Friday, July 29, 2011

Canine Puzzles

Charley's final blood test came back and all is clear - we were concerned her symptoms might indicate neuro-cryptococcosis, but she tested negative.  So that brings us back to either the brain tumor, or a stroke.  However, strokes are quite rare in dogs, and she didn't show other typical symptoms such as head tilting, eating from only one side of the bowl, or any loss of bladder control as would usually happen during a stroke of sufficient magnitude to affect her so severely.

There are two types of strokes - those in which the blood flow to the brain is impeded (ischemic) and those in which there is actual bleeding in the brain (hemorrhagic).  When we look at the causes of each kind of stroke, we have already tested for most of them - such things as kidney problems, diabetes, infection, high blood pressure, etc.  By the time we eliminate the causes that don't fit, we are left with one thing which can be the cause of either ischemic or hemorrhagic strokes - tumors.  So, whether her problems were caused directly by a tumor in the brain, or by a tumor somewhere in the body that led to a stroke,  is somewhat immaterial.  What remains to be seen is whether it recurs.  Tumors can shift, brains do accomodate, a blood vessel that is squeezed by a tumor can become functional again as the person moves about - at least for a while, until it grows some more.  So the prognosis is unknown - she could go tomorrow or she could be here for another year or more.

And medical tests are imperfect.  It is entirely possible that it was some sort of bacterial infection despite the results of the blood and urine tests, and that the drugs she is presently on are wiping it out - because today, our Charley is almost 100% back to how she was before this all went south.  She is walking as stable as she ever walks (which hasn't been great for quite some time), she is no longer bumping or stumbling, she managed a walk around the 'half-block" (ie, using the back lane) today, and she appears to have regained her vision or at least much of it. 

It is a puzzle.  All we can do is continue to give her the very best care we can and to love her forever.

As for Pepper, she and the cat have made their peace after two or three chasing incidents.  Pepper was just curious about this little furry thing running past, and now that Allie understands she means no harm, she has stopped hiding and is strutting her stuff right past Pepper's nose without incident.

Pepper is somewhat restless and still waiting for her former mama to come for her - she checks the window, goes to the door, goes to the gate.  But she will settle in time, and she is certainly an easy dog to have around.  Today we took two walks around the neighbourhood - the first just around the block, and the second one to the beach and back.  She was pretty tired at the end of the second one, but does walk beautifully on leash after the first block of trying to drag me into the bushes.  She is, for sure, part hound!!

The Puzzle with Pepper is also health related.  At certain angles she is nothing but skin and bone, but she has a big pot belly and is constantly hungry.  Okay, the hound in her may also be why she is always checking out the kitchen - but combined with the enormous quantity of water she drinks and copious peeing, as well as other symptoms, Cushings comes to mind. On the other hand, if she has been malnourished and dehydrated, she may simply need time to rehydrate and fill out.  In fact, her drinking is quite a bit less today than yesterday, when she went through several litres of water.  Today I have only refilled the dishes once so far. I am feeding her small amounts of homecooked chicken and rice (with digestive enzymes and probiotics added) every three hours.  Tonight I will start introducing her to top quality dog food as well .  Hopefully she will start to fill out, and those huge, runny, corn-filled poops will become much more 'normal and easier to clean up!! Sometime next week she will likely have a vet check and then we will have a better idea of her needs and her future.

Sadie and Allie would like you to know that they are both doing well (although Sadie did have another exercise-induced collapse the other day, after a fairly short and not very fast walk).  They think they should each have extra treats to compensate for the attention being given to Charley and Pepper.  I dunno....what do you think?


nancyturtle said...

Did you or your vet consider Canine vestibular syndrome as the cause of Charley's symptoms? It looks like a stroke initially, but the symptoms begin to resolve rather quickly in many cases.

Susan said...

Oh Yes! Extra treats! From Oreo & Susan in way too hot Texas! Wish we could visit your wonderful island.

Sherri said...

I'm so glad to hear that Charley is feeling better! And happy that you were able to open your home to Pepper too. Cushings was my first thought when you described her, but it would be tough to test her for it right now; stress throws the results off and she's obviously had a lot of that. I hope she settles in easily and is just skinny because of her past circumstances.

Jean said...

Hi Nancyturtle - yes we did both consider that and ruled it out as there was no head tilt, no wall hugging, no circling, no eye drifting/flickering. Also the fact she was pressing her head against the wall (straight on) is symptomatic of pain in the frontal lobes. And her vision was clearly completely gone as she bashed straight into walls head first even after the drunken stagger was over.

Susan, Texas is definately too hot for me! We've been complaining about our un-summer here, but compared to the scorcher across most of the rest of North America, I think I better not complain. You and Oreo are welcome to visit any time!
Sherri, she is such an easy dog - I can't wait to see her full personality once she gets used to living here. I've yet to see her tail wag, and that will be cause for celebration!

Anonymous said...

I'm so glad to hear the good news about Charley and also that Pepper and Allie have worked out their differences.
Re Peppers drinking. Do you think she may have diabetis?