An Update on Shiloh

Wait a minute, didn’t I just post something yesterday? Craziness!

It’s not that I’ve forgotten about you, dear readers of my blog. All 20 of you. It’s just that lately, most of the things that have been going on have been either stunningly mundane (stunning in the sense of inducing unconsciousness, not dazzling) or really rather disgusting. It’s just how I roll, yo.

Granted, I don’t have kids yet, so there are folks who can out-disgusting me with one hand tied behind their backs, but we do have a dog. A dog who, we are getting more and more confirmation, has a sensitive stomach. It makes me glad that we made it a habit early on not to feed her much people-food, because I can only imagine what that might do. When she was a puppy, Shiloh balked at eating the dog food we tried to give her–she would eat it, eventually, when she got desperately hungry, but it was clearly not what she wanted to do. When we switched her to a formula without corn, wheat, or soy (the most common dog allergens in foods), things improved dramatically. Not only was she more eager to eat, but her… erm… other body functions, shall we say, became healthier and more regular. She still loves an occasional treat that contains wheat or corn (like MilkBones or a few pieces of popcorn), but having drastically reduced her intake seems to have made a big difference.

We never had her tested for allergies, but the results seem to have been working, so I can only be glad.

As I’ve mentioned, the past six months or so have been rather hectic. During that time, I’d estimate that I’ve spent almost a month away from home–almost all of it out-of-state–and Matt has been gone for about three weeks, including youth group retreats and overnights, our vacation, and camp a few weeks ago. This week will bring him up to a month away, as well. That’s aside from our erratic schedules on a day-to-day basis. Normally, most days I’m home doing housewifey or writing things for at least 30 hours of my “work week”, and the other 10 are spent out and about. Recently, that ratio as often been reversed. But not always.

It makes for a very uncertain schedule, and the stress has, from time to time, been wearing on all three of us. Matt and I tend to show that stress in different ways than Shiloh does. We have the liberty of sleeping in from time to time, and shooting things in video games to decompress, and reading for a few hours to get away from reality a bit. Shiloh has fewer options. Yes, she sleeps. But mostly, her body chemistry gets out of whack, specifically in her sensitive GI tract. In early June, that began to manifest itself as intermittent diarrhea.

We went to the vet when it was clear that things weren’t clearing up in the normal course of “the dog ate some random plant and gave herself the runs”, and the meds they gave us seemed to help right away. For about a week, things were looking good. There were no surprises for us in the office. Shiloh was eating eagerly (we’re pretty sure her appetite was off because her tummy felt bad–I don’t like to eat when my stomach hurts, either). And then it returned, getting progressively worse.

Another trip to the vet revealed an overgrowth of a normal canine digestive bacteria–usually stress-related. We got another round of the anti-diarrheal medicine and another package of doggy probiotics, which promote healthy GI bacteria levels. We have accepted the fact that at some point it might be necessary to keep her on the probiotics (at about a quarter the dosage she’s gotten for the problem-solving) long-term. They’re little chewable tablets that she seems to enjoy, so it wouldn’t be much of a hardship.

Of course, since I’ve always been one to want more information rather than less, I have been looking at the various options, and have found the following:

  • Probiotics tend to work best when they’re species-specific, because each species has different normal intestinal bacterial growth. So adding a human or feline probiotics supplement, while it may help, will not be AS helpful as a canine formula. Good to know.
  • The probiotic our vet has recommended for Shiloh, and which does seem to have been working, is Iams Veterinary Formula Prostora Max. This is available through vets and a few online outlets, but not most pet stores–and, oddly enough, our vet’s price is $20 cheaper per package than the online price, even before shipping.
  • I had been underestimating Shiloh’s weight for quite some time, it seems. She weighed in at just under 65lbs on her first vet visit, and two pounds more for the second (at least the intestinal problems have not caused a weight loss). This puts her firmly in the “large breed” category, which means that although her current dog food isn’t BAD for her, a diet that is lower in fat and higher in protein will probably be beneficial, and maybe easier on her stomach as well. We’ll be trying her on a large breed diet as soon as we get to the end of this bag of food.

So that’s where things stand with the dog. She just took her last probiotic tablet this evening with dinner, so hopefully things will continue to improve. I’ve been working on getting my schedule back to something more normal, and I can only hope that Matt’s absence this week isn’t agitating her. She misses him, I can tell, but she hasn’t seemed stressed out.

I’m sure, if I’m wrong, that I’ll be cleaning more bits of carpet in the next few days. Fingers crossed.

See, I’m not sure anyone really wanted to know all that. But here I am, posting about it, because it’s a big part of my time and brain space lately. Glamorous, my life is not. :)

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