This is going to be a long post, but I wanted everything in one place. I want other people to know the dangers of bacteria with old beauty products!
Sunday May 25, 2014
We took our Standard Poodle James and his friend Emma the Weimaraner to Montrose Park in Washington, DC. Emma was staying with us for two weeks while her owners were in Hawaii. We decided to walk down the trail to the stream leading to Rock Creek. Emma dove into the stream and jumped across the rocks like a pro. James was a little bit hesitant.
We then walked a little bit closer to Rock Creek and we noticed a crowd of dogs and their owners on the beach at Rock Creek. Several dogs were swimming and fetching their balls and sticks. James thought this was fantastic and he dove right in to join them. This time Emma was hesitant.
After about an hour of beach time we decided that Emma and James were going to sleep well and we headed home. When we got home Emma and James were a little bit dirty so we decided to give them a bath. Here is the thing – we NEVER bathe James. He is a Standard Poodle and even with his summer groom he will get matted if we don’t blow him out and brush him fully. We used to have a blower but we gave it to a groomer friend when we moved. But we decided to use a bottle of baby shampoo I had saved when we moved. Both dogs got their bath (Emma also decided she officially hated us and wanted to go home even though her owners were not going to be back for another 10 days!) and we decided to let James air dry. We figured he was due for a groom soon and they could shave him short if anything was matted. We like James to just be a dog and have fun – he is definitely not a show Poodle.
Monday May 26, 2014
Both dogs ate a little bit of breakfast. We ran an errand and when we arrived back at the house someone had vomited. Emma has a sensitive stomach and bowels and her owners gave us several medications to help with her issues if needed. James never, ever gets sick unless he doesn’t eat and in that case it is yellow stomach bile only. So we figured Emma must have been the dog that got sick. We sent the dogs to the back yard while we cleaned up the mess. It was a pretty day so we left the doors and windows open and both Emma and James stayed out back. At one point it seemed too quiet outside and I checked on them. Emma looked up at me when I said hello to her but James didn’t move. I called on James again and he still didn’t move. I then got worried but once I touched him he stretched out and I assumed he was just soaking up some sunshine. A few hours later we were still worried about Emma being sick – probably so much that we weren’t really paying a lot of attention to James. James came inside and Chris happened to notice he still wasn’t responding when he talked to him. He always looks at you when you say his name. Chris walked over to James and noticed he was trembling – HARD. I then came over to check him. He was not feeling well at all. I tried to give him some coconut water and he wouldn’t drink it. We knew right away something was very wrong. It was Memorial Day so we knew we would have to find an emergency vet. We called over to Friendship Hospital for Animals and they were open. We raced up there.
Once at Friendship Hospital for Animals they took James’ temperature and he was running a fever. We explained that James had been playing in Rock Creek and dunked his head a few times while swimming. Emma hadn’t swam in the creek so we just assumed James had a bug (bacteria or virus) from Rock Creek. Everyone always said Rock Creek was polluted and we just thought they were being overly dramatic. Now we were starting to wonder. They put James on an IV, pulled some blood and ran a blood panel and a few tick disease tests. They said James would have to spend the night and my heart sank. I knew it was bad if he had to spend the night. I just thought he would get an antibiotic pill and we would be going home. I am so thankful that this wasn’t the case. Obviously the doctors at Friendship know more than I do! We headed home and I fell apart. The last time we left a dog at the emergency vet it was Duke and it didn’t end well. He had cancer and he came home with us to spend his final days. Duke was 9 though. James is only 4.
We had a very rough night. Poor Emma must have sensed what was going on and she paced our house all night while I cried in bed. I didn’t sleep at all. I was so out of it I didn’t even realize our AC was set so low – look at poor cold Emma before I realized I needed to turn off the AC and give her a blanket. Her nose was completely tucked underneath her leg:
I think she likes the blanket:
Tuesday May 27, 2014
We set the alarm for 5am and headed over to Friendship. Chris wasn’t sure if he was going to go into work – we didn’t even know if James was coming home or what. We arrived and James was on and IV but his temperature was still high ranging from 104 to 105 when it was checked. We were actually a bit angry that the blood work results still were not in and James wasn’t on an antibiotic. Wasn’t this just a bug from Rock Creek after all?
James at the vet early Tuesday morning:
Just before lunch we got a call from Friendship – the bloodwork came back and the tick tests were negative. So was most of the bloodwork. James had elevated kidney or liver numbers (can’t remember which one – but the ones associated with an infection) and he also had an elevated white blood cell count.
Emma must have sensed my relief that the bloodwork was in and James was now being started on an antibiotic with his IV. Because she finally ate her food! She hadn’t eaten dinner or breakfast yet.
Just after lunch we went back to visit James again. Chris had a good idea – to call the neighbor and see if their daughters wanted to go and visit James. If James ever runs away from home I know where he is – playing with the girls. He LOVES them and I think they love him just as much. Chris thought he saw one of the girls running around this morning and he was thinking they must be out of school for the summer already. I called and it turns out one of the girls was home sick with a fever. I told them they could think about it and let us know if they wanted to visit. They called back soon after and said yes. James was going to love this visit!
Unfortunately he wasn’t his usual puppy-like self. But I know he still enjoyed the company.
I was still a little heartbroken – after all, J’s temperature wasn’t coming down. I knew we had just started the antibiotic but I was ready for him to be home so he could recover with us.
We went back in the afternoon with some baked chicken and James actually ate a little bit. That was a huge relief!
We went back to visit J again right before bed. He ate a little more chicken and I knew I was going to sleep much better knowing he was eating.
Wednesday May 28, 2014
We set the alarm for 5am again and headed up to Friendship. It was a pretty morning and the sun wasn’t cooking the deck at Friendship yet so we asked if we could cuddle with James outside and off the IV. They agreed. We spent about an hour cuddling him. He was trembling pretty hard so I knew he still had a fever. He was a double lap dog across both of our laps for a while and I wrapped my fleece jacket around James. We tried to feed James some chicken but he didn’t want any. This broke my heart.
After we said our goodbyes we got a phone call from Friendship asking what we had done with James. Apparently his temperature was now up to 105.8. OMG. I was so scared. I was just trying to cuddle with him and keep him warm while he shivered.
Chris and I went home and had some serious talking to do. What if we can’t find the cause of the fever? What if it is one of those fevers of unknown origin? The fact was the fever wasn’t breaking. And James was very sick. At some point we would have to decide if there is anything else we can do. We decided to talk to the vet about sending him home at lunch. If he was going to fight this, he would fight it comfortably with us. I gave fluids to Duke when he was dying and I was okay doing this with James if needed. I just hoped he could fight whatever it was. And if not, at least he would spend his final time with us.
At lunchtime we headed over to Friendship. James still wasn’t eating and he was still trembling so I knew his fever was still very high. I kept holding him and crying. It was awful. They said we had to keep the visit short because he needed to stay on his IV. As I was hugging him I felt something on his back. It felt scab-like. I tried to look but James has some very thick Poodle hair! You can hardly see his skin at any time. But while trying to look I saw red, raw skin and white puss. Of course I panicked. I showed Chris. Is he falling apart? Did this happen after the Rock Creek bug? What is going on?! I showed the tech and she took him back to get hooked back up on his IV. She had the vet take a look and they called us back to visit James again – this time in his cage. We brought him a ball and what we call the lucky Welsh dragon.
While we were saying our goodbyes to James again, Dr. Magowitz came over to talk to us. She started asking questions:
Dr. Magowitz: When was James last groomed?
Sandra: Three weeks ago
Dr. Magowitz: No, that can’t be it. Do you ever bathe him on your own?
Sandra: Not usually, but we did on Sunday after the Rock Creek Swim.
Dr. Magowitz: Did you use shampoo?
Dr. Magowitz: Was it old?
Sandra: Um, yes, probably 4-5 years or so (and side note to keep in mind – we RARELY bathe James – Poodles need groomed with a blow out or their hair turns into a matted hot mess that all needs shaved off and it isn’t pretty. Yes, we learned this the hard way)
Thankfully Dr. Magowitz knew what questions to ask. She had seen this before! Apparently old shampoo can get bacteria in it and this old shampoo that I saved from Orlando had now been sitting in a sun filled window for almost a year. The bacteria was probably having a party in that bottle!
I started to cry, again. This time because I felt like I was to blame. I was the one that saved that old bottle of baby shampoo. It was probably a $4 bottle of shampoo and not worth the Hell poor James has been through in the past few days. I mean, here we were, just hours prior, deciding if we should just bring him home to let him live his final days with us if he couldn’t fight this fight.
So now we had a plan of attack – Dr. Magowitz and her team at Friendship were going to sedate James, shave him and clean him up.
We got a call when it was done and Dr. Magowitz said it was really bad. But he was cleaned up and resting.
We ran Emma up to the dog park to let her run and you better believe I was telling EVERY dog owner there about old shampoo. And at this point we still weren’t home free. James still had a fever.
Emma is definitely sensing the good news:
We headed back to see James up at Friendship that evening. Guess what?! His fever broke!!! He was now at 98.6 and being the worrywart I am I was now worried that 98.6 was too low. James was in his cage with blankets, pillow and a heater. We took him for a walk but he was still pretty sedated. He looked like an old man. I should have been tearing up again but I was just so overjoyed that his fever broke.
As Chris and I settled into bed we couldn’t help talk about poor cursed Rock Creek. Chris said he almost felt like we needed to go apologize to it. Dr. Magowitz is pretty sure this all started from the shampoo but there is a teeny, tiny chance something still could have started at the creek. Chris said he is excited we can now take James swimming in Rock Creek again. I very firmly told him “Not a chance.”
Thursday May 29, 2014
Thursday morning we were up at 5am again and heading up to Friendship. James had a normal temperature (I am still singing praises over this) but he still was not eating. And he is not his usual happy self.
It was a rainy day and Emma was able to wear her super cute rain coat:
I was planning to go see James after lunch. Chris had worked from home on Wednesday and took Tuesday off so he was now back at work. He called me just as I was checking the bus schedule and said James would be coming home tonight!! He was going to leave work early so we could go pick him up.
Chris holding J’s lucky Welsh dragon while waiting to pick up James:
I asked Dr. Magowitz if we could take some photos of her with James. She was really amazing in solving this fever mystery and we are so thankful for her.
James thanking Dr. Magowitz:
I couldn’t stop hugging James on the car ride home. He still wasn’t himself – he was exhausted:
James ate some chicken while resting on the couch:
Then I heard the girls next door – they were on our front stoop checking in on James. I invited them in and James was SO excited! J kept trying to get up to play with them but we told them he needed to rest.
I told Stephanie and Richard that Emma was going to get used to this “hand fed” stuff and demand it once home in Capitol Hill:
James was also hand fed:
James ate very well Thursday night and we were so happy. We had a scare as he was wrapping up eating. His eyes looked like they were rolling back into his head. J was alert and responded to his name. And he wasn’t walking into things so he could see where he was going. But his eyes – oh my goodness – I was freaking out. I thought he was having a seizure! We jumped in the car and as I drove Chris called Friendship. We ended up turning around – they calmed our nerves and said James was just absolutely exhausted. And they were right.
Friday May 30, 2014
James was definitely feeling better on Friday. He was still very, very tired. James took over our bed Friday morning as soon as we got up:
James wanted some fresh air Friday late morning. James has such a short haircut from the vet’s shave we can’t let him get too much sun or he will burn. That pure pink skin hasn’t seen the sun ever!
Around lunchtime J wanted to go back outside. He loves soaking up the sun so I covered him up with a tee shirt:
And later in the day, napping in the afternoon shade:
Dr. Magowitz called and said the culture results came in – James had pseudomonas. Pseudomonas can be antibiotic resistant and we now have James on some good antibiotics as well our daily antibiotic baths:
There is some pretty scary information on the internet about pseudomonas. We are definitely going to keep an eye on James over the next few weeks and make sure this doesn’t come back.
This past week was definitely a roller coaster of emotions for all of us. We had so much fun in Rock Creek and then James got sick so fast. We thought for sure he would be okay. But then we had those times where we didn’t know if he really would be okay. Once Dr. Magowitz figured out it was the shampoo we were on the right path to healthy again. I am just so grateful that James is okay now!
So when you hear or read about cosmetic companies, beauty products, makeup, etc. and they tell you to replace anything over 6 months old: believe them. It isn’t a marketing ploy to get you to buy more and buy often. Bacteria really does grow on beauty products like shampoo and makeup. Obviously certain circumstances will make things worse. In our case, I am sure bacteria got into the shampoo when we used it outside with Goblin years ago. I always touch the bottle top to my hand or to his back. And then when we moved to DC it went from being stored under the sink in cool darkness to being stored in a hot, sunny windowsill. I am sure the bacteria thrived there.
I am now much more aware with my makeup, too. I realized I always touch my foundation bottle’s pump to my hand as I pump it. This is okay if I use up the foundation quickly or replace it in a few months.
Thank you everyone for keeping James in your prayers.