White Dog and the rest of the White Dog Army were tightly gathered around Ferguson. They were trying to hide their fear as their brother lay on his mattress clearly in misery.
It was about two hours after breakfast and med time. "I'd say the piroxicam is a definite no go," Steve said. I already called Dr. Julia and was looking up the drug's side effects on the internet sites I most respect. Most I knew from the first time we tried this NSAID, after Ferguson's initial mouth cancer surgery. It is powerful pain reliever and offers great anti-inflammatory properties so we were hopeful that we could make it work for our boy's mouth and back leg pain.
Ferg bellowed out single barks of pain between lapses of nearly coma-like sleep. He panted with his tongue hanging out and his heart rate was elevated. His symptoms matched every bad side effect listed...and this was our trial using half the recommended dosage for a dog his weight.
Dr. Julia confirmed that he was having a bad reaction to the drug. We were fortunate that he had only the limited dose but we needed to purge his system. After talking it through, we agreed on a course of action that required us to syringe feed water and slurried food every hour. We felt this would coat stomach from absorbing any more of the med and the water would flush his system. If we were seeing no improvement in three hours we would bring him in for IV fluids before the clinic closed.
Additionally, we decided to give him some help by placing him in the oxygen kennel. It was crowded in the office but every single member of the WDA (including shy Opal) insisted on being in the room with him. Nilla lay pressed against the kennel door.
At the three hour mark, Dr. Julia called for a report. The panting had subsided; he was still breathing more heavily than normal but his tongue no longer hung out as he gasped. His heart rate was slower. He still slept deeply and was limp in my arms but when Steve carried him out (surrounded by a pack of nurses), Ferguson did pass water.
"Keep up the water and food until bedtime," Dr. Julia said. "He seems to be coming out of it alright. Call me first thing in the morning and let me know how he is. But for certain we will come up with a plan that does not include pirixicam, he simply is not able to handle it any dose."
When I held him in my arms and shared the news with Ferguson, he seemed to understand. "We will find something, my love," I told him. "You are so very brave."