Everyday Adventures in Havachon Heaven

The Good, Crazy, & Adorable Life of One Havachon Puppy

Happy Halloween Havachon!

This weekend will be full of fun for us – Saturday is my birthday (yes, I’m a Mischief Night baby) and Sunday is Halloween, so I probably won’t be online at all. Lots of plans, lots of fun!

So I thought I’d post this picture of Daisy in her Halloween pumpkin costume now, and wish everyone a spook-tacularly fun, sweet-filled Halloween!

I love my pumpkin costume! I hope I get some Halloween candy!


Brush Your Dog’s Coat Regularly!!

We were picking up dog food at Petco this weekend when we saw a startling site – in the grooming room was a dog with half its fur hanging off it in sheets. Yes, that’s right – SHEETS.


I can't believe I used to be so fluffy! There's 3x more hair than dog here!


This dog looked like a sheep being sheared. And even with chilly weather setting in, the groomer was giving the dog a buzz cut, right down to its skin.

Clearly, all this dog was going to be for Halloween was — naked.

I told the cashier that I’d never seen fur hanging off a dog in long sheets and, looking at me over her glasses, she said quietly, “That’s not normal – it’s because that dog has never been brushed. NEVER.”  This was a full-sized dog, not a puppy. The groomer was in the process of calling for help because the dog was freaking out over the “shearing”. It was awful.

I keep Daisy’s hair cut relatively short because it tends to mat when it’s allowed to grow. When we first got her, her hair was a few inches long and she looked like a little puff ball. We were told that she had to be brushed a couple times a day to keep the hair mat-free and neat. It was adorable looking, but the very first time I tried to brush her, I found thick mats had already formed in the deep under-layers, and she was only 2.6 months old. I worked at it twice a day for a week, with no improvements. That was it – I gave her a major haircut, right down to her tight little curls. Cutting through some of the thicker mats was like sawing through tight wads of cotton with a scissor!

Now we have no problems with matting – as long as we keep her hair relatively short and brushed, it’s fine.

Not all dogs enjoy being brushed, and Daisy was no exception. At first she became agitated, biting at the brush and trying to spin her body around so I couldn’t reach it, but I tried different techniques and found that if I made brushing part of our cuddle time and let her sniff and nip the brush first, she was far more accepting and actually seemed to enjoy it. Or at the very least, she tolerated it well. Now it’s part of our bonding time.

After seeing that poor dog being “sheared”, I decided to look into the importance of brushing dog’s coats, whether they have fur or actual hair. Besides making the dog more aesthetically pleasing and having nice human-canine hands-on bonding time, there are health reasons for brushing as well. Here’s what I found out:

  • Brushing helps prevent skin problems. When dogs shed fur, they also shed dead skin cells. If all of this discarded material isn’t brushed off, it can accumulate and cause bacteria to grow. You’ll know this is happening if your dog smells particularly bad. Yuck.
  • Brushing brings out and evenly distributes the skin’s natural oils. Think of those natural oils like hair conditioner – their hair or fur needs conditioning as much as our hair does. Long hair in particular benefits from brushing because those oils can’t coat all that long hair without brushing.
  • Brushing helps control shedding, which means less clean-up around the house for you!
  • Brushing keeps you familiar with your dog’s skin and helps you discover any skin issues, lumps, or insects that may be hiding beneath those lovely locks.

As common sense would dictate, never brush a dog’s hair backward – against the direction it’s naturally growing. It’s very irritating to the dog and can cause knotting in long-haired dogs.

Go about it the right way and grooming can be a wonderful human-canine bonding experience.


Daisy’s Spay Recovery Update

I’m starting to see some signs of the “old Daisy” coming back again!


My crate feels particularly cozy these days....


This morning Daisy was more alert, with her ears up and her eyes brighter and more wide open. Slowly but surely, she’s getting her “zing” back!

She still has the weird jumping and running bursts, but I’m starting to think that the pain is lessening while itching is increasing. When she walks, she keeps trying to scratch her abdomen with her right hind leg.

She’s spending most of her time curled up in her crate this morning, so her usual activity level and interest in her toys and the outdoors haven’t returned yet. But she did get very excited and danced around happily when I came into the kitchen, which she wasn’t able to do for the past two days. These are good signs.

I’m keeping an eye on a rather large bluish area on the side of her abdomen; it looks like a subdermal bruise or blood accumulation. Hopefully it’s somewhat normal. Since my last dog was completely bandaged after her spaying, I have no frame of reference as to what dog bellies can look like after this type of surgery. From what I’ve read, it shouldn’t be a problem as long as no blood leaks from the incision and the area doesn’t feel hot.

Fingers crossed that it’s nothing unusual and Daisy continues her progress!

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Botched Spay Surgeries…Yes, They Do Happen

I never knew about this, but lately I’ve been hearing an awful lot about botched spay surgeries. What a scary concept.

DD’s coworker has a poodle whose neutering actually was botched – the vet neglected to reattach a critical vein. I also read about a dog whose ovaries weren’t completely removed; her owner only realized it when the dog went into heat the following year.

In fact, when we first brought Daisy to the new vet, he told us about several clients who came to him because of mistakes made by the Bad Vet we originally went to (on a friend’s recommendation), and one of the most common issues was botched spays. Wouldn’t you think that such a common surgical procedure would be part of Vet 101?

How do you know when a dog’s spay surgery has gone wrong? Here are some of the symptoms:

  • Bleeding.
  • Vomiting.
  • Bloody stools.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Won’t drink water.
  • Distended abdomen.

If a dog starts going into heat after being spayed, it means that a remnant of the ovary was accidentally left behind. A vet can do a blood test to check the dog’s hormone levels, which will definitively determine if a piece of ovary was left behind.

Besides the obvious risks of these poor animals having to undergo surgery yet again, there are other complications that can be caused by a botched spay or neutering. An ovarian remnant can become cancerous over time, just like it can in humans (this happened to an aunt of mine). There’s a clinical but thorough article on Ovarian Remnant Syndrome.

There’s also something called “stump pyometra”, which is an infection caused by ovarian remnants. A different issue,  “stump granuloma”, occurs when sutures become infected by remnant ovarian tissue – this isn’t a botched surgery, it’s just a post-spay surgical risk. Symptoms of both are similar to the symptoms listed above, but can also include a foul odor coming from vaginal discharge, fever, and weight loss. Both are corrected with additional surgery and antibiotics.

The best way to know if your pet’s surgery has gone well is to simply watch him/her and be aware of any abnormal behaviors or issues. Call your vet with any questions; he should also be willing to see your dog if you’re really concerned about issues during your dog’s recovery.

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Small Dog Pain Reactions

At least I don’t hurt when I’m asleep….

Dogs instinctively hide their pain because it’s considered a sign of weakness in the wild. And if you’re weak, you’re prey. Period.

But it’s different when it comes to these small, fragile dogs that have become so domesticated that they’re like little children who look to us for comfort and reassurance when they’re in pain. My last dog was a Shepherd-Collie-Husky mix who never showed pain, regardless of how severe it was. But this new little pup of ours freaks out when she’s in pain, which I’ve only learned now that she’s going through her post-spay recovery period.

I expected her to sit and walk strangely, but I didn’t expect the trembling, constant whining, hanging head, and freaky jumping and racing around with her backside and hind legs all contorted as if they’d been broken and never set. Couple that with how scraggly her hair is because of the ointment the vet slathered liberally all over her tummy, legs, and ears, and this puppy looks like a spent street urchin.

It was odd that she was doing so well on Sunday, two days after her surgery, and then on Monday, all these awful things I mentioned started happening. She was a different puppy. It was like someone flipped a switch overnight that turned off her sunshine and made her whole world dark and gloomy.

As painful as her recovery is, it’s just as painful having to watch her go through it.

I theorized in yesterday’s blog post that different dogs probably have different pain tolerance levels and possibly even metabolize the pain meds given by the vet at different rates. Now I’m sure this is the case; those pain meds probably lasted through Sunday for Daisy, but completely wore off sometime in the wee hours of Monday morning.

Thanks to fellow blogger Judy who writes Tiffy’s World, I now know my theory is right; her little Yorkie also has a low pain threshold and it’s something that not all vets discuss with their patients…ours sure didn’t. If our vet had told us that some dogs react more violently to pain, I wouldn’t have had such a high level of anxiety all day yesterday about these odd pain-generated behaviors Daisy was exhibiting. I thought something major was wrong, like a fever from an unseen infection or something worse that went wrong internally.

So for any small dog owners out there who are or will be having their dogs spayed or having any other surgery, here are some of the reactions our 9 pound Havachon displayed, your dog may not have all of them. I hope it will help put your mind at ease if you know what’s considered to be within “normal” parameters; however, just like people, every dog is different, and while ours needs cuddling and stroking during her recovery, other dogs just want to be left alone. The Golden Rule is: Know Your Dog.

1. Trembling. If it’s within the first 24 hours after surgery, trembling can be a result of the anesthesia. After that time period, it’s usually a sign of fear caused by recovery pain. I found that cuddling Daisy on my lap helped calm her to the point where the trembling stopped completely while I held her. Her first day of pain was the most important for this.

2. Hanging head. Remember that old phrase, “hang-dog expression”? Well, this is where it comes from.

3. Complete disinterest in toys, her favorite blanket, looking out the window, and normal activities in general.

4. Back hunching.

5. Sitting or lying in odd positions to relieve or lessen pain.

6. Whining. And more whining. Mostly on the first day of pain. No barking at all.

7. Racing and/or jumping in short bursts with the body contorted strangely. If you bring your dog onto a chair or sofa with you, watch him/her carefully, because the sudden onset of pain can cause them to lunge irrationally, and they can fall off the furniture. And be aware of how you’re picking the dog up, so you’re not putting pressure on the wound.

8. Agitated behavior. We all can get cranky if we’re in pain too long!

9. Snuggling close to their owners for comfort and reassurance. They need extra TLC right now, you can always retrain them after the crisis is over. Now’s not the time to enforce the “no sofa” command.

10. Slinking off to corners or underneath furniture if they prefer not to be touched or pet. Never force this issue. “Let sleeping dogs lie”, as the saying goes.

11. Sleep. LOTS of sleeping.

Little by little, every day you should see small improvements. Today Daisy isn’t whining and there’s a little less trembling, plus she’s wagging her tail now and then, which she wasn’t doing at all yesterday. She’s able to sleep for longer periods of time, which will help her heal, just like with humans.

If your dog’s pain is excessive, your vet can probably give her something to ease the pain. Some NSAIDs are supposed to be safe for dogs, but if it’s not necessary and you can devote the time to just “being there” for your dog, that may be all she needs.

Not Normal: Keep an eye on the incision; if you see redness, swelling, bleeding, or discharge, call your vet right away. Some dogs scratch or bite at the stitches when the itching gets intense – in that case, they need a collar cone or bandages. Our vet prefers not to put these on unless Daisy starts chewing or scratching.

The International Veterinary Academy of Pain Management has a wonderful site with lots more information about pain symptoms, treatments, causes, and more. It’s worth a look if you’ve got any questions.


A Bum-Numbing Afternoon

I just may have a permanently numb bum.


You can see the difference in her from her happy pre-spay pictures. This is one pathetic puppy.


After making an appointment with the vet to find out why Daisy is trembling and clearly in pain after a day of near-normal post-spay behavior, I found out that dogs sometimes tremble from pain and the fear it generates. I think this is the problem because when I put her on my lap and cuddled her, as was recommended by another vet online, she immediately stopped trembling and fell asleep.

She slept comfortably on my lap with no trembling for almost 2 hours…ergo, my numb bum.

Then she suddenly jumped up and frantically circled around, clearly feeling pain or at least some pretty high level of discomfort, with that weird posture and movement that comes from pain. I think she’s feeling some intense itching as well, because her one hind leg keeps making scratching motions in mid-air.

But she looks at me with those soulful, “help me” eyes and it just kills me that I can’t ease her pain.

I’m thinking that maybe every dog’s sensitivity to pain is different, much like all people’s sensitivity to pain is different. We all have different levels of pain tolerance, so why shouldn’t animals? And maybe Daisy was acting more normally yesterday because the pain med he gave her took a little longer to wear off, just like it does with some people. It’s a possibility, anyway.

Now she’s curled up in the corner of the sofa, something we don’t usually allow. We will for now; whatever it takes to give her some relief. But the interesting thing is that there’s still no trembling – clearly, that online vet was right about it being fear-driven, and that fear is relieved when she’s being comforted by the people she trusts.

I think I’ll cancel the vet appointment and see how she does from here on. If the pain doesn’t start lessening by Wednesday or Thursday, I’ll call again and make an appointment to find out if this level of pain is normal by that time. But I’m relieved that at least the trembling isn’t involuntary. I wonder if I’ll have to spend the night with her here on the sofa….

It’s amazing what lengths we’re willing to go to for a furry little creature who we only met and took into our home a few months ago! I guess it’s love…. 🙂


Back Home From Spay Surgery – Not a Happy Havachon

Well Daisy’s back in her own comfy home after her spaying on Friday. Thank you to everyone who expressed their concern and support!

You don’t know what I’ve been through!

I don’t remember my last dog having so much discomfort after her spay surgery, but then again, it was a long time ago and she was bandaged. Vets don’t like to bandage dogs anymore unless the incision starts bleeding, the dog starts chewing/biting at it, or it becomes infected.

We dropped Daisy off at 11 AM on Friday, and both DD and I were surprised at how teary we both got when we had to leave her behind. We followed our game plan of staying occupied – we went to one of our favorite local cozy lunch spots, then went to the mall and Starbucks (three cheers for Raspberry Mocha Lattes!!). That helped, though we did find ourselves checking our watches, waiting for 4:00, when we could call the vet and see how Daisy did.

The report we got was good, they said she did well and was coming out of the anesthesia. She was on a heating pad and covered in a blanket to keep her warm, which they said helps dogs come around faster and easier. Her favorite veterinary assistant was spending the night with her and a couple other dogs who’d been spayed that day, so we knew she was in good hands.

When we picked her up at noon Saturday, she looked pathetic. Her rash, which we still have no diagnosis for (the vet feels it’s either food related or fall related, but we won’t know until after her surgery has healed; I’m wondering if it’s the carpet cleaner from the last time we had the carpets done), got much worse because they had to shave the entire tummy area, which really irritated it. The spots are flaming red now. She also had a slight ear infection, caused by the rash (it’s common for dermatitis to affect the ears). So they took care of that, plucked more hair from inside her ears, and slathered her with an ointment that has her ear/neck area and tummy/leg areas disgustingly greasy.

And we can’t bathe her for 2 weeks. Ugh.

They also did a full blood work-up and removed 2 baby teeth that refused to come out on their own. She doesn’t seem to be feeling any after-effects from the tooth removals, yesterday she was chewing happily on a hard Nylabone.

She wasn’t as out of it as they thought she’d be on Saturday; in fact she was practically frantic when she got home and we could only get her to rest by sitting on the floor with her, which DH did most of the afternoon. Yesterday, Sunday, she was better and starting to move more freely.

But today she’s having a lot of discomfort and whining pathetically. She can’t walk normally – it looks like she’s trying to scratch with one hind leg while she walks. She also can’t lie down comfortably unless she’s curled on her side in her soft, cushioned bed, but I can’t get her to stay there. It seems to me that there must be some discomfort from the stitches and maybe itching from the skin and muscle starting to heal…? I’m watching for any signs of infection.

It’s pathetic though – she’s running weirdly in short bursts and whining, then trying to sit but can’t get comfortable, so it all repeats over and over again. She seems really agitated. She’s tired but ends up standing most of the time.

I hope this is normal for the second full day after surgery – any advice from fellow dog owners?

It’s so frustrating to see your puppy looking and feeling so awful and not be able to do anything to help!!


Spay Day Arriveth

Well the Day of Spay is here. We’re dropping Daisy off at the vet at 11:00; I feel like I’ll be turning my back on my youngest child! I hate the fact that she’s going into an unknown situation alone; at least she knows and likes the vet and his assistants, that’s a little relief.

You're taking me WHERE?? To do WHAT??!!??

DD took the day off from work so we could do this together. After we take Daisy to the vet, we’re going to lunch and then spending the day shopping to keep our minds off our little pup. Maybe even a Starbucks stop in the afternoon…gotta try those fall flavors while they last!

I scheduled the spay date for a Friday so we’d all be home over the weekend, especially for Daisy’s first day home on Saturday, when she’ll still be kind of “out if it”. I don’t remember what the post-spay situation was like with our previous dog, but I do remember that she was bandaged up like a mummy; now they don’t do that, and I’m worried that Daisy will lick and gnaw at the stitches enough to cause bleeding. The vet assured me that he quintuple-knot s them, but still….

On the down side, her rash is back full force now that we stopped all the meds. I hope this won’t cause a problem with the spay, or the other way around. Once everything’s settled down again, I’m going to take her for a second opinion to a vet who combines traditional and alternative therapies in his practice. No more cortisone poison for Daisy.

Wish us luck this weekend!


Dangerous Dog Drugs: When the Cure is Worse Than The Problem

My tummy itches... 😦

Daisy is having an allergic reaction to something. At least we think it’s an allergic reaction, the vet’s not sure.

She developed some medium-sized red spots on her tummy and on the inside of her back legs, and they must have been itching a bit because from time to time, she’d lick them. We tried to stop her from licking when we caught her doing it, but then after several days, a bunch of tiny red spots appeared on her tummy.

We took her to the vet, and he said it could be an allergic reaction to anything she’d come in contact with – or it could be something else – so his plan of attack was to get rid of this rash and then start an elimination program to find out what the culprit was. He gave her a cortisone shot and then two prescriptions: Medrol and Simplicef.

I’m not a fan of medication if there’s an alternative route, but being that Daisy’s scheduled to be spayed tomorrow (and it needs to be done NOW, she’s 7 months old and officially in heat!), I went ahead with the meds.

Not my best decision.

From the first day, they affected her. Especially the Medrol. She gets both pills in the morning, one with food, then one mixed with cream cheese a little later. In the middle of that first night, she threw up a lot of her food. Same thing the next night, and then on Tuesday night she threw up 3 separate times during the wee hours of the morning. In addition,  she was peeing like a leaky water bottle – way more than she was drinking.

So I stopped both meds Wednesday morning, left a message for the vet, and went online to check out these drugs. Wow. Turns out that dogs taking Medrol should be watched carefully – it’s a “potent” cortisone and owners need to watch for signs of attitude change and a stoppage of eating and/or drinking, among other things. We didn’t witness any of that, but the fact that Daisy was losing all her nutrients was bad enough.

When the vet called back Wednesday evening, he said that if Daisy was exhibiting either of the two symptoms mentioned above, he needed to see her immediately. That’s startling enough. But in our case, he said to take her off the meds for 24 hours (which I’d already done), and then just continue with Simplicef, an antibiotic. He said that the combination of the two drugs was causing these adverse reactions.

Since the rash was already improving, I decided not to put her back on anything, since she’s going in for her spaying tomorrow and will most likely be on antibiotics afterwards anyway. Immediately the side effects went away – no vomiting in the night, and her water elimination went back to normal.

There’s a wonderful article I found (http://www.k9web.com/dog-faqs/medical/canine-allergies.html) about canine allergic reactions, and the author discusses both traditional and the less caustic, alternative therapies. It’s hard to apply any topical treatments to a rash like this, because dogs will just lick it off and it could be dangerous to them. But apparently there’s a topical spray with witch hazel that may be a good alternative treatment – it’s not hazardous to dogs if they lick it and it doesn’t have the dangerous side effects of these more powerful medications.

If this rash continues, I think we’ll go to a local alternative vet for a second opinion; if we can get rid of this thing without polluting (or poisoning) Daisy’s system, I’ll go that way in a heartbeat. And if it doesn’t work, at least she’s no worse off.

Before giving your dog or cat any prescription drugs, check the medications out so you’ll be aware of what’s considered a “normal” reaction and what side effects should raise a red flag and indicate an immediate call to your vet. You may also decide that the risk is greater than the potential cure and request a different approach to the problem after understanding the medication more thoroughly.

One word of caution, though – be aware of what type of website you’re looking at. Sites driven by unsupervised contributor content (like eHow and other free content sites) are not necessarily trustworthy because anyone can post anything they want, including drug companies who are simply pushing their drugs. As a freelance writer and researcher, I can’t even begin to tell you how much misinformation is on these types of sites – even Wikipedia, which many people use, has a lot of misinformation because anyone can post changes to one of their topics without authority. (I’m not saying that these sites have nothing to offer, but I wouldn’t take medical advice from them. If you use them, consider them as a starting point of basic information, then check reputable sites to confirm or eliminate what they said.) On the other hand, sites like About.com put applicants through some rigorous testing and training and, when it comes to medical writers, they have actual medical professionals overseeing content, so they’re more trustworthy.

Similarly, a website selling medications will tout only the positive aspects of a drug in order to make sales. So stick with a site with content from more educated, reputable sources, and then double and triple check that information against other similar sites.

Here are a couple of good websites to start with; there are plenty more on Google:

Drugs.comhttp://www.drugs.com – an excellent site with human and veterinary drug information. Everything from side effects and counter-indications to dosages and the latest news on drug recalls and newly approved drugs.

Vet 4 Petzhttp://www.vet4petz.com – covers traditional as well as alternative therapies for pets, as well as preventive information, articles, and more. There’s even an “Ask the Vet” link and links to other sites too.

I’ll throw in one more thing – there’s a website called Ask A Patient (www.askapatient.com) where people rate the different drugs they take and talk about their pros, cons, side effects, etc. It’s laid out in a table format, so you don’t have to read through long forum discussions. Some drugs, like Medrol, are prescribed for both humans and animals, so even though the human and canine systems are different, you can still check people’s reactions to and comments on different drugs, which may give you some insights. I looked up Medrol – it seems many people feel it should be BANNED. Apparently they had very bad reactions…and some scary ones, too. It’s worth a look.

I like our vet, but if this rash continues after the spaying is over and done with, I’m going to get a second opinion from a local vet who combines traditional and alternative veterinary practices.

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Fall Fashion Havachon Style

DD loves argyle and she really wanted to put something pink on Daisy, so when we found this sweater that was the best of both worlds, we just couldn’t resist!

I love my new fall sweater!

We thought we’d have trouble getting Daisy to let us put the sweater on her, but she just loved it! We put it on her when we went to a fall festival on a chilly day, but she seemed to enjoy wearing it at home too.

Bad Vet had told us that Daisy would need to wear something indoors all the time during fall and winter, but that didn’t make a lot of sense to me. After all, Havachons have a double coat, and we’re letting Daisy’s hair grow a little longer during these cooler months.

So we double-checked with our new vet, who’s a much more down-to-earth doctor and whose opinions we respect. He said she should only wear something in the house if the house temp is 40 degrees or less, which of course it never is! He told us that if she always wears clothing, her double coat won’t come in and she’ll freeze when we take her outside during winter months. However, if it’s very cold outside and she’s going to be out for more than 15 minutes, then she should have something on to keep her warm.

Looking online, I can see lots of freebie, unchecked articles recommending dog clothes in all types of weather; many of those “writers” are actually sellers of pet clothing, so their articles serve their own purpose.

How do you know whether and when you should clothe your pet? Check with your trusted vet, he/she knows best!

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