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Friday, February 27, 2015

Readers, I need your input...

Regular readers know that the "mascot" of this blog is my dog Bella. She's an older dog with health issues, and there have been a couple of occasions in recent years when I feared that we were close to losing her. Fortunately, she has always pulled through. (A couple of years ago, when she needed an operation to remove two tumors, my readers were so generous that everyone in this household wept -- even yours truly, and I'm a surly old bastard.)

Today, I came home from lunch to discover a truly disturbing phenomenon: Bella was wandering around frantically, bumping into walls and chairs and everything else. I don't think she has gone blind, but I cannot be sure. She reacts to the sound of my voice only when I yell her name.

The dog seems to have completely lost her balance, as though her inner ear has completely malfunctioned. Worse, she would not stop moving -- she keeps trying to explore her world and get her bearings. Right now, I have her enclosed in an area consisting mostly of soft blankets.

There was also vaginal discharge, which has been a recurrent problem for the past couple of years.

I gave her an amoxicillin (an antibiotic, which she does not receive regularly) and a benadryl, which is usually enough to put her to sleep -- hell, it puts me to sleep. (On a  previous occasion, the vet once suggested benadryl, so I am presuming that it is safe for dogs.) For about half an hour, she kept wandering about in a very confused manner and had a difficult time staying still. I've also made sure that she has had plenty of water to drink.

Lately, her diet has consisted mostly of tuna. This morning, she had chicken and rice.

I'm writing this post to ask my readers if they have ever seen anything like this happen to their own dogs. Is this condition temporary?

I'll take her to the vet when I have the money, but right now, all I can do is try to keep her safe and calm.

One of my enemies once accused me of caring only about my dog and not about people. There's some truth in this. It's not that I dislike people, but I cannot deny my Bella is the truest joy in my existence.  Alas, she has reached the age where all I can do is plead for just one more year.

If anyone out there knows what is going on, please let me know. Her current disorientation is so difficult to watch.

This weekend, I was going to write part two of my memories of the Santa Susannah pass -- the rocky area that the Manson gang once called home. On my last trip there, I took Bella to explore those wonderful red rocks. She would leap from boulder to boulder like the Amazing Spider-Dog. What a great canine athlete!
Are her eyes "pinballing"? That is, sort of wildly rolling around. My older dog awoke one night with symptoms very similar to Bella's. It was an inner ear problem. (I feared a stroke). I believe it took a week or so for her to recover. Google "Old Dog Ear Syndrome" or vestibular disease to see if the symptoms match Bella's
I'm thinking that may be it...
I agree with Old Dog ear syndrome. I think they usually prescribe something like prednisone to bring it under control.

Good luck. Scary to watch but not deadly.
I am really grateful for the input. She doesn't have the eye twitch that (I have read) is common with vestibular syndrome, and her head is not tilted. She is eating, drinking a lot, but is incredibly restless.
Wow, I have never heard of Old dog ear syndrome. I'm hoping that Bella has that and will recover with treatment.

My brother's dog did go blind and was constantly bumping into things, but was not "restless."

My first dog, a doxie, did have a stroke. When we took her to the vet, she had a second stroke.

She then became restless, and was probably blind, to boot. It was a nightmare. She whimpered, she wouldn't sleep, she didn't seem to be able to be comforted. I stayed up with her, by her side and tucked her in, but she would not stay put. I stayed up all night for a couple of days till I was hallucinating, then finally gave the OK to put her down. :/

It doesn't sound as if Bella has the same symptoms, so I'm hoping it's this ear syndrome.

On my own hound-front, my darling doxie had his toe amputation, which was confirmed cancerous. But a slow-growing cancer, which likely was successfully excised. I'd never heard of toe cancer, either, but apparently it's common in canines?

"Half-paw" as I affectionately call him now, is finally feeling better, and walking on his healed paw. He had the "duck feet" that are "not considered a flaw" in dachshunds, so his half-paw actually looks like a normal paw compared to his natural oversized ones!

Keep us posted on Bella! Our canine companions are worth it!
I am so glad that the operation was successful with your doxie, zee. I've known dogs who have dealt with more severe amputations and adapted well.

I now don't think Bella has the ear syndrome because her eyes are not twitching. But she is definitely restless. She may have been blind for a while; I understand that this can happen after a stroke. Benadryl helps her rest, but there is only so much I can safely give her.
Take your lady to the vet, Joe.
See if there are any low-fee animal clinics or organizations in your area. I had a cat fixed by one of these places that actually drives a huge hospital on wheels throughout the city.She had the operation and shots for far less than my regular vet would charge and she recuperated much faster.
Don't give her the amoxycillin, Joe: first off, it goes bad after a while, or at least less effective. But more important, you need to give antibiotics for a definite time-span to kill off the baddies, and if you don't knock ALL of them out, the resistant ones will take over and REALLY do a number on her.

More important, please do take her to the vet, whatever the cost. The proper treatment may be very simple, but you'll never know otherwise, and she's likely to suffer as a result. I'm sure people here will be happy to help you -- and she's sure worth it!
Put up a tip jar, Joe. Don't be proud. We all love Bella.
Hoping for the best for you and Bella. Sending love from me and my friends. Please make that donate button work.
There is a vet on wheels in Baltimore....
hope all is well with bella joe..
I'm with Lincoln - Bella's mishpacha, Joe. Put up a damned tip jar and let us help.
Our Shitzu started drinking A LOT when I began feeding her blue buffalo several years ago.
I think too many sulfates in food can cause excessive drinking. I stopped feeding it to her and her excessive thirst went away.

The weird thing is all that drinking may be flushing out the kidneys which is not necessarily a bad thing in the short term, however all that drinking probably is excreting essential vitamins and nutrients as well which is probably not a good thing, especially if the excessive drinking continues.\

Any opinions out there on giving CoQ10 to Bella?
Afraid the best help you're going to get is going to come with cost. Find a vet, be honest about what you can afford, and see what comes of it.

She's an old dog, and has had a full life. Hope this ends positively for all of you.
Alessandro, when Blue Buffalo first came out I was giving demos for them and tried it out with my doxie. He didn't like it (and is generally a nonfussy eater). I was less than impressed with them and quit working for them, because I'm quaint in that I have to believe in a product I'm promoting. After your comment I gave a look-see for other reviews, and am astounded to see a class action against them. They're actually causing pet deaths and disorders....and they now source some of their ingredients from China!!! I spend hours to make sure my pet is not getting anything from China. Thank goodness you kept your pet off BB. Apparently the problem has gotten worse in the past few months.

As to CoQ10, again, I've worked for one brand, Qunol, to promote CoQ10 in Costco. I had regular customers who bought it for their dogs. I gave some to my mom, and now she doesn't miss a day and swears by it....she's on statins, so it's particularly vital for her. Be sure your CoQ10 says "ubiquinol" which is the more accessible form of the enzyme. It's good support for your heart, energy level, leg cramps and blood pressure. It would not harm a dog and may help with energy level. It may affect the bowels...I can't speak to that because I've not tried it on my dog. It's expensive!
Sorry to hear this, Joseph. My dogs have all lived long lives. But it's always too short and doesn't get any easier no matter how many times you go through it. The disorientation reminds me of our 12 year old collie who [towards the end of things] knew where her feed bowl was and the AC vent in the hallway. Just the essentials!

Can't offer any advice other than making her as comfortable as possible. That may mean a vet trip where they can hook her up to IV fluids. If it's her inner ear that would be treatable. But the symptoms could be indicative of a stroke or a spreading cancer. Or just an aging body which gets us all on the end, one way or the other.

Best to you and Bella. I know this hurts like hell. Been there.


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I've been hoping to find some better news about wee Bella - please let us know what's needed - if we can help with a few pennies. I fear the worst from no news though. Thinking of you both and crossing fingers.

Low cost test would be a vitamin K shot to see if that replaces lost nutrients.
Alessandro, I'm so sorry to hear of your dear companion's passing. I do know that animals in pain and older animals lose interest in food, so don't regret giving her anything she would actually eat. I was just wondering about cat vs dog food, but have not researched it yet, nor CoQ10 for dogs.

I'm still in shock about Blue Buffalo....was your dog failing prior to having that food?

Don't get me started on vets. I should've done my own vets seemed so tentative on cancer I thought they'd made it up. I mean, toe cancer? Finally I looked it up. Real and very tricky. So far so good after the amputation.

I do hope Joe is working on the article he promised us and that Bella is on the mend....

prowlerzee, thanks for your comments. Our dog started having dying attacks shortly after I stopped the blue buffalo. She would make a yelping sound, then fall over. I would quickly pick her up and that seemed to get her going again. I told the vet about this and the vet said my picking her up and bouncing her like a baby had nothing to do with getting her heart pumping more normally. So the next time it happened she just lay there on the ground, helpless. I couldn't stand it and I picked her up, and she got better almost immediately.
Even though I took her off of the blue buffalo, she was itching so much I even tried giving her cat food, which she loved. Howver, the nutrients in cat food are different than dog food so that might not have been a good idea.
I had really poor communication with the vet's office just prior to her passing. I think she needed vitamin supplements for her heart and they had screwed up my phone number in their computer system and then not fixed it even after I watched them correct it. I was waiting for a call that never came. Out of desperation I had her hair cut to make sure she was not hot. She died later that same day after being such a good girl while getting her hair cut. She lived to 14 years of age but I think the Blue Buffalo zapped her even though I took her off of it after a short while. She developed this hesitation in her breathing right around the time of the Blue Buffalo and that never went away. I wish I had tried the C0Q10, I am of the opinion that when the heart does not have the right nutrient levels it just gets very weak and can stop, especially in an older dog.
Prowlerzee, I deleted my prior comment that you responded to and then slightly rewrote it so it is now below your comment.

Age is an issue, and I noticed over the final year of her life that she slowly would walk less and less distance on her walks.

However, the excessive drinking and the hesitation in the breathing seemed to occur during and after I had fed her the blue buffalo. It was given to me as a sample in a pet food store and then I bought a few more because she seemed to eat it ok. But she just started drinking so much I could not believe it. Her kidneys check out fine, possibly because she flushed them so well from all the water intake. However, I believe that led to vitamin deficiencies. They were supposed to give her a vitamin k shot the day before she died and I think they did not do it. There probably is no real way to know for sure what might have extended her life since it would require two identical dogs and each gets a different treatment, but the blue buffalo definitely made her thirsty and her end of life symptoms started soon after but might have been postponed with more vitamin supplements.
I only bring all of this up to make sure Joe tries something relatively low cost if cost is an issue.
guys, I have to say that I am stunned to read what you've said about Blue Buffalo, since it is a highly-regarded food. (And pricey.) But I was stunned to learn that Nutro, which Bella used to live on, had had some problems.

Right now, she just seems to want chicken. So I'm following her lead.
Chicken and rice is considered a staple combo for dogs. Be careful of chicken only because the salt content can be too high, especially in the outer skin.
The Blue Buffalo incident happened in early 2010, so BB has had 5 years to clean up their act, maybe they did?
But if they are outsourcing to China, that may not be the case. Sixty Minutes just ran a piece on Lumber Liquidators and their China laminate wood flooring manufacturers with formaldehyde levels that were way above the legal limit.
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