In Sickness and in Health

One of the tricks to pet ownership – and, I imagine, parenthood – is knowing when and when not to worry. Being a somewhat anxious person by nature, this has been a real test for me. Shiva is an extremely healthy dog and despite her propensity to ram head-first into walls she has yet to suffer a serious injury. One would think this would enable me to relax a little.

One would think wrong. All it takes is a minor blip and I am up all night, imagining the worst scenarios possible.

 If she coughs after drinking too much water, I think she has bloat. If she limps when there is a piece of ice stuck in her paw, I think she has hip dysplasia. If she wakes me up in the middle of the night to dash outside, I think she has giardia.

It’s truly amazing I’ve never had an ulcer, isn’t it?

The internet doesn’t help. Dr. Google is both my best friend and my worst enemy. Sometimes it’s just better not to know all the possible causes of each and every symptom. Especially since all of them have disappeared on their own within a couple hours. Do I really need to know vomiting can be a sign of canine epilepsy? Probably not.

When it comes to my own health, I am much more negligent. Other than my yearly check up I never consider seeing a doctor. My philosophy usually revolves around waiting for whatever it is to go away. If it is still bugging me after a few days, I’ll just wait a few more. So far, this method hasn’t failed me. But I would never think of applying the same lackadaisical principles to my dog’s health.  

That’s probably a good thing. While I know my stress-over-every-minor-problem technique isn’t healthy for my mental state, I’d rather worry it could be something tragic than brush it off only to discover Shiva has some sort of incurable disease. I was half-crazy long before I got a dog anyway. Why not go all in?

23 thoughts on “In Sickness and in Health

  1. Oh, I knew I wasn’t the only one like this, but it’s nice to have proof sometimes. I’m neurotic about Elka’s health, lassaize-faire about mine.

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  2. OMG! I used to think I was the only one doing/thinking/being like this…SOOO happy to realize there are two of us! *hugs*

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  3. I know what you mean – i think part of the problem is that they don’t tell you if it’s just clearing their throat or a possible partly-collapsed trachea. If dogs could talk, I’d be much less stressed out by every little thing that Gwynn does. His tendency to behave strangely doesn’t help either. The first time I found a cut on his leg from running through the woods (a pretty short, quite shallow and perfectly fine and safe cut), I nearly used rubbing alcohol on it, convinced he was going to get a horrible infection and die. Luckily someone stopped me before I caused him to fear me forever as the person who made the ‘ouch’ turn into ‘YowZA, WTF did you DO?! Why do you hate me?’

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  4. LOL once I took Sampson to the emergency vet on a Sunday morning because I thought he had an embedded tick in his toe. They picked a scab off and gave me a bill for $110.oo! Yes, I worry about everything too, go ahead and google this….you can worry yourself a hemorrhoid.

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  5. This post would make my husband laugh because it so describes me. And the more “real” health problems Pearl has, the more nervous I get when something seems wrong. Has anyone ever read the Madeline books where Miss Clavel sits up in bed and goes, “something is not right” and then she has to go investigate and one of the girls is crying or sick or something? That is how I feel with Pearl. My vet is probably REALLY tired of getting phone calls from me. But it makes sense to worry, because dogs can’t tell us when something is bothering them or how bad it is. If Pearl was as much of a whiner as some people I know when she didn’t feel well I would probably be telling her to suck it up.

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  6. Apparently google thinks I spend a lot of time researching dog health topics..it was at the top of my list when I googled “how old does google think I am”…Yep, they think I’m a middle aged woman who has muchausen syndrome for her dog.

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  7. We do have to remember all of the health benefits dogs bring us in spite of our worrying over their health. My blood pressure is always really high at the doctor’s office, but I had visiting nurses in my home for a short time and my blood pressure was low to normal.

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  8. Trouble is they can’t tell us exactly what’s wrong, so we start thinking of all sorts. We know there’s something wrong, but exactly what it is causes us to worry. Like you I have on many occassions bveen ready to dash to the vets, only for whatever was wrong to clear up all on it’s own.

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  9. I know…we are completely weird about our dogs too. We just had our big epiphany that we closely monitor what we feed our dogs, to keep them healthy, yet we would continue to eat all kinds of crazy, unhealthy things.

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  10. My mom and dad get worried all the time. And our daytime walkers sometimes make comments like, “oh, we noticed that Sam’s blah, blah, blah is a little odd, have you noticed this?!?!”, which means I or my brothers or my sister will likely get driven over to see our vet early the next day and likely our vet will tell us that it’s nothing after a detailed and thorough examination. But my dad will tell you that it’s better to be safe than sorry and that mom and dad will be eating 2 weeks of mac and cheese to pay for the exam. But we still get our regular (bison) food 🙂

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  11. I think most people are worry warts in terms of their dogs… like Lexy said, if dogs could talk it would be different. But since they don’t we can’t just ask how bad they hurt or where they hurt.

    I will say I have become MUCH better with hitting the Snooze button on my panic about an issue. I have learned to take a breath before rushing to the emergency vet. If there is an obvious gaping wound or vital signs go wonky… then i’ll go right in but if they suddenly start to limp (normally after a collision of sorts)… i give them an hour to start putting SOME weight on the limb… and then a few days to see if they’ll put a little more.

    It’s so hard not to panic… but my wallet cannot afford $300 emergency vet visits for a sore muscle … I also have learned more about canine first aid and such so i can check the important things and know what to look for if there is a serious problem.

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  12. Ha ha! Just last night I said there was something wrong with Saydee because she was walking around in circles on the couch and acting confused . . . sigh. It’s hard not to worry about them 🙂 I have a knee injury that has been bothering me almost a year . . still waiting for it to get better 🙂 You’re never alone Kristine!!!

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  13. LOL, thank DOG I am not alone. The best and worst part of studying canine nutrition and Small Animal Naturopathy is definitely that I *know* what things could be. It’s awful. It was actually really awful during my own recent health crisis because as my doctor ordered test I knew what she was looking for. LOL, it was terrible. I was a nervous wreck waiting for all the blood work to be done.

    I think the fact that they can’t tell us when something is really wrong that sets me off. Felix had a broken tooth and we never would have known except that he was tilting his head to one side while he ate. Seriously? That’s it. At least with Koly I have a built in fail safe. I don’t worry unless he refuses food. If that happens, we treat it like a 5 alarm emergency!

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  14. I’m the same way with Riley! She stepped on a spiky gumball in the yard today and started limping on her left hind leg…I immediately thought, “Oh great, she’s going to have to have knee surgery on that leg too!!!” and stopped breathing for a minute! Glad there’s nothing wrong with Shiva or Riley (for the moment)!!!

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  15. LOL… this post describes how I am about Bella. And, if I’m being honest, about myself. I definitely have hypochondriac tendencies and manage to convince myself I have all sorts of ailments that I never actually have. 😛

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  16. This post rings true to me. And under the “don’t need to know” category, I really don’t need to know all of the scary stuff a hunting dog can pick up in the field, like certain fungi that can cause death, or nasty cheat grass seeds. Sometimes I think life was better pre-internet when we all lived in blissful ignorance. 🙂

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