Recently, I had to switch Mikenna's food, because we found out that there's oatmeal in what she's been eating - oatmeal being the one thing I can actually pinpoint her being allergic to. Dog food not being required to tell you when they change their ingredients is the bane of my existence. Discovering the oatmeal was a really good "aha!" moment, because she'd been having a lot of pukey days in the last couple of months, and I was scratching my head as to why. I chalked it up to her mysterious sensitive stomach and/or allergies and/or stress. Those could still be relevant, but the oatmeal seemed like a big culprit.
So, we picked up a new food for her, and I even attempted to wean her for a couple of days.
Then the whining began.
Now, I'll be honest, our dog is weird. She's also kind of clingy. Sometimes she decides that she needs to get up in the middle of the night for water, and that she can't go alone. So she whines until I wake up and follow her to the kitchen, she drinks, and we shuffle back to bed. But this happens maybe a couple times a month.
So the first night she got me up every half an hour for five hours, I thought, man, this dog has too much energy, this is terrible. I've got to start wearing her out.
I started taking her for walks again, which is a good thing for both of us. I stopped last summer due to anxiety. I know it sounds counter intuitive. But I got it in my head that she probably had westie lung disease, so taking her for walks and seeing her pant was terrifying. Anxiety is horrible.
When she conked out the first night, after her walk, I was thrilled. Problem solved! But then she got me up in the middle of the night for food. I can deal with that. But about an hour after that, the whining started, and at one point, I woke up to Matt holding Mikenna, attempting to burp her.
Let me say again - our dog is weird. She does, occasionally, get burps 'stuck' and requires some assistance. But even in my sluggish sleep state, I thought, huh. she's been needing to be burped a lot lately. And then I smashed my head into the pillow and that was that.
The lack of sleep started to take a toll on everybody - and Mikenna was having a difficult time jumping up on things that normally aren't a problem for her. We've got furniture that's pretty low to the ground to be westie-friendly anyway, so the fact that she was having problems with those concerned me. But she is almost eleven, so it wasn't outside the realm of possibility that her joints had caught up to her.
Through a couple more rough, sleepless nights, I figured out that Mikenna didn't seem to be getting up just for kicks, she seemed genuinely distressed. So I started running through the list of everything that could possibly be wrong with her, and fixing what I could. The room wasn't too hot or too cold, and the fan wasn't blowing on her. She had food, had water, didn't need to pee, but had peed recently enough that she wasn't dying from not being able to pee. Wasn't constipated. Had her favorite toy with her.
I remedied everything I could possibly think of, and still she whined. Then we had the really bad night. She whined. She needed to be burped. She still whined. She paced. She drank water. She sighed. She panted. She whined whined, whined. There was nothing I could do for her, she looked so uncomfortable, and I felt so helpless, exhausted, and depressed.
Then, in the wee morning hours, the room began to smell. Mikenna was conked out on her side, breathing normally. I poked her belly, which was soft.
It all clicked.
Usually, when food disagrees with Mikenna, we see it in puke or poop. It's the reality of caring for a dog with a sensitive tummy - you get real friendly with both ends of them. This food wasn't just making her need to burp, it was making her bloated and gassy. She was not feeling good.
Sure enough, when I switched her back to her old food, she calmed down. She started running and jumping, hopping up on the bed with no difficulty. Most importantly, she slept comfortably through the night. No whining.
She had a vet appointment to bring her up to date on her shots, and the vet praised her health. Her heart and lungs are strong, her hips are great, her eyes are cataract-free, and she looks much younger than her age.
I know this is far more doggy information than most of you will care about. But I hope that someone, somewhere, can relate. Parents of small children get to bond over their kids keeping them up at night, so I want the animal parents to know - you are not alone.