I learned today that I should listen to my gut feelings and only trust people who've earned it. I also broke my dog's trust and put her in a situation she couldn't handle.

Bailey had a surgery scheduled for her leg at the prompting of our rehab vet. Bailey's leg has a recurring lipoma (fatty, benign, lump)  that's intertwined with important things in her right elbow. Lipomas are typically removed only if they're growing rapidly, or in a really easy to remove location. In Bailey's case, the lipoma grows in such a way that it appears to interfere with her ability to move that leg freely. For such an active dog, that not only puts stress on the compromised leg, but then also stress on the rest of her body due to compensating. For this reason, she has had this particular lipoma debrided (debulked) three times in the last five or six years.

I scheduled the surgery with a veterinarian who has handled a few of Bailey's "really abnormal" cases as well as routine acupuncture and chiropractic when we don't need to see the rehab vet. I've only ever worked with this one vet at the practice but I've come to trust her judgement. She tells me how it is, every time. When I presented Bailey's leg case to her, she said she'd be willing to debride it.

I got a call yesterday from a different veterinarian at the clinic asking me if it was okay that she do the surgery as our regular veterinarian is out with a back injury. I agreed to it and then we discussed Bailey's anxiety. I asked whether I should give her Clonidine before the surgery tomorrow or not. The veterinarian advised against it and said that instead, her technicians would put in an IV catheter and pre-med Bailey when she was dropped off. I know my dog, I knew she wasn't going to handle being kenneled in a strange place very well at all.

I'm going to preface the below by saying that I'm really happy that A) I got a call yesterday when they wanted to switch veterinarians and B) the veterinarian didn't do a surgery she wasn't comfortable with.

But, I got a return call at 1:30 today from the veterinarian saying that the surgery wasn't performed. We talked for a bit and apparently she was missing a lot of details about what's gone on before and what I expected... at 1:30pm (I dropped Bailey off at 7:30, she was going to be the first surgery of the day). She said nothing about how Bailey was doing and I was in the middle of doing something for work so I didn't think much of it.

Until I was driving out to pick Bailey up after work. And then my heart sank. My anxious dog who can barely handle significant changes in her routine with medication, has been sitting in a strange kennel all day. I had a feeling just what kind of dog I might be picking up. I'm sad to say, I was right.

I could hear her before she even got down the hallway. She was dragging the receptionist and whining. She leaped at me and then made a dash for the door. She was panicked and so upset she even had no interest in me.

A normal dog, a dog like Buzz, would have handled a situation like Bailey's today with barely a bat of his eye. Sure, he hates being kenneled but he's stable. He would have been happy to leave but I wouldn't be concerned about his elevated adrenal and cortisol levels impacting daily life for the next couple of days. We'd get in the car and he'd be his normal dorky self.

However, a dog like Bailey will be on edge for the next couple of days. She'll be hypervigilent and she'll be on house lock down, because otherwise she'll be having explosive reactions everywhere we go and the vicious cycle will continue. I've handled her like that before, and let me tell you, it's absolutely no fun for anyone. Today was not fair to her, and I should have known better. I haven't dropped her off for a procedure in years for a couple of reasons but her anxiety about being kenneled in a strange place is a major one. She doesn't handle sudden changes to her routine well, even while on medications. I'm borrowing a quote from a friend's blog,

"High levels of adrenaline are associated with heightened vigilance, anxiety, lowered thresholds of sensory perception; these make the dog more reactive to stimulation, rather than thinking. Higher levels of glucocorticoids cause an overactive stress response and depression. After a stress response it can take days for the glucocorticoids to go back down to baseline levels. If the dog has another stressful situation before this happens the entire cascade of the stress response starts all over." (The quote is taken from this article.)

I learned a lesson today. I need to advocate for my anxious dog every single time. And I need to make sure that there are crystal clear instructions about what to do in the case of "what if" situations.

What would I have done differently? Once the veterinarian decided she wasn't going ahead with the surgery, I would have wanted a call. I would have found a way to leave work to get Bailey and we would have gone home. She would have been upset, but she wouldn't have had so much time to build up even more anxiety to the point she's at now. The poor girl whined and panted the whole way home.

And now I get to manage her for the next couple days, and probably give her Clonidine regularly, because it will make her life a little more bearable.


Allergies & Buzz

Buzz has had allergies his whole life. The poor guy has shown signs since before he was a year old. I remember taking him to the vet because his neck was "all red" at a routine appointment. The vet asked if he wore a red collar. Nope, his collar was black. At that point he was eating Iams, the green bag, so the vet just figured he needed some extra "stuff." We put him on a recommended supplement.

He probably took that supplement for a couple months to a year but we didn't notice a single difference. It's not a terrible supplement by any means, but it's not really... addressing the concern either.

Once I started learning about allergies in dogs (at least five years after we initially noticed his "red neck")and what they can be related to, I was determined to help Buzz become allergy free.

A fellow Springer owner once recommended I bathe him every day to remove the potential airborne allergens from his body before he inhales them (or at least limit how much is inhaled). I shaved him down and took him in the shower with me every morning before school! I think that might have lasted seven days...

We were also given recommendations to increase his omega 3s. I did that in the form of a capsule and switched him to a salmon based food. At the time, I didn't realize that he actually got worse with the increase in fish oils. Buzz ate the salmon food for close to a couple years and I've since learned that he's incredibly allergic to most (if not all) kinds of fish. Boy did I feel rotten when I figured that out! His poor body probably didn't even know what to do with itself!

A couple other things we tried were Cranberry (no change) and SeaMeal (increase in allergy signs). I also tried him on Flaxseed which created an increase in itching I had no idea was possible!

Quite honestly, I think I tried nearly every food on the market for him. Seriously. And there was very little improvement. In the end, after trying everything from Nature's Recipe to Innova EVO to a prey model raw diet; I just gave up. I found a food he did okay on and stuck with it, apologizing to him regularly for not being willing to put him on Prednisone for the rest of his life. The food he did okay on was Fromm Duck and Sweet Potato. He was still having minor allergic reactions but the horribly red and irritated skin was gone, he even regrew fur on the front of his elbows.

This spring I vowed to do an elimination diet with a known safe food to see if he could get complete relief. I chose to use ground raw duck from Woody's because it was exactly what I was looking for; meat, bone, and organ. No veggies, no supplements of any kind. After just two weeks of eating ONLY this, I saw some remarkable improvements in Buzz: he was even less red in those telltale areas, he licked his legs less and even stopped chewing his feet completely. He looked almost like a normal dog! There were a couple things I really hemmed and hawed about eliminating from his diet. The most important being his joint supplement. I knew he needed a supplement and he'd been on the Dasuquin with MSM for so many years that I was leery of changing it, but it had unspecified "liver" in it. Thankfully I found a supplement that isn't flavored and he's done very well on Wapiti Labs Longevity for a couple months now.

Since the start of his elimination diet, I've tried a few more foods with him. Some with success and some with failure. When his body isn't having an allergic reaction every single day, it's quite easy to tell when a food I've fed him causes a problem; I'll know within a matter of hours.

Buzz has a very short list of safe foods and more often than not, he's allergic to the ingredients other foods are mixed with.

Safe foods: Woody's raw duck, Bravo raw beef, Primal raw rabbit, Canine Caviar Open Sky kibble, and PureBites freeze dried Duck liver.

The most recent unsafe foods: lamb, pork, chicken, turkey, egg, flaxseed, many grains. He's also allergic to CET poultry toothpaste.

In addition to his prescription medications, Buzz is currently taking the Wapiti Labs Longevity and a virgin/unrefined Coconut oil (the only oil he can tolerate, it's a medium chain fatty acid). He takes the medications he won't willingly eat in food with part of a Greenies Pill Pockets Duck and Pea.

I'm sure the saga will continue, and he's currently in a cone after my last food experiment with lamb, but he's doing well I'd say. And his body seems to appreciate not being exposed to things it's allergic to all day, every day.

Buzz a couple weeks ago, looking pretty darn okay.


Hypothyroidism and Buzz

Buzz has had a very eventful year so far and I hope it will be slowing down shortly! I figured I should give the list an update, mostly because we've learned so much in the last couple of months!

My 14 year old dog presented with partial left sided facial paralysis, increased pain-seemingly all over, weight gain (I was feeding less than a pound of raw a day and he wasn't losing any weight, he weighed in a 60# and should weigh around 50#), and difficulty swallowing. We saw our regular vet who recommended we see a neurologist. The neurologist was incredibly UNhelpful but in a veterinary behavior appointment for my other dog later that week, it was suggested that hypothyroidism could be causing many of these issues Buzz was presenting with.

Buzz was *very* hypothyroid when we tested and was started on brand-name Soloxine at the prompting of many articles (rather than generic).

He's been on meds for almost 3 weeks now and I didn't realize how nasty his coat had gotten until I bathed him and blew out his old coat yesterday. He's all shiny and fluffy and bright now (and boy did he lose a lot of dead coat)!

We also saw the eye doctor for a routine CERF yesterday. He noticed bilateral pinpoint retinal hemorrhages... and recommended we take blood pressures and run a 4DX. We ran a 4DX+, which  was all negative and took blood pressures which showed a slightly elevated diastolic reading (but normal systolic). My wonderful regular vet did some more research and digging for me, to discover that Hypothyroidism can also cause the retinal hemorrhages as well as elevated blood pressures.

As of now, Buzz is starting to lose weight, his coat is changing (for the better), he has no trouble eating and can do so out of a bowl again, and most importantly, his facial paralysis was a thing of the past after only a week on the Soloxine.

I'm so freaking happy I ran into someone who gave me a recommendation based on some obscure signs; and that she was right.

Buzz at Battle Creek recently.
Now we do a thryoid retest (with the new recommendations, we'll be drawing for a T4 just before he gets his morning med and a full panel 4-6 hours post med) in 3-4 more weeks and recheck his eyes & blood pressure too.