I used our first good car trip to go to the vet

In April Silas started refusing to get in the car. All summer, my husband and I have been working with him. We went on dozens of “happy” trips as a family, because Silas was more comfortable with both of us. A few weeks ago, I took him to the park solo, and it was just a little premature. He started off happy to go, then balked at the last minute and had to be really encouraged to get on in the car. So I haven’t taken him again. Instead, we’ve done a few more happy family trips.

At the same time, Silas’s stomach has been pretty bad for the last few weeks. He has a vaguely diagnosed underlying stomach problem, separate from his food allergies. His vet thinks it’s acid reflux, and she seems confident enough in this diagnosis that we’ve never done additional tests. He wakes up and doesn’t want to eat, then he feels bad because he didn’t eat. Some days, but not often, he’ll throw up.

It comes and goes in phases. For some reason, it seems to pick up whenever we’re doing more training. I don’t know if the connection is my imagination, if having too many rich training treats upsets his stomach, or if Silas is just naturally regulating his calorie intake and upsetting his stomach in the process.

When I looked back at my records this morning, I realized that he’s eaten breakfast two times in the last two weeks. He’s also been basically sleeping 23.5 hours a day. His Whistle reported 12 minutes of activity yesterday, and 15 the day before.

I’ve been really, really hesitant to take him to the vet, because I didn’t want to “ruin” the car. But, enough was enough, and he had to go.

He leapt into that car like he’s never even thought of being terrified by it. I, on the other hand, felt like the biggest jerk in the history of jerks.


It was a good vet visit. Silas was nervous, but all things considered he’s a champ at the vet. He walked into the exam room and tried to jump up on the table. Lots of stress signals during his exam (lip licking, ears down, panting), but he was a good patient. No barking or teeth showing or anything. Then he jumped all over the vet, licked her face, and tried to make her hold him. (Seriously? He doesn’t even try to make me hold him.)

He also ate his weight in hypoallergenic veterinary diet cookies. According to the vet, no dog has ever liked those cookies, and here’s my picky eater with the nausea problem chowing down. Oh, Silas.

The verdict is that his acid reflux is, indeed, all that’s wrong. He’s not losing weight, he’s very rarely throwing up, his teeth are “amazing,” and his physical exam didn’t seem off in any way.

We’re going to try to give his Pepcid last thing at night, since he won’t take it in the morning, and see if that gets him through the morning blerghs. I’m also going to change up his training cookies to something a little easier on his stomach.

And maybe, if I’m very lucky, he’ll get in the car with me again one day.

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8 thoughts on “I used our first good car trip to go to the vet

    1. Alas, “natural flavors” in dog treats usually means chicken. I’ve talked to Cloud Star about this before, in a different treat, and they did all but confirm it.

      I’ll look out for similar active ingredients from someone else, though.

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    1. The vet’s office does not surprise him. Thus, he likes it, and everybody in it. He’s the same way about PetSmart. He’ll tolerate things in PetSmart that would make him crazy anywhere else.

      If I’d realized his takeaway from puppy socialization was going to be so black and white, I would have done a lot more.

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  1. Acid reflux, huh? What does that look like for you? Elli sometimes has nasty acidic burps after eating and sometimes well in the morning after her nightly meal. I have ruled out allergies to specific proteins and discovered a few months ago that I could control her burping by not giving her raw fat. Her lamb necks used to come wrapped in that stuff, and emu ribs also came heavy on the fat, and thin on the meat/sinew. She very rarely has an episode of grossness nowadays.

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    1. The fat thing is where I was headed myself, honestly, because his training treats are such junk food. His favorites are just little balls of baked cheese, and his treat kibbles are very oily to the touch. I hadn’t thought about his real food, but now that you mention it, he’s a little worse when he’s eating pork, which is much fattier than venison or turkey.

      Silas just wakes up obviously feeling bad, then turns down his food. Any food, even treats. Some morning’s he’ll throw up yellow stomach bile, but too many days of that means he’s allergic to something. If I can ever get his famotidine down him, he seems to feel better. He also has a random dry cough, which can be a symptom in humans with acid reflux, I know.

      This morning he ate normally, after I gave his famotidine right before bed, so I’m hoping that will stop it. If I can get him back on schedule eating I probably won’t have to make him take it every night.

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  2. Haley had a similar problem with an upset stomach in the morning. She would not eat anything in the morning and occasionally throw up a yellow-bile like substance (yuk), then she would be fine for the rest of the day. We started feeding her three meals a day with the most important meal being a small meal right before going to bed. She’s does fine with this schedule and rarely has any stomach problems now. I guess going to bed with an empty stomach was the issue for her. I hope Silas gets feeling better soon. 🙂

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    1. You reminded me that we actually did three meals a day for a while, and it did help. Unfortunately it’s complicated for us to do long-term, mostly because Silas is not the kind of dog who eats whenever he gets the chance. I’m so glad it works for you–I’m not wild about medication for this long term. I’m hoping that after a week or two, his stomach settles down again and we can taper off.

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