Wednesday, December 7, 2011

She’s a traveling gal

Katie really loves to travel.  Just the anticipation of going is enough to get her really hyped up. She hangs on every movement towards the door and every word that sounds like “go”.  In short, she is usually on the road before we are.

No different this time for our return trip to Florida but I am afraid that this time her anticipation may have caught up with her.  This morning, at 4:18 am she began a 90 minute seizure after 72 days since her last one.  She was lying between our feet on the bed and it may have been triggered by my suddenly waking her from a deep sleep with my foot while I was turning over.  Being startled awake from a deep slumber has frequently triggered her seizures if the other precursor conditions are in place and this time, unfortunately, they were.

She has had much worse seizures but it has been more than 6 months since she had one that lasted this long so it was bad enough.

Otherwise, Katie has been enjoying our adventures and travels. Once we are on the road, she schedules her time lying on the floor, riding on the bunk looking out of the windows, sleeping on the bunk seats and riding in the lap of whomever is not driving.  A pretty cushy travel style if you ask me.



Friday, November 25, 2011

Day 62 and still seizure free !!

Yep, the days just keep rolling by and Katie has still not had another seizure.  This is a real relief because we finally had to treat her with an anti-flea/tic/heartworm med and in the past some of those have been linked to seizures within a couple of days of treatment.

This time, the vet suggested a new product called Revolution. it is a spot applied Flea, tick and heatworm preventative. We put off trying it until the cold weather started making Katie a parasite magnet.  So far, it has worked and is still working as we do occasionally see a dead flea on her. But best of all, it has not triggered a seizure.

Her ears are also doing great. This is the longest period that she has gone without daily scratching at her ears since we got her nearly 4 years ago.  The skin in her ears now looks smooth and white and not inflamed and they don’t smell bad anymore.  This is really great news for us all.

A recent grooming got her trimmed out for the holidays and she is always a happy little girl.

On a little more somber note, The beautiful Smudge of the Wandering Sylville blog, finally went home after 14 years. She is missed by all who even just knew of her. Happy trails, Smudge.



Friday, October 14, 2011

Happy little girl

Katie is doing fine. Her ear infections seem to be all cleared up. She is still on the meds, though, and that seems to be causing her to drink and eat a lot more. We go back to the vet, today, for  the followup and I will ask about that but I am sure it is just a side effect.

One thing that has always been difficult is getting her to let me process her ears.  She would go hide if I even mentioned them.  Since this infection, she sheepishly but cooperatively lets me do the daily treatments and does not even pull away.  Once this is all over, we will be working a little bit on them every day or two.  Just some drops and a good rinse with EpiOtic 3 times a week and this should not happen again.

Boy!  I am sure glad she is feeling better.   Makes me feel better, too.



Saturday, October 8, 2011

Katie Rules Again !

Katie Rules Again !
Katie is doing very well. Her problem was a double ear infection complicated by both bacterial and fungal infections. We have her on several medications and she is her old self, again. Actually, maybe better than her old self.   She is definitely hearing better and responding to even softly spoken words. Before the treatments it had gotten to where we had to almost whistle to get her attention. Now, just softly speaking her name gets her immediate attention.

We have always struggled with her earlier problems and are delighted that we have finally found something that has actually stopped them, at least for the moment.  Once the medications are finished we will have to see if they continue to stay clear.

For sure, we will have to up our dedication to actively treating her ears every couple of days instead of the usual once a week or so.  I don't know if it was the change in the climate here in Florida that made them worsen but we now have a handle on how to prevent this from happening again.

Most important, we have our Katie back in good health and happy.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

One Sick Puppy

We have been holding our collective breath for the past couple of days because Katie has been in obvious distress.  She has been hesitant to eat, overnight, she let out a yelp like she was being hurt terribly! 

It turns out that she was.  Cock-a-Poos have an inherent problem in their genetics… they don’t have good ear ventilation and they grow a lot of hair down in their ear canals which makes the problem worse.

Every time she gets groomed, they clean her ears and pluck all the hair out to keep them as open as possible. Unfortunately, like Cocker Spaniels, her ears have no stiff cartilage to perk them up even a little bit. We knew from the beginning that this was going to be a never ending fight to keep her ears clean and disease free. This past few weeks, we have failed and she has suffered ear infections that are a mix of bacterial and yeast contaminants that have both ears inflamed and her right ear completely plugged up.

Maybe it has been due to our being in Florida instead of North Carolina that has rendered our normal ministrations inadequate. I sure hope so because I really can’t stand the thought that we might have been neglectful of her care and caused her to have such pain that could have been avoided.

After a day of her not eating or drinking and not wanting to move about much we took her to a nearby emergency vet that has gotten her back on track with some antibiotics, antifungal, pain meds for a few days and a thorough ear cleaning.

He said that beyond a certain point, the ear irritation is self accelerating because the inflammation causes the ear canals to narrow more and more and that reduces the ventilation even more.

This will not happen to our little girl ever again! Though we thought we knew what needed to be done and what to look for as symptoms of this sort of problem, we now know that there are other indicators that she needs deeper attention than we have been giving her ears.

We have been told that there are some laser treatments that can greatly reduce the likelihood of this happening in the future. That might be the only option if our best efforts can’t prevent this from happening again.

Meanwhile, she is almost back to her old self. She is eating and drinking ok and even just came out to ask me when I was coming to bed. I told her I needed to finish this post and then will come to bed so she climbed up in my recliner behind me and lay down to wait.  Talk about pressure. I have learned to never tell her something that I am not going to do because she considers every word a promise and won’t let me forget it.



Friday, September 23, 2011

102 Days Seizure Free!!!!!

The last time I tried to brag about how long Katie had gone without a seizure (100 days), my blogging was interrupted by her going into seizure behind me on the floor.  This time I waited a couple more days to be sure she was over the hump before cheering.
PS:  Added 12 hours later:   What is with this?  12 hours after I posted this item about her being 102 days free of seizures, she has one!  yep!  5:30am SUnday morning she started seizing.  She was sleeping in her usual place at the top of the bed and woke us with her trembling. Overall, it took about 30 minutes for her to get through 2 bouts of rigor and the panting.
After that, she gradually settled into a calm with some swallowing. I got up to whiz and then came out to do some computer. Less than 5 minutes later, she wanted out here, too, and was pacing which is her way of walking it off.  I took her out and she mostly just walked around with me but not stumbling at it.  I had noticed a day or two ago that when she was walking on pavement I would occasionally hear the toenails on her hind feet drag the pavement. In the past, this seems also to be a clue she is getting close to having a seizure. 
The irony of this is that as we were moving RV sites, yesterday, I had already disconnected the water supply and she needed water so Mer ran the pump to fill her bowl and bottle from the water tank….. which was still carrying only Raleigh water!  Tell me, is that coincidental, too? She filled them through the filter, too, so if it is something in Raleigh water the trigger is not filtered out by this carbon block filter.  The rest of the day she was also “edgy”.
Honestly, since we left North Carolina, she has been a far more stable little girl in a number of ways.  There have been a few times over these past weeks that she has seemed to be in "kindling" mode but one can never be sure until a full blown seizure actually happens.  We have tried to anticipate by giving her an extra Zonisimide about 12 hours into her 24 hour dosing cycle. Whether it forestalled a seizure or not, we will never know but it sure seems that her pre-symptoms would fade in a matter of hours after the med.

Her prescribed dosage is 2/day but we found that she seemed to be seizure free on just 1 per day as long as special circumstances did not occur. These include her being shocked or surprised (like when sound asleep and   a door slams) or when she gets too excited .   Another component has frequently been when it has been quite a few hours since she last relieved herself.  It's almost as if her trying to hold it somehow contributed to the seizure.

She often goes from 9 or 10pm until noon of the next day without asking to go out but if she does ask, we take her out right away.

We also went back onto the Canidae Senior / Overweight food she was on after her surgery.  It has a much lower protein content and the doctors thought that would reduce the buildup of ammonia in her blood which leads to seizures.  We had gotten away from it for vthe sake of variety but since she has been back on it, no seizures. But we have also not been in North Carolina for quite a few weeks so who knows what actually has made a difference. Could it have been something in the air or the water?

I am just grateful that she is not going through these life threatening seizures every few weeks.  It is a relief for our minds and our hearts.

As for the future, we will see. It has usually been in the fall that her seizure frequency has picked up so we are watching very closely for any telltales that she is warming up to having another one.  If she doesn't, then I am going to blame North Carolina, openly.


Thursday, August 11, 2011

Seizure Free for 60 days!

Since we started Katie on Zonisimide she has gone much longer periods without a seizure and very little, if any, personality distortion.

The recommended dosage is 2 pills/day but we have found that most of the time, just one per day is managing to keep her seizure free for 30 days or more.

Her longest stretch so far was 100 days but she has made 60 days+ a few times, too.

I think we have gotten better at spotting her preseizure behaviors and tics and when we suspect that she is warming up to a seizure, we go to the recommended dose for a few days.  There is really no way short of a long history of extended periods seizure free but so far, this seems to be working for her.

Another thing that we have done is in her diet.  She has always been on Canidae brand but for variety, we were switching between them.  Before her surgery to correct her hepatic shunt, we were just using the Senior and Overweight formula food because it has less protein in it. The other lines have more and may have been contributing to her seizure kindling factor.

One thing that has seemed to present just prior to seizures has been treatment with heartworm preventative. Some other meds, including the original meds for the seizures, have also seem to increase the frequency and severity of the seizures.  Even the flea/tick prevention meds have seemed to correlate to some degree so we watch how things are going and try to keep these to a minimum during higher risk periods of infection.

All in all, she seems to be happy and most of her separation anxiety seems to have dissipated, too, although, she may be just substituting one behavior for another by now tipping over all the trash cans when we are gone.

She is still a real love and wonderful companion for us both and certainly fills a place in our lives that we were not aware was so big and so in need of fulfillment.

Thanks Little Girl.


Thursday, June 2, 2011

The world according to Katie

There was a little girl who had a little curl, right in the middle of her forehead.  And when she was good, she was very, very good. And when she was bad, she was horrid!  … NOT!

Katie was born in January 2007. A year later, we found her in a rescue with a tag that said she could not be house broken.

It turns out that she had a congenital birth defect known as an external hepatic shunt. Before birth, most mammals blood bypasses their liver and kidneys and is processed through the umbilical cord. After birth, these "shunts" graduall close of just like the naval does and the blood circulates through the liver and kidneys to be cleansed and processed and returned to circulation.

Once in a while, a shunt does not close so the blood gradually builds up toxins and residues in it. How fast depends on how open the shunts remain.  in Katie's case, it was bigger than my index finger!  The result was that ammonia levels would rise quite high in her blood and cause seizures.  During a seizure, it was likely she would uncontrollably evacuate her bladder and even her bowels. 

Though they were never predictable we gradually learned the cues that she was ripe for a seizure but it took nearly a year before it was recogized that what was happening was actually a seizure.  It took another 6 months before her treatment for it was complete. The experts all said that once a seizure dog, always a seizure dog even after the initial problem has been corrected and so it has been.

But.... with some diet management to reduce proteins and finally, finding a medication that works for her (Zonisimide) her seizures now only occur from 30 to 90 days apart. Prior to the Zonisamide they often came every 7-10 days, at best and would last up to 4 hours each time.

Had we known before we adopted her that it would take 3 years and over $8,000 to get her stable, we might have deferred her adoption to someone better off financially, but we didn't. The expenses came in bursts and lumps, the biggest of which was the shunt reduction surgery which ran a little over $3000 before it was over.  The rest was largely spent in diagnostics and treatments that did not really do much and none of the other typical seizure meds helped at all, though some actually seemed to make them worse.

Today, We cannot imagine life without Katie.  We wanted a companion that would be unconditionally there for us, could travel well, not shed, not smell like a dog and have a relatively calm temperament.  Katie is all of those things and more.

For me, Katie has inserted a certain amount of required structure in my life which I clearly needed to carry me from day to day  in retirement until Mer retired.  Katie saved my sanity, kept me warm and fuzzy in spite of my traditional "loner" attitude and always was there to comfort me if I felt down or grumpy.  Trust me, you cannot stay grumpy with Katie in your face and heart... it is just not possible.