Wednesday, January 30, 2013

A Cautionary Tale

The phone rang at about 6:30 this morning. A call at that time rarely brings a message of comfort and joy. Sure enough. A very small dog, Toffee, who is the companion of very good friends was vomiting blood and my friend needed to know the location of the emergency vet closest to her home. My identification with the situation was immediate and total. We came very close to losing Bingley shortly after we adopted him, when he developed a severe case of hemorrhagic gastro-enteritis. If you've witnessed that particular canine affliction first hand, I don't have to describe it. If you haven't, I'll spare you details but assure you that it is something you really want to miss. I just talked to Toffee's human and things are now under control and we can hope for a complete recovery. But in considering what might have triggered the episode, it was remembered that Toffee had been exposed to some new treats and novel foods. When I heard this, I thought, "Bingo!" It has become fashionable to feed dogs the way we feed children: offering them variety and "taste adventures." Toffee's guardians hadn't done that, but a hostess they were visiting had. Nearly all dogs respond to novel foods--and even non-foods--with enthusiasm. But for a certain number of dogs,novel food can lead to life threatening misery. Their systems cannot adapt to change and the intestinal track becomes irritated. In extreme cases such as Bingley's, the entire track becomes an open sore. So go easy on any dietary change for your dog. The most wholesome treat for one dog might spell an emergency vet's visit for another. And in case I haven't scared you enough, just a day or two ago, I read about another recall of dog treats that are imported from China. I can't remember the brand, but it was from a well-known company. The only reason I didn't pay attention is that my dogs eat only the prescription dog food that Bingley can tolerate, so I wasn't worried about them. Sometimes sameness has its benefits.

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