specifically the females who had adrenal disease (kind of common) who went through shots and one even got an implant of medicine. The there was one boy ferret who got a mystery disease. The vets had us trying all kinds of things from prednisone to antibiotics. Never did figure out what it was, but he got over it and lived to the old age of 7 which is the longest one has made it so far. It’s hard to take in the scope of how much care a pet needs until you go through it. And you just never know what will happen. Kind of like people, but with the added issue of them not being able to specifically tell you what feels wrong.

    • Cassykins Yeah I wish it was easier to diagnose with animals. It can be so hard to pinpoint the problem. Several times I thought Phaedra was going to die 🙁 I am so grateful to my vet that he was able to deduce her issues and treat them.
      Ferrets have some crazy issues! Wow!

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