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Butterfly and the Hairball

 

Two days after her most recent trip to the groomer, Butterfly started to throw up. Butterfly is a ten year old, diabetic, pure bred dog, with a serious heart murmur. I check her blood sugar for fluctuations every day (still too many ups and downs), and listen to the strange rhythm of her heart, which sounds fine to me, but I’ve always liked syncopation.

I am acutely aware of her health on a daily basis.

"Mommy, I don't feel good."

“Mommy, I don’t feel good.”

The last time Butterfly threw up was when she was first diagnosed with diabetes. She’s on insulin shots twice a day, so seeing her have what seemed like a serious relapse frightened me. Her blood sugar dropped very low, and she was shaking, and she refused to eat. Butterfly ignoring not only kibble, but chicken treats, is probably one of the signs of the apocalypse.

"Mommy, I think I'm gonna throw up."

“Mommy, I think I’m gonna throw up.”

She also had a lump the size of a kumquat on her lower belly, of unknown origin. She’d had the same thing way back in her early days with us, and back then the vet thought it might be constipation or something equally unimpressive, especially when the lump went away overnight. But it was a scary looking thing and I wasn’t sure if it would go away on its own, or where it came from, and meanwhile, Butterfly could barely sit down from the discomfort.

We put maple syrup on her gums, and cocooned her in a pink towel, and massaged her back, and crossed our fingers.

Time seemed to slow down, or even disappear. I couldn’t remember what time of day it was, or how long she’d been sick. Some part of me was shaking along with her, even as I told her, and myself, that everything would be okay.

Cricket was not impressed.

Cricket was not impressed.

At some point, Butterfly asked for some time on her own four feet, and within a few minutes she threw up again: three times in a row, on the rug in the hallway. When I went over to clean it up, there was a strange dark object in one of the puddles. It looked like an elaborate hairball, made of wiry black hair, honeycombed with bile, an inch and a half long, and half an inch in diameter. Huh?

Whatever caused it, once the hair ball was out, Butterfly started to improve. Her sugar went back to normal, she started to eat her kibble again, she was able to poop outdoors, and she was even smiling by bed time. She wasn’t up to running yet; that came the next day, along with the disappearance of her kumquat lump.

"Mommy, I feel so much better!"

“Mommy, I feel so much better!”

"We need treats!"

“We need treats!”

Once the crisis was over, I was calm enough to contemplate the hairball mystery. I’d never heard of a dog getting a hairball before. The hair was dark, like mine, but unless Butterfly had been chewing on my hair each night while I slept, I couldn’t imagine how she’d get her paws on that much hair in one shot.

But, there was a big, sweet, black haired dog at the groomer the day she was there, and as we were leaving, Butterfly did try to lick his head through the bars of his kennel. They also have a black cat on staff there, and I didn’t see him when we picked the girls up. We haven’t had a phone call from the groomer yet, so, fingers crossed that she didn’t eat their cat.

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About rachelmankowitz

I am a fiction writer, a writing coach, and an obsessive chronicler of my dogs' lives.

111 responses »

  1. Oh how scary! So glad Butterfly seems much better now 🙂

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  2. They can scare us to death, can’t they? Loki got a ‘fever of unknown origin’ last year and $600 later he was much better, but we had no idea what had caused it. Stay well, Butterfly, and don’t lick big black dogs.

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  3. Please excuse me, but I just busted up at that last line. Oh, Rachel. It sounds like way too much hair was flying at the groomer’s for poor Butterfly’s sake. Poor baby. Have I told you I love your captions? I do! I love your captions. So funny but absolutely spot on.

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  4. Ok, my heart was racing reading this, then I was like ewwww a fur ball from a dog? Then I choked on my sip of water while reading the last line laughing. Phew, I’m exhausted so many emotions from one post lol. So glad she’s on the mend!!

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  5. Oh my goodness! It’s always so scary when our four foots are sick. I’m so glad she’s feeling better!

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  6. Such a frightening event — but so glad it ended happily! It certainly sounds like Butterfly might have picked up and eaten some kind of hair, but as you say, whose? Although, as I’m learning with dogs, anything goes, and they’ll eat almost anything. One thing we’ve learned with C-Dog when he’s having a seizure (I’m thinking here when Butterfly was shaking and wouldn’t eat) is to hold him close, stroke him (as you did), and say, “Charlie, stay with me now” in a calming tone. I read that somewhere, and I think it sort of helped. Just some advice you might want to try. Have a great weekend — and tell Butterfly no more hair! 🙂

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    • Butterfly forgets these events so quickly, but I don’t. I talk her through them, but I’m not sure how well she can hear me when she’s shaking like that. Afterwards, though, she hears everything and wants to eat a full bag of treats.

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      • Oh, I know what you mean about not forgetting. I’m a wreck when Charlie has a seizure. Thank heavens dogs forget quickly! Have a great weekend!😄

  7. Hey, wait, I want maple syrup on my gums and a massage!

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  8. Wow, what a relief. So unnerving when they do not feel well! They can’t tell us, and combined symptoms are magnified. My dad had a cairn that had hair balls. Complete mystery. What does maple syrup on their gums do? Comfort I should think!

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  9. Poor Butterfly —and poor you! Don’t you wish they could talk and just tell us what’s wrong??? Happy all is better.

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  10. The silly hair (or cat) eating puppy! I’m glad she is better now. It’s so hard because they can’t tell us what’s wrong!

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  11. I don’t think she’s a pure bred. There’s cat in there somewhere.

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  12. Rachel, I love your posts! Looks like Cricket was totally bored with the whole situation. Glad Butterfly is all better.

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  13. That is scary but I am glad it had a happy ending and Butterfly is smiling again! 🙂

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  14. Oh, that scary! Nothing is worse than when they’re sick, nothing. Happy it ended well, I’m sue also for the cat on staff.

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  15. Sorry for the spelling…Bumble sits in my lap and I can’t see the whole keyboard 🙂

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  16. I’m so glad everything worked out fine in the end. That’s such a scary thing to have happen, and I know how worried you must have been. Butterfly is such a little cutie!

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  17. Most interesting. The mystery hairball!

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  18. I am glad tohear that Butterfly is okay! What a dear Soul; and you her protector!

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  19. Our pets are our children in so many ways. I think there’s something to the agony we feel when we observe their suffering and yet cannot ease it. It makes us more keenly aware of the gifts they are to us. I’m glad to hear that Butterfly bounced back, and that she’s her happy, sweet self again.

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  20. This was a very serious post and we were so thankful to finally read that sweet Butterfly was okay. We have never heard of a dog having hairballs. The seriousness all went away and we laughed out loud when you said fingers crossed that she did not eat their cat. Tell sweet Butterfly for us no more eating hair and no more scares like that. Hugs and nose kisses

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  21. I was holding my breath while reading this whole post. I’m so glad she’s okay. And I’ve never heard of a dog having a hairball – but dogs will eat anything. One of our dogs had a belly full of rocks at one point – fortunately resolved with lots of pumpkin and no surgery required.

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  22. Whew. I wanted a happy ending. So glad the Fluffster feels better.

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  23. So pleased to hear that Butterfly is ok and that there is no news of any chewed Cats. Thanks for sharing.

    Purrs,

    The Cat

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  24. So glad she’s better now. X

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  25. woof hair ball thought that was for cats, glad she is alright

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  26. I’m so glad the dark clouds diasppeared and the little Butterfly can fly around again. I will cross my paws the no cat is missing at your Groomer :o)

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  27. Poor Butterfly – so glad she managed to eject the problem fur ball herself & is so much better.

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  28. I sincerely hope Butterfly didn’t eat the cat!! Too funny. Our dog had a hairball once too – very unusual. He over-grooms himself and up came a huge hairball one day. I’m glad Butterfly felt better once it was up and out.

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    • Cricket is lucky, because she grooms herself constantly, but she doesn’t shed, so she doesn’t swallow her own hair. But, this was black, black hair! I’m still worried about that black cat!

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  29. Poor Butterfly. Glad to know she’s on the mend now.
    We know when our pets aren’t well, but they can’t tell us where it hurts, and it’s the not knowing that makes it such an anxious time for us as owners.
    Big hugs (and not forgetting a few Cricket too)

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  30. oops, last sentence should read not forgetting a few for Cricket too.

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  31. We definitely worry about our canine babies as much as we did out children at times. What a scary time for you!

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  32. Dogs are such sweet loyal creatures so glad Butterfly has such a good home that will stand by her during crisis and health problems.

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  33. I’m glad she’s feeling better! Due to the absence of bone pieces in the hairball, I’d discard the possibility of a cat tragedy. 😉

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  34. Too scary when they get sick and don’t eat…I always panic. I’m glad Butterfly is regaining her good form and wish good health to all of you.
    The Red Man has a grooming appointment tomorrow a.m., and I will be attuned to potential hairball threats.
    All’s well that ends well, as The Red Man is fond of saying. 🙂

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  35. I’m so glad Butterfly is better. It is awful when they are poorly. Hugs to Butterfly and Cricket. Moke xx

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  36. Its so frightening when our fur-babies are ill! I’m so glad the nasty hairball is out (and, yes, all animals can get them) and that she is feeling better. Does the groomer have large blow drying units around the place? Maybe the long black hairs were blown around and that’s how Butterfly ingested them. Its not common nowadays but older grooming facilities sometimes had issues with that.

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  37. Oh no! I’m so pleased Butterfly is better now though! I’ve never heard of dogs getting hairballs either, but… I suppose it is preferable to eating the cat? slightly!
    Hugs, Carrie & Pups x

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  38. What a scary episode! I’m so glad that Butterfly has recovered. But the mystery lingers: from where did she get that hair?

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  39. So glad to hear Butterfly is OK! So scary!

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  40. Hi Rachel!
    Thank you for visiting my blog and liking a post. 🙂 I’m sad to hear about your experience with your precious pup, but I’m glad that Butterfly seems to be doing better.
    Hope you have a great day, and blessings to you!
    ~Crystal

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  41. I know what its like when one of your 4-legged babies is sick. My ancient cat Piper was sick for 3 days a while ago, hiding, not eating, not drinking but seemingly not in pain. After a couple of sleepless nights (for me) she became her same old self. And still is! So I am glad Butterfly is doing better but would definately call the groomer!

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  42. A sick dog is always stressful. Ha, the last bit caught me unaware, if the cat is missing it might be better not to own up.

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  43. I am so glad that Butterfly is back up on her feet and smiling her beautiful smile. I have never heard of a dog with a hairball before, I hope that she didn’t eat the cat. I really don’t like it when our babies don’ t feel well. Hooray for Butterfly and Cricket, I don’t want Cricket to feel left out.

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  44. So glad Butterfly is better!! You girls take care of each other!

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  45. Poor Butterfly! Dogs will consume just anything, won’t they? And they can’t tell us what is wrong, only that something is. Anyway I’m glad she’s better, A little calm between storms!

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  46. Hello Ms. rachelmankowitz, that was a scary story. I am relieved to hear Miss Butterfly is feeling better.

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  47. Phew! And then Eeew. 🙂 So glad things are OK.

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  48. So scary. So glad it had a happy, and some what funny ending. You just never know about what an animal will eat or pick up. So glad she is okay. 🙂

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  49. definitely scary!! she has the most expressive face!! 🙂

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