A downhill battle

Every breed of dog is prone to certain health issues, and for dachshunds it’s back problems. In order to protect Otto’s back we’ve kept him from going up or down the stairs and on or off furniture under his own steam. Now that he is over 8 months old (and over 20 pounds heavy), experts agree that it’s ok for him to start using the stairs.

We have a baby gate at the bottom of our stairs, and before the stair moratorium was lifted we had to be extra diligent about making sure the gate was completely shut or else we’d hear the jingle of Otto’s tags and find him sloooowly creeping up the stairs. So it was easy to teach him how to go up the stairs by himself. Now every morning when I open the baby gate and tell Otto to go get Grimbil, Otto goes dashing up the stairs and runs to our bed.

However, going down the stairs is a whole other story.

Trying to psyche himself up

We tried luring him down with treats….

…but to no avail. So for now, Otto still gets the “doggy elevator” on his way down.

"Please don't make me!"

Otto ear update

My apologies that the last post was a bit of a cliff hanger for those who aren’t friends with Otto on Facebook. Last week we got the results of the biopsy and it turns out he had a histiocytoma (before you click that link just know that there is a rather gross close up). Thankfully these things are benign and are usually found in young dogs. The vet doubts that Otto will get another, but we’ll be keeping an eye out just in case.

Otto doesn’t seem bothered by his ear at all and has been carrying on as per normal for the past week. It will still be a few weeks before his ear completely heals, so we have follow up visit #3 with the vet in two weeks.

I like our vet a lot. He explains what he is thinking and doing. He doesn’t charge us for the follow up visits we’ve had (after all these visits only last a few minutes). He’s also very sweet with Otto, giving him treats and cuddles. Otto actually loves to go see the vet. And surprisingly, the vet recommends that we don’t get Otto snipped. Our breeder also suggested we keep Otto intact, and the reading I’ve done so far supports that. Evidently neutered dogs are more likely to develop certain cancers, and if done too early it can affect a dog’s growth which could lead to orthopedic problems.

Otto has surgery

Recently we noticed a lump on Otto’s right ear and spoke to the vet about it. The vet suggested we monitor it to see if it changed, and it definitely got bigger. So today Otto had surgery to remove the lump.

The lump before surgery

We dropped him off at the vet’s before work and picked him up after work. The surgery went well but since there isn’t any excess skin they could use to close the wound, they had to cauterize it.  Now Otto looks like someone put out their cigar in his ear.

Post-op cauterized Otto

No excitement or running around for the next couple of days, which means no doggy daycare (it’s far too much fun).  We have a follow up appointment on Friday and another 10 days from now. We should also have the results from the biopsy by 10 days. The vet doesn’t think it’s anything serious but better safe than sorry.

He’s still really woozy and probably will be through tomorrow morning. He didn’t even bark when he saw his nemesis, Snowball, he just kinda swayed from side to side and narrowed his eyes. Poor dopey puppy!

Fright Night

On Monday night Otto gave us a scare. Everything ended up fine, but for an hour or so I was literally shaking.

I took Otto out to the backyard for his last bathroom visit of the night. Our motocycle is parked in one corner of the backyard, and occasionally Otto goes behind the bike to explore. We don’t store anything back there, so usually it’s perfectly safe. However, on Monday night when he emerged from behind the bike he was foaming at the mouth. I immediately started worrying that some sort of poisonous plant was back there, or the bike was leaking some nefarious fluid, or that some horrible person had tossed something poisonous over our fence.

Otto came inside, foaming and shaking his head from side to side. NOT convulsions, more like he had something on his face that he was trying to shake off. I hollered for Grimbil (poor guy had gone to bed early), who came running downstairs when he heard the panic in my voice. He found the emergency vet number, and by the time I had them on the phone the foaming had stopped. Otto drank a little water and then started wandering around the house as usual, so the vet said to just keep an eye on him for the next hour.

Grimbil went back to bed, and Otto curled up on my lap. After about 20 minutes he tried to get up, but his hind legs didn’t seem to be working very well. Once he did get up he was walking strangely, limping and kind of hunched. So of course I became worried that he had ingested some sort of neurotoxin which was potentially paralyzing him. Cue hollering for Grimbil again. He agreed that Otto was walking a bit strangely (by then he was just limping), so I called the vet back and booked a pet ambulance. It’s probably the one time I wished we owned a car.

45 minutes later the pet ambulance arrived. It only had room for one human passenger, so Grimbil trundled back to bed for the 3rd time and Otto and I were off. Fortunately the emergency vet is only on the other side of the common so we were there quite quickly. And of course, by the time we got there Otto was bounding around the vet’s office sniffing everything in sight. I’ve never been so happy to look like an idiot.

The vet examined him anyway and gave him a clean bill of health. The theory is that he tried to eat something (probably a plant or a frog) that didn’t agree with him, hence the foaming. Being a bit shocked or stressed could explain why he was walking strangely. And to be honest, when he first wakes up in the morning he tends to be a bit clumsy with his hind legs.

So thankfully it was not a big deal and Otto is completely fine. I’m looking at it as a good trial run of our emergency care system. Now we have the number for the pet ambulance and for the emergency vet readily available, we know how long it takes to get there, and we know that the pet ambulance is not always quick to arrive. Time to find a nearby car service that takes dogs!