Last time I wrote I had just been on a lovely short break for my birthday and all was well in my world. As the great Ricky Gervais says about the ups and downs of life, “You can be having the time of your life, and then you find a lump”
Fear not, I haven’t actually found a lump, but my world was rocked slightly when my beloved French Bulldog Wilson suddenly became ill. A few weeks ago I noticed that he was not his usual bouncy self. He refused to eat his breakfast but I assumed he was having a diva day so I sat on the kitchen floor and offered him morsels from my hand. He ate a little but reluctantly, so I put it up to offer again later. During the day Wilson was clingy but, again, I put it down to the fact that I had been away recently and he was making sure I didn’t go anywhere again. Big was away on business and when he phoned I told him I was worried that Wilson seemed off-colour. He thought I was being neurotic but told me to make an appointment to see the vet in the morning if I was still concerned. A few minutes later I let all three dogs out into the garden to play and noticed that Wilson had vomited several times earlier. When we came inside he was breathing strangely and I immediately knew that something was wrong. I called the vet and they told me to come straight down and that they would put me in as an extra consult at the end of the day.
In the waiting room, Wilson sat on my lap and shook. He hates going to the vet and is usually quite vocal while waiting but this time he was too quiet. Eventually it was our turn. The vet, Claire, examined him carefully as he trembled on the table. He let her put her thermometer up his backside without the usual resistance so I knew then that he wasn’t feeling well! She was concerned that there was noise in his lungs and he had a slight fever so she wanted to admit him to the hospital for X-rays, blood tests and fluids. She whisked him away, leaving me with a form to fill in detailing his normal routine, food, sleeping and toileting habits and as I wrote down all the things he liked and disliked the tears came. I felt bereft leaving him there but I knew he was in good hands.
Later that evening Claire called to say that he had undergone a chest X-ray under sedation and there were early signs of aspiration pneumonia, meaning that when he had vomited he had inhaled some into his lungs which was causing inflammation. Because this had been caught early it was easily treatable with IV antibiotics but Claire was still anxious to find out what had caused the vomiting in the first place so they had taken bloods as well to test for various different things. I couldn’t relax so I ended up calling the night team after midnight to see if he had settled. They assured me that he was quiet and that he had eaten a little so I went to bed, although I didn’t get much sleep.
The following morning I phoned for another update and was told that Wilson was much brighter, he had apparently chewed his drip up and had destroyed bits of his kennel in a bid to escape during the night, so they were happy to let him come home with antibiotics in tablet form. Wilson and I were overjoyed to be reunited. After settling a rather huge bill we left with some special tins of recovery food and an appointment for a check up in a few days time. He certainly seemed much better, although he was still quiet and climbed into my lap every time I sat down. He really seemed to like the bland food though, lapping enthusiastically at it and making a proper mess on the kitchen floor. It was a relief to see him enjoying his food again and I relaxed enough to jump onto the treadmill for a bit of a workout. Just as I was cooling down, a call came through from the vet. Claire explained that she had done a snap test that afternoon with some of Wilsons blood and it had come back as abnormal for pancreatic enzymes. The test does not give a number and can sometimes give a false reading so she wanted to send some blood off to the lab to get a more accurate picture of what was going on. I agreed with her that it would be better to know for sure what we were dealing with, even so I was worried.
Two days later we returned to the surgery for Wilsons check up. Naturally he was not happy to be back so soon but he bravely tolerated another examination. Claire was happy that his breathing had improved and that the meds were doing the trick and we agreed that he would stay on the prescription diet, at least until the test results were back. Another large bill for all the extra tests and more food was waiting for me at the desk but I was just so relieved that Wilson was recovering.
A few days later Claire phoned again. This time she was not so upbeat. The reading for enzymes had come back at over 500. Claire explained that anything over 200 was considered high. This meant a definitive diagnosis of pancreatitis, simply meaning inflammation of the pancreas, which can be serious but will hopefully be controllable with a strict low fat diet. Although I knew it was a bad idea, I began to research the condition. I soon realised that Wilson had been displaying some of the symptoms a few days before he went to the vet. He had been stretching and bowing down during mealtimes as if he had a stitch, a sign that eating was causing him some discomfort, and had been more tired on walks than usual. It all started to make sense now that I knew what was wrong! I have always been very strict with all the dogs, feeding them good quality dog food and minimal treats to ensure that they stay slim so I was dismayed that this had happened but apparently some breeds are genetically prone to certain conditions and French Bulldogs are unfortunately prone to more than their fair share. Wilson has always been a small, slightly built dog but he has lost just over a kilo, which is a lot for a dog his size. He is looking a bit skinny but we are hoping he will fill out again once he adjusts to his new low fat, and very expensive specialist food. I have managed to source it more cheaply online but it is still going to be three or four times to cost of his regular Bulldog food. However, he is worth every penny and we will all be doing everything we can to keep him as healthy as possible. Heres hoping for a less eventful few weeks so that we can all recover!
Thanks for reading. xx