For years, my mom has given our family dog, Wishbone, ham bones after the holidays. Actually, wait. Every year, my mom cooks the most delicious, fall-apart ham for Christmas. After a few days of leftovers, she makes pea soup. It sounds pretty disgusting and I avoided trying it every year until last year. It’s actually the most delectable, hammy, vegetable-y soup/paste.
To make pea soup, she cooks the peas for hours in with the remaining ham and bone. When the meat falls off, she takes out the cooked, then boiled bone and gives it to the dog.
It’s the coup de grâce of puppy Christmas.
Wishbone weighs 30 pounds. It has always taken him hours just to get the marrow out of the bone and he leaves it alone when he’s finished.
Vinny weighs almost 70 pounds.
Needless to say, the night ended with us scouring the house for the bone he had already eaten. Then we worried and yelled and blamed Vinny for not knowing better.
Then we Googled it.
Can I tell you that if you’re ever modestly worried about your pets to never Google “can I [insert unmentionable crime against your pet here]?”
The stories all read the same:
- I woke up to my dog, dead in a pool of his blood, after feeding him a ham bone.
- I watched my dog choke to death.
- My dog needed $2,000 worth of surgery to get it removed.
We found my mom and asked her what to do. We all agreed we needed to go to the puppy emergency room.
Emergency hours for pet hospitals are double the cost around here.
We were looking at spending $200 just to get him seen.
I called first, to ask if we needed to bring him in. The first woman berated me for giving him ham at all, meat, at that! How could I? Don’t I know dogs can’t process meat? Then she told me if we didn’t get him there within a half an hour, he would likely die.
Dogs are carnivores. That chick was clearly bunk.
The second animal hospital said, “You might want to like, bring him, and stuff, because, like, maybe he, like, is choking, you know, and we just can’t, like, see it.”
The third hospital said, “Don’t worry about it. If he gags, coughs a lot or throws up, come in.”
But clearly, Vinny is our boo. We talk baby-talk to that boy. We snuggle for hours. We have a nightly group hug, and I’m not joking. We have cut date nights short to go back home to the pup.
If anything happened, we wouldn’t forgive ourselves.
We lost a kitten once to a disease he contracted at birth and it was devastating. There was no way we were going through that again.
So we got ready to leave and prepped ourselves for losing more than half of my monthly paycheck on retrieving a ham bone from his insides.
Just before we left, we searched online once more and found JustAnswer.com. You have to pay $30 if you’re pleased with the advice and we were. Instead of asking whoever answers the phone at the front desk of the animal hospital, we were able to talk to a real vet.
She told us it was safer to bring him in, but that he would probably be fine (in many more, doctor-ly words).
Once we calmed down, we found dozens of stories of people scared into bringing their dogs in after a similar mistake. Nothing was wrong, the dog was fine and they were out $400 – $1500 for the exam, x-rays and surgery.
The whole night, Vinny was a cheery, playful puppy. The next day, he was the same.
We hovered over his poo looking for shards of bone or blood like idiots.
He was and is fine.
Have you ever gone completely hysterical over nothing with your pets? Why do the pet hospitals exploit your panic for profit? We lost sleep, we could have lost financial security for the month and WTF WE WERE FREAKED OUT.
Don’t you think there should be some kind of hippocratic oath for veterinarians and the folks who make their appointments? Is there?
My rule? If you wear scrubs to work, you’re held to a higher standard. If in the human medical world, you induced hysteria by saying OMG you probably have cancer! How could you ever be out in the sun?! Don’t you know that’s terrible for you? If you don’t start this treatment, like ASAP, you’ll probably die — they would be dis-scrubbed. Or something.
In total, we learned one valuable lesson: no bones for dogs unless they’re raw and never chicken. I think we knew that before, but we didn’t really know it until it was 3 o’clock in the morning and we were shaking Vinny, squeezing his stomach and playing with the idea of inducing vomit in our little, lovey puppy.
Look at that face, though. Would you panic if it was in danger?
His new nickname: Vinny “The Hambone” Maldonado.
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