The CoolRVers are actually a couple of retirees, Judy and Luke Rinehimer and our 5 year old German Shepherd Dog, Miss Shady Lady. We are "extended-time" travelers with a home in Cool, California. Thanks for following along with us as we travel North America in our "rolling condo", enjoying the RV lifestyle. Your comments are always welcomed.

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Friday, April 28, 2017

"X" IS FOR 'X-RAY' (#AtoZChallenge)

For this "X" letter of the day for the A to Z Bloggers Challenge I am taking a simple approach:  "X" IS FOR 'X-RAY'


As the owner of German Shepherd dogs (GSD) over the years we have spent plenty of time in Veterinary Clinics making sure our "fur-babies" are in pain-free, good health for traveling with us in our motorhome.

"Tasha" with Robin at the top of the stairs
with cousins Megan and Laura

We are currently on our fifth GSD.  "Tasha" (see photo) was raised from a pup and survived until our daughter Robin was away at college in 1990.  After that heartbreak we decided to "rescue" each of our next GSDs.

"Tobi" was a White Shepherd who loved to run, jump for Frisbees, and, thankfully, was generally in good health.  She died from heart disease.

"Krissy", on the other hand, was a medical nightmare and we have lots of X-RAYS to share.  

"Star" was in relatively good health to the end.  You'll read her story below.

"Shade" or "Miss Shady Lady" as she is now known has taken over our household for the past 1.5 years.  At age 5 her only issue is keeping her nails trimmed.

Meet GSD #3 "Krissy"

Krissy loved to play ball and her favorite toy was a "Kong". While RVing in the Quartzsite, AZ desert the fetched Kong would be covered in her saliva and collected gravel and rocks that eventually made it to her stomach.

The first x-ray shows quite a collection of stones that were in her system. The Vet suggested a technique that basically "starves" the dog for a couple of weeks before she would try to pass them. She had to drink Pedialyte to replace her water and electrolytes and, eventually, we were told she would regurgitate (vomit) the stones without having to pass them through her digestive track.  

Photo #2 shows them "collected" in the bottom of the stomach and, YES, she did toss them out onto our home deck and we could actually see very specific stones that were visible in the x-ray.


Here is a description of "Bloat
Dog bloat is a common condition that can be dangerous, even deadly. Dogs who have it need treatment right away. Know the signs so you can recognize when your pup needs help! 
What Is Dog Bloat?Bloat happens when a dog’s stomach fills with gas, food, or fluid, making it expand. The stomach puts pressure on other organs. It can cause dangerous problems, including:
  • No blood flow to his heart and stomach lining
  • A tear in the wall of his stomach
  • A harder time breathing
In some cases, the dog’s stomach will rotate or twist, a condition that vets call gastric dilatation volvulus. It traps blood in the stomach and blocks it from returning to the heart and other areas of the body. This can send your dog into shock.Symptoms:  Bloat usually comes on very quickly. At first, your dog may show signs that his stomach hurts. He may:
  • Act restless
  • Drool
  • Look anxious
  • Look at his stomach
  • Pace
  • Try to vomit, but nothing comes up
As the condition gets worse, he may:
  • Collapse
  • Have a rapid heartbeat
  • Be short of breath
  • Feel weak
If you think your pet has bloat, get him to a clinic right away. If dogs don’t get treatment in time, the condition can kill them.

Krissy survived her gastric dilatation volvulus  (aka, bloat, stomach torque, or twist).  A late night trip to a Vet directed us to an Emergency Veterinary Hospital in nearby Roseville, Ca.   She nearly died on the 30-mile trip but a 3:00 a.m. surgery saved her.  Basically, the Vet performed major surgery to "untwist" her stomach that had spun around in her body cavity like you twist a balloon to make toy shapes.  As part of the surgery she had part of her spleen removed, too.  As you'll read next, that would become a future issue. 

BELOW:  Hubby Luke comforting Krissy following her surgery for bloat. She was eventually cleared to travel with us on our planned cross-country trip to Pennsylvania .

Just before leaving PA that summer, Krissy quit eating and was once again showing signs of bloat.  A local Vet took new x-rays and then had us come into her office as she explained that the procedure used by the first surgery Vets had left her remaining spleen loose enough that it was now wrapping itself around Krissy's esophagus passage to her stomach. Time for another major surgery. 

Ah, the dreaded cone of recovery was even more exciting once she was back in the motorhome. She was allowed to travel but we had to find a Vet in Branson, Missouri to remove her stitches. She made it home to Cool, California and later died from heart cancer. 


Miss Star was our 4th GSD and we had her for 7.5 years until she passed at age 13 while on another family visit to PA.  We like to say she had 100,000 miles on her!  It was only in her last couple of months that her quality of life became an issue.  She did develop "hip dysplasia" but it didn't really cripple her until her very end of life. She finally had inoperative cancer throughout her organs. 

Hip dysplasia is a very common disease in dogs. This orthopedic condition occurs as a result of abnormal development of one or both hip joints, leading to instability and degeneration of the joints. Hip dysplasia can affect one or both limbs and may range from mild to severe.  
What is Canine Hip Dysplasia?
The hip joint includes a ball at the top of the rear leg bone (head of the femur) and a socket in the pelvis (acetabulum). When a dog has hip dysplasia, the connection of the ball and socket fits poorly. Typically, there is laxity (loose joint) and instability in the joint. Because of the abnormal connection, movement of the leg causes deformity of the joint. Over time, the cartilage in the joint wears down. Scar tissue and abnormal bony growths (osteophytes) develop. The damage in the joint makes it gradually more difficult for the dog to move the leg without pain and restricted range of motion.
Star's Hip Dysplasia X-rays

The first x-ray shows Star's hindquarters and you can see the pelvis and hip bones.  The second photo really visualizes how she adapted with her hip "out of the joint". She just walked with bone on bone.


GSD #5, "Shade" sits and sleeps wherever she wants.  She clings to me like Velcro.


Don't worry, I have no plans to show you all of our own collection of x-rays, ultra-sounds, and CT-Scans that have been taken for broken ankles, elbows, fingers, valley fever and arthritis diagnosis.  We are sure glad our Kaiser Permanente Senior Advantage health plan includes radiology and labs!

"Pets are humanizing. They remind us we have an obligation and responsibility to preserve and nurture and care for all life." 

James Cromwell

1 comment:

Emily Bloomquist said...

Poor Krissy with all of those rocks in her stomach! We don't think of accumulation of objects when they get small rocks stuck on their balls and toys. I only have cats but they probably pick up all sorts of tiny things they swallow. I will watch more closely to try not to track in small pebbles they might eat.

Thanks for the information on bloat - I had heard of it but never had any idea what it is. Sounds horrible!

Emily | My Life In Ecuador | Xanthophobia, Xenoepist, Xyzlacatosis