Monday I noticed trouble in paradise. Kassa was straining to go, spending a long time thinking about it and getting very little reward for his efforts. He did a few spurts on the patio and then one more for good measure after returning into the house. This is pretty uncharacteristic so I became concerned.
I have noticed that from time to time Kassa has had this issue but this was the worse I had seen it. My Vet had previously posted to our email list how racing Greyhounds often have this issue and it is related to inflammation or a muscle spasm (I believe). So being the hypochondriac that I am (both vicariously and personally) I jumped onto the internet to find out what the possibilities are. I found this resource.
My Vet indicated a urine analysis would have to be done because the symptoms can be an indication of multiple problems many of which are pretty serious. So I made an appointment for 5:10 that day and rushed home after work to collect a sample and take him in. I re-washed up a pickle jar (as I am sure pickle juice traces would make for an interesting analysis) and proceeded out side with the boy. When I was a kid I remember being told to pee in a jar at the doctors once and I put up an inappropriate amount of resistance most likely coupled with stage fright which let to a frustrated mother. I was expecting to be following Kassa all around the neighborhood jar in hand. Kassa however had no such inhibitions. Up the leg went, I swooped in for the catch, he happily obliged and we were on our way in minutes.
I love my vet. She is a greyhound expert and she is always super accommodating for answering questions I may have and going way above and beyond the call of duty. When I go to the vet I always have the secret anxiety that they will look at Kassa and deem me an unfit pet owner due to obvious incompetence. He will be whisked away and I will loose him forever. I was going to be prepared. I looked over the symptoms and thought I could identify which he had. I thought I would be ready. As usual wrong wrong wrong. I knew this was not the first time I had witnessed the symptoms but couldn't give very good information about frequency. I couldn't establish a correlation with any change in diet. Heck I didn't even know how long I had him on his new food. I counted bags of food purchased in my head and came out with 6 months but I could be off by many. I totally forgot that I had started feeding him pig ears and new bully sticks over rawhide during the holiday. What a mess. I am sure my vet was growing frustrated at the lack of feedback but she smiled, put me at ease and inspected my boy to her satisfaction. He was in good spirits and very cooperative. She sent off the sample which, she previously extracted from the pickle jar, to the lab and told me that she would check in and email me the next day about the results. It is worth pointing out that she was scheduled to be out of the office for the next 3 days so she was doing this on her own time. Greyt vet right?
The results were good. They showed no indication crystals, infections or stones or tumors. The current theory is that he does indeed suffer from the muscle spasm issue common to greys and that it can be brought on by vigorous running and play. (Much like he was doing on Sunday with the other dogs). Evidently when it comes on it can be quite painful so I got a prescription for Prazosin which can help him through those rough times. I was encouraged to let him run and play but to try to see if there is a correlation between his flow issues and vigorous exercise.
This all got me thinking about the difficult job vets must have diagnosing issues in pets. Beyond the science of things like urine analysis and x-rays, they can't ask the dog whats up. Its up to us as pet owners to note changes in environment, behavior and the frequency and timeline there of. How much easier this might have been if I had kept a simple log of any time I changed something major in Kassa's environment. Just a date of when I introduce a new food, a date when he plays extra hard and a date when I observe something unusual in him. Being able to bring a notebook like that to the vet may help a lot in their diagnostics as my memory of all events pretty much locks up tight the minute I step into their office.
The good news is that Kassa is of good health, good weight, good teeth and nobody whisked him away :).