Over the past several weeks, Toby'd had a couple of "off" days where he wouldn't eat his breakfast or dinner and instead bummed around looking rather lethargic. Then before I could take him to the vet, he'd snap out of it and be fine the next day, so I figured perhaps he'd just gotten into something he shouldn't have.
I should have realized he was actually sick when his level of house training started to decline. On Saturday night, he developed a horrible cough that was alarming enough that I went ahead and took him to the emergency vet clinic at 3:00 a.m., knowing that my own vet wouldn't be open until Monday.
Eleventy-bazillion dollars later, I had a diagnosis of what I think could safely be described as "doggie bronchitis," possibly caused by the bacteria in his mouth from his typical Italian Greyhound periodontal disease. (Note to self: brush his teeth more often.)
The vet x-rayed him and did bloodwork. Pneumonia was ruled out and his blood chemistry looked good across the board. They sent him home with antibiotic pills and liquid cough medicine that makes him so sleepy that I've only ever given him a half dose.
Getting the pills down him was a challenge and I said so on Twitter, which prompted Geekaren to suggest peanut butter. I encased the next pill in a ball of peanut butter, wrapped it in a little bit of bread and gave it to Toby about halfway through his dinner.
He ate it right up and didn't even attempt to spit out the pill. Now he's so excited about his twice daily "peanut butter treat" that it's hard to get him to start eating so he can get the potentially stomach-upsetting pill on top of a bed of other food.
His cough is much better, which is good because he hates the liquid medicine (and also, I spilled some of it).
When we got home on Sunday morning (it took a while), he was still zonked from whatever sedative they gave him for the x-rays, so he lay very still and I was able to make up most of the sleep I'd lost. On Sunday night he slept restlessly and pressed himself against my chest all night long so that I woke up with both arms numb. Last night he finally had a normal sleep and he seems to feel much better, except for a little coughing and wheezing when he gets really excited.
Even though it was a budget-breaker, I'm actually kind of glad to have his x-rays and lab work. I knew I was adopting an older dog with an unknown medical history, so it's nice to have some reassurance that he's basically in good shape except for his current illness.
Now that he's feeling better, his house training habits have returned to normal, which is to say not perfect, but generally pretty good. I'll be taking him to my regular vet for a follow-up appointment after work on Friday, but it looks like he's on the mend.
Let's hope that's the end of the coughing in our household for a long time to come.