Tuesday, February 27, 2018

I'm glad I waited to post about Katie...

...because if I had posted last week, well, things were kind of grim then.  And now they're looking up!

Katie has been having some issues, which I noticed most when she was sleeping right next to my pillow last December.  I could hear her heart beat so loud, so fast, so erratic.  I did some on-line research and got advice from friends whose dogs had died from heart issues.

We were in Arizona at the time and went to a new vet to have her examined on December 30.  He wanted to do so many tests and said he couldn't give me a diagnosis unless I had all the tests performed, and it was going to be expensive.  We had a pretty good conversation about my options, one of which was to "wait and see and keep a close eye on her."  That's the option I chose.

And for a month things seemed fine.

The first week of February when we got to San Diego, Katie and I were parked in my son's parking lot for his shop.  We got there on a Sunday and Katie couldn't wait to go into the office to see Tom.  She went to the door, looked in and waited, but no one came to get her.  😟 

When we got up Monday morning Tom's car was there, so we got ready and went to the office door.  Tom saw us coming and met us at the door.  Katie was so excited.  She ran around all inside the shop office, she was so happy to see Tom.  Then when we were talking right outside his office door, I heard a strange moan/whine coming from the office, and Tom and I went in to see Katie on the floor.  She was laying on her side, making this strange noise, her four legs were stretched out and her head and neck were stretched up and to the side. Tom thought she had died.  I thought she was having a seizure.  We waited for a minute or so, talking to her and I knelt down next to her so she'd know I was there, if she was conscious.  It was pretty scary.

Slowly she came back to normal.  Her tail wagged and she got up slowly and very quickly was walking around again.

That was how it started, or at least my awareness of something REALLY being wrong.  I did a lot of on-line research and thought she had congestive heart failure (CHF).  I really thought I was going to lose her and was preparing myself.

Katie was fine the rest of the week we were in San Diego, and we left to travel to New Mexico on Friday afternoon.  All was well until the following Thursday night when I woke up at 2:00 am to Katie making that weird whining noise again, and I saw she was having another episode.

After it was over, I took her outside twice.  She wouldn't let me lift her up into our bed on the bunk, so I pulled out the couch and got the bedding and we slept on the couch/bed for two nights.  It was too cold overnight to let her sleep by herself on the couch, and I wanted to be close just in case.

The next morning I made a Vet appointment at Sierra Veterinary Services (1607 N Date St. Truth or Consequences, NM 87901 - 575-894-6773) in TorC for the following Monday.

Katie's vet there, Danielle Dawkins, DVM, examined her, took three x-rays of her chest, and said she was not yet in CHF, but she did have a significant heart murmur, it was so loud when she examined her chest that the vet couldn't hear anything else going on, but she assumed Katie also was having kidney issues and was retaining fluids.  When she showed me the x-rays, she pointed out where she could see fluid.

She wasn't sure from my explanation whether Katie was having seizures or fainting (syncope).  But after seeing her chest x-rays and the size of her heart, she said it was heart disease causing fainting, not a brain issue causing seizures.  Click on this link for a description of syncope.

She prescribed a heart pill, a water pill and Hills Prescription dog food, the k/d one which is low sodium.  Dr. Dawkins said either the heart or kidney dog food would work, both were low sodium and that's what Katie needed.

Katie has a real problem eating anything but Royal Canin dog food for Chihuahuas - anything else gives her intestinal issues, and she vomits up the food and has diarrhea.  But she has to eat a low sodium food now, so we were going to have to change things up.  This was going to be fun!  Dr. Dawkins warned me the water pill would have her drinking more water and going potty more.  Night and Day.

When she started with the new meds and food (1/3 new food to 2/3 old food to start) we were getting up in the freezing cold nights a time or two, once three times.  Then things seemed to settle down and the last five nights we've only had to get up to go outside once.

Katie hasn't had a fainting episode since that second one and it's been over three weeks.  I know there will be more and I know she will get worse, but for now the meds and Rx food seem to be keeping her stable.

I've stopped all her store-bought treats except her daily rawhide chew toy, her favorite, and substituted bananas (which I use to hide her pills in), chopped apples, baby carrots and frozen green beans.  They are all good for her and salt free, and she LOVES them.  She also gets 1/2 of a Hills k/d cookie morning and night. So everything she is eating is low or no sodium.

For now all is good and Katie has lost weight, about two pounds which were probably fluid, and she wants to walk again.  This morning we walked a mile and a half, and she is leading me now.  That's great!

Many, many thanks to Kim (The Empty Attic) for all the time she's spent answering my questions and giving me the benefit of her experiences with her beautiful dog, Doris who had the same symptoms, and who Kim and her husband John lost last year.  So, so hard to lose a dog we've had so long, and who we loved so much.  Thanks, Kim!  You were such a big help, you gave me good information and also gave me hope.  Both were very much needed.

Tons of thanks also to Sandie Dixon (WHERE ARE THE DIXONS TODAY?)  When Sandie saw on my blog that Katie was having some health issues she e-mailed me and we corresponded back and forth about meds, where to get them, the best prices, etc.  She and Jim lost their Skittles last year and still miss her like crazy.  Skittles also had heart disease and was on the same meds that our vet prescribed.  Thanks, Sandie - it's not only the information you provided that helped so much, but also knowing that someone who's been through this cares so much.  

Katie has a good prognosis, she could still be a full-timing canine for two or three years.  She turned 12 on February 20, so she's not that old for a small dog.  Hopefully she'll celebrate her 15th birthday with me.  That's my plan!

From Me and Katie, have a great week, everyone!