Category Archives: Pets

Amber Update: Time for plastic surgery?

Remember how we thought we were having trouble potty training our standard poodle, only to find out she had chronic UTIs that were causing the accidents? I’ve got some great news about Amber’s condition!

Amber The Poodle Snow ChinRight before our baby was born, Ryan and I took Amber the Poodle to the HOPE Center (veterinary specialist center) for an Internal Medicine appointment. After some diagnostics, including an abdominal ultrasound, she was diagnosed with a case of “Juvenile Vulva.” Apparently her lady parts (so to speak) didn’t develop fully when she was a puppy, perhaps due to being spayed earlier than she should have been. Long story short, those parts were malformed, allowing bacteria to easily build up and cause chronic infections.

The treatment plan includes a Vulvoplasty, which is essentially plastic surgery to re-form it, as well as possible probiotics to encourage a healthier digestive environment.

After obtaining the diagnosis and suggested course of treatment, we scheduled a surgery consult with Dr. Langenbach, the owner and chief surgeon at the Veterinary Surgical Center. When it comes to complex surgeries for your pets, it’s better to spend more money and see a board-certified veterinary surgeon. Yes, your regular vet may be able to save you money by doing the procedure, but because they don’t do it often you may have lower quality results. It’s not due to any fault of the regular vet; it’s simply that veterinary surgeons do all surgery, all the time, and have completed extra years of schooling and residency to specialize in the art of surgery.

Dr. Langenbach is the one who performed Charlie’s surgeries, and I used to work for her when I first moved to the area. I’m glad I did, because after doing “working interviews” at other surgery and emergency centers in the area, I wouldn’t trust any other group with my pets’ surgeries. (And no, I don’t get a discount and they aren’t paying me to say this!)

Our consult is coming up soon, and we expect Amber will have surgery the same week. Fingers crossed that things go well!

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An Easy, Temporary Dog Bathing Solution for Renters

If you’re a renter and a dog owner, chances are you struggle to bathe your dogs easily in your apartment. In the summer you may have access to an outdoor space with a hose, but in the winter there’s not much you can do, short of putting your pup in the shower and climbing in with them. At least that’s what I used to do, in all of the homes I’ve rented with my dogs over the years. And let’s face it – showering with your dog is awkward for both parties involved!

Easy Pet Bath title

So, do you want a temporary, rental-friendly solution that’s not only affordable, but easy to install yourself – without compromising your security deposit? Here’s how I converted my shower so it can do double-duty as a pet bathing station.

I found an inexpensive shower conversion kit at my local big-box hardware store. I was initially going to bite the bullet and replace my landlord’s shower head with a fancy (and expensive) handheld shower head system, but a closer look at all the options found that there are inexpensive handheld shower conversion kits that work with your existing shower fixture.

Any handheld shower head will work well for bathing your pups, but some are simpler and more affordable than others. I chose the . . . continue reading at

Our Poodle’s Potty Training Problem: Diagnosing the Cause

Amber the Poodle has brought so much joy to our lives since we adopted her in September.  She is so silly and Merlin is so happy to have a playmate again! It’s so good to see my old man (12 years!) playing every day.

Amber Merlin Playing in Snow

However, about 5 weeks into Amber’s life with us, she started peeing in the house. We were confused, because we thought she was house trained. I was frustrated at times, mainly because our efforts at re-training seemed to work some days and not others.

Thank goodness for our carpet steam cleaner.

We worked hard at re-house training Amber, letting her out every 3 hours, keeping her confined to whatever space we were in, teaching her to go potty on command outside, and all those things you do for potty training. But she kept having accidents.

I’m ashamed to admit that it took me a while to realize that maybe she wasn’t a bad dog . . . maybe she had a UTI. Sure enough, a visit to the vet diagnosed infection. We treated it and Amber’s accidents stopped.

And then the accidents started again, seemingly out of the blue. Cue the frustration and the attempts at house training again. Another visit to the vet showed another UTI.

Let’s cut to the chase. We finally realized there was a cycle. When a UTI flared up, Amber would start having accidents every 2 hours, and would wake me up during the night to go outside and potty. After 3 days on antibiotics, Amber’s accidents would stop. About 10 days after completing a round of antibiotics, Amber’s accidents would start again, and sure enough, it was always a new UTI.

It’s not normal for a dog to have chronic UTIs; it clearly points to a bigger problem. This Saturday Amber has an appointment with an internal medicine specialist for a consult and ultrasound, so we can hopefully get the ball rolling on diagnostics before the baby arrives.

Amber the Poodle Snow

In spite of all of this, or perhaps because of, I’m incredibly thankful.

  1. I’m so thankful that we found Amber. No doubt part of the reason she was returned was because of accidents – and this chronic problem could have had her cycling through shelters and owners. So sad to imagine!
  2. I’m thankful that Amber is actually house trained and there is a reason behind the accidents.
  3. Finally, I’m thankful that we adopted Amber rather than bought her, saving all the money for veterinary care. Even if we paid full price for a purebred pup with health guarantees, expensive medical problems could still come up.

So please, let this serve as a reminder: If you’re dealing with a confusing behavioral issue in your pet, always take them to the vet to rule out an underlying medical cause.

Hopefully we’ll have some good news for Amber next week, in the form of a diagnosis and treatment plan! In the mean time it’s back to frequent potty breaks and antibiotics, which she loves because they come buried in peanut butter.

Amber Merlin Playing in Snow 2

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