Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Pooches: The Curse of Too Much Information

 When I adopted Miss M, my first dog on my own as an adult, I wanted to make sure I was doing everything right. For every scrape or miscoloring I would scour the Internet to see if it was actually a sign of something worse. And I think it was really through these searches that I started learning too much. For each symptom, I would diagnose some terrible disease and usually wind up at the vet just for peace of mind.
 The other day, Miss M gulped water too quickly and for several hours afterwards she kept heaving and retching. I recently learned about the horror of bloat, and I immediately thought she was in the early stages. I consulted my trusty Internet that said a tell-tale sign was if her stomach looked bigger and taunt. Though it was hard to tell because Miss M always looks like this:
She was acting normally otherwise, but I just wanted to be extra sure. Being a Sunday afternoon, the only peace of mind could be found at the Emergency Vet Clinic. And after bringing the too energetic Miss M in, they too confirmed that she was ok.
I’m starting to wonder if too much information can be detrimental. Growing up, we didn’t know nearly as much about dog health and nutrition, and our dogs always lived happy, healthy long lives. Was it just luck? To what degree can knowing more really be that much more beneficial?

21 comments:

loveandaleash said...

we suffer from the TMI problem too. especially now that our Chick is growing older, it's hard not to worry about every little thing!

Christine said...

I know how you feel! I seem to always be taking my dogs to the vet. We had a similar situation with retching and I rushed my dog to vet thinking the worst (bloat). X-rays and $350 later and she was just fine. Then last week I found a lump on her shoulder/neck...convinced it was lymphoma I got the quickest vet appointment possible. Diagnosis? Unknown - but not lymphnode. Maybe internal bruise, maybe fatty tumor, maybe "encapsulation" of her microchip!
I think it's hard because dogs can't talk; they can't tell you how they are feeling. So we end up at the vet "just in case" to make sure that our best friends are ok. In the end, it's always worth the money for peace of mind.

Maisie's Mom said...

I was like that with my first dog, but now Maisie gets second child treatment...meaning, between everything I went through with Kaya (and all the rescue dog ailments I've seen), I am less likely to panic with her unless something seems serious. for vomiting, etc. I use the "compare to me" rule of thumb...for example, if I threw up once or twice, would I call the doctor? also, in my experience the emergency vet can be very helpful over the phone and will tell you truthfully if it's something to just keep an eye on or if it necessitates bringing her in. but bottom line, glad Miss M is OK!

http://maisieme.blogspot.com/

Tucker The Crestie said...

Tell me about it! A couple of weeks ago, I rushed Finn to the E-vet on a Saturday evening because he all of a sudden was squinting his right eye. He was fine, and then all of a sudden he came walking into the room looking like he was ready to be fitted for an eye patch. Since eye injuries are one of those things you just can never really be sure about, off we went. Did the fluoresent dye - the whole nine. A few hundred dollars later, we had a diagnosis of mild conjunctivitis that probably could have waited till Monday morning. Oh, well! :)

Though, by and large, I am still a knowledge is power girl all the way.

Glad Miss M is ok!

Fiona, as typed by Dr. Liz said...

I confess, I went about it a bit differently; I married into 3 dogs, and hadn't had a pet since I was VERY young. I was completely clueless, and relied on the husband (who had had dogs for ages, including the 3 dogs and 2 cats I married into) for 'what was right' vs. 'what should be alarming'. A reasonable plan, except when we got our first puppy - I had no idea what I was doing, and his advice was very hands off. I did all the vet things, but didn't do as much socializing as I should have. Lesson learned in a lot of ways; I stopped listening to the husband's advice, spent a few hours with a good dog trainer who gave me excellent advice on puppy #2 (and puppy #1 who was now a real dog).

As for the vet stuff, I married into 3 older dogs and 2 very old/ancient cats. I developed a very good relationship with the vet early on, and he's given me great advice on 'what to worry about' vs. 'what to watch and see what happens'. Of course, that doesn't mean I'm not studying errant pieces of poop to look for 'anything wrong'....

-Dr. Liz (and not Fiona, aka Puppy #1, who is still a bit of a spaz around other dogs, but is getting better with continuous dog classes)

Corbin said...

Oh yea... my mom is the same way - a complete worry wart!!! She's often wondered the same thing... when she was growing up the dog ate the food at the grocery store and went to the vet for shots once a year -he lived to be over 15! And here I am, on expensive food and mom freaks over the smallest thing!
-Corbin

jen said...

Try working at a vet! I drive my vet crazy! I am always trying to diagnosis my own dogs and am way over paranoid!
I am glad Miss M is fine. It is so hard when we love them so much! I would of done the same thing!

Kari in WeHo said...

I can tell you, working in a medical setting, they have started diagnosing people with Google-itis ;)

Kari
http://dogisgodinreverse.com

A&A Friese said...

I also get a little over anxious if Molly does anything abnormal. She skipped a meal so I was certain we needed to change dog food, she sneezed coughed for 3 minutes and I called the vet. Luckily the Mr. usually is able to calm me down before we rush her to the ER :)

Two Grad Students and a Pittie said...

I worry about life in general, so the pup is no exception. I took her to the vet so many times when we first got her that the vet had a heart to heart with me. But I agree with you, sometimes the internet is a dangerous thing!

brooke said...

I hear you! We're constantly doing google searches and self diagnosing Darwin. Usually 90% of the time we are wrong.
But I also say that's why we have pet insurance to cover so when I am paranoid mom I can cover some of the cost! hehehe

Benny and Lily said...

momma learned the hard way too..The $1100 ER bill, BOL
Benny & Lily

houndstooth said...

I think we all suffer from TMI at some point, but forewarned is also forearmed. If I hadn't been paranoid back in November, Blueberry's cancer could have grown much worse a lot more quickly. Sometimes peace of mind is worth the price!

Laura and Hans said...

First of all I'm glad Miss M is okay! Luckily for us (even though it's embarrassing) Wlbur is a 'burper' and has gone so far as to burp in peoples faces after gulping huge amounts of water at the dog park. But just imagine the panic I felt the day he ate a tampon! I only felt better after reading that someones chihauhau ate one (I love google) without any problems!

Kimberly Montgomery said...

The good news is that you are aware of what is normal for your dog. I had a standard poodle that bloated. --It's common for deep chested dogs. The only thing that saved his life was that we knew something was wrong and we called the vet. They had us bring him in on an emergency basis and emergency surgery was required. What I learned was (if possible) to try to manage the doggie's bouncy activity level after eating. I think water is similar. They get a full stomach and then bounce around and the stomach just flips. The good news was when we had the bloat surgery, the vet also tacked the stomach in place to prevent future bloats. Turns out once a dog's stomach flips it is likely to do it again. You pups are lucky to have concerned parents.

Roo said...

Ms. M and Mr. B are very fortunate to have such caring pawrents :) Mom thinks its better to have too much info than too little. The sifting does pose its challenges though ;)

Waggin at ya,
Roo

Bobby said...

We worry to, but if they eat okay and enjoy a walk. Then we feel better, they do have off days the same as we do.
Licks Bobby

Kate@TwentySixToLife said...

I'm the same way. I can't tell you how many times Mr. T has told me to stop googling because I just freak myself out for no reason!

I'm glad Ms. M is okay!

Kitty+Coco said...

Oh wow, have you said a mouthfull. I am absolutely hypervigilant about every little thing, but it also let me catch Kitty's Glaucoma at the very earliest stage. Now I can use that argument on my husband anytime I have a bad feeling..Sorry honey. Ok, so being honest, I did take Kitty to the emergency vet for a spider bite that was nothing. Really though, to me it was worth every penny.

road-dog-tales said...

Ditto! It seems we go from one extreme to the other sometimes - worrying about every little thing to just trying to let it be! My childhood dog lived to be 21 years old and subsisted on puppy chow and table scraps her entire life and pretty much lived in our fenced-in back yard year round because my mom would not let a dog in the house! Go figure!

The Road Dogs' Mom

Olivia said...

I am the same way. I worry about bloat CONSTANTLY. I also worry about our girl jumping on and off the bed and breaking a leg and I've read horror stories of dogs and broken legs. :o( Loving something so much makes us, crazy, huh?

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