Jacques is putting on a brave face but he’s in some discomfort.

I awoke this morning to a dog who was not trying to jump onto the bed. Clearly, something was wrong. I pulled him up anyway and he just went to the foot of the bed and fell asleep: no snuggles, no face lick. That was really worrying, especially when I noticed he was limping.

I gave him a baby aspirin. Apparently this is not advisable, even though at 10 kilos, he’s about the size of a lot of babies. But I didn’t know that at the time and no question, it reduced the inflammation.

A couple of hours later we were at the vet. The problem? Apparently it’s what he gets for being white. I guess all light-colored dogs have allergies, which are exacerbated by urban pollution. Who knew? But the vet bounced his fingers along either side of Jacques’ spine — if you know Chinese medicine, it was along the bladder channel — and my little guy went from uncomfortable to absolutely shaking. I gave him a hug and the vet gave him a more serious anti-inflammatory and he settled back down.

This allergy thing, though, it’s serious. The vet’s recommendation is a series of insanely expensive treatments and a diet of insanely expensive salmon-based dog food. 200 euros later we were back on the street and now, a couple of hours after that, Jacques feels well enough to go for a walk. The vet said the limp was due to inflammation along the spine. That appears to be the case.

I think I need a second opinion. Jacques spends most of his life in the countryside. So really, is this a simple reaction to pollution? Fortunately Mr. France has a sister-in-law who has a niece who is affiliated with a veterinary school in or near Lyon. I allowed as how I wouldn’t say no to a long weekend in Lyon but, oh well, I guess she comes to Paris fairly often. We’ll have to see what she says. I’d like it if Jacques got back to his old hyperactive ways.

15 Replies to “Jacques Report”

    1. The visit to the vet seems to have done the job. I just hope it lasts. Plus, of course, I hope to figure out how to minimize the allergic reaction.

  1. Poor little chap, he must feel so miserable.
    A fellow blogger in California has a Maltese with allergy problems…in his case the paws are inflamed and very sore. Supposed to be too much sunlight if I remember correctly.
    It has so far cost a fortune at the vet with no visible sign of improvement so he is seeking a second opinion. If he comes up with anything I will pass it on.

  2. Oh, poor little Jacques – it’s heartbreaking when they are clearly in pain and so dependent on you to ‘make it better, Mummy’. Although Westies are compact, strong little dogs, maybe he has injured himself in some way – to me that sounds much more likely than an allergy reaction, or sensitivity to pollution (there’s none in the Vendee) especially as your vet diagnosed inflammation of the spine. Has Jacques possibly fallen even a small height, or jumped over a wall to find it was much lower on the other side? Has he been jumping and twisting to catch balls or toys? Does he jump onto chairs, sofas, into the car? Maybe he has just jumped the wrong way.
    I would definitely get a second opinion and possibly some tests i.e. spinal X-rays. He might benefit from gentle physiotherapy or hydrotherapy when the pain has settled down. (in hydrotherapy he would be non-weigh-bearing) Meantime, although the anti-inflammatory will control his discomfort and help to reduce the acute problem, it will fool him into thinking he is in recovery – he is most definitely NOT! If you can, please do restrict his activity; if he is used to being on the bed or sofa, do please lift him up and down. It could avoid further damage.
    Sorry if I sound very bossy but I have had similar inflammation problems with Coco in the past and really, strict rest is almost the best advice. Of course a French vet will advise an expensive change of diet – that’s what they do, but unless you have actual evidence from the business end of Jacques having an upset tummy, I doubt if his digestive system is the major culprit here. Long-term anti-inflammatory medication is actually not good for the digestive system either, just as the same as for humans.
    Good luck and do give us an update on his progress.

    1. I think I lost the last reply. Sorry if I repeat myself. Anyway, yes, we need to get a handle on this. At first I thought it was a jump gone wrong but I realized that no part of the affected leg seemed sore. It was more like the whole thing was off, some way. I ran the idea of pollution issues by a friend who works both in and out of Paris. He said yes, it’s a real issue. He has seen coworkers in especially exposed locations pass out. Cab drivers tell me that with the road closures, which have increased pollution in Paris by about 20%, they are getting sick. So definitely, off to the vet school. I want a serious workup. I do not want to pay again for this overpriced guy to trot out his favorite hobby horse, then hand me his nosebleed-level bill. Jacques has no apparent digestive issues and he eats one of those breed-specific dog foods. The vet didn’t even say the food was the problem, just that the pricey dog food would give his system one less thing to deal with. So, whatever. We’ll track it down. Jacques’ fans demand it!

  3. I am so sorry to read this. It is extraordinarily hard when our animals are ill because they can’t tell us exactly what the problem is. The Bean had problems many years ago (about a year before we moved to France). My daughter suggested it might be a gluten allergy and I tried her on a cereal free diet using only a rice based kibble to augment her meat/veg. It worked and she has never looked back. If the advice of your vet is costing a kings ransom then you must seek other advice. I am glad you have that on hand. By the way, there is a school of thought catching on in Britain that the ‘vet foods’ are a rip-off and it is better to use something like ‘Lilies’ which is an organic brand with no additives, wheat free etc etc. Just a thought. Et bon courage. To you and Jacques.

    1. Thanks. Yes, when I read the nutrition labels on the samples the vet gave me I thought no, definite ripoff. Jacques has never eaten corn-based food. He probably eats more than he should of what we eat. I have been thinking that wheat would be okay, as I tend to discount the whole gluten allergy thing, but all rice can’t hurt. What are you feeding the Bean?

      I found a very interesting vet collective near here. They offer acupuncture, osteopathy, all kinds of things, but they work only by referral. I wrote to them to ask which vets they knew who might make that referral. I don’t see my current guy giving up a single one of his cash cows, so I had to ask. So between the niece and the referral, I’m sure we’ll come up with a sustainable solution. The good news is that, short-term, Jacques is fine, a little slower than usual but you’d have to spend every day with him to know it. Fortunately he is not in misery while we sort things out.

      1. The Bean eats a chicken and rice kibble that I get in Super U … it seems to be the best suited to her. She has a small amount of canned meat (I bring Lily’s Kitchen from England which is less rich than the Caesar and so on here). If she runs out (though it is available through Amazon here) I give her plain boiled chicken. She has quite a few tidbits from us and doesn’t seem to suffer so long as she doesn’t have bread. So fortunately for her cheese and meats are allowed 🙂 Really the best of luck with this. It is so hard weighing up what is voodoo woo-woo to make money and what is real. I am hugely fortunate with my vet in Cantal who charges little and seems really switched on. To the extent that unless it was a dire emergency I would drive the 5 hours back to him from Grenoble if I have a problem with her. I am seeing him on Wednesday in fact to give her vaccinations even though it is a month early – I trust him and that is so much of the game in medicine for humans or animals I think. I’m relieved he is not in misery at least and hope that continues whilst you find a solution.

        1. And the brand name is….. I have a Super U at the house, plus if Super U carries it I bet Monoprix does, too. It’s worth a try. I wish my Vendee vet were here in Paris. It’s a good, no-nonsense clinic and they are really on top of things. That late-night emergency visit a while ago was 80 euros, injection and medicine included. Believe me, as I shelled out the 200 for dubious advice and medicine that costs more than my own, I though a lot about, next time, giving Jacques an extra baby aspirin and driving him south.

          1. It’s their own brand and it is the one for mini adultes. It is branded riches en poulet et en riz. I’ve actually just looked at the composition and it has 4% blé which I clearly didn’t notice when I first arrived here but she has never balked at that so maybe it is a small enough quantity (rather like my eldest daughter who is gluten intolerant but can take tiny quantities). Plus the fact that I use a tiny handful as a mixer with her meat (and veg) rather than feedings it as a complete food. I also get heart shaped snacks at Intermarché but can’t recall the brand – they are all natural with no additives and she seems to do well on them when rewards are needed (for instance when she listens to my sage advice NOT to take on the Irish Wolfhound in the market this morning 😂). I also highly recommend Lily’s Kitchen. Really it is worth the expense of ordering online. I am so sorry you are going through this. Speaking as another who has been supported by my canine through thick and thin and rough times (not comparing the magnitude of yours) I know the anxiety and sense of responsibility I have for my dog’s well-being and comfort.

          2. House brand. Amazing. The staff at the local Super U are not always very polite and the store is a bit scruffy but I’ll get over it. Thanks! Of all things, I’m finding great snacks. The current favorite is a dried duck thing, like duck jerky. For dogs. Only in France….

          3. In my soon to be not thought of as home village (will be writing of the impending move of my things – bit emotional) the epicerie is a ‘Little U’ … it’s not upmarket but the food is all good and they actually keep local produce in addition to their branded stuff. Cheeses, jams etc. They don’t have the write kibble so I go to the Super U 6 or so miles away. Here it’s a tramstop for the same stuff. I like the ethos of U which is that they DO try to stock local alongside the supermarkety things that keep them ticking. Those sorts of balances suit

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