To say that my family has been having a rough go of it over the last few months would be a huge understatement. I’ve had all these huge ideas that I’ve wanted to work on, not only for this blog, but within my creative writing endeavors as well, but it seems the powers that be are conspiring against our family to make it damn near impossible.
I won’t get into everything that we’ve been dealing with as some of it I can’t talk about out of respect for some people. I’m protecting their privacy. I can talk about one issue, though, that is breaking my husband and I’s heart and leaves us with filled with fear each time we go to bed or leave the house.
Back during the spring we noticed our minpin Zoe was a little too pudgy as can sometimes happen, so we cut her back from three meals per day to two. (She was originally eating twice per day, but when we got our Bella, our lab/pit mix, we felt bad for Zoe because she was watching her sister eat and giving us a “what the hell” look, so we started feeding her a little at lunch too. Yes, we were “bad” puppy parents.)
After we cut back Zoe’s meals, it took a few months for us to notice something wasn’t quite right with our girl. I don’t know if we were in denial or just didn’t notice the changes because we were with her everyday. Maybe we were blind to the truth. I guess it doesn’t really matter what the reason was. The point is, when we realized she was now on the thin side, we panicked. It wasn’t because she wasn’t being fed the correct amount because she was. We worried because we knew something wasn’t right.
Was the food not agreeing with her?
Was she sick with something else?
Once we realized something was going on, we asked a dear friend of mine who runs a dog rescue in Buffalo what she recommended for food in order to put weight back on Zoe. She recommended we switch from the Taste of the Wild brand to 4health. Her rescue has been using it for some time to help put weight on malnourished dogs they rescued so I trusted her judgement.
We then waited patiently for the food to work. It didn’t. Like a fool I went back up to feeding her three times per day, but that didn’t help either. She only got worse, and I suspected it had nothing to do with either food.
One day both of our daughters mentioned to us that Zoe was looking very sickly. I had noticed myself that her ribs were becoming more prominent but kept praying that the food would work. It didn’t, and we finally decided this couldn’t continue. We were worried sick we would lose her.
At that point one of the vets at the place we go to put her on Science Diet Advanced, thinking that would work, but it didn’t.
It was then our vets decided to run some bloodwork and do a fecal test. The fecal test came back fine. No sign of parasites. However, her bloodwork told a different story. Her white blood cell counts were off and her body wasn’t processing protein correctly. The term protein-losing enteropathy was thrown out there. And that is when Zoe’s food was switched again, this time to Science Diet z/d.
Guess what! That food didn’t work either and Zoe continued to lose weight to the point she looked anorexic. The fun-loving, spastic girl we had known was gone. And boy were we missing her, as was her sister. Essentially, she no longer had a playmate as Zoe had lost interest in playing. She wanted to sleep all day.
Since Zoe was not improving, she had to go in for an ultrasound. No signs of cancer were found, which was great since I was worried about that too, but we did find out that her intestines were inflammed and her body wasn’t processing fats correctly either. A few more ideas were mentioned to us, in addition to the PLE: Addison’s Disease, a fat-processing disorder or PLE caused by Irritable Bowel Syndrome. We were then told she would end up needing additional bloodwork done to the tune of over $600. Our vet said we could start treating the three different issues right away, though, to see if the treatments would work. We elected to go straight to treatment instead of the tests because of how thin she was. We didn’t know if she could make it through another fast, which would have been required for the other tests.
Last Thursday I took Zoe in for her first Vitamin B12 shot. This Thursday I will learn how to administer them myself at home.
Zoe is also on prednisone now, as well as Science Diet r/d. The upside to the new food is that it’s low in fat, so her body is no longer producing diarrhea and for the first time in awhile, our girl has solid bowel movements. Because the food is gentle on her system, she can actually eat as much as she wants since she needs to gain weight. We were told as long as she eats at least a can and a half of wet food per day, in addition to a cup of dry, anything beyond that is okay. We are lucky that she loves the food because we haven’t had issues feeding her. She eats the food without issue and doesn’t fight taking the predinsone either, thankfully.
The hard part for us now is waiting to see what happens. Zoe has not started to gain weight yet, but she is acting more alert and we are seeing some of her spunk coming back. I was told, though, the Vitamin B12 can take several weeks to kick in, so in other words I need to be patient, which isn’t something I’m good at.
See, Zoe is my baby. She’s the first dog my husband and I got together, and since we can’t have children together, this is it for us. We are doggy parents, in addition to parents to the four children we brought into the marriage: two from each of us. And it breaks my heart to think of having to say goodbye to Zoe. I pray every damn day that she will get better, and we won’t have to make the gutwrenching and heartbreaking decision to let her cross The Rainbow Bridge. I honestly don’t know if I could handle it right now. I just want her to live, but at the same time, the last thing I want is for her to suffer.
So for those of you who have made it this far, if you could find the time to say a prayer for our precious girl, I will be eternally grateful.