I learned a lesson this past week, the hard way! Actually, our dog, Tucker, suffered the most. Tucker is a 12 year old. German Wirehaired / German Shorthaired Pointer mix. He’s a good old boy that is all wiry….with the exception of his spots, the top of his head, and his ears…they are smooth, and short. Tucker is the last remaining pup from a litter bred by Tony’s dad’s German Shorthaired Pointer, and his Uncle’s German Wirehaired Pointer. He is a friendly, rambunctious, goofy, chase-that-ball-till-you-drop, great dog and buddy. Tony brought him home one morning when he was just 7 weeks old, and sat him on top of my son while he slept. Will woke up to that little scrunchy face staring down at him….never have you seen a happier little boy than that moment. I’ll never forget it!
Well as time goes on…little boys and puppies grow older. Will is now 24 and Tucker is 12. Will is in the prime of his life, Tucker is settling into old age. What do chickens, beef, septic systems, and pancreatitis have to do with an old dog named, Tucker? Here is that story…..
Since moving to our home in the woods, I have gotten to experience living with a septic system vs. the well defined sewer systems of the bay area in California. There is a shift of thinking for cleaning products, use of a garbage disposal, keeping an eye on your leach field, and arranging a Honey Truck visit every so often. One thing that is a big no-no (which I have always done being connected to the sewer system) is putting pan drippings down the drain. Recently, I’ve found creative ways to rid ourselves of that product. The most recent is to pour it into a container, refrigerate it so most of the fat rises to the top, remove that fat, and use the flavorful drippings in my dogs’ kibble as an extra treat. I don’t use all of it at once, but divide it between 3 dogs, and about three feedings. Sounds good…apparently, not for my old guy!
The other GREAT idea that I have had recently, is to buy a whole chicken…use the white meat for people consumption, and give the dogs the dark meat including the skin, and the fat-removed-drippings as stated above. I would then boil the bones to get a good broth…and add the de-fatted drippings to the broth. Again, this would be added to their kibble over many feedings…divided by three dogs. Economically speaking…this was way cheaper than buying canned dog food…and healthier…so I thought, but apparently, not for my old guy!
As with the chicken story above, I buy beef…the kind that is marked down to where I can get like 3 pounds of beef for about $8.00…this would last me a good 8 feedings times 3 dogs…so 24 meals! A great alternative to buying canned dog food….apparently, not for my old guy!
So this week, our old Tucker dog became very ill. He started vomiting, and within a 14 hour period wherein, it became very noticeable that this was not just a minor event, and we could get him into the vet’s office…he threw up 12 times. He was also drinking a ton of water. He was very ill, and his life was totally in the balance. His pancreas was totally inflamed, with sky-high values of Lipase 2,300 (highest normal level is 1200) and Amylase at 9,000 (highest normal level is 750!!!) He was a really sick boy. So it was either pancreatic cancer, or pancreatitis caused by something he ate. This can happen when dogs get into the garbage, or eat foods with a high fat content. You know that sinking feeling when the world kind of zeros in on you, and that dark curtain kind of lowers down over your thinking when you realize…you could have caused the problem? That is exactly what I felt when the vet told us what was going on with our Tucker boy. AHHHHHH!! The night before, I had bought some fried chicken from the grocery store…it seemed really greasy, so I took the fried skin off the chicken, but I fed the dogs the dark meat. Obviously…the grease had saturated the meat of the chicken….hoping that it wasn’t cancer…the alternative was that I hurt him by the food I gave him the night before….I’ll take that…just don’t let it be cancer!!
Over the next few days, a lot of IV fluids, no food, rest, and then a reintroduction of a special EN (Gastroenteric) diet Tucker has gotten stronger!! His pancreatic levels are down to 1,826 and 1,000 (huge reduction from 9,000.) Although still too high, way better than before. We have to be careful from here on out…no more beef, only white meat on the chicken…no skin, and no more de-fatted drippings. He’s not out of the woods yet, and he’s kind of a day-by-day doggy now, but he’s home, and he’s wagging his stubby tail!!