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Authors have a tendency to sit in one spot for long periods of time. In case you’ve missed it, that’s not good for us humans. Those periods become marathons during deadlines, so authors often look for ways to ensure they get up and move around regularly.

I’ve discovered the surefire solution:

A senior dog with GI issues.

This author was up (sometimes with an adrenaline spike for fear the GI issue would be in the house), moving around (pulling on twenty-three layers of clothes, wrapping up Kalli’s cold-sensitive leg, taking her out, walking her, divesting her and me of layers), and trying to get my mind back into the book.

Fifteen times one day. Over double digits a few more.

Fifteen times at 15-20 minutes a pop.

During deadline crunch.

This was over the last two weeks of working on the book, which is when I am lost inside the book. I know book date, time, and weather, but not real date, time, and weather. Nothing like a dog with GI issues to bring you back to the real world.

A couple times I tried taking printed-out editing pages outside with me. This did not turn out well. (Wind. Cold. Leash. Uh-oh.)

Yes, I can hear you. Forget all that book deadline stuff, how’s Kalli?

The day after I sent the book to the editor, which was the first available appointment, I had her to the vet. At the same practice, but a new vet to us, so I wrote up background and chronology information. (At least I didn’t do any charts.😉)

Kalli’s had recurring GI issues over the past 18 months. Each time, she’d start to do better, stabilizing on a diet of chicken and rice, doing fine with gradually reintroducing her food, then relapsing with the reintroduction of meds and supplements. The past three times she’s needed a prescription to get things back on an even keel. That’s caused concern on two levels.

First, GI issues are tough on any creature, especially a senior. And these seemed to be worsening.

Second, the GI issues’ effect on her pain when she’s active on that multi-operated-on leg. Short-term when she has these issues, she’s pulled off all meds, so she doesn’t have pain relief during those times, so she’s less active, which isn’t good for any dog, especially a senior. Longer-term, we’d tried four pain meds with no change in the GI issues. We were running out of options.

Especially since 70 percent of collies have drug sensitivities from a gene mutation called MDR1, so that limits the choices. (Washington State University is the center of research and information on MDR1 – which stands for multidrug resistant gene, and can affect many herding dog breeds. Check for information here because using the wrong drug can be fatal for these dogs.)

The vet and I were exploring possibilities – lower dosages of pain meds, trading off pain meds, different combinations – with none looking very good. Then, thinking we needed to eliminate every possible factor, I asked if any of the pain meds had corn in them.

Kalli’s no corn dog.

When she entered our lives eleven and a half years ago, she’d had a rocky start, with strong indications she’d been beaten before she arrived at a shelter. From there a family adopted her and I believe had the very best intentions, but didn’t know dogs, based on the medical records they passed on to the rescue group when they gave her up to them. (It is very much to their credit that they did give her up to a rescue group!) Her foster mom said the previous owners said they couldn’t afford treatment for her OCD.


I guess there are dogs with OCD. She isn’t one of them. She needed to be told “no” and to have follow-through every darned time. Consistency and lots and lots of it. A bunch of exercise helped in her pre-broken carpus (ankle) days, too.

Another thing she needed was a change in food. When we switched to one without corn, we had a winner, greatly easing both behavioral and GI issues.

With very few exceptions, she’s been off corn ever since. There was a slip-up when she was a few years old and she was like a kid on the biggest sugar high you have ever seen. People at the dog park were flabbergasted. One said it was like seeing Kalli’s evil twin.

So, with this new vet a few days ago, I asked if any of the pain meds might have corn in them.

The vet said none of the pain meds have corn in them.

Not even the chewable form? I asked. I’d noticed that Kalli tolerated the pill form, but after switching to chews, she had GI issues. But, I also recognized that could be from the cumulative effect of taking the meds, with issues building up and just showing themselves after the switch to chews.

She said she didn’t know, but she’d check.

As long as you’re doing that, I said, what about the chews for arthritis relief?

She went and looked up the ingredients. No information on the chewable pain meds (more on that later.) On the chews for arthritis? No. 2 ingredient is corn syrup.


Kalli had started on those chews about the same time as the pain meds.


Later, I tried digging deeper for the ingredients in the chewable pain meds, thinking the chew-ableness might be a likely corn syrup indicator. The drug company that makes them declared the formula is proprietary and they’re not saying what’s in it.

And this is where the lesson comes in.

If your animal has an allergy, beware!

The vet, who did an internship with a dermatology specialist, said the biggest allergies are beef, chicken, pork. Dairy also shows up (especially cheese), as does corn. I don’t know about your pet, but those top Kalli’s yum list.

Two lessons from this:

Each of those can be used as flavorings in things that are not otherwise labeled as beef, chicken, pork, dairy, corn, or whatever.

Not being among the ingredients listed on the label does not guarantee it’s not in what you’re giving your dog. They only have to list “active” ingredients. Be thankful for the ones who do list things such as corn syrup, as Ceva Animal Health did for the arthritis chews.

As for the ones who obfuscate with “proprietary” as Bayer did for the pain meds… There just might be a murder victim in an upcoming book named Bayer.

Kalli is now off both of those chewables. If her system remains settled for a few more days, we’ll see if we can get back to exercise, with the pain pills on an as-needed basis … keeping fingers, toes, and all else crossed that corn is, in fact, the culprit. It would allow us to improve and extend her quality of life.

Oh! And there’s joyous news for Kalli – her love, love, love ’em dental chews and fave treats have “complete ingredients” online and corn is not among them. Yay! She’ll be getting those again if her system remains settled. And thank you, Pedigree and Pup-peroni.