Creature Comforts

PHOTO PROVIDED This is Phoebe Vanaskie posing with her conquest: a 3 pound bag of Swedish Fish gummy candies. She says she’d do it, again.

Dear Kevin,

I soiled my pants yesterday. In my 5 years of life, that has never happened before. I’m a distinguished, Golden Retriever with luxurious, fluffy, (normally immaculately clean,) blonde pants. It was not only gross, but mortifying. I’m a very good boy and I do my business outside. But since yesterday, I have had to go out to poo every couple of hours, and that last time, I was so urgent, I couldn’t make it outside! It’s smelly and makes a squirty sound when it comes out, and I have to hunch over and keep trying to go a whole bunch of times before I think I’m done. Things aren’t much better today. What is happening to me? Will it ever end?

— Runnin’ On Empty (hopefully)

Dear ROE,

I feel for you, bro, that sounds rough. You’ve got a good old-fashioned case of the “trots.” AKA, “green apple quickstep,” “Montezuma’s Revenge” or “the squitters.” The medical term is “diarrhea,” and from the description of your urgent, frequent trips to pass small amounts of soft or liquid, gassy stuff, my mom tells me you’re probably suffering from “colitis.” I’m told most cases of this get better as quickly as they came on, provided whatever caused it is out of your system. Most dogs get this from eating things they shouldn’t, like spoiled foods from garbage cans, dead critters in the yard, excrement (not my taste unless it’s from rabbits, then — yes.) You get the idea. There are lots of other things that can trigger diarrhea: abrupt changes in dog food, parasites, infections, toxins, even stuff like liver disease.

For most mild cases of colitis, especially when caused by “dietary indiscretion,” a short break from food (12-24 hours) followed by being fed only a “bland” diet in small, frequent (4-6/day) meals can help a lot. The “bland” diet is either a prescription food made for digestive problems, or can be home-cooked: 1 part boiled (fat and water discarded once cooked) ground meat mixed with 2 parts plain, cooked, white rice. Severe cases may require medications. Your veterinarian should be consulted before any medicines are used, as some diarrhea treatments are not for pets, and some can make you sicker!

Hope all begins to slow down and become normal for you, soon.

Dear Kevin,

I haven’t had to use the litter box to make No. 2 for days. At first, I thought it was kinda cool, since it’s such an inconvenience to have to haul myself off my comfy bed, traverse through the kitchen, descend the scary basement steps, find a clean-ish spot in the box, assume the position, make No. 2, bury it thoroughly, climb the stairs, cross the kitchen, and … by then, I’ve lost my bed to Vern, my idiot housemate cat. He’s always stealing my seat. Anyway, after so many days of not feeling the urge to go poo, I’m feeling a little under the weather. My tummy hurts, and I now, feel like I have to go all the time. I try and try, and nothing comes out. Yesterday, I felt a little dizzy and vomited while I was trying to go poo. That was scary, I tell you! I can pee OK, that’s not the problem. What’s going on? I just want to be regular, again, even if I have to wrestle Vern for sleeping spots. Help!

— All Stopped Up

Dear Stopped Up,

Sounds like you need some medical attention right now. While not making No. 2 for a day or two isn’t necessarily a problem, if it goes on longer, and especially if you are feeling painful, sick and trying to go repeatedly without any results, you are probably constipated. This can happen for a bunch of reasons, and sometimes tests are needed to figure it out. Treatment is usually not super-awesome, involving something called an “enema,” and correcting any dehydration or intestinal problems that are found. Bottom line: get professional help. Now.

Dear Kevin,

I just ate an entire 3 pound bag of Swedish Fish gummy candies, and for some reason, I don’t feel so good. In fact, I threw up a little and didn’t even feel like eating the evidence (as I normally would) although I must admit, it smelled just like it did goin’ down the first time. Am I dying?

— Your cousin, Phoebe

P.S. Say “Haaayyyy!” to Ivy, for me. Miss her — she’s fun.

Dear Phoebe,

Wow, I’m super-jealous! Swedish fish are delicious! And no, you aren’t going to die because the candy you ate was not sugar free and did not contain xylitol. If it did, you’d be dead by now, so good job. Ivy says “Hi,” and is also jealous of your Swedish Fish score.

Daverio is a veterinarian at Williamsport West Veterinary Hospital. Her column is published every other Sunday in the Lifestyle section. She can be reached at