Happy Valentine’s Day to the one who pays the bills

I was amused by Flippy’s little Valentine’s Day greeting to me in her blog, thanking me for “putting up with her”. Seeing as she graciously took three little kittens to the vet last week and paid about $350 for their vaccinations and exams, and then took Eli to the vet today (allowing her to sit on the leather car seats) and shelled out about $450, I think it’s me who should be giving thanks.

Our trip today literally lasted for three hours, too, so I don’t have words for how much I appreciate Flippy’s patience and good nature when we’re in a situation which could best be described as “trying”. Nothing takes the stress out of a stressful situation like being with someone who makes you laugh. So, for Flippy, a big “Happy Valentine’s Day” back at ‘cha, and thank you for allowing me to fill your house with things on four legs, things which shed, things which don’t flush, etc. They all love you, too.

I think I managed to give Flippy the best gift ever this evening… she was on the sofa watching TV, and at one point had three little kittens curled up in her lap, sound asleep. If you want your heart to go pitter-pat, let a little kitten look up at you adoringly while purring, closing its eyes, and dosing off in the safety of your presence. It’s the most incredible thing.

As just mentioned, we did spend a large part of the day at the vet. It was Eli’s annual wellness exam, and I wanted it out of concern that she’s been acting sort of stiff and sore for the past couple of months. She’s also lost some muscle mass, so while her weight has remained the same, I can see that she’s lost some tone (haven’t we all?!). So, she had a very thorough exam today, including a ton of x-rays, and that kept us at the vet’s office for some time while we waited for results.

I was getting a bit concerned towards the end of the appointment because normally we’d be done with the vet consultation, and would just be checked out by a tech, but the vet wanted to speak to us. The longer I sat in the waiting room, the more vividly I imagined that the x-ray had shown odd masses or growths or very bad things. Luckily, there was nothing of that sort, although the x-rays did reveal Eli’s bad habit of eating small rocks.

The main problem that showed up was very bad arthritis in many of Eli’s joints, especially both hips, her wrists, and her spine. I knew one of her front feet was bothering her and that she was prone to bouts of limping on it, but I had no idea the other areas were in such bad shape. They were so bad that it was another case of “I could spot the problem on the x-ray”, and I don’t know anything about this stuff. Both Flippy and I have always thought of Eli as a bit of a “baby” when it comes to pain, as she’s very whiny about having her ears cleaned, fussy about having her nails trimmed, etc., but she’s obviously very stoic about other pain because she has to be in a lot of it with this degree of arthritis, and she’s only recently started to show it.

We discussed all our treatment options with the vet, but really, we don’t have many. In theory Eli could have surgery for her hips and even have a hip replacement done, but with two bad hips, she might not have the strength to support the post-surgical leg during its rehab time. Also, if there was any sort of terrible complication with the leg and it required something drastic like amputation (say, she was allergic to the implant), there’s no way her other rear leg could cope with all the workload.

The other surgical option is a Femoral Head and Neck Resection, but the vet thinks that’s something to keep as a last resort if Eli’s discomfort becomes overwhelming. As she’s been taking Cosequin and getting glucosamine/chondroitin supplements for the last couple of years we’ve already got that covered, so for now, we’re going with Rimadyl for pain, and I’m going to try to get her to be a bit more active to build up her muscle mass again. I’ll also try some MSM supplements and see if they help.

We discussed Adequan, but the vet felt that at Eli’s age she wouldn’t get any extra benefit from it than from Cosequin, and of course, it’s terribly expensive. So for now, Rimadyl, and I’m about to order a pet ramp from Drs. Foster and Smith. We’ll have another checkup in 6 months because Eli’s thyoid function was a bit low, but she’s asymptomatic right now, so it can be rechecked in August to see if it’s deteriorated at all. I guess in a 10 year old large dog I should be happy that we got away with just arthritis but a clean bill of health everywhere else.

Today, Eli became our first dog to be tested for heartworm, and put on heartworm meds. While we don’t really have mosquitos here like they exist in other parts of the country, experts here are expecting a big outbreak of heartworm cases starting this spring because of the influx of heartworm-infected dogs from Louisiana. I guess all it takes is one mosquito biting one infected dog for it to start to spread, so even if we only have, say, a thousand mosquitos around town, they’ll be able to do some damage.

We unfortunately have to go through the protocol of having all dogs tested for heartworm before they can be prescribed the meds, so one dog down, three more to go. They need to start the meds by the time overnight temps are consistently around the 60 degree mark, so probably by the end of next month.