One Year

One year goes by so fast, doesn’t it?

But he still sleeps the same way ūüôā

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Warning: DO NOT mix Trifexis with Ivermectin

Last night, we rushed Loki to the dog emergency clinic late at night. The incident occurred like this:

Around 8pm, I got home from work and found Loki resting by my boyfriend’s side (who slept for the past 8 hours). There was drool all over his pillow and he refused to get up (which is unusual). I picked him up and set him on the ground, only to realize that something was really wrong.

Symptoms:
– head bobbing
– fast heart rate
– drooling
– weak hind legs, keeps falling down
– unable to walk straight, tail down

As usual, here is a video to show you some of his symptoms. The symptoms I captured on film improved since I discovered his illness, so I wasn’t able to capture the ‘weak hind legs’ part (it is really obvious when you see it though).

A similar incident¬†occurred back when we first got Loki as a puppy. This was when Loki was 5-6months old, and the doctor concluded “he ate too much or something poisonous” after running blood tests and xrays. The cure? Saline injection to keep him hydrated and his bowels moving.

Yesterday at 12:30pm, I reminded my boyfriend to give Loki his monthly dosage of flea medication (Trifexis). Nothing unusual there. Two weeks ago, we noticed Loki had an unusual bald spot around his right eye. A trip to the vet confirmed that he had¬†demodectic mange, and the vet prescribed him a daily dosage of Ivermectin. So in addition to the Trifexis, we also gave his his daily dosage of Ivermectin 0.73cc by mouth. We should have known better. It was a mistake on our part for forgetting to ask about mixing medications. It was a mistake on the vet’s part for not asking about his medication history, or giving us any warning about mixing medications. It was just…bad.

mangeBeginning symptoms of mange: redness and baldness around his right (left in this picture) eye.

Its hard to say when the symptoms started occurring, especially since my boyfriend slept right after he gave Loki both medications. Based on the amount of drool on the pillow however, it looks like he was suffering for a while ūüė¶

A quick google on the internet showed that the cause was likely mixing Trifexis with Ivermectin. If you suspect that your dog ingested something poisonous, call the animal poison control immediately. The vet will diagnose your problem and give recommendations for next steps, and the call is $65. After the call, poison control recommended that we take Loki to the emergency vet to check his vital signs.

When we arrived at the emergency vet, they assessed Loki’s vital signs and concluded it was within normal range. Examination findings include:

Temperature: 102F
Pulse: 130BPM
Respiratory rate: 60BPM
Weight: 26.7lbs
Cardiovascular: no murmurs. Good pulse.
Abdomen: Non painful. No overt masses
Lymph nodes: within normal limits
Nervous: Cranial nerves normal
Mild head bob.

After his exam, the emergency vet came in and presented us with her recommendation. She wanted us to follow poison control’s recommendation – to leave Loki overnight to monitor his sodium level and run more blood tests. You know where this is headed right? $$$$$$$$$. If you have a dog, then you probably understand how expensive trips to the vet can cost. I don’t have dog health insurance because I set aside money every month for emergencies, and overall the cons seem to outweigh the pros. Anyone have recommendations? This was the initial estimate for his overnight stay:

estimate1

Blood tests. Sodium monitoring. Liquid injection. Activated charcoal. Lab work. Blah blah. On the low-end, at least $600. On the high-end, $1000. Before going to the vet, I had mentally prepared myself to shell out $500-$1000 for this vet visit. My boyfriend, a nurse at a busy medical hospital, thought otherwise. He was irritated that the vet neglected to give us options to choose from. When the vet came in, she said “We need to do this. And have him stay overnight. Its what poison control recommends.” To me, it was very straight forward. To my boyfriend, it was irritating that the vet did not discuss options and the pros/cons of each option.

When the vet technician came in with the $600-$1000 estimate, my boyfriend asked about taking Loki back home to monitor his progress instead. I’m not recommending that you do the same thing, but for our situation, it was based on the fact that:

1) His vital signs are normal
2) His illness had slightly improved since we first discovered
3) Boyfriend could stay up all night to monitor his progress. If needed, we could take him back to the ER

The technician had a quick chat with the vet, and came to the conclusion that yes, we could have this option. The result?

estimate2Taking him back home would cost $283. That is a HUGE difference. If we didn’t ask for an option, we would have paid 3x-4x as much.

I’m not entirely sure how effective giving him activated charcoal is. Given that we took him to the vet 9 hours after ingestion, would charcoal even absorb any of the medication circulating around the body? In any case, when Loki got home, he gulped 2 bowls of water and threw up a mess of black, charcoal’y liquid.¬†

As I’m writing this blog post now (the morning after), Loki’s condition looks much better. He isn’t wobbling or head bobbing anymore, and hes able to walk without falling over. We took him to his regular vet, and the vet said he appears to be doing well. Take him off ivermectin for 3 weeks, and start using it again until his skin clears up from mange. As for the flea treatment, she recommends getting off Trifexis (because of the adverse reaction) and using a topical treatment instead. And so we now have a package of Activyl.

Total cost of ER scare: ~$478
poison control hotline: $65
ER visit: $283
Vet checkup next day: $130

Let this be a lesson learned. ALWAYS double check with your vet on medication incompatibilities.

Happy birthday Loki!

Loki officially turns one today!!! First year of shiba craziness is OVERRRR like the Jesse McCartney song… ūüėõ

We mistakenly thought that his birthday was yesterday, so we celebrated a little early. Bought him some (apparently not so yummy) cookies and a new chew toy.

Heres to many more years down the road!!!20130728_143215

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Bay Area Excursions: Fort Funston National Park

We usually hike with Loki around the bay area on the weekends. Its a great way to explore new areas, get healthy, and keep Loki physically and mentally stimulated! This Saturday, we decided to check out Fort Funston in San Francisco. I’ve heard raving reviews of this beach/park from locals at our regular park, but still couldn’t justify dealing with weekend bay bridge traffic…until now.

Fort Funston National Park
Skyline Blvd
San Francisco, CA 94132

I kept my expectations low because we’ve been to dog-friendly beaches around the bay before, but this place takes dog beach to a whole other level – It is DOGGY PARADISE. Dogs of all sizes and breeds wander off-leash around the entire park. This might be frightening for some owners, but the place is so big that its easy to walk away from tense situations. The beach, oh man, the beach was HUGE with tons of dogs happily running around. Loki does pretty well off-leash in contained areas (I consider beaches to be one of them), so he had a blast chasing dogs around. He had a short scuffle with a smaller dog over, sigh, yet another ball, but behaved very well with the lack of toys to guard on the beach.

20130720_142806Except for his stick…of course.

Would’ve been nice if the weather was a bit warmer, but you can’t expect too much from bay area weather. With that said, would I go back? YES. Would I recommend this to others? YES! Best dog beach I’ve been to, ever.¬†Rating: 10/10

Product Review: Flexi Leash

Although my experience using the flexi leash has been mixed, they remain popular for a good reason. Regular dog leads drag on the ground, leaving both the leash and your hands dirty. I’ve yet to find a product that rivals the popularity of the flexi, but I wish there were more choices!

Flexi Comfort 2 Medium, 16ft, $28

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We bought this flexi 6 months ago and its still holding up. The only problem is, Loki chewed halfway through part of the rope ><

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Needless to say, we aren’t taking any chances with this leash anymore. The weight of the handle is just heavy enough to slow Loki down if I drop the leash. Rope leashes can cause pretty painful rope burns, so be careful when letting your dog play with the leash on! The handle on this flexi is rubber, giving it a more comfortable grip compared to its plastic counterparts.¬†Rating: 7/10

Flexi Classic 2 Medium, 16ft, $20

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There are a few differences compared to the previous flexi. The handle is smaller and ligher, which is more comfortable on long walks and hikes. On the other hand, Loki can easily drag this around if I ever dropped the leash. The strip from the buckle to the rope is more narrow. Given that Loki chewed halfway through the previous flexi, I’m not sure if this is an advantage. This flexi claims to support dogs up to 44lbs, so Loki is well within the range. Its too early to give a good rating on this leash, so for now, I’ll have to say that I’m simply satisfied with the product. Rating: Satisfied

Flexi Explore Large Long 3, 26ft, $32

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The motivation behind getting this leash, which claims to support dogs up to 110lbs, is because Loki tends to bolt. Buying a heavy duty leash should prevent any accidents from happening, right? After all, Loki is only 25lbs.

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I’m extremely thankful that the leash didn’t snap outdoors. The incident¬†occurred¬†when I was driving with Loki buckled into his seatbelt and this flexi. Loki tends to pull a LOT in the car, but the seatbelt remained completely intact (I highly recommend the seatbelt). As for this leash, it snapped near the buckle after he tugged a bit too hard. Still, I don’t think he has the capability to exert as much force as a 110lb dog. I only had this leash for a week before it snapped =( Overall, this product is a complete failure.¬†Rating: 1/10

The three products, side-by-side.20130714_162858Flexi Comfort 2  /  Flexi Medium 2  /  Flexi Long 3

If I had to choose, I would probably purchase the comfort 2 again. Do you have any recommendations for alternatives to the flexi?

Dog park fail: resource guarding goes wrong

My experience taking Loki to local dog parks has been mostly pleasant. Loki turns 1 next month, and I’ve been noticing signs of his growing intolerance towards other dogs at dog parks. More¬†specifically,

1. He snarls/snaps if other dogs sniff his face/butt, but tolerates it if he sniffs first
2. He prefers smaller dogs or dogs his size over larger dogs, and will assert dominance against larger dogs
3. He resource guards balls, toys, and especially sticks on the ground

The breaking point came today when I took Loki to our usual dog park. The moment he entered the park, he was unusually snappy towards dogs venturing into his space.¬†In normal circumstances, other dogs take the hint and leave Loki alone when he snaps…but not this time. A persistant pitbull decided he didn’t like Loki’s snappy behavior and quickly pinned him down. No dogs were hurt, but I had to wedge myself between two snarling dogs to scoop Loki away from the pitbull.

Pitbull’s owner quickly called her dog away, and we waited a while before letting Loki down. He played with a smaller dog until he found something similar to this:

20130710_172657Loki: Back off ya’ll, this is MY stick

The problem is, I don’t know how to train him to stop resource guarding stuff around the dog park. I can easily take a ball or frisbee away…but a stick? A stick as big as this?! Reaaalllyyy?

Here is a video of him guarding against a friendlier dog, who simply backs off when Loki snaps.

A couple curious dogs come by to check out his stick. As usual, Loki gets snappy and the dogs back off…until Mr. Pitbull rejoins the crowd. No amount of distraction would take Loki away from his prized¬†possession. Before I knew it, I was surrounded by dogs going berzerk from the brawl between Loki and pitbull. It was the first time I actually felt scared at a dog park, trying to manage a dog capable of easily biting my fingers off. Despite pitbull’s apparent size advantage, Loki had the nerve to lunge forward against him. As one lady put it, “hes a TRUE shiba!”

I was lucky that Andrew was nearby, who quickly picked Loki up by the harness and separated him from the pack. That was the last straw. We left the dog park with no injuries, but its clear after this incident that something has to change.

I’ve been debating all night with Andrew about this incident, unable to conclude which dog was more at fault. Was it Loki for being snappy over his resources? Was it the pitbull for responding aggressively to his snappy behavior? I don’t think there is a clear cut answer. I’ve read on shiba forums that many owners face the same dilemma.

Has anyone had success training their dog to stop resource guarding? Or are we doomed to avoid small dog parks all together?