My poor, poor cat

It’s been more than a year since I last posted (oops) and Asrael’s allergies are worse than ever. It stabilized for a long time–the hair never grew to more than a thin fuzz but his skin looked healthy and he wasn’t licking obsessively–but that changed a few weeks ago.

For some reason, I decided to change his food from the Wellness formula he’s been eating for a few years, to Halo Spot’s Stew sensitive formula. Within a week I noticed that his belly was red and I started giving him daily prednisolone. Stupidly, I didn’t think it was the food that was causing the flare. For a couple weeks his belly wasn’t getting better or worse, but his rodent ulcer was inflamed for the first time in a couple years. Then, a few days ago, he rolled over and I was shocked at what I saw. His stomach was red, raw, and oozing. It was so bad, all I could do was stand there and cry.

I took him to the vet this morning and when she looked at it, she gasped and said “Oh my god.” Getting that kind of reaction from a medical professional is never a good feeling. She gave him antibiotic (convenia) and steroid (medrol) shots and prescribed a strict hypoallergenic diet (medi-cal) for at least three months. He can be a fussy eater but luckily, both he and Bailey like the food, so that`s one less battle we`ll have to fight. I hope we see some improvement soon. Poor little guy must be miserable and I can`t believe it got so bad without me noticing.

I should mention that I`m not blaming the Halo food in any way. I`m sure it`s a fine food and my cat has a long history of allergies. We`ve never been able to specify exactly what his triggers are, so it`s possible that some ingredient that is typically benign initiated this awful reaction.

Belly photo after the cut. Warning: not for the squeamish.

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Ruby & Asrael go to the doctor

Ruby saw Dr K yesterday for her yearly wellness exam and vaccinations. As usual, she charmed the office staff and was a model patient during the exam. Dr K said she looks great and asked what we feed her (mostly¬†Wellness small breed formula, supplemented with Wellness canned food). She’s almost 16 months old, 18.8 lb, and in great physical condition.

Because going to the vet once this weekend just wasn’t enough, we took Asrael to see Dr K this morning. He’s been dragging his butt on the floor for the past couple of weeks and I was starting to worry about worms or impacted anal glands. His anal glands turned out to be fine and the vet gave him a topical parasite treatment and will check in with us next week. After all we went through trying to get his allergies under control a couple years ago, I’m hoping we don’t have to do another round of elimination diet with him. He’s somehow gained 3 lb in the past year (up to 17.8 lb), which is surprising. The only thing I can think of that might be to blame is switching his diet from about 50/50 dry and canned to mostly dry food. Might be too many carbs for him. I’ll start giving him more canned food and see if he slims down a bit. He’s always been a big, solid, muscular cat, but creeping up on 20 lb is worrisome.

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We’re not whisperers

Ruby’s been going to dog daycare once or twice a week since she was 12 weeks old. She doesn’t have separation anxiety and she’s not destructive when she’s home alone, but she does like playing with other dogs and we like having her tired out a couple times a week. Our city has a lot of daycare and dog-walker options and the one we chose has been voted best by readers of our local paper for the past several years. It’s bright and clean, the staff is friendly, and Ruby clearly loves going there.

Despite all that, for the past couple of months I’ve been considering putting her in a different daycare. There’s recently been a lot of staff turnover, which made me wonder what other changes are happening in the business, and the location isn’t as convenient with my new work schedule and commute. I wavered and procrastinated and, because I felt some loyalty to them and there are some other BTs that go there who are the same age as Ruby and it feels wrong to separate her from her life-long friends, wondered if I should just drop the idea.

But yesterday I received the daycare’s June newsletter and some of the news wasn’t the kind I like; they now have a ‘master dog trainer’ on staff. There were phrases like ‘effective pack leader’ and ‘balanced discipline’ sprinkled throughout the copy. These words make me nervous. I visited the trainer’s website and found more references to pack theory, dominance, balance, and other ‘whisperer’ catchphrases. So thanks for helping us decide, daycare owner–we’re shopping for a new daycare.

We have an interview with a new place tomorrow afternoon. Based on the website (which I know can be misleading), it looks promising. It’s big, has indoor and outdoor space, offers some nice perks like pick-up and drop-offs, baths and nail trims for a small charge, better hours, and it’s much closer to home. If the interview and tour go well, and their training and discipline philosophy matches ours (i.e., R+), then we’ll try a couple days next week and see how it goes.

Daycare makes me sleepy

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A year ago

May 13 marked one year since Ruby came to live with us. I had a lengthy entry written about the past year, but it pretty much boiled down to ‘Puppies are good but dogs are better. I’m glad our puppy is becoming a dog.’ Oh, and there were a lot of words about how it took to housetrain her, but everybody already knows all about that and it’s probably time for me to let it go.

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Still here

There’s lots to say about our new clicker training class and how great Ruby’s been behaving around visitors, but it will have to wait until things at my new job settle down.

For now, a typical evening scene:

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Cookies!

I’ve been wanting to try making dog cookies for a while, and luckily, Grace at Puppy Jones recently posted a recipe for peanut butter nom noms that I knew Ruby would love.

And I wasn’t disappointed. She impatiently sat on the kitchen floor while I mixed, rolled, and cut the dough and then stayed in the kitchen while they were baking. The whole process took about 20 minutes, cost next to nothing, and I like giving her treats that don’t contain any mystery ingredients or non-ethically sourced meat products.

Yum!

I tasted one. It was a little bland for my taste but not bad. I’m thinking of attempting to make liver snacks next–I won’t be trying those.

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Recovered

This morning we took Ruby to Dr K for her sixth, and final, cartrophen injection. It was just a 10-minute appointment, but significant because it signalled the end of the luxating patella surgery saga. No more physical therapy, massage, injections, or follow-up appointments. We do need to watch for signs that the pin in the left knee is bothering her, but other than that, we’re done.

Surgery and the early recovery period was expensive, painful, and required a lot of schedule adjustments, but we’re glad we chose to do it. The doctors and staff at Canada West were great about explaining everything and promptly returning our calls; we never had concerns about their competence or care. I wish she didn’t have luxating patellas to start with, but considering she did, we had the best outcome we could have expected.

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