need help/advice

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sumatra22
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need help/advice

Post by sumatra22 »

Hi, my name is Stephanie and I'm owned by a 10 1/2 year old orange and white Brittany named Farrah. She's been a dear sweet companion since I adopted her in March 2002. Unfortunately we are having some major problems and I am at a loss right now. Farrah is a true Brittany, and spent most of her days chasing birds and squirrels around our yard and local parkway. She has had tendon issues in her left front leg since she was 3, and broke the same ankle (I guess that's what it was) at the age of 5. Her exercise has slowed down since then, but she's always been happy and never one to complain. I started her on Metacam about a year ago for her arthritis, she won't go near rimadyl. I should also mention that she tested positive for Lyme's disease shortly before she broke her ankle in '05 and has had 2 recurrences since then, the latest in Febuary this year. We also discovered that she lost her sight, which was not apparent at first since she knows her way around so well. Sadly I felt like I overlooked this, but my vet agreed that she hid it well.

Since her blindness in February she's been having serious GI and anxiety issues. We started her on Amitriptilyne to hopefully ease her "panic attacks" at night. It doesn't seem to help. The GI issues are blatant, she hasn't had a solid bowel movement since March, and I'm talking liquid. Two cases were (pardon the gross description) bloody and mucousy. Though we haven't tested her for colon cancer, the vet feels strongly that she doesn't have it, due to her gaining weight and no muscle loss. We haven't tested her for Colonitis, since it's more invasive than I'd like to go, but are treating her for it with her second round of metronidazole. She is on a grain/gluten-free diet of duck and sweet potato as well. However, there is still not change at all. The worst part is, she has these attacks at night, between 2-3 AM and if I don't sleep with one ear open, I end up with 1-2 piles of goo on my carpets. I don't know what to do. I've tried gating her in my kitchen but she knocked one down and chewed through another. I tried gating off the stairs to leave her the first floor, which is mostly hardwood and/or tile, but she won't have it. Who can blame her, she's slept next to or in my bed since I adopted her. The crate never worked, I think her previous owners used it for punishment.

I feel awful for thinking this, but sometimes I wish she was incurably ill because it would be easy for me to make a humane decision. But other than the nightime issues, she's a very happy, loving and content dog. I'm sure she misses being more active, but she's adjusted to the blindess well. So I am wondering if anyone has ever dealt with these kind of issues, or may have any opinions (good or bad) or advice for me. I can't imagine putting my dog down because my already crappy 2nd floor carpeting is ruined, but the strain it is putting on my family is too much sometimes. My husband has been a champ, considering he is not a dog lover, but knew Farrah and I were always a package deal. He's very affectionate with her, and never grumbles when he wakes up to find a mess, though he's far from thrilled. And then there are days where I don't want my 2-year old daughter to play in the backyard because the grass is soaked from all of the "ca-ca" I had to hose down.

Thanks for reading, I just needed to get it out. Everyone tells me that she's an old dog, but 10 1/2 is not old enough. *sigh*

Cindy
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Re: need help/advice

Post by Cindy »

Welcome and you came to the right place although I wish (for you) it was under different circumstances. I don't have experience with anything that you've mentioned but am certain other people will chime in who do. Just a couple of thoughts ... have you done a search on this site with some of the issue you've mentioned? I know we've probably discussed most of them at some point over the years. Try to limit the condition to one at a time and see what comes up. As for the messes in the morning, I've dealt with that having had several old dogs at the same time. If she's used to sleeping in your bedroom then start there. I would get some old shower curtains, waterproof plastic picnic table cloths, etc. and "redecorate" by covering your floor. At least she'll be near you and this might help alleviate some stress. You'll still need to clean up in the morning but it's easier to hose off a shower curtain than clean up carpeting. My only other thought is using a pamper pullup. That works really well if she's just incontinent but could be more of a mess with the diarrhea. Again, you'd have to clean her up in the morning, obviously. The other thing you might try is gating her in next to you bed with a protective floor covering down. At least she wouldn't wander all over your room. And finally, give your husband an extra hug for being so understanding. At least you have someone supporting you through this which helps alot.
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Barb Wright
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Re: need help/advice

Post by Barb Wright »

Hi Stephanie.....we're pleased to have you join us here, though as Cindy said, we wish it was under happier circumstances. Well, hopefully we can supply worthwhile and helpful advice along with a huge dollop of moral support. We have a great group of folks here and they will relay experiences and make suggestions.....somewhere in there may be just the help/advice you can use.

Farrah sound like a super Britt....keeping up a happy attitude with all the physically stressful events going on, especially the blindness, is just such the perfect example of the Britt spirit. I agree, 10 1/2 is old, but it's not OLD! However, ongoing health issues like Lyme disease, and continuous medications just seems to hasten the onset of agedness.

Without an actual diagnosis it's hard to really lock in on specific suggestions, but I'll pretend it is my dog and what I would do in these circumstances. First and foremost, being on drugs like Metronidazole kills not only bad bacteria in the gut but also kills the "friendly" bacteria which are soooo important for healthy digestion and immune support. For that reason I would put the dog on a probiotic, one capsule one hour after administering the Met. In fact, wouldn't hurt to sprinkle a capsule of probiotic on each meal as well. The gut just cannot settle down until a healthy bacterial balance is returned to it. In fact, since the Met apparently is not helping I would probably stop using it. Any drug that is not performing as anticipated after a reasonable or projected period of time I would want to discontinue and ask my vet to come up with something that does work.

The night time diarrhea sounds like a stress issue, and bloody mucousy stool is very indicative of an irritated gut, which stress alone can cause. However, if the diarrhea is a constant, day and night, then there is more afoot than just stress.....though it sounds like the blindness and diarrhea began around the same time...is that correct? If so a calming essence would help, but something as strong as Amitriptyline (an anti-depressant) sounds like over-kill to me. Too many nasty side effects, not the least of which are confusion, nervousness, insomnia, heart arrythmia, weight gain/loss, and much more. I understand it is used in dogs for anxiety, but with a possible side effect in some animals of nervousness it seems contraindicated if the desired calming effect has not been forthcoming. So, if it was my dog, I would want a calming essence that did not have any side effects, one that can be given as needed without fear of overdosing and without overloading the body with chemicals. Unfortunately, those don't work on every dog, but neither do the serious drugs that have collateral damage issues.

With all the chemicals duking it our in Farrahs' body, plus the stress of blindness onset and other body discomforts (Lyme) I can see where she would be a experiencing bouts of anxiety. Cindys' suggestions for night time closeness sounded really good. I'd implement those right away. I'd also divide Farrahs' meals up into several small meals rather than just one or two. Small meals throughout the day are much easier on the digestive system, especially one in distress. What you are feeding is a decent food, but for the next week or two I would feed a really bland diet of rice and chicken, the rice very well cooked, even gooey. If you cook the chicken with the rice it will help give flavor to the rice and make it more palatable. Encourage Farrah to drink water frequently throughout the day....this will mean more potty stops, but it helps keep the kidneys well flushed. With her well hydrated during the day it would allow you to cut off the water a couple hours before bedtime and make sure she eliminates right before bedtime so there are not 2-3 a.m. pee calls. This includes the hopeful thought that you are able to get the diarrhea under control.

Well, those are the suggestions that I come up with. As I said, without a diagnosis it's hard to be more specific and all you can do is keep trying.....I hope that some others will have some other ideas to run by you that might sound like worth a try. Let us know how it goes....we all care and want the best for Farrah, and a good sleep each night for all of you. Yep, your husband is truly a Champ !!
RIP Sweet Cassie 4/98 - 3/13

sumatra22
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Re: need help/advice

Post by sumatra22 »

Oh thank you both so much for your support and encouragement, it means a lot. Farrah is as Britt as they come, and the only regret I ever had was that I don't hunt, lol. I had to laugh Cindy, because I told my husband yesterday morning that I was going to line the bedroom with tarps and try to block her off! Great minds think alike. Unfortunately, that is just a temporary solution. The worst part is, she doesn't attempt to wake me to go out, though she still does to urinate which is odd. I guess with IBS you just gotta go when you have to go.

Barb, your advice is spot on, but unfortunately we took all those roads before taking meds. After her latest round of doxy for her lyme's disease, I purchased calming agents for ingestion and then plug ins. I used them once for my cat and they were amazing. But they had little to no affect on Farrah. She's always been a bit anxious, and has had bouts of diarrhea in the past, but never for more than a day or two and not of this consistency. She won't eat beef and rice, I can't afford to feed her lamb or duck daily and she's allergic to chicken. Yes, that's right, chicken! She won't even eat yogurt anymore, since I started her on it regularly. And she's been on a probiotic for quite sometime. This is why I'm at such a loss. I discontinued the amitriptilyne, because I didn't see any difference at all, didn't even make her lethargic at night, which is what I was hoping for. She eats a small meal in the morning, mid-afternoon and a snack in the early evening and I walk her nightly between 11 and midnight! Please don't think I'm making light of your advice, or excuses, because it's wonderful! I just feel like I exhausted every option which is why we tried the meds. The vets are wonderful, she's seen the doctors in our practice, and they are both so caring. I'm waiting for a call back from one of them, to discuss any other options, though I don't think there are anymore that don't involve extensive testing.

This is problematic to me on a few levels. First, I would hate to put her through invasive procedures that could conclude two things, she either has cancer or IBS which we are already treating for. Plus, and I hate to say this because Farrah is worth so much to me, but I'm just broke. I've spent nearly $2000 at the vet since February between visits, tests, meds, teeth cleaning and boarding when we were away for a long weekend. And that just sounds awful, doesn't it. "I can't afford my dogs colonoscopy and intestinal scraping" (actually, it sounds gross, lol) I have spoken to a few friends about this, all dog owners, and one friend said something that made me feel better since I'm on the fence about making a big decision. She reminded me that Farrah is happy right now, all things considered, and if I choose to make a humane decision then it's better to do it when she's the dog I've always known and loved, than as a sad and miserable ailing animal. I've had people tell me for months that I should put her down and I always dismissed it. But now, I'm beginning to wonder if it would be the best thing to do. Though harder than the thought of that is knowing that my 2-year old would say "where did the doggie go?" if she wasn't there to greet her in the morning. That's what she said when Farrah had a couple days in the hospital in March...sigh...

Wow, I'm quite the downer on this board. And again, thank you both for your wonderful thoughts and ideas. Once the vet calls, I'll pop back on with hopefully good news.

Cindy
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Re: need help/advice

Post by Cindy »

I hear you about the expense of more testing - been there, done that! On the other hand, wouldn't you kick yourself if there was some solution to all of this? Glad you're talking to the vet again and you might even ask about getting another opinion, just to see what they say. I don't know about your vet, but mine would certainly set up a payment plan and allow me to pay even a small amount every month. Just a thought ... Please keep us posted.
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Canned Ice
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Re: need help/advice

Post by Canned Ice »

If Farrah is allergic to chicken and won't eat beef, how about canned tuna or salmon? Buckley has a long history of a sensitive tummy combined with frequent dietary indiscretions so there have been a few times when I had no chicken for his bland diet so I would just throw a can of tuna over some rice and he'd gobble it down. I would just make sure the tuna or salmon is canned in water and has no added salt. Is Farrah allergic to turkey? Ground turkey and rice is also easy and cheap.
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sumatra22
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Re: need help/advice

Post by sumatra22 »

Well I spoke with the vet yesterday, and she had a few ideas. Cindy, they are good about payment plans (thankfully) cause that helped me out in the past. Dr. Curran is very sweet and Maple Hills is one of the best vet practices in my area, so I know she's in good hands. (I live in Allentown, PA) We took Farrah of the antibiotic because it's obviously not working. We are trying enzymes now, as it may be her pancreas. Her first bloodtest came back normal (about 6 months ago) and the doc didn't see the point of doing it again, she said many times the tests can be inconclusive but still be a pancreatic problem. If enzymes don't work, we could try steroids, though we both agree it's not the best option due to the side effects.

My only other option is a colon biopsy. Dr. Curran expressed her thoughts as both a vet and a pet owner. She said that if we did it, there could be hope, though the treatments would be aggressive. She said as a pet owner, if the dog were under 5 she'd probably do it, but at 10 1/2 she would probably hold off, too. The fact is that if the enzymes don't work we've nearly done everything and even if I had the testing done, I probably wouldn't want Farrah to go through treatment that might involve surgery. It's been rough enough for her these past months, I feel she deserves to keep some quality of life. We went for a nice walk yesterday and a car ride. She had a blast, so lets hope the pancreatic enzymes do the trick!

I am so happy I found this board, and thank you again for all of your advice.

@Canned Ice she will eat turkey and seafood. But Doc doesn't want to change her diet again. She's doing well (all things considered) with the duck and sweet potato diet. Especially since this dog will eat no rice, no matter what's covering it. I sometimes wonder if she's a mix, part Brittany and part cat! LOL So thank god for limited ingredient foods! thanks for the idea!!

Lisa
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Re: need help/advice

Post by Lisa »

sumatra22 wrote:Especially since this dog will eat no rice, no matter what's covering it. I sometimes wonder if she's a mix, part Brittany and part cat! LOL So thank god for limited ingredient foods! thanks for the idea!!
LOL! I have one of those two. My oldest dog (Madi, 15 years) will not eat rice. If I have to do a bland diet for her, I use pasta. She like penne or spiral pastas best.
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sumatra22
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Re: need help/advice

Post by sumatra22 »

Thanks @Lisa, I can't believe the Italian in me didn't think to try pasta! Well since she's been on the enzymes (only 24 hours) I found one, single and joyous turd in the yard, amongst the rest of the drippings. God, this is such a gross topic! Part of me is hopeful, but she had a really bad day today, including having a mess in the house right in front of hubby and I. Luckily it was downstairs on the hardwood floor. But still, this was after she'd been out. My sister was over today and described her as a 'hot mess" so I'm wondering if I'm as blind as the dog, as far as her condition goes.

I'm drinking a scotch right now, somehow I think this might help me make a level-headed decision...*sigh*

MaggieRocks
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Re: need help/advice

Post by MaggieRocks »

I don't have any advise for you, but bless you for doing everything you can to help Farrah. She is so lucky to have you.

Canned Ice
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Re: need help/advice

Post by Canned Ice »

Hopefully the enzymes will be just the ticket for Farrah. Buckley's on Pancrezyme for exocrine pancreatic insufficiency. He's gained almost 10 pounds since starting. He never had constant diarrhea but things have...hrmmm...firmed up a bit. The vet said I can expect more improvement after we reduce his food intake a bit once we get his weight back up. Two more pounds to go!
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Cindy
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Re: need help/advice

Post by Cindy »

10 lbs! WOW - excellent news.
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Re: need help/advice

Post by donald »

sumatra22 wrote:Hi, my name is Stephanie and I'm owned by a 10 1/2 year old orange and white Brittany named Farrah. She's been a dear sweet companion since I adopted her in March 2002. Unfortunately we are having some major problems and I am at a loss right now. Farrah is a true Brittany, and spent most of her days chasing birds and squirrels around our yard and local parkway. She has had tendon issues in her left front leg since she was 3, and broke the same ankle (I guess that's what it was) at the age of 5. Her exercise has slowed down since then, but she's always been happy and never one to complain. I started her on Metacam about a year ago for her arthritis, she won't go near rimadyl. I should also mention that she tested positive for Lyme's disease shortly before she broke her ankle in '05 and has had 2 recurrences since then, the latest in Febuary this year. We also discovered that she lost her sight, which was not apparent at first since she knows her way around so well. Sadly I felt like I overlooked this, but my vet agreed that she hid it well.

Since her blindness in February she's been having serious GI and anxiety issues. We started her on Amitriptilyne to hopefully ease her "panic attacks" at night. It doesn't seem to help. The GI issues are blatant, she hasn't had a solid bowel movement since March, and I'm talking liquid. Two cases were (pardon the gross description) bloody and mucousy. Though we haven't tested her for colon cancer, the vet feels strongly that she doesn't have it, due to her gaining weight and no muscle loss. We haven't tested her for Colonitis, since it's more invasive than I'd like to go, but are treating her for it with her second round of metronidazole. She is on a grain/gluten-free diet of duck and sweet potato as well. However, there is still not change at all. The worst part is, she has these attacks at night, between 2-3 AM and if I don't sleep with one ear open, I end up with 1-2 piles of goo on my carpets. I don't know what to do. I've tried gating her in my kitchen but she knocked one down and chewed through another. I tried gating off the stairs to leave her the first floor, which is mostly hardwood and/or tile, but she won't have it. Who can blame her, she's slept next to or in my bed since I adopted her. The crate never worked, I think her previous owners used it for punishment.

I feel awful for thinking this, but sometimes I wish she was incurably ill because it would be easy for me to make a humane decision. But other than the nightime issues, she's a very happy, loving and content dog. I'm sure she misses being more active, but she's adjusted to the blindess well. So I am wondering if anyone has ever dealt with these kind of issues, or may have any opinions (good or bad) or advice for me. I can't imagine putting my dog down because my already crappy 2nd floor carpeting is ruined, but the strain it is putting on my family is too much sometimes. My husband has been a champ, considering he is not a dog lover, but knew Farrah and I were always a package deal. He's very affectionate with her, and never grumbles when he wakes up to find a mess, though he's far from thrilled. And then there are days where I don't want my 2-year old daughter to play in the backyard because the grass is soaked from all of the "ca-ca" I had to hose down.

Thanks for reading, I just needed to get it out. Everyone tells me that she's an old dog, but 10 1/2 is not old enough. *sigh*



Hope your dog is over the worst now

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