Early in the morning, and I’m awakened by a strange noise. Gursh….sproing….gurgle….
I sit up and look to Ike, who is sound asleep at the foot of the bed. But his stomach is all kinds of busy, churning, sloshing, burbling. And I know that we’re in for a long haul, trying to determine what’s wrong with Ike.

Sleeping soundly here….please excuse the tummy gurgles.

Ike is 8 years old now, and has been in fairly good health. But recently he’s been vomiting his food…or more precisely, regurgitating. I learned the difference from some smart friends, who explained that vomiting usually involves distress, heaving and sometimes bile. Regurgitating, on the other hand, usually happens when the dog suddenly stands, opens his mouth, and out it comes.

The trouble in diagnosing such a thing is that there are numerous causes, from allergies, to foreign objects, to Addison’s disease, to tumors, to….the list goes on. When do you take your dog to the vet? Do you rush him there after the first episode? Or, if only you’d have waited to see if the situation was due to a simple tummy ache, you could have saved yourself $100 or so. Of course, we don’t want to leave anything potentially harmful unchecked.

Ike has been having symptoms on and off for several weeks. He’s also been to the vet’s several times for blood work, fecal analysis, and xrays. Today he’s having a series of xrays with barium to check the Upper GI tract. We’re hoping this will help the vet to determine what is causing his regurgitation and other symptoms.

I’m Dr. Ike. If only I could diagnose myself!

 The xrays will take about an hour or two, as the barium works its stuff through Ike’s system. We’ll be waiting there with him, keeping him relaxed in between xrays. The vet charges a fee per xray view, so here’s hoping it won’t take too many views to find the source of the problem. But, of course, we’ll take as many xrays as we need, and if necessary an ultrasound after, because we trust our vet to help us determine what is necessary to help Ike. We’ve had to make this sort of decision numerous times with different dogs over the years. I can’t say it’s ever easy…on the pocketbook, or emotionally. So for now, for Ike, we’re praying for an easy diagnosis and a simple treatment.      

Have you been in a situation where your dog’s had a mystery illness to be diagnosed? How do you decide which tests to do and which can safely and reasonably be avoided or postponed? How has your dog responded?

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