Confessions Of A Dog Hypochondriac

  • Article by: Anne Hendrickson
  • Star Tribune Sales and Marketing
  • November 28, 2007 - 7:48 AM

They say admitting you have a problem is the first step. So I guess its time for me to bite the bullet. I am a dog hypochondriac. I fret over my dogs' well being more than my own. My health is fantastic. Sure, I could exercise more, eat healthier, cut back on smoking and could probably get by on fewer glasses of Chardonnay. Despite that, I'm not particularly attentive to my health. I haven't had to see a doctor in years.

My dogs however, are a different story. I take them to the vet at the slightest provocation - real or perceived. They should name a new wing at the vet clinic after us. This summer alone, we've been there seven times.

The first was perfectly legitimate. All three dogs needed annual checkups. I stocked up on worm and flea preventatives, got titer tests and rabies vaccinations. We left the clinic $700 later - which is more than I've spent on my own health care in 10 years. (Unless you count cigarettes as mental health care.) Less than 24 hours later, we were back. Riley had sustained a bite to his foot from a rodent or a very menacing insect. He went out in the middle of the night, came back in and began obsessively licking his paw. Naturally, I assumed he was doing this to annoy me. By morning, his foot was swollen and mangled. I called the vet and told them it was an emergency and rushed in. They cleaned the bite and sent us on our way.

We lasted almost a week before the next visit. Riley's stomach muscles were spasming and he was hunched over with his back arched. Since these are symptoms of bloat, a very deadly condition in dogs, we dropped everything and rushed back to the vet.

It turned out he just had gas.

After the gas incident, we again held off nearly a week before returning to the vet. This time Cobie ate the entire bottle of Riley's incontinence medication. I was getting ready to go out of town and had the bottle out to pack. I left the house for an hour and returned to find chewed remnants of the bottle and no pills. I immediately called the vet. "Do you know which one ate it?" She asked. I looked around. Riley and Ralphie greeted me as usual. Cobie was lying on the floor. He looked like a scared, bloated cat. Every hair on his body was standing on end. His tail was puffed out and his eyes were completely dilated as he looked at me without getting up.

"It appears to be Cobie." I said.

"Did he eat the bottle too?"Uh, yeah."

The vet explained that the side effects of the drug are irritability and hyperactivity. Fabulous. This was especially great news since we were going on a road trip. Who wouldn't want to drive long distances with an irritable, hyper dog that is hopped up on incontinence medication? At least, I hoped, this would limit our potty stops. We stopped at the vet on the way out of town. She fed him some charcoal to prevent absorption of the drugs. Still puffy, with pupils as big as pennies, Cobie busied himself with every trained behavior he knew in rapid succession. Finish. Heel. Stand. Sit. Shake. Down. Finish. Heel.... He went through the sequence three to five times as I paid the bill. The vet recommended postponing my trip. So I told her I would, and then we got in the car and set out for Milwaukee. Once on the road Cobie sat wide-eyed in his crate. He alternated between stalking imaginary things and sitting contentedly with a happy doggy-grin and his tongue hanging out. At the A&W Drive through, the cashier offered him a doggy biscuit. He took it gently in his mouth and laid it down in his crate as if to say, "I want it, I just can't right now. I'll save it for later." It was the only time Cobie hasn't inhaled food.

Stories of my dog hypochondriac tendencies could go on forever if space and time permitted. But they don't. So I'll save the story of Cobie being diagnosed with nearsightedness for next time.


Anne Hendrickson is the owner of Downtown Dogs Daycare and Training,

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