By Dr. Emmeline Tan, D.V.M.
Telly was normally a picky eater, so when he didn't touch his dinner that night, I was not initially concerned. To entice him, I conjured up some boiled pork and sat with him. "Yummy soup meat!" I coaxed him. He gave me a suspicious look, then took a few bites. He slunk off to lay in his crate.
That evening, I was awoken by the sound of Telly retching and vomiting (vomiting & diarrhea). He jumped on the bed and curled up next to me. The light of day revealed numerous piles of foam and bile all over the carpet. Telly, usually the first to rise and happy to go out, lay motionless on the bed. He got up once more only to vomit on the sheets; this time there were small flecks of digested blood. He gave me this look which said, "I don't feel so good."
With a huge pang of guilt and worry, I loaded Telly in the car and headed to the Animal ER. Telly was bright and full of energy when we arrived. "Maybe he's recovered", I thought to myself. But I had seen this before: dog in unfamiliar surroundings, with all the new stimuli, feeling mysteriously "better".
However, after his initial physical examination he vomited a large volume of blood-tinged, bile coloured material and foam, and started trembling.
That clinched our decision to hospitalize Telly. He needed treatment for dehydration (intravenous fluid electrolyte solution) and for his painful, upset gastrointestinal tract. In addition to the quick bedside tests, blood was drawn and sent to the veterinary laboratory in Langley. The next day, the blood work revealed Telly was suffering from pancreatitis.
Was the pancreatitis brewing already? And did I set it off or make it worse by feeding my little boy the soup meat, which was a little greasy? I will never know. But I do know that soup meat is no longer on Telly's dinner menu! After three days of intravenous fluids, supportive treatment, and lots of TLC by the people at Animal ER, Telly recovered. I feel lucky that it wasn't worse, and he feels happy to be back home with me, Ed and Winnie.
(Dr. Emmeline Tan is a veterinarian that does locum work at Vancouver Animal Emergency Clinic. She is a valuable member of the Animal ER team as well as a devoted pet owner. Em and her husband Ed's family includes their two Lhasa Apsos, Telly and Winnie.)