As you may remember, we’ve been working for almost 9 years on Dawg’s regurgitation problem. For awhile we thought it was genetic, but then that was disproved with a series of tests. Then we thought it was a food allergy, which tests showed he had. But although changing food to nonallergenic stuff helped, it didn’t solve the problem. Then we thought it was his natural tendency to wolf down his food — something all dogs would like to do, since they all come from wolves. Yes, even Chinese Crested.
And, in fact, the purchase of a food dish designed to keep a dog from gulping air (which is the problem with wolfing food) seemed to help–for awhile. The problem showed back up one day right after eating, as usual. One minute he’s smiling at me and all is right with his world. Then he yawns and continues to smile while I clean used dog food from the carpet. He’s not only happy about it, he seems proud of his accomplishment!
So we raised his food and water dishes off the floor. That’s supposed to help. It didn’t. Then we thought maybe the problem was that he was gorging himself with water, since he will stand at his water dish and drink it dry, even if there’s a half-gallon of water available. Which he will then throw up shortly after. So we started limiting the amount of water available to two cups at a time, refilled as needed. That too seemed to work…for awhile. He’d drink the water down until there was only a little left and then walk away. Even though we’d refill the dish immediately, he seldom went back to drink again until he’d had a nap or gone outside. We really thought we had it solved then. But we didn’t.
So we looked at the timing. Since he usually threw up soon after eating, we thought maybe the combination of dry food and water (and the resulting swelling of the food in his stomach) was the problem. To test the theory, we tried taking his water up a half-hour before giving him his meals, and not putting it back down for a half-hour after meals. Guess what? Yep, it worked for awhile.
Since the symptoms for gulping air with food and the symptoms for gulping air with water are the same, next we tried every water bowl on the market designed to keep him from gulping the water when he drank. One had a thing that floated in the bowl, making it more work to get to the water and slowing down the drinking, one had a reservoir that fed a little water all the time so Dawg couldn’t get a lot of water at any one time, and one was even a copy of his food dish. Each one seemed to help a little, but none seemed to solve the problem. We finally settled on a bowl that’s actually a scientific wonder. It holds the water in a reservoir and puts it in the bowl when the bowl is nearly empty. But it only puts out two cups at a time. Now that was something that worked very well. For awhile.
Next on the agenda was the introduction of ice to the bowl. We’ve always given Dawg ice in his water during the summertime to help him stay cool, but we started doing what they do to you in the hospital — we gave him ice to lick instead of water to drink. Not all the time, just around feeding time. That way he wouldn’t gulp air and he couldn’t get enough liquid on which to bloat. I was really sure that would do it. And it did — until it didn’t. Last week he was licking the ice in his bowl. It’d been an hour since he’d had any water and 30 minutes since he’d had any food. Standing at the water bowl, yes, the scientific wonder, licking ice, he turned his head to one side and threw up about two cups of liquid. No food, just a mixture of water and gastric juices. Then, standing there in all that mess, he turned back and started licking again. So much for that theory.
Over time, as we’ve developed this complicated system of feeding and watering him, Dawg has pretty much stopped throwing up food. (Well, so far.) Now he either throws up water when he’s feeling good, or gastric juices if he’s feeling bad. I’m almost convinced it’s just a habit he’s developed. You know how some people chew their nails? My dog throws up.
At this point I figure this is either a life lesson or the universe hates me. I thought I’d learned my “life lesson” with my previous Bouv. During the time she was getting ready to die from stomach cancer, she started vomiting blood and other stuff several times a day. So I kept her in the kitchen (tile floors) and cleaned it up without a second thought, even though I’ve always had an almost pathological aversion to vomit. But this was for my baby so I’d clean awhile, then go into the yard and throw up (in reaction), then come back and clean some more. This went on for two weeks before I was convinced it was time to let her go. But she was dying, whereas Dawg’s just weird.
I don’t have a clue what to do about this situation, but I know what I’m going to do next time. I’m gonna get a Chinese Crested. At least then I’ll have something to laugh at.