In all the time we have had this girl (9ish years) she has never needed the vet! Other than for annual health check and booster she just was not ill. Until now.
In March we noticed an odd head nodding behaviour. Repetitive head nodding and air licking whenever she was chilled out. She was also having trouble with her number 2s, like it was painful or she just couldn’t. So off we went to the vet. They weren’t particularly concerned about the head nodding, and thought perhaps the bowel issues were due to years taking metacam for her arthritis. The vet took some blood for testing and we left with tramadol to replace the metacam, and omeprazole (a gastro drug to reduce stomach acid) to see if that would help her number 2s.
Her bloods showed no cause for concern. Slightly elevated cholesterol, but nothing significantly out of the ordinary.
In April we went on holiday for two weeks leaving the mutts in the kennels. I don’t like leaving them so long in kennels, but they know them and it means they are safe.
When we came back Pops had lost weight. I wasn’t overly concerned as that is what normally happens when they spend time in kennels (no titbits!). The vet was pleased as she was on the heavy side beforehand, so we agreed to maintain it.
The next few weeks were strange. Pops seemed out of sorts and was constantly licking her bottom area. The nodding head was only happening occasionally, but she had started eating her own and other dogs poo. She had also started to look really thin which worried me, so back to the vet we went.
She had lost another 4kg! I explained to the vet her symptoms:
- Loose or liquid poo
- Difficulty pooing (3-5 attempts)
- Constant licking of bottom area
- Eating own and other dogs poo
- Ravenously hungry all the time
- Foul smell from her in general
This time the vet wanted to run full bloods and take fecal samples. So much to Poppy’s dismay she was taken into the back room for bloods. Meanwhile I was given 3 sample pots for her poop.
The blood results came in first. They were showing that she had a serious B12 deficiency. The Vitamin B12 is necessary for cell reproduction, growth, and without the sufficient amount of vitamins, your vital organs (i.e. liver, heart, brain) cannot perform properly. Action: give her a B12 shot.
Her fecal tests showing that she had the parasite Giardia. A protozoan parasite that can infect the gastrointestinal tract of dogs and is capable of causing diarrhea, vomiting, weight loss and lethargy. Action: A course of Panacur to kill the parasite. Expectation that weight will stabilise and possibly increase.
Back for a check up one week later – still Pops has had more weight loss. Action: a second B12 shot and another round of Panacur.
One week later we are back to the vet again. The B12 should have made a difference, the Panacur will have killed off the parasite – but no another 0.5 kg loss.
Now the vet is puzzled. Our next step is to give her a dose of pancreatic enzymes with every meal. I don’t really know what it is to treat so googled it. The enzymes are use to treat Exocrine pancreatic insufficiency (EPI). This insufficiency may cause digestive problems, malnutrition, and/or improper absorption of nutrients into the body, which can contribute to an overgrowth of bacteria in the intestines. Symptoms may include chronic diarrhea; weight loss despite a normal or increased appetite; frequent or greater volume of stool and gas; and coprophagia, a condition which causes an animal to eat its own stool. All of these apply to Poppy.
Pancreatic enzymes reek! The dog reeks of them before, during and after eating it mixed in with her food. Her poo smells of it. Everything stinks of it.
Again to the vets one week on… and we have gained 400 grams. Good news, but I am not sure as the weigh in is much later in the day than previous visits AND she has not been well at all in the past week. Increasingly having no.2 accidents in the house at night – the only saving grace (?!) is because she is eating it I only have to deal with the stained carpet.
Action: continue on the enzymes for the next two weeks. Monitor and call the vet if anything changes dramatically.
We’re back to the vet on Tuesday and I am still not hopeful. She is still thin. She is having bouts of pain (seems like stomach cramps where she stiffens and arches her back), increasing poo leakage/accidents, not wanting to go out for a walk, wanting to go out and then not getting out of the car, really struggling to poo and it is still liquid more often than not.