Dog trains man

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Spotting Pain

I'll keep on smiling
"Don't worry, she is not in pain" the vet said. Her comment left me baffled. Really. Viva's nose looks like a raw steak, and you tell me that doesn't hurt.

"It is itchy, which is uncomfortable of course", the vet persisted. "It is just not a nice sight." - the emphasis is mine.

We'll get back to that discussion later.

I really don't blame her. Spotting pain in dogs is difficult, and even worse, it is individual from dog to dog. I respond to completely different triggers depending if it concerns Kenzo or Viva.

It is best illustrated by comparing Kenzo and Viva's response to acute pain, with something they both have experienced, which is stepping into a thorn. They both start with a couple of short limping steps. After that, the similarity ends.

Kenzo stops walking almost immediately. He sits down, starts panting, and holds his injured paw up into the air for me to see: "Dad? I made a boo-boo". On investigation, I find the thorn and pull it out. When we move again, the same scenario tends to repeat itself a couple of times, as the paw is still hurtful, and Kenzo wants to double-check I did my job removing the thorn.

You can probably guess what Viva does. Right, after those first limps that look like a series of missteps, she just continuous like nothing happened. Not even a puff or a pant. After I stopped her, I pulled a 1 cm long thorn out of her paw.

Viva reminds me of Tom Sizemore in Saving Private Ryan, saying "I just got the wind knocked out of me" after taking two bullets in the chest. And I never forget when we treated her for her spondylosis - painful in itself - , and not getting it quite right as she didn't improve the way she should. After more investigation, the vet found a thorn completely embedded in her paw, that probably has sit there for quite a while.

Maybe she has experienced so much chronic pain in her life, she even responds differently to the acute pain caused by a thorn. Maybe she is just "tough". Either way, she does feel pain, even if she hardly shows it.

To be able to see how Viva is doing, I keep a simple diary, the "Chronic Cushing's Diairy", that would alert me of any issues or chronic pains. I use it to be able to compare for how long she played, walked and run on any particular day. Any slowing down in either department, and something is not right. The diary has enabled me so far, to predict each outcome of her quarterly Cushing's test and blood work.

Other than that I watch for the tiniest of clues which brings me back to the discussion with the vet. Viva soon started to make "grinning faces" and she sometimes rubbed her nose against me - both to relieve the itching - only to quickly stop. She also shows discomfort when she bumps into Kenzo with her nose when they are playing: she closes her mouth.

Other than that it is just plain common sense. She has open wounds on her nose. Her nose. That thing a dog sticks into literally everything. Put something in your open wound and see how that feels.

"Well, I don't have any other clients that are tuned in with their dog as you are, so I'll trust you on that", said our vet.

And therefore we both wondered again what it is we are looking at. Could it be a drug-induced side-effect, are we not dealing with DLE after all?





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3 comments

  1. Poor sweetie. I'm sure it does hurt. I hope you can figure something out.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Roxanne. I hope so too, the sooner the better.

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