My wife and I travel quite often for both business and pleasure. When our two Border Collies cannot accompany us, they get to stay in the kennel (Country Acres Kennels) like everybody else.
Recently, I was in the hospital for five days and my wife, Jennie, stayed there with me. While in the hospital, Cooper and Rolex got to stay in the kennel. They always look forward to their kennel time and love having playtime with all the other dogs.
When we picked them up and went home, I was really looking forward to eating real food, as I had been on a very restricted hospital diet for five days. We cooked tuna steaks, brown rice, and asparagus with hollandaise sauce. I hadn’t taken into account how much my stomach had shrunk, while on my hospital diet, so we ended up fixing too much food.
As always, Cooper and Rolex got the leftovers. Cooper has a cast-iron stomach and can eat just about anything, but Rolex has a sensitive stomach that’s easily upset. Against my wife’s advice, I gave them both a heaping plate-full of all the leftovers. Normally, I wouldn’t give Rolex so much, but I felt sorry for her, as she had been away, in the kennel.
About 5 am, the next morning, Rolex vomited up everything. We were busy most of the day with follow up doctor appointments, yet noticed that Rolex was not her usual energetic self. We weren’t overly concerned, however. Dogs get upset stomachs, just as we do, and usually get over them in a day.
About 4 pm, upon returning from an appointment, I grew concerned as Rolex was acting very lethargic; I took her temperature. It was 105 degrees, which is three and one-half degrees above what it should normally be (101.5 degrees). I immediately called the staff veterinarian for Country Acres Kennels, Dr. Mac Todd. Unfortunately, he was out of town and had to refer us to the Mansfield Emergency Hospital.
We told the attending hospital veterinarian that she had been in the kennel and had just come home the day before. The vet said Rolex could have gotten a hold of something at the kennel that made her sick. I explained that the kennel is a very controlled environment and that it wasn’t likely she got anything at the kennel. Dogs are far more likely to eat something at home, in the backyard, than at the kennel. It seems many vets feel a little guilt about their fees and seize upon any opportunity to blame kennels. I explained that I own the kennel and didn’t appreciate the way vets carelessly blame kennels for dogs that get sick. In fact, dogs are far more likely to contract a bacterial or viral infection in a veterinary hospital than in the kennel. After all, we don’t board sick dogs at the kennel.
Remember, when you go out of town, you don’t book a room at a hospital — you book a room at a hotel. Country Acres Kennels is a hotel, not a hospital for sick pets.
After spending a night at the vet’s, and $2,131.89 later, Rolex got to come home. The diagnosis was gastroenteritis (upset stomach), which can be triggered in a matter of a few hours, as it was in this case. It often results from giving a dog with sensitive stomach issues too much rich table food. In addition, an inflamed gut can cause a high temperature, as well as an elevated white blood cell count. Her white blood cell count was 30,000, which is twice the normal rate. There does not need to be any bacterial or viral infection to cause this temperature and elevated white blood cell count — meaning, it had nothing to do with spending time at the kennel.
We tell boarding clients to limit food and water intake when they take their dogs home. Too much can cause unnecessary problems for the dog and can cause an extra expense for the owner.
So, don’t do as I did — do as I say. Dogs are going to be excited when they come home, so be sure to limit the food and water intake for 24 hours and avoid my mistake.
Don PraegerPresident, Southwest Pet, Inc.