Category Archives: Riddick
Riddick was born on April Fools Day 2012, to mommy Liberty and daddy Pele.
Riddick crossed the rainbow bridge on August 13th 2017.
We named him after the Vin Diesel character (from the movie “Pitch Black”).
He was born blind – dysfunctional retinas that didn’t respond to the red or blue light spectrum meant his pupils were fully dilated and fixed, and as he could not regulate how much light his eyes allowed onto his retinas except by squinting, his vision continued to deteriorate as he got older.
He developed cataracts, then diabetes with an insulin shot twice a day, then epilepsy and he was on anti-seizure meds.
My heart is now in a million pieces.
He was my shadow. I couldn’t love him more if I had given birth to him.
Everywhere I look are empty spaces. The bottom of my bed. His favourite cushions. The garden. The space at my feet in the bathroom. I keep looking for him. I keep expecting to hear him chuff at me to go outside, or bark to come back in.
I miss him so much…
I knew he wouldn’t be with me as long as a healthy dog would, but I certainly hoped for more than five years.
My precious Riddicklepickle. Rest easy now my baby boy.
Sometimes he thinks there’s still a dog in the garden with him and he’ll stand facing where he thinks they are and bark, but they’ve already moved out of his way.
When I first took him to the vet because I was worried about a diabetes he was not only peeing a lot and drinking a LOT of water, he had also lost a lot of weight.
So this morning we were back there! 😛 His weight is a perfect 35.25kg!
This post is all about pee and poop, so you can click away now if this will be TMI for you. 😛
Do you know how many times a day your dog – or dogs – pee and poo? Do you go with them when they go busy?
Would you know if your dog’s busies were not normal?
Much like checking a cat’s litterbox while you’re scooping it, a dog’s health can be quickly judged by the state of their busies.
Yesterday Riddick had a bit of a runny tummy. Not too hectic, but noticeable. Yesterday afternoon it was almost normal again, and when we went out this morning at 5:30am for first busies he had a big wee and what looked like a nice normal poo… He was out in the rain and I was too lazy to fetch a brolly so I could check (I checked it later after the vet amd it looked normal).
At 9-ish we went out again (we’re puppy sitting a youngster and he has to pee often), and Riddick couldn’t pee. He tried his favourite spots for lifting his leg, and he tried the puppy-squat that he still does, but not a drop.
BIG red flag for me. Huge.
Then he tried to go #2, and it was runny. He was straining and there were just a few drops, and it was quite dark. Unfortunately it was in a flowerbed so I couldn’t see it properly to check on it.
We went straight to the vet.
As some of you may have guessed -if you’ve been reading about Riddick for long enough- he doesn’t have “normal” clinical reactions, so he keeps us and his vet on our toes.
His bladder wasn’t too full when we got there so she couldn’t feel or hear anything odd, but a stool sample showed blood. 😦
She gave him some meds and an anti-inflammatory shot as she says he may be hesitant to pee if his bum is sore, and sent us home with more meds for him.
As soon as we got home we all went outside for busies (I didn’t take the little puppy to the vet, its too risky for him as he hasn’t had all his shots yet) and Riddick had a BIG wee against the wall.
Now we’re going to keep an eye on his pooping to make sure it normalises, I have to wait for the meds to work, but at least we won’t be back at the vet today because he can’t pee!
Its two days later. The vet diagnosed him with Hookworm! I am sad and mortified, even though dogs can get Hookworm just from walking on “infected” sand as well as eating Hadeda poop.
Our dogs are regularly treated for ticks, fleas, and worms (they have to be, for us to be puppy raisers), but Riddick is immunocompromised because of his diabetes, and apparently some worm species are becoming resistant to treatment.
The vet recommends alternating worm treatments to cover all the bases (we’ve always used Milbemax because I’m worried about Spirocerca Lupi with Penny’s coprophagia) so now it will be Milbemax and Drontal in alternate doses.
Riddick is on meds to fix his runny tummy and get rid of the worms, and ALL the dogs we’ve had contact with – AND their housemates – need to have a preventive treatment! The knock-on is HUGE ‘coz we’ve been to GDA twice this week and we’ve had puppies at our house!
My poor boy… By Friday afternoon he was bleeding rectally from the worm, and really battling to poop, so we were back at the vet on Saturday morning with a stool sample. Thankfully there was no blood in the stool, just on the outside, so the bleeding is most likely in his rectum and caused by the worm. Blood mixed into his stool would have been much more serious.
We have to wait until Monday afternoon to see if the meds is working to clear up his runny tummy. Thankfully the bleeding had stopped by Saturday afternoon. That was very scary and very messy.
We’re making sure he drinks water and pees properly, and thankfully his appetite is unaffected. 😛
And no visiting puppies for a while.
…to get as dirty as he can as often as he can! And thanks to a very dry winter and a drought, our garden is a dustbowl so its super easy for him! He rolls in the sand and gets dirty from nose to tail, and he loves it – I can hear him rumbling and groaning from the other side of the house! 😀
He got out of the bath and I towelled him a little dry, and he started doing “crazy run” as they all love to do after a bath! I put a couple more towels down for him to roll on and he was having such fun… and suddenly it seemed too much and he got all wobbly… 😦
I chased the other dogs outside so I could calm Riddick down, and he sort-of slept on the kitchen floor for a while.
Lookit his scarred nose! o.O
And when he gets up from where he’s been lying – he leaves a pile of sand behind! 😀
We’ve had a rough few months with our Riddick! Wow!
Around July, Riddick’s diabetes was no longer under control. We’d been going great guns till then, but things were going downhill fast.
We went back to the vet to do a sugar curve – as we do every month or so, just to make sure he’s still stable – and we had to make the decision to switch to the special prescribed diet for diabetic dogs. We didn’t switch when he was diagnosed as Riddick wasn’t overweight, and we didn’t want him to be starving while we worked to get his blood sugar under control.
We did a nine-day switch from the Supreme Pet Elite to the Hills Prescription Diet W/D, and while we were switching – I ended up in hospital for a week and my poor husband had to take over everything!
Once the switch was complete, everything seemed to go so well for a while… And then his blood sugar was dropping way too low, and he was having seizures.
Unfortunately, it turned out some of the seizures were epileptic seizures, not just due to low blood sugar! We’d sort of been expecting this diagnosis, having seen one or two fits in the last few months, but now he needed medication for that too. Putting him on the Phenobarbitone tablets made him dreadfully groggy and unstable, and recovering from a fit made him groggy and unstable, and it made him thirsty and it made him pee more – just like diabetes symptoms… It was a dreadful few weeks! 😦
I was so worried about him! He couldn’t find his way around the garden or the house, after his worst seizure one Sunday night, he didn’t even recognise me! 😥
Here’s one of my Facebook updates from that time (I took this picture on one of his worst days – he barely moved that day).
When he was coming out of a fit, I was trying to support him and help him find his water and have a pee, but I wasn’t coping – he has no handles! Then I did some late-night Googling and found a harness that would come in real handy for him, but the one I found at a local supplier cost R900… And then our friends blew us away by “crowdfunding” the cost of the harness! We are extremely grateful, and it made such a huge difference! I could actually help him walk, find the water bowl, have a pee – without breaking my back or hurting him!
It took a few weeks for the side effects from the Phenobarbitone to settle down, and to get his sugar back on track. He had back-to-back sugar curves that left his ears full of little pin-prick holes from the glucometer blood tests – its the best place to get the little blood sample needed for the glucometer test strip!
Thankfully we’ve now reached a point where I don’t have to put his harness on when he wakes up anymore – I have mastered clipping it on the second he shows signs of a seizure!
We seem to be finally on the road to normality… His weight is holding steady at about 35.5kg, which is perfect for him. Apart from when he feasts on fallen mulberries in the garden and pushes his blood sugar up, it seems to have normalised. We now have not had a seizure in 12 days. His blood tests showed the Phenobarbitone levels at the lower end of the scale for his size, but no seizures means its working.
We also got him a big Nylabone to chew on and play with, because he can have it as much as he likes without affecting his blood sugar!
On Wednesday our Riddick spent the day at our vet again, to do another sugar curve.
It was about time for him to do another one (we do one more or less once a month to make sure his insulin dose is working properly) and I check his blood sugar at least once a day – usually before supper. I would prefer to do it before breakfast as well, but this winter his ears are just too cold in the morning to get a little pinprick blood sample for the glucometer!
Riddick has never been crazy about going to the vet, often slamming on the breaks and refusing to even enter the exam room, and even with regular visits he is hesitant, but he has gotten to know the incredible people at VVAH so well, that he is quite happy to go into the exam room with one of the two vets who are treating him, and even head down the passage to the hospital kennels where he spends the day. The vet’s staff are even playing with him as they get to know him better, and whilst it’s kind of sad that he knows his vet so well, it makes my heart glad that he is okay being there, and getting some attention too.
He’s been on insulin twice a day since last September, after being diagnosed with diabetes, and I have been checking his blood sugar at least daily since April, but his blood sugar is still not properly under control (the pink lines are his supper readings, the yellow is breakfast, the green line is our target). 😦
We have decided, with the vet’s advice, that we will now have to put him on a specialised diet as well. We’re opting for the Hills Science Diet W/D rather than Eukanuba or Royal Canin’s diabetic food, simply because its a little cheaper. And at between R915 and R980 for a 12kg bag of this specially prescribed diet food (which is most likely only about 25 days’ food for Riddick), we really do have to find an affordable option!
His insulin already costs over R1600 a month, add to that the cost of the insulin syringes and the little test strips for the glucometer we’re spending a fortune at the vet!
Hopefully the specialised diet will help get his blood sugar stable, and perhaps even decrease his insulin dose.
A couple of people have asked why we don’t just leave things be, since he looks and acts like a perfectly healthy Lab, and you’d never guess there was anything wrong with him to look at him.
Part of my determination to make sure his blood sugar is stable is having grown up with many diabetic family members. My human family, yes, but diabetes has just as great an effect on a dog’s body as it does on a human, and I want my Riddick as healthy and happy as I can have him for as long as possible.
He’s a mama’s boy and I adore him.
So what can happen if we don’t properly treat his diabetes? Or if we wait-and-see?
Riddick has already proved to be atypical in his diagnosis, and when he developed the cataracts we should have thought to check for diabetes, but Labs are not classified as high-risk when it comes to diabetes.
Wikipedia: Dogs can have insulin-dependent, or Type 1, diabetes; research finds no Type 2 diabetes in dogs. Because of this, there is no possibility the permanently damaged pancreatic beta cells could re-activate to engender a remission as may be possible with some feline diabetes cases, where the primary type of diabetes is Type 2. There is another less common form of diabetes, diabetes insipidus, which is a condition of insufficient antidiuretic hormone or resistance to it.
This most common form of diabetes (type 1) strikes 1 in 500 dogs. The condition is treatable and need not shorten the animal’s life span or interfere with quality of life. If left untreated, the condition can lead to cataracts, increasing weakness in the legs (neuropathy), malnutrition, ketoacidosis, dehydration, and death. Diabetes mainly affects middle-age and older dogs, but there are juvenile cases. The typical canine diabetes patient is middle-age, female, and overweight at diagnosis.
The number of dogs diagnosed with diabetes mellitus has increased three-fold in thirty years. In survival rates from almost the same time, only 50% survived the first 60 days after diagnosis and went on to be successfully treated at home. Currently, diabetic dogs receiving treatment have the same expected lifespan as non-diabetic dogs of the same age and gender.
Managing diabetes is very important. Too low blood sugar leads to seizures and coma. Too high blood sugar leads to ketoacidosis which can quickly be fatal. 😦
About a week ago, I put bells on all the dogs in the house, except Riddick.
As any readers will know, Riddick is my blind Lab, and I often wear a one of those rubber “awareness” bracelets with bells tied on it, so he can hear where I am.
I kept noticing though, as his eyes got worse, that he would try to play with the other dogs and lose them mid-game if they bounced in a different direction, or he’d stand in the garden and bark trying to get their attention, but they wouldn’t be near him anymore. He also often ran into them ‘coz while he knows his garden, they would often run in front of him or just be standing in his path and he can’t see them.
Now he can actually follow them around as they play, even if they change direction, because the bells jingle when they move!
He’s having so much fun!
And – touch wood – it seems we have his diabetes under control! I am testing his blood sugar twice a day, before he eats, and he’s so much more himself again! He’s not even snatching at my fingers when I offer him a treat, he’s sleeping well and his water intake and the number of times he pees is normal.
It’s almost strange not to visit the vet every week!
My baby boy spent two days at the vet (coming home at night, thank goodness) so they could monitor his blood sugar and then start him on insulin, and this morning I gave him an insulin shot after breakfast. The vet showed me how, and he’ll get two shots a day, after breakfast and after supper.
It’s a low dose to begin with because he has to adjust to it, and at the moment it doesn’t seem to do anything to his blood sugar levels, but I have to be patient.
Thanks to the training and handling he’s had since he was a little puppy, he holds perfectly still for his shot – in the scruff of his neck, and for his blood tests – a little needle-prick in his ear.
My poor boy is still losing weight – he’s already more than 3kg down – and will most likely continue to do so until we stabilise him.
The vet is sure he’ll be okay, and my head is telling me he’ll be fine, but I am so worried about him.
My heart says to feed him extra so he’ll stop losing weight, but that won’t help him at all.
He’s peeing more or less every hour, big pees as well, sometimes with quite a slow stream, and he’s waking us up in the wee hours of the morning to go and drink water or have a piddle. Hopefully, this will stop when he’s stable.
He’s not throwing up anymore like he was on Tuesday night thank goodness, he was so miserable.
And last night I was thrilled to see him have a proper poo!
We’ll go back to the vet in a week so they can check him again and adjust his dose.
My poor baby… I don’t even want to leave him at home without me so I can keep an eye on him!
At least – unlike humans – he can’t eat anything he’s not supposed to…
I’ve been a little concerned about our Riddick’s thirst and his capacity for pee lately…
I’d go out with all the dogs for a busy, and eventually we’d all be waiting for Riddick to finish peeing – Penny and Nimble literally sitting watching him pee!
He’s always drunk a lot of water – our Labs are all thirsty dogs – so initially I didn’t notice a difference, but then he started waking us at 3am and RUNNING for the water bowl!
Having grown up with diabetes in our family, I started suspecting it may be a possibility when I realised he was always thirsty AND he was peeing a LOT.
Then on Friday night, I realised he had lost weight when I gave him a cuddle as he lay on the bed with me, and I could feel his spine. You wouldn’t know it to look at him, but I can see it, and he’s lost almost 3kg. He weighed just over 37kg for his annual shots and when I took him to the vet today he weight 34.6kg.
Thinking back, it’s been coming for a while. When little Nimble arrived and we were house training her, she’d go out for a piddle in the wee hours of the morning and the other dogs would often join us. Once Nimble started sleeping through, though, Riddick continued to wake us in the middle of the night. I wasn’t worried about it and put it down to him falling into the puppy routine, and that he’d get back to sleeping through the night soon enough.
This afternoon I took him to the vet.
I explained what has me concerned, and she gave him a once-over, listening to his heart and lungs and taking his temperature. Then she did a little blood test, with a drop of blood from his ear. The little glucometer just said “HI” and my heart sank. Seven hours after his breakfast, his blood sugar was too high for the little machine to even give it a number.
The vet is pretty sure he is diabetic, but there are more tests to do to make sure. The vet wants him back tomorrow, and they’ll do a “sugar curve” from 7am to 7pm, measuring his blood sugar every hour to see how high it goes and how long it takes to come down. Then on Wednesday he’ll be back from 7am to 7pm and they will give him an insulin shot and then monitor his blood sugar again to see what kind of dose he will need in future.
My poor baby boy is going to be stuck in a place he hates, for two full days.
The vet says most dogs are fine with one insulin shot a day, but as medical professionals are supposed to do, she also had to tell me that some dogs do better than others, some need specialised diets, and that it will affect his lifespan.
It was all I could do not to burst into tears…
How gorgeous is our Riddick…
Our sweet Riddick loves nothing better than playing a game of fetch, even as his vision deteriorates.
He knows his garden and his house, so he knows where he can run safely without running into anything.
I do have to leave our Penny inside, or I have to hold her when we play, ‘coz she gets to the ball first!
I’m sure you’ve seen this blue forever ball on my blog before – and this July it will be two years old! It was the best R250 we ever spent!