“Owning a dog is slightly less expensive than being addicted to crack.” ― Jen Lancaster, Bitter is the New Black
The adventure continues with our Great Weimar (that’s a Great Dane/ Weimaraner) puppy. Our first week with Annie was a whirlwind of chaos and the fun doesn’t stop there. After the storms of fleas, worms, chewed leashes, beds, and bibles, we headed into our second week with the hope of calmer seas.
Episode Three: Recovery, Reactions, and Reality
Annie’s spay surgery went smoothly and we scheduled to pick her up from the vet at 5:00pm the same day. I had experience in caring for puppies who had been spayed before so this seemed like an easy task. When we arrived at the vet, we were taken into one of the exam rooms for a discharge review. The surgeon assured us that Annie was a great puppy and that the surgery went extremely well. He told us that she had sutures on the outside and more on the inside so it was critical that we keep her from climbing stairs for at least three to four days.
Problem: Our apartment has two set of stairs with at least one of those sets being unavoidable as it is the only way to get into our second story apartment home.
We thought about this dilemma for a few minutes and then decided that we needed to take her to Kyle’s parent’s house for the weekend. They have an actual downstairs where we would be able to keep her confined for a few days. Before we finished the discharge review, the surgeon told us that if we should see a significant increase in swelling to contact them immediately as this could indicate an infection or a tear in the inside sutures. We shook hands and thanked the surgeon for taking care of our Annie, picked up her doggie anti-inflammatory medication, and waited for our groggy pup to be brought up front. She was out like a light for the rest of the night and she was pretty calm all weekend. Things seemed to be healing well and we brought her back home Sunday evening.
When I returned home from work on Monday, Kyle asked me to take a look at her stomach. The swelling had increased from almost nothing to quite a bit in just a few hours. We fed her and gave her the second dose of anti-inflammatory medication to see if that would help the swelling go down. After about an hour, we decided to call the vet just to be safe. The surgeon who had performed the procedure was there and wanted to see her immediately. It was 6:30pm and their office closed at 7:00pm. We live approximately 30 minutes away from that office so we jumped in the car and rushed to get her there before closing time. Just as they were about to lock the doors, we arrived at the vet to get her checked up. They brought us into an exam room quickly and the vet looked at Annie’s swollen abdomen. He pressed and mushed and kneaded her belly like it was dough and Annie didn’t seem to be in any pain. The conclusion he came to was that she was experiencing a normal amount of swelling. We were given another five days’ worth of anti-inflammatory medicine and the warning that the swelling will get worse before it gets better. Feeling like over-reactive parents, we took our recovering pooch and went home.
The swelling got worse, just as the doc had warned, but by Wednesday evening, it was looking infected. She was oozing a red-tinged sticky fluid out of her sutures and her belly was hanging down like she was pregnant. It was tender to the touch and Annie was acting very lethargic. At this point, we did what every new, inexperienced puppy parent would do: we panicked.
It was almost 10:00pm and no normal veterinary clinic is open at that time of night. We didn’t want to risk waiting until the morning since Annie wasn’t acting like herself and she was clearly feeling sick. At 10:20pm we decided to go ahead and take her to the emergency vet clinic.
This experience was an absolute nightmare! The vet on duty that night had the bedside manners of a brick and the vet tech (who seemed nice at first) handled our poor, sick Annie horribly. She pinned her to the floor in what looked like a mixed martial arts headlock move while the vet proceeded to dig into Annie’s oozing sutures with a beta-dine solution. Annie didn’t bite anyone but she did show her teeth (and rightfully so). The pair then took Annie into the back where they muzzled her and continued to dig into her swollen, painful abdomen. We sat in the exam room cringing at each whimper and whine we heard coming from our puppy. After about ten minutes of waiting impatiently, the vet tech brought Annie back into the exam room with us. The vet followed shortly after and informed us that she cleaned the incision and flushed it with a beta-dine solution but that we needed to follow up with her regular vet in the morning because it is probably infected from a reaction to the interior sutures. She told us that we needed to keep her from eating anything after midnight because it looks like it is a deep infection and the vet may have to open her back up. We were sent home with antibiotics and some gauze to clean the area when it was oozing.
That’s when reality hit. I went to check out after the whole terrible ordeal and the receptionist handed me a bill for a whopping $189.00! I swallowed my shock and pulled out my debit card. It cost almost $200.00 for a vet to wipe an incision with a beta-dine solution, give us a pack of antibiotics, have terrible bedside manners, and treat our puppy with everything but tender love and care.
Our follow up with the vet in the morning was much kinder than the night before. He said that he didn’t think it was infected but that she was definitely having a reaction to the interior sutures. It isn’t common but it can happen so he told us we needed to keep her on the antibiotic, put an Elizabethan Collar on her to keep her from licking, and bring her back for a checkup—every day if possible. Now, all we could do is hope and pray that she got better and not worse.
Welcome to the world of puppy parenthood, Kyle and Jamie!
If you have a dog story you want to share, tell me about it in the comments. I’d love to read it! Join us next week for more adventures in dog parenthood with Annie the Great Weimar rescue pup!
Until next time…
J. G. McNease