Dog Days – The Bad

Every time we start to get comfortable in life, we’re thrown a curve. Our curve is a sick dog. Today was a rough dog day.

We monitored our dog’s behavior change the past two weeks. About a month ago we noticed she started pooping and peeing close to her dog house. She always chose designated spots much farther away from her dog house. She’s always been a creature of habit so we thought this was odd, but dismissed the behavior as her requesting more frequent pen cleanings. We obliged and remained unconcerned.

About a week later, I noticed odd sounds emanating from the pen during mid day. I finally realized she was howling. Most dogs may howl for different reasons but Hershey never had. It seemed an odd behavior change but everything else seemed normal so I dismissed it as a new trick she learned and practiced sparingly. We ignored it an remained unconcerned.

Further monitoring revealed a more disturbing behavior change. Our otherwise active dog became listless, confused, clumsy, imbalanced and lacked the normal luster visible in her face. She ate normally and still walked every morning (slower than normal) but when my hyperactive dog suddenly became inactive, I scheduled a vet visit.

After the first visit the vet prescribed an anti-inflammatory (Galliprant) because Dr. Harper was concerned Hershey’s immobility indicated canine arthritis. Two days later, her appetite declined and she was more thirsty than normal. Other symptoms continued so we revisited the vet and Dr. Nickel conducted multiple blood and urine tests to dismiss Addison’s disease or Cushing’s disease. These tests checked major internal organs such as thyroid, liver, bladder and heart. All tests reported results within the normal range, yet Hershey behaved abnormally. Even though she appeared to have no infection, the vet considered she might have an inner ear or bladder infection and prescribed an antibiotic (Baytril).

After 4 vet visits in the last 5 days her condition worsened. She stopped eating, barely drank and could neither stand nor move. She also stopped eating. The vet confirmed our worse fears and suspected prognosis. Hershey probably had a neurological disorder. The vet suggested a referral for imaging; however, the imaging vet had no available openings until the following month. Given our dog’s immobile condition we assumed she wouldn’t live to make the appointment.

We called the vet, had the euthanasia discussion and the Dr. Nickel suggested a temporary steroid anti-inflammatory (Prednisone) to suppress any pain. Hershey did not exhibit any classic pain symptoms, but the vet assumed the inevitable and sought to ease any discomfort.

Like Jack’s magic beans, the new prescription was a magic pill. I walked her and she showed an extra spring in her step. We kept her inside all day and were astonished how alert, perky, attentive. Appetite and luster returned. The previous symptoms (pacing, panting, immobility, listlessness) evaporated. We know we cannot use this medication long-term because it’s only a temporary relief, but we have a few more days to enjoy our lovely girl.