…ish) update to talk about my dog. Yesterday was dominated by our trip to the vet. For one thing, the trip itself was anything but quick. I love our vet, but she’s all the way out in Bixby (a neighboring town, about a 25-minute drive from where we live). We’d made our appointment for 11 AM, and took pains to arrive a bit early, only to find the place shut and locked. Unfortunately, our phones only work with a wifi connection, so we could neither check to see if they’d left a message about rescheduling nor call someone to find out what in the what was going on.

But since we’d driven so far to get there, we weren’t about to just turn around and go back home, so we waited. About 20 minutes later, the vet’s SUV rolled up and the entire staff piled out like scrubs-wearing clowns, apologizing and explaining that they didn’t know anyone was coming and thought they had time to go get everyone’s flu shots.

We were tempted to get angry and be like, “…isn’t that why we make appointments?” But we opted to see it as an exercise in patience. And it’s a good thing we didn’t pitch a fit, because it turned out that the assistant did indeed call and leave us a message, which for some reason never showed up on our end, telling us that she was moving us to Wednesday because one of Pete’s meds wouldn’t be in stock until then.

Anyhoo. For those not in the know, Pete, our 6-year-old Chihuahua, started having seizures about three years ago. This year, they’ve gotten frequent enough for us to decide to medicate him. Trouble is, he also has elevated liver enzymes and a low thyroid, which the vet believes may be causing the seizures. Either way, since anti-seizure meds are hard on the liver anyway, we have to treat the liver and get it down to normal before we can start him on those.

“You guys go on and see the vet without me. I’m good right here.”

So in addition to a daily thyroid pill, he also recently did an antibiotic regimen for his liver, and we’ve had him on Denamarin (a combination of Sam-E and the active ingredient in milk thistle) for a couple of months now. He’s also taking Val-syrup, a B-vitamin complex with liver fractions.

The vet gave him a check-up and drew his blood (which turned into a somewhat traumatic ordeal for Pete when she had trouble finding a vein), and then we had to wait around some more for the test results. Which is actually kind of fun, because the inside of this place is basically a free-range domestic animal zoo, with dogs and cats everywhere, a baby (and somewhat bitey) Flemish giant rabbit, and even a pot-bellied pig to keep us entertained.

Finally, the results: no improvement. In fact, his liver levels were slightly higher than before, and his thyroid was about the same.

So she renewed his meds and wrote us a prescription for Royal Canin hepatic formula dog food and told us to switch him to that. Problem is, we have strong reservations about putting him on that stuff. Royal Canin/Hill’s Science Diet foods are kind of notoriously not nearly as good for dogs as they claim to be.

After we finally got back home, I spent the rest of the day being kind of obsessive about research. I didn’t find anything that made me feel better about feeding him that Royal Canin stuff. So now we’re considering switching him to a home-cooked diet, but we still need to do more research and figure out if that’s really something we can both afford and make time to do. In the mean time, we’ve switched him over to Blue Buffalo, which is much better quality than that Rachael Ray stuff we’ve been feeding him. The variety we picked out has liver-friendly ingredients. We’ll also start giving him only filtered water, and keep up our efforts to get him slimmed down (he’s lost a full pound since the beginning of the summer. He still has one more to go). We may just keep giving him this food until his next liver check, and then if there’s no improvement, we’ll switch to homemade.

Dear readers, do any of you have experience with this? Have you had to battle seizures and/or liver problems with your pets? Do any of you feed your dogs a homemade diet? I’d love to get your input in the comments.

PS – if you haven’t yet entered to win free copies of both my short story collection Midnight Snacks and the horror anthology Dead Ends, there’s still time to enter!

And in case you missed it from our last trip to the vet, here’s exactly what Pete thinks about keeping his appointments: