April 10th, 2018
Like being on a roller coaster ride that had delivered too many dips and turns, Bailey and I were ready to get off. What began in January as a bad case of infected ears soon spread to inflammation on the skin between her paw pads. Her ailments were most likely to be caused by food intolerances. Treatment should have been simple or so one would have thought. One of the challenges of living in Northern Canada is that often services are offered by only one provider. Shopping the specials is limited with only one grocery store in Labrador West. The same is true for veterinary services – just one. In January, the local vet left. The Veterinary College has been sending replacement vets every three weeks until a permanent one can be found to fill the position. You see, our clinic is not owned by a vet but, rather an accounting firm (or so I have been told). Bailey saw a total of three vets. Each one had a different treatment plan to get our girl healthy. They meant well. The first vet suggested a duck-based kibble. The next one told us to give a fowl and grain-free kibble. Ironically, the one that she ordered in for us had grain in it. We refused to buy it. The last one actually suggested putting Bailey on a black bean and sweet potato diet. Really, I can’t imagine Bailey eating beans and sweet potato for 6 to 8 weeks. Just thinking about the amount of gas that she would produce meant a greater willingness on my part to spring the extra money needed to buy the fish-based, grain-free kibble. Bailey has come around to accepting her new kibble, although she longs for a return of turkey roaster licks – not a chance. The kibble seems to be working for her after several weeks of being on it.
The ears have been slow to respond to the various treatments prescribed. The second vet ordered a culture to be taken and sent away. I was surprised because last year, I had asked for a culture of her ear to be taken and was told transporting cultures in winter temperatures was not done. The culture sample would likely not survive the trip. My husband, not knowing this information, agreed to the culture being taken as I was instructing at ski school. The single type of bacteria present in the ear had become multiple bacteria. No cleaning or medication in the ears could be given for 4 days prior to the culture being taken. The results came back stating no growth according to the animal technician. No antibiotics would be prescribed even though the second vet felt they were necessary after 4 weeks on steroids. I questioned the result’s accuracy given that transportation could have killed the sample. The clinic was between vets. Bailey was to go back on a medication that had not worked earlier and to which she had reacted badly. I made another vet appointment with the next one who was expected to arrive in a couple of days. In the meantime, my husband and I brainstormed for other options. How far would we go to get treatment for our sweetness?
Well, 3,400 km to be exact! My husband and the boys were leaving to spend Spring Break in Quebec City with relatives while I stayed home to care for Bailey. We decided to make an appointment with Bailey’s vet in Peterborough, Ontario who she sees while attending courses with the Southeastern Ontario Newfoundland Dog Club. The extra days of driving combined with the hotel costs meant something would have to be given up. We agreed to cancel our 25th anniversary trip to Nova Scotia planned in July if necessary. Bailey was more important to us than spending our first holiday alone since our teenagers were born. I made the vet appointment in Peterborough for 1 ½ weeks later.
Bailey saw the third vet who examined and swabbed her ear. I brought every bottle that had been prescribed by the previous vets – all ten of them. The vet could not detect the presence of any yeast or bacteria. She wanted to reduce the swelling and inflammation quickly so Bailey was given a high dose of steroids for 5 days. The ears were to be kept dry and if possible, the ear flaps needed to be pinned up to increase airflow. I was to only clean her ears twice a week. Apparently, my daily cleaning sessions endorsed by the first two vets had aggravated the inflammation in her ears. I followed the prescribed treatment and saw improvement within a few days. Bailey wasn’t thrilled with the clothes peg holding up her ear flaps. We compromised with me laying her flaps back every time she was lying down. A day before Spring Break, I cancelled the vet appointment in Ontario and gave a sigh of relief that I would be staying home with my girl. Bailey was on the mend and as of last night, she is back to her old self. Our roller coaster ride has come to an end.