Not how I was planning to start the day (Dog ownership 201)


I rolled out of bed this morning and was greeted by an “erp, erp, erp” sound – that dog-vomit-is-imminent noise. Tito the Chihuahua was standing in the hall outside my bedroom door. I picked him up (one hand on chest, one under hind legs, so as not to hurt his tummy more than it was already hurting) and whisked him out onto the deck in the nick of time. That’s one thing you can’t do with a big dog.

The vomit was stinky, green, and had some grass in it. Since Tito has access to (and uses) the cat door, he must have already been out early this morning eating grass to try to ease his tummyache.  Just in case it matters later on, I ran back into the house, grabbed a clean Ziploc bag, and scooped up some of the vomit. If we end up having to go to a veterinary clinic later today, the appearance and the odor of the vomit might help the vet diagnose or rule out this or that.

Post-vomiting, he stood in place, shaking and looking miserable. Of course, Chihuahuas have a special gift for this. I got a big towel from the hall closet, wrapped it around him, and carried him to the couch. We sat there quietly for a few minutes, until he was able to relax and stop shaking. 

Otto came in and sat next to the couch, looking concerned. They have been fed the same things lately, so I studied Otto as I sat. No signs that he’s feeling crummy.

Next, I followed the tips I wrote about in the January 2012 issue of WDJ, “Five Things to Do Before Calling the Vet.” These included taking Tito’s temperature (and writing it down), checking his gums, and gathering information about everything he’s eaten in the past day or two, including writing down the name brand, variety, and “date code” of any commercial food he’s been given. (

The first one was harder than anything else I’m likely to do today. I’m pretty certain my neighbors thought I was skinning the dog alive, or running over him slowly with my car, given the racket he made when I attempted to insert a lubricated thermometer ever so slightly into his rectum. Why are these small dogs so dramatic??

Result: 101.8.  Normal is about 101 and 102.5, depending on the dog.

He didn’t eat anything unusual at home, but we did go on a hike that took us to a pond yesterday, and he swam and waded and ate grass by the edge of the pond. The pond water in the middle was clear, but the black mud at the edge of the pond was very stinky, and after we were home, he did spend a lot of time licking his feet and legs; maybe something in all that upset his stomach. Fortunately, I work at home, and can watch him today and see if he starts to feel better or worse, and respond accordingly.