I have waited a few months to share this story just to “be sure.” No sense jinxing myself, right? Or Bosco, either.
A few months ago, Bosco stopped eating and started losing weight. The first day, he stopped eating, I made a note of it in my head, but considered that sometimes that’s just the way they feel. However, this behavior continued and he began to lose weight to the point that I decided to force feed him baby food (Gerber’s #2 chicken: contains no onions; only chicken to which I added some B-complex plus iron — NutriVed). If anything, he seemed constipated. I wormed him to rule that out.
He seemed to feel okay, was drinking water and showed no signs of what was causing the problem, but he was still losing weight. And weakening. He didn’t have his usual energy.
I called two vet clinics that I use to see who could fit him in the soonest. One clinic said to drop him off and they would fit him in between other visits. So I did. I picked him up in the afternoon and spoke with a vet tech. She said they did not know what the matter was: he didn’t have worms, his blood work looked good and he wasn’t anemic. A couple hours later, the vet who attended to him called. He repeated what the vet tech had said, but added that it might be cancer. He wanted to run more tests. I asked why he felt this if his blood work was good. He didn’t have a persuasive answer, but recommended more testing. At this point, I was already in it for $270 and we seemed to be working off guesses.
The next morning the head vet of the clinic called and pretty much gave me the same opinion. Yet my gut was still holding back. It just didn’t seem right that Bosco might have cancer.
I have been through cancer with three of my pets. Each case was different, so I can’t say I have a definite idea what cancer looks like. Aside from the weight loss, something inside me held that this was not cancer. It’s really hard to hold with your gut when people so much more knowledgeable think something so different. But I needed a bit more time to get my head around things.
One last idea came to me before going back for more tests: canned pumpkin. Despite the food going into Bosco via my force feeding him, there was no poop coming out. It certainly seems that if food was going in and not coming out that he would be showing a fat belly. But this was not the case. He was becoming a skeleton. I tried to remain objective and not give in to the terrible suggestion from the two vets, but time was certainly of the essence. I added canned pumpkin (plain, no spices) to the baby food and vitamins I was giving to him via a syringe. Pumpkin is supposed to help with both constipation and diarrhea. Go figure, right? But I have seen this work several times.
The next day, Bosco went outside and pooped. A big poop! At first, it seemed to be stuck, so with a paper towel, I gently pulled it out. It was a SOCK! A whole sock! It smelled terrible. Of course. It had been stuck inside him for several days just putrefying! When we went out a few hours later, he again pooped, but more easily. And that evening, he ate dinner on his own for the first time in days. He was ravenous. And I was elated!
The next morning, I had no idea what to expect. Was his appetite the night before a one-time thing or would he again eat on his own? He ate on his own! I started feeding him several small meals a day for the first few days, then backed him into his old schedule of twice a day.
It’s been a few months now and my old Bosco is back to being himself. I have stopped treating him like he is about to die, but I do keep an eye on him.
The lesson I learned from this is that I know my pets better than my vets. I brought Bosco in with a problem and explained everything I had observed and done and even offered my thoughts. Vets have science on their side: blood tests, fecal tests, physical exams, etc. But they are not perfect. As guardians to our pets, we have the advantage of daily interaction with them. We simply know them better.
In this situation, I was very lucky. A $ .79 can of pumpkin was the answer. Too bad I did not try the pumpkin before I spent $270, but I am grateful I did not need to go for the additional testing. Who knows where that would have led us and how long it would have taken to notice he was backed up. I do not even think about the “what ifs” because they did not happen.
THIS time, I was lucky. And my gut was right. So make sure you ask your vet a lot of questions. If you are in doubt and a can of pumpkin is not going to be your panacea, get a second opinion from someone else, maybe even a different clinic.