When Ray and Dave and I decided to get a dog, we did a lot of research first. We decided on the traits that were important to us – hypoallergenic (because of Ray and Dave’s allergies), smart, easy to train, etc. This narrowed the list of dog breeds considerably. We finally decided on Standard Poodles (because I prefer larger dogs). We then had to research what health issues were possible within the breed, such as Addison’s Disease.

My Sweet Phaedra

My Sweet Phaedra

We also looked up grooming costs for standard poodles because we knew that would be an added expense. If you’re curious, grooming can run anywhere from $65 to $120, depending on the groomer. The best groomer she’s seen used to charge $85. The rest have varied between passable and awful. This is why I keep trying to groom her myself. I feel like I can do passable. I’ve had some groomers who couldn’t do ‘neat feet’ on her.

Our next step was to contact the Florida Poodle Club and get recommendations for reputable breeders. Once we had some recommendations, we contacted breeders to see if anyone had an available puppy. We checked out Phaedra, her breeder, the health of the dogs in her family, etc. No dog in her line had ever had Addisons, so I thought that wouldn’t be an issue.

When Phaedra started getting sick during October 2009, we didn’t know what was going on. It can be very hard to diagnose Addison’s Disease in dogs. We thought she was going to die because of how ill she got and the vet gave her a DOCP shot as a last resort. When it helped her, I’m not going to lie, a part of me was heartbroken. I was glad she was alive, but I was heartbroken she was going to have a life long disease. She was diagnosed for sure in January 2010.

I felt like it was unfair that we’d put the time in to research Poodles, breeders, possible health concerns etc and had found a reputable breeder, yet we still had a dog with an illness. And it’s an expensive illness, even if it is easy to treat once you know it exists. It’s a $160 shot every 6 weeks. Without it, Phaedra would die. With it, she’s able to live a happy and healthy life.

Phaedra with a toy

Phaedra with a toy

She’s also on Prednisone. It’s a very small dosage, but it helps her body to function. It can also have other side effects. Phaedra is only 5.5 years old, but she’s now having incontinence issues. Recently I was holding her in my lap and petting her, and she relaxed and fell asleep. She then peed in her sleep. I was completely freaked out and took her into the vet, who kept her for observation and to take a sample of her urine. She didn’t have any sort of bladder infection, so he deduced that she may just be suffering from early incontinence, which is something you see in older female spayed dogs. It may or may not be from the Prednisone, which can cause it.

To treat the incontinence, she’s now on a low dose of estrogen. Now that she’s taken the estrogen pills daily for 4 days, we’ll be giving her 1 estrogen pill a week to help her maintain that hormone level. She takes a very tiny dose of Prednisone every other day. And of course, she gets her shot every 6 weeks. I’m grateful for modern medicine being able to let her lead a healthy life. I never expected to have a dog with health issues like this. I don’t really think that I could have done anything differently with Phaedra.

Phaedra curled up in a bed

Curled up in a dog bed

I feel like pet healthcare has come so far in the past 100 years. We’re able to treat and manage so many different conditions. But just like with humans, you never really expect them to get sick. I know I thought we’d done everything we needed to do to make sure we’d have a healthy dog.

I’m grateful that I’ve been able to take care of Phaedra with her health issues, and I’m grateful that medicine exists to treat them. I don’t  know what I’d do without Phaedra.

Phaedra wearing her bow

Wearing a bat bow

Have you ever had to deal with pet health issues? How did you handle them?