The other day a dog came in to see me for not eating and vomiting for a week. I could smell the dog before I walked into the room. He was laying on the floor, too weak to stand or sit up, and could barely lift his head. There were two young men in the room, and they were laughing. Laughing? I stepped over the dog who had that look in his eyes, the look many of us know too well. Help.
I sat down and began questioning the owner. "What's going on with Fluffy today?" "He vomited a few times." A few times meaning.... the dog had been vomiting consistently for at least a week. "When was the last time he ate?" "I don't know, last week?" "Has he had any diarrhea?" "Oh, uh, I don't know, I haven't noticed." "When was the last time he had a bowel movement?" "What's a bowel movement?"
I kid you not.
By now, I was getting severely angry that these people had let this dog suffer for so long, and at their flaming ignorance. My voice was shaking as I explained what a bowel movement is. I examined the dog, who was icteric. Yellow eyes, yellow gums, yellow skin. Uremic smell. The smell of organ failure, combined with the smell of a rancid Gram negative ear infection. "Oh yeah," they told me, "he has had infections in his ears for awhile." His skin was discolored from infection.
I felt a mass in the dogs abdomen, and he was at least 10% dehydrated. He was nothing but skin, fur, and bones.
I began to explain the severity of the dogs illness, and the owner began to cry. Usually I feel bad when I have to make people cry. But not this time. On the verge of tears myself [anger], I watched the owner cry and was glad that he finally understood how he had let his dog suffer.
Thankfully, they elected euthanasia. At least they did one thing right for their sweet old dog.