This will be really quick since I'm writing this Wednesday night after a very early morning and another vet visit with Lucky, and I'm freaking beat. Between work, Lucky, my own dogs, major PMS and the beginnings of a sore throat (first time I've been sick all year), I just want a nap!
To recap: Lucky was found late Saturday afternoon, taken to the vet on Monday, prescribed a good bit of meds (2 wormers, rabies vaccine, ear ointment, ear wipes, eye ointment, medicated shampoo, medicated spray, Ivermectin) for a severe case of mange and is severely emaciated. First dose of meds was given Monday evening, second Tuesday morning around 7:30.
Tuesday early evening she had some major balance issues and body/head jerking that I worried was a seizure. Took her in, and the vet thought she was having some kind of vestibular disease issue brought on by her ear ointment. She had blood drawn, and her levels were quite low for a healthy dog but not too unexpected for one in her condition. Prescribed iron/vitamin drops 2x a day, flushed her ears out, and discontinued the use of the ear ointment. Noticed swelling in her left paw, but wasn't sure of the cause.
Fast forward to Wednesday morning, and she was able to focus better, but her twitching was the same, as was the stumbling. New symptom was knuckling over on the aforementioned left paw while walking. Able to drink, eat small bits of chicken breast, and peed. Responsive to motion and voice, wanted to be pet.
Took her in again that evening, and saw the head vet for a fresh set of eyes. Here is the general, quick run down:
They don't know what is causing the vestibular disease. It could be any number of things or a combination, including:
- Med reaction
- Birth defect (unlikely as it hadn't presented before Tuesday)
- Shocking her system (adequate food and water, warmth, care)
- Severe ear infection (which she has)
- Too much building up since her body has basically forgotten how to process nutrients
- Hookworms dying off (rare, but can cause this)
It could be gone today, it could take two weeks to stop, or it could be something she has for life (severity depending). With having no medical history on her and her having so, so much wrong, we're going into this blind.
The swollen paw and knuckling over is most likely do to nerves being compressed and inadequate fluid flow to the area. Plan for that is to get her moving more, and manually move her limbs.
Our plan of action right now is to feed even smaller, more frequent amounts in the hopes of gently easing her body into the idea of food, just like you would with a human starvation victim. We're continuing with the vitamin drops 2x a day, her last worming will be given today, as well as the medicated spray for her skin several times a day. We're also continuing with the antibiotic since she's at such a high risk and we don't want to add infection to the mix. Aside from that, all other drugs have been stopped until we can A) get more weight on her and B) try and rule out what may be causing the vestibular disease. We'll also be trying Dramamine tomorrow to see if that helps with her motion sickness.
We're also going to have to get her stretching more and flexing her skin, so she won't loose what little suppleness she has and can hopefully gain more.
She goes in on Friday for another blood test to see where her levels are at. If they're risen, that's the ideal. If they're the same or a point or two lower, not ideal but not a huge cause for concern. If they're significantly lower....well, we'd be looking at a more serious issue and would need to evaluate the situation depending on several factors.
This vet was very frank and honest, and we spoke at length again as to whether or not we are being cruel or selfish trying to save Lucky, rather than having her humanely euthanized. While it's very difficult to asses a dog's quality of life you've known for only 4 days, she is still: eager to eat and drink, likes to be pet and talked to, enjoys being outside, wags her tail and wants to be near you. All of those are very good signs that she's still able and willing to fight for her life, and the vet believes that she could make a full recovery if things pan out right. She's by no means out of the woods yet.
We have seen some tiny improvements, and in a case like Lucky's, that's a monumental success. The way the vet described it, right now she's at a plateau; she improved, then leveled out. What we're looking for is another improvement, small as it will be. What we don't want to see is a decline. If there's a decline, we're going to have to clinically asses if this is fair to her. Right now, she has a fighting chance.
The first hurdle is the blood test tomorrow. If that comes back okay, the next two weeks will tell what Lucky needs. My whole family could use whatever prayers/vibes/thoughts/POTP you have.
It's crazy how attached I've gotten to this dog already. I love her as much as Pike or Livvy (Nola's in a class all her own, and always will be). This is one of the hardest things I've ever done. I just hope she pulls through.
Closing out with good news!
- Her conjunctivitis is nearly completely gone
- The sore on her hip looks better
- She's gained a pound
- Her skin is less irritated/inflamed
- She is healing, just slowly
- Vet didn't hear a heart murmur this time
- The twitching/tremors are a very mild case and shouldn't be causing her any pain or discomfort
- Dachshund Mommy