The next day, I took him to the vet to see if he was chipped, to get him up to date on all of his vaccinations, and to have blood work and a stool sample done to determine what, if any, diseases/parasites he may have. I was sent home with antibiotics, steroids, and medicated shampoo for his sarcoptic mange, and a month's dosage of flea/parasite preventative. That initial visit, the lab work, and the goody bag of meds landed me a $330 vet bill. Steep, but I knew it was worth it if it meant saving this dog's life. That night, he allowed me to take him into our large shower and use warm water and the medicated shampoo on him. He didn't flinch, or growl, or try to make a run for it. He remained calm and trusted me to wash him. I think he knew I was trying to help him feel better.
The next morning, I received news that the lab results came back and that he tested positive for hookworms, tapeworms, and heartworms. I drove back to the vet to pick up rounds 1 and 2 of a de-wormer ($30), and to talk to the vet about our heartworm treatment options. Apparently, the best option based on his estimated age and health level will end up costing us around $1,000 (YIKES!) once we start the injections in a couple months.
When I got home from the vet's office on day 2, I noticed that it was taking the sweet pup an extremely long time to urinate. Like...sometimes up to 10 minutes in the same spot. He was really straining, and seemed to be in quite a bit of pain. The vet's assistant told us to expect some changes in his urination because the steroids would cause him to drink more water and that would increase the volume of urine and ultimately, the frequency at which he would need to go. After doing some research online, we decided this probably wasn't a side effect of the medication, and we called the vet to see what might be the issue. We were told it could be an enlarged prostate or that it was possible he had bladder stones that were blocking his urethra. Fortunately, after a rectal exam and an ultrasound the next day, it was evident that he had an enlarged prostate and no signs of stones! That meant we could put him on a stronger antibiotic and not have to have a cystotemy (which would have been very expensive and invasive). We ended up paying another $90 for the exam, ultrasound, and his new antibiotics.
That same afternoon, the vet expressed his concern about the enlarged prostate, and said that the first thing we needed to do before proceeding with anything else would be to get Gravy neutered. (Oh yeah! And at this point in the game, we'd decided to name him Gravy!) Enlarged prostates can lead to a whole slew of problems we did not want to encounter, like infections, diseases, cancer, etc., so we decided to leave Gravy at the vet's office overnight for an early morning surgery. Time is of the essence, after all! Dr. Dan told me that because Gravy is heartworm positive, it puts him at a higher risk when having to undergo anesthesia, and that we should do a chest x-ray to make sure his heart and lungs are healthy enough to handle it. He said that normally it wouldn't be necessary but he felt that in Gravy's case, it would be wise to take every precaution since we are unsure of the severity of his condition at this point. He also said we would have to get the chest x-ray before starting his heartworm injections, anyway, so we could just do it now instead. Luckily, the x-ray looked clear, and the surgery was a success! We picked Gravy up that afternoon, paid the $420 bill for the x-ray, the surgery, and the pain meds, and then took him home for a weekend of R&R.
He has been such a sweet and trusting dog this entire week, cuddling with Neil and I, and playing with and kissing on his big (little) brother Puzzle. He fits in quite well with his new family, and I couldn't be happier to see him settling in and starting to get more comfortable with being an "inside dog" for probably the first time in his life.
Just in the last week, we have spent almost $900 on Gravy's vet bills, not including the $1,000 we will have to spend on his heartworm treatments. This also does not include the general fostering costs like food, toys, kennel, etc. I was hesitant to set one of these up at first because I knew (or at least I thought I did) what I was getting into, but as the bills started to stack up, so did people's kind requests to help us with Gravy's recovery! I have taken off roughly a quarter of the total projected cost (after heartworm treatment) because I meant it when I said I never expected to not pay for this guy. We knew that it would be costly. I guess we just didn't anticipate it being THIS costly. HA! Neil and I could not be more grateful to everyone for their warm words of encouragement and support, and especially to those of you that have been following Gravy' s story and are emotionally invested in his well-being. If you want to help us make sure that Gravy lives to be a happy, heart-healthy, handsome adult, please feel free to pass along any donation, big or small! We also accept good vibes, prayers, and sweet messages! God knows we could use them! Gravy thanks you, and so do we!
And now, an update! I took Gravy to the vet on Friday for a follow-up exam. He was ready for his 3 week vaccination boosters and got another stool sample done to recheck the status on his hookworm and tapeworm infestation. He also started his first month of heart worm treatment, which involves 3 months of Heartgard in combination with the antibiotic Doxycycline, a process that will slowly start to kill the worms over time so that there are fewer worms to kill in January when they give him his first melarsomine injection. The vet said his coat is looking MUCH better and that his ears are "clean as a whistle!" I also just received a call from the vet's office with news that his stool sample tested negative for all intestinal parasites!!!! Woohoo!!! After all the bad news we've gotten about this guy over the past month, this victory is a huge step in the right direction and a true reason to celebrate! We cannot thank you all enough for your continued support and love for our Gravy Boat. We couldn't do this without you!!
Gravy has been so great this week! I gave him another bath yesterday morning and he seemed to like it ok. He's currently cuddled up next to me on the couch snoring rather loudly. His breathing problems still worry me quite a bit. He snorts a lot and takes very quick, shallow breaths even when sleeping. He has gotten super playful this past week, with me and Neil, and with his toys, but especially with Puzzle. Sometimes I worry that one might play too rough with the other, and I'm concerned that Gravy's heart rate may become to elevated, but they usually settle down before I have to separate them.
He's learnin very quickly, mostly by example (thanks Puzzle), what's expected of him behavior-wise. He knows to sit and wait for a treat, how
to take it gently, and he's working on "STAY". He gets it, but can be stubborn sometimes if he's really excited about something. We still have to bribe him in order to get him in his kennel. Most of the time he takes the bait, but he's starting to figure out that some treats aren't worth it. He'll get there. In the meantime, we've had no issues with man handling him a little to help him on his way. Neil really has to manually put him in there sometimes, but we've never seen Gravy react negatively or aggressively toward us when we have to resort to physical maneuvering. He's just a big Gravy covered meatball, and we adore him so much.