Condition Status: SAR (Somethin’ Ain’t Right)

Your pubbay wakes you up in the middle of the night restless. Your heart sinks, you desperately want to just go back to sleep, but this is your baby and he hurts and you don’t know how to find out what’s wrong without insanely expensive medical instruments AND it’s 2 AM.
His belly is not rigid or seemingly painful, there’s no bloating, and he has bowel sounds, but they aren’t quite normal. He paces, you Google. Time to call the ER vet. Fortunately, there is NO traffic at 2:30 AM.
Three hours, three X-rays, 1.5 liters of fluids (subcutaneous and intravenous), and a ‘mild’ sedative later you lift your 80 lb., drowsy dog back in the car and rejoice when your schedule lightens up so you can monitor him lying on his ‘I don’t feel so good’ rug all day long. A GI tract full of gas. Never have you been so happy to have him flatulate in your face.
Three nights later, he nudges you again. It’s 1 AM. Leaping out of bed, you find him completely covered in hives. You call the ER vet. Thankfully you DO have 50 mg of Benadryl in the house and don’t have to drive to the 24-hour Harris Teeter. You stay up for a few hours with him and the hives start to resolve. Whew. Your personal vet calculates the doses of Benadryl for the day until the hives are gone.
Now, a tummy full of gas and hives all over the body don’t normally go together (mast cell tumors can cause these symptoms, but the hives would likely be generalized near the tumor), so what happened? Did the 7 pound killing machine (aka the cat) drop a pissed off, half dead spider on him adding insult to injury? Did he react to the ‘mild’ sedative that kept him knocked out for 36 hours? And why did this dog who normally eats his breakfast in 60 seconds just give you a look and unenthusiastically nibble at his food? SAR.
Roscoe is 12 years old, but a very happy and reasonably active old guy. As we are all learning, our own SARs are sometimes just the new normal as we age. But they can also be early indicators of nearly anything. Dogs are so stoic. Most of them don’t bother to tell us something is WAY off until they are very close to leaving us forever. Those little signs may well be big red flags, or they may be nothing more than a bit of indigestion. YOU know what is normal for your dog, but unless 80 lbs. of boxer/mastiff is standing on you in the middle of the night head butting you, you may not realize that the signs have crept in.
So, I watch carefully and worry (waste of time… better to work and save money for the next O’ Dark Thirty ER vet visit) and cuddle my sweet old guy, cherishing every blessed fart and ‘love me’ head bump when I’m holding a hot cup of coffee.

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