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Monday, October 7, 2013

Max and his new Disease

The last two weeks have been quite hard on Max and me. (I'm sure harder on Max).  For about a week Max wasn't eating, playing, or doing anything for the most part. He was super lazy and mopey. Just wanted to lay down and wouldn't even get excited about a treat! Now that's just not Max. 

Last Tuesday I decided to take him to work with me and see if I could get him into the Vet. They decided to have me drop him off at about 11 and look at him in between surgeries. I received the first update on a phone call a few hours later. They had done a physical and wanted permission to run a blood test. Since the test was about $100 they needed permission. In the meantime they wanted to start an IV and get some antibiotics in Max to help him get hydrated. They were also trying to feed him with a prescription food because he had lost a lot of weight. After getting approval they ran the tests and called me back a few hours later. That was a phone call I wasn't quite prepared for. I was told they wanted to run additional tests on Max and they would be $300. The doctor thought Max had Addisons Disease since he had 6/7 of the symptoms but it is only diagnosed after a test can be ran. They also wanted to keep him over night on the IV and food. So total testing and treatment for 2-3 days would run me $800. Ouch. He's an expensive dog. I was pretty emotional on the phone with the vet and I think he misread my frustration because he started saying if I couldn't afford the $800 then i could try to treat him at home there just wasn't a high success rate without proper medication and treatment... which meant Max wasn't going to make it. Even if it's a lot of money I'm sure kids are much more than that. I gave the vet the approval to run the tests and keep him overnight. 

Wednesday they waited to receive the testing supplies and then ran a 2-3 hour test for Addisons Disease. They kept Max on an IV and antibiotics. He was also on a prescribed food which he loved. They said he was looking better and starting to liven up which meant he was getting back to being himself. Meanwhile I looked up Addisons Disease. (If you don't want to read up on Addisons then skip to the bottom just above the pictures. I'm keeping this information here for my reference later). 

Addison's disease is a condition in which a dog's adrenal gland does not produce a sufficient amount of either cortisol or aldosterone.
This can cause many serious health complications, and has a high probability of being mis-diagnosed as another disease. This is because the symptoms of Addison's disease in dogs are relatively general, including fatigue, diarrhea, sweating, and muscle pain. The most difficult aspect of dealing with Addison's disease in your dog is receiving a positive diagnosis for the disease. After diagnosis, the treatment options for Addison's disease are very effective, though will require your dog to take medication for the rest of their life.
There are several factors that can cause Addison's disease, usually related to improper function of the adrenal glands. The adrenal glands are very important for your dog's overall health, as they produce many important hormones to aid in proper function of your dog's body.
Certain dog breeds are suspected to be more prone to develop Addison's disease. These breeds include Portuguese Water Dogs, Bearded Collies, Standard Poodles, Great Danes, and the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier. Dogs that have had surgery near the pituitary gland or hypothalamus may also develop Addison's disease (usually Secondary Addison's, since this would be a result of damage to the pituitary gland or hypothalamus). Generally, many cases of Addison's disease are seen in young or middle-aged female dogs. However, dogs of any age or gender are able to develop Addison's disease.
The adrenal gland is made up of two distinct layers, each which are responsible for producing different types of hormones. The interior layer of the adrenal gland (also called the medulla) is responsible for producing hormones similar to adrenaline. The outer layer of the adrenal gland (also called the cortex) is responsible for producing corticosteroids. The two hormones produced by the adrenal gland that are most commonly deficient in a condition of Addison's disease are cortisol and aldosterone.

Cortisol, which is part of the glucocorticoid group of hormones, helps your dog's body deal with stress, aids in proper conversion of food into energy, and manages the immune system's inflammatory response. Aldosterone, which is part of the mineralocorticoid group of hormones, helps maintain proper blood pressure, as well as allowing the kidneys to keep a proper balance of sodium and potassium in your dog's body.
With proper treatment procedures, a dog with Addison's disease can still participate in all of their normal daily activities. Even though dogs with Addison's disease will usually require medication therapy for the rest of their lives, this is a treatable disease that does not have to affect your dog's quality of life.

 The adrenal gland is responsible for producing cortisol, which has direct effects on how your dog's body is able to handle stress. Cortisol also helps to regulate how efficiently your dog's body is able to use carbohydrates, protein and fat, as well as helping to maintain proper cardiovascular functions. Due to the importance of cortisol, Addison's disease and the resulting adrenal insufficiency can cause some serious health complications for your dog. Sympoms are:
A common symptom of Addison's disease in dogs is a noticeable weakness in your dog's muscles. This is easily identifiable by observing any change in your dog's normal activities. Most dogs with Addison's disease will be unable to jump up on the bed, have trouble climbing stairs, or show a lack of any enthusiasm for any activity involving physical exertion.
Dogs with Addison's disease may also seem listless or depressed. They may show a lack of interest in normal everyday activities, and will spend a lot of time lying down.
This is a telltale sign that something is wrong, and should be a good reason to bring your dog to the veterinarian as soon as possible.
Gastrointestinal problems such as vomiting and diarrhea are very common in dogs with Addison's disease. Dogs with Addison's disease may have either one or both of these symptoms, and their vomit or diarrhea may be accompanied by traces of blood. However, both of these symptoms are also symptoms of many other diseases, so it is impossible to positively diagnose a dog with Addison's disease purely on basis of vomiting and diarrhea.
A dog with Addison's disease will often display small patches or spots of darkened skin, even in areas not exposed to the sun. This is most common around a dog's armpits, mucous membranes, or the inside of the cheek.
Joint pain is very common in dogs with Addison's disease. This is usually an easily identifiable symptom, as your dog will show a reluctance for any activity involving excessive movement. A dog with Addison's disease may also whimper or yelp when walking, or may walk with a noticeable limp.
This symptom is a definite sign that a dog is suffering from a medical condition. A dog with Addison's disease may show a lack of enthusiasm for mealtimes, and may eat in smaller portions than normal. Though this symptom is not unique to Addison's disease, it should be treated as an indication that your dog may need veterinary attention.
Dogs with Addison's disease may also shiver, or shake uncontrollably on a regular basis. Muscle tremors are not to be ignored, as they can be a symptom of many other serious health conditions besides Addison's disease. If your dog is exhibiting muscle tremors, or occasionally shakes uncontrollably, it is strongly recommended to seek veterinary attention immediately.

Thursday afternoon they called and said I could pick up Max and take him home for the night. They thought he was doing much better. They left the IV needle in his leg because they wanted to give him another IV the following week. He was sent home with some special food while I wing him back onto his regular dog food. He was so happy to see me (or maybe just to be leaving the Vet). He did really well at home that night. 

Friday morning was a little rough. He was throwing up again so I stayed home from work for a few hours to watch him. I dropped him off at my mom's so she could watch him the rest of the day while I went to work. While on my way to work the vet called.Great timing right? They had the test results back and it was confirmed. Max had Addisons Disease. The doctor was leaving for the day at noon and wanted to see Max again and start his treatment. I headed back to my moms and off to the vet we went. He started his shots and his pills. Shots are every 4 weeks and pills are every day - for the rest of his life. Talk about life changing. I have to remember to give him a pill and take him to the vet.... Reminder in phone is already set!
Max did better over the weekend. Today (Monday) I took him back to the vet and they removed his IV. He was bleeding and a little bruised so they wrapped him with some tape (the green stuff). It looks like his leg is what was injured but it wasn't anything to do with his leg.   He's doing better and is on treatment. They say he'll be himself and shouldn't lapse back into Crisis Mode as long has he gets his pills and shot. Hey if a kid had this disease it'd be a lot more expensive so maybe I'm lucky. Either way... Max is my kid. He's my best friend. 

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