Goodbye, Nala

We had to say goodbye to Nala this afternoon. In a couple of weeks she would have been 4 months shy of her 15th birthday.

She seemed like she was doing pretty well for her age, and I was expecting to be able to celebrate her 15th birthday. Over the course of the day, she went from trotting around the yard to being in some significant discomfort. Bloodwork showed some unusual results that suggested something going on with the liver or pancreas. Given her age (just over 14.5 years…pretty respectable for a lab), I decided treating her problems would just be postponing the inevitable for a short time longer. It was a sad and difficult decision to make, but Nala gets to be with Simba and Mischief again.

14 years and 5 months ago she became my very first dog. Didn’t know much about dogs back then, but I learned quickly (so did she).

Nala was calm and mellow, loved meeting people (especially kids), always enjoyed the dog park and being outside. She was patient with all the fosters I had, and I like to think she had a bit of a calming effect on some of them. Walks and trips to the dog park were some of her favourite activities (eating being one of the others).

One of Nala’s most memorable moments was the time she crashed a neighbour’s party. We were just getting back home from a walk, and the family a couple houses down were having a birthday party for their triplets. Nala got super excited with all the people around, managed to slip out of her collar and ran right into their house. I also had Simba with me, and had my hands full keeping him under control with everybody around so I couldn’t run in after Nala. Not sure what kind of trouble she got into running around in the house, but the neighbours eventually corralled Nala and got her back outside where I got her collar back on. It was probably less than a minute or two that she was loose in their house, but it felt like forever. They were pretty good sports about the incident fortunately, and the triplets got to play with the dogs on a few other occasions under more controlled circumstances.

Nala and Simba playing with a stick

It’s been a rough 10 months around here pet-wise. First Mischief, then Simba, and now Nala. We miss them terribly, but now they get to be together again.

Happy New Year from the animals
January 2018. Nala, Mischief, and Simba.

Goodbye, Simba

It was with much sadness that we said goodbye to Simba today. This morning, he only wanted to eat a few pieces of chicken and left the rest. After that, I decided that maybe it’s time.

We went down to the vet clinic this morning and two of the vet techs there that have known Simba since he was an 8 week old puppy were able to see him and say goodbye as well. Unfortunately his regular vets weren’t in the clinic today so Simba didn’t get to see them.

4 week old SImba
4 week old SImba
4 week old SImba
4 week old SImba

Simba was the happiest dog (he could also be a bit growly at times, especially when other dogs wanted his ball). The dog park was one of his favourite places, and he loved visiting all of them. He was a bit of a ball fiend and chasing the ball was one of his favourite activities. He’d run after the ball until he got tired, and then stop bringing the ball back. If he picked up the ball and walked away from me before I could grab it to throw again, that was when it was time for a rest.

One time when chasing after the ball, he got T-boned pretty hard by another dog zooming around the dog park. After that, whenever dogs got to running and chasing each other, he’d run over and try to break up the shenanigans.

Happy 4 year old Simba
Happy 4 year old Simba
Simba getting snowed on
Simba getting snowed on

Simba also made a good first impression on Connie too, eating her jury summons.

Simba on his 13th birthday
Simba on his 13th birthday
Out in the yard

Simba was the best boy. I miss him a lot.

Simba’s getting picky

Simba’s become quite the picky eater since we started giving him chicken and rice.

First he picked out the chunks of chicken to eat those, and then maybe finish off the rice if he felt like it. Then I shredded the chicken and mixed it into the rice. He ate that for a couple meals, but then started turning it down.

Simba's messy eating
Simba’s messy eating

To make sure he still wanted to eat, I made up some more chicken (cut up into cubes) with some peas and carrots. Sure enough, he ate up the chicken chunks and left the carrots and peas behind. He’d sniff around the bowl, grab a mouth full and drop it onto the floor of the crate, and then grab the chunks of chicken. When there was no more chicken, he stopped eating and ignored the rest of the peas and carrots. Nala happily helped Simba finish those off (she’s so helpful).

It seems that he’s still interested in eating, as long as it’s just chicken. I’m fine with feeding Simba chicken for now (although it seems to be giving him some…aromatic gas), but nutritionally it’s probably a bit lacking. The vet suggested some Hill’s Science Diet i/d food so we were able to get a couple cans of that today for him to try out.

Hopefully it’s something he’ll find appetizing enough to keep eating.

Dog scan follow up

The past few days, Simba hasn’t been eating much of his kibble at all, so yesterday we tried giving him some wet food thinking maybe he was having problems with his teeth making him not want to crunch down on his kibble. He ate some wet food we’ve been using to give him his medication with, so I ran out to buy some cans of wet dog food to see if he’d eat more of that. He snarfed down 1/3 of a can, which seemed encouraging.

This morning, he didn’t want to even eat the wet dog food, and didn’t seem like he was feeling very well.

A lab not eating is a Serious Thing. Fortunately Simba’s vets (Riverbank Vet Clinic) are awesome and they were able to work us in this morning.

Some follow up x-rays showed what appeared to be thickening of the walls of his stomach and, like with the previous x-ray, his stomach appeared unusually dense on the radiograph. This time he hadn’t eaten anything, so it wasn’t full of food like it was a couple weeks ago.

Simba lateral x-ray
Simba lateral x-ray
Simba ventral-dorsal x-ray
Simba ventral-dorsal x-ray

The stomach (upper right of the ventral-dorsal image) is quite dense and the stomach walls look quite thickened. That likely reduces what his stomach can hold too.

Vet suggested giving people food (chicken and rice) to see if he’d eat that. When we got back home, I made up some chicken and rice which he ate (very encouraging), but still turning away from his kibble and the canned food.

So now, as long as he’s eating, we’ll do what we can to make sure he’s feeling ok and comfortable. At some point though (could be a week, maybe months, who knows) he’ll probably get to the point where he won’t want to eat again. Then it will be time for that last visit to the vet.

Simba on his 13th birthday
Simba on his 13th birthday

He’s a good boy.

Dog scan

Had to take Simba back to the vet a few days after their annual checkup. He’s been having a lot of issues with throwing up on an empty stomach the past few months. Having him on famotidine (Pepcid) has helped some, but if it’s more than 5 or 6 hours between meals, his little tummy gets upset and he ends up throwing up. Vet also suggested omeprazole (Prilosec), which we’ll probably switch him to to see if that helps more.

It’s tough to watch the poor little pup going through all that.

Lately he’s been eating pretty slowly, which is a little worrying, and there was more throwing up than usual yesterday. As all Lab owners know, any change in eating habits is a cause for concern. Fortunately I was able to get back in to the vet this morning to get him checked out again.

Simba had some upper abdomen tenderness when the vet checked him out, so some blood work and x-rays were done. Blood work indicated that Simba was anemic, which raised a concern about something going on with his spleen. There didn’t seem to be anything strikingly unusual on the x-rays. Liver and at least part of his spleen appeared normal, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t anything wrong. He also has some osteoarthritis going on in his thoracic spine area.

Simba’s lateral x-ray
Simba’s ventral-dorsal x-ray

Vet recommended an ultrasound to help figure out more definitively what’s going on. At this point though, I think our focus will be to just make sure Simba is as comfortable as possible. I don’t want to subject him to a major surgery at his age. He’s still getting around fairly well, and as long as we don’t let too much time go between meals, he seems pretty normal.