02 February, 2008

The buildup to and Kieras first week of being sick

This is a log of our experiences in dealing with Coonhound Paralysis in our dog, Kiera. I am hoping that this will help others dealing with this same affliction who are trying to find answers like me.

Here is a little background on Kiera:

Kiera is a 6 year old Black Lab - Rotti cross. She has been a relatively healthy dog aside from a growth on her tummy that was benign, and a couple of hot spots in mid 2007. She has a fantastic personality and touches just about everyone who meets her. She is my best friend after my husband.

About 2 or 3 weeks ago I took Kiera to our local beach for a morning walk. There is an estuary running down the beach which I never let her go in as there is runoff from farms going into it and other dogs use it as a toilet (yuck!). It was a uneventful walk, nonthing interesting on the beach for her to sniff or eat aside from the occasional pile of seaweed.

Later that morning after we got home my husband and I went out for about an hour. When we got home, Kiera met us at the gate looking like she had done something wrong. She is a relatively good dog but like all dogs, can get up to mischief. We thought that she had been eating rubbish because she came from the back of the garage where our rubbish bin is kept. Within the next 2 hours Kiera progressively got sicker and sicker. She looked like she had an upset stomach and wanted to throw up. I took her outside to see if she would be sick but she just stood there. She slowed down considerably and at the worst of it, she took a good 2 minutes to get from the kitchen to the lounge which would normally take less than 30 seconds. Because we thought she had eaten rubbish we didn't bother taking her to the vet. The next morning she was much better, still a little slow but nothing like the previous day. The day after that she was fully back to normal.

We had a long weekend and went away to visit some friends so put Kiera in the kennels on Friday morning. On Sunday morning we got a call from the kennels to say that Kiera wasn't able to get up when they went to check on her. The kennels took her to an emergency vet who said they thought she had Addisons but she wasn't displaying the full signs for it. They also couldn't test for it as they didn't have the facilities. Luckily we have a specialist vet in St Lukes which is meant to be one of the best in the Southern Hemisphire. The vet there said that they didn't think that she had Addisons. They said it could possibly be Myasthenia Gravis but that they thought it was more than likely Coonhound. I was completely blown away with this, we don't have Raccoons in New Zealand!!! When we finally got back to Auckland, we went to the Specialist to see Kiera. She was really happy to see us, was laying upright and wagging her tail. The specialist said that we would need to have Xrays, Ultrasounds and blood tests. The blood tests were to check everything from her Electrolites to her Protein level and weather she had toxins in her system. While we were waiting for her tests to come back we had to leave her at the vet. It was a VERY long week!!

Her initial symptoms were; paralysis in all 4 legs - we don't know how sudden because she wasn't checked between 10pm and around 7am in the morning but that is fast enough! Shallow heart beat, rapid shallow and laboured breathing. She could still wag her tail and raise her head. Excessive panting and she got very hot very easily.

While at the vet, Kiera stabilised. Iin the first couple of days she went from being able to support herself lying upright to not at all back to being able to support herself upright again. Her breathing became normal again. The entire time she was able to eat and drink very well though we needed to make sure that she sat upright because Coonhound can attack the muscles in the throat that stops food getting into the dogs airway which can choke them and cause reflux and regugiation. Most of the time she was happy enough but I could tell that she was very frustrated with not being able to walk or get up. She got quite depressed a couple of times at the end of her stay. It must have been so hard for her to have us come visit and then leave again without her! She wasn't in any pain though and that combined with her good spirits (most of the time) is the reason we decided to try to treat her rather than the unthinkable. She is such a strong dog normally and is very full on, it isn't in her nature to give up. Many people we know have said we are mad for spending the amount of money on her that we have just to get nothing conclusive. A dog that can't walk isn't much good is it?? Something in me tells me she will pull though and at the end of the day, I can always make more money, there will never be another Kiera. If she was in pain it would be a different story, I wouldn't hesitate in putting her down.