Like a walk through the country side living on a small farm is full of daily surprises, sometimes wonderful and amazing, and other times puzzling and sad. I hope you will walk with me as I live out my dream of living on this tiny farm. You will come to know the dogs, cats, Shetland sheep and chickens that make up this farm and what goes into keeping them happy and healthy. Come and join the journey with me.
Saturday, February 05, 2011
I had talked to the vet the day before, and was told to just bring him in when I could get out, since the vet was the only staff there at the time.
So around noon we headed into town. The diagnoses was about what I figured. When you are snowed in and have Internet access you can do lots of research. I also want to think Michelle and her vet husband for their words as well.
Boone has been diagnosed with Dilated Cardiomyopathy (short version--DCM occurs most often in middle-aged, male, large and giant breed dogs, such as the Doberman Pinscher, Great Dane, and Irish Wolfhound, but DCM can affect dogs of any age and many other than these breeds. Often males are predisposed or more likely to be affected at a young age. In addition to the large-breed dog, DCM is recognized regularly in a variety of spaniel breeds, and the condition occurs sporadically in small canine breeds. The precise genetic basis for DCM has not been demonstrated. The four most common clinical presentations of DCM are 1) occult DCM; 2) cardiac arrhythmia (see above); 3) sudden cardiac death; and 4) congestive heart failure (CHF). Or you can click on the link above and it tells a more detailed version.
This is a relatively common disease in this breed of dog who in my opinion have a way too short life span and way too many health issues as it is.
Boone hasn't been 'up to par' for awhile now, but I attributed it to a number of things, not picking up on the whole picture. The cold weather affected him badly and I laid the blame for his symptoms squarely on the feet of winter.
He has been rather depressed, his appetite has decreased and other more subtle can't put my finger on it things. Some of this also coincided with Ashley going into heat as well, and that is always a hard time around here, as all normal routines and actions go out the window. (And yes, Ash may be bred, and puppies soon if she took. Good grief...)
Boone is, by my reckoning around six now. I have had him five years (how that went by fast) and he was probably close to a year old when I found him. Six years for this breed puts them into the 'slowing down, getting older' bracket.
So, for now we have him on medications--three to be exact. Sixteen pills a day. This will decrease once we get the proper dosage for his size. (Not many dogs around here that need heart meds that weigh 130 lbs.) Should have the correct pills by next weekend. These will work in the meantime, just means more to poke down his throat. He hates pills and you can't 'hide' them in anything, so the only choice is to open that big slobbery mouth and throw them in...) He is on Furosemide (diuretic) Digoxin (directly increases the contracting of the heart) and Enalapril (ACE Inhibitor). There are all kinds of possible side affects, so time will tell how it goes. If they work they should have a dramatic impact on his quality of life. It will likely take some time to figure out the correct dosage on a couple of them.
Prognosis, providing he responds to the drugs is 6 months to 24 months of decent quality life. If he makes it to the upper figure then that puts him at about a typical lifespan for a DDB.
Right now, I think the best thing is to take it a day at time, and enjoy what we have. He is resting very comfortably and loves being a 'house dog'. Once I go back to work, he will have to be an 'outside' dog again at least during the day. Being on the diuretics he will have to urinate allot, so being in the house ten hours is not an option. I asked if his activity needs to be restricted, but the vet said that it's recommended that the dogs are allowed to do as they normally would. I'll probably not let him do as much of that silly running the fence after the neighbors dogs, but other than that, I'm going to let him have his life as long as he can.
I'm just very relieved that I finally got him out to the vet. It has been a long week. I'm exhausted and feel like I haven't accomplished anything, other than beating back one crisis at a time.
Hopefully I'll get another 'snow post' up soon, and relate the whole driveway debacle (which was plowed by a a kind neighbor last night at about five p.m.!)
I do have to tell you though a little story about my Mom and an old school friend. My Mom called the guy who ended up blading our driveway after we finally figured out who it was that had such a nice little tractor outfit. She talked to his wife, (who is the gal I went to school with), and evidently told her about how I was trying to get out and get Boone to the vet. The gal and Mom hatched up a plan whereby she would drive over here and get me and Boone and take us to the vet...in the end though they couldn't scheme their way into how to get close enough (as Boone couldn't walk too terribly far in the snow) and still turn around. Fortunately I was able to get out myself later that day.
When her husband came that night to plow the drive, my truck was just barely in off the road, and blocking the drive. That is as far as I could get in before getting stuck (I could still back out). I had no idea the guy was anywhere around, because my watchdogs were both snoozing in the house, until he knocked on the door!
I opened the door and of course Boone and Ashley tried to push me out of the way to see who it was. Boone had a pink blankie draped over his back, and stuck his massive head out the door. "Come in, come in" they seemed to say.
Never mind me, of course, the guy reaches out and scratches Boone's head and asks, 'are you feeling better, big guy?'
Just goes to show you, there are still some awful good people out there, and animal people are some of the best.