Tuesday, June 14, 2011
What is this thing called Addison's? Why does my puppy have it?
Molly is 11 months old...far too young to be diagnosed with a chronic disease. She's the sweetest, most loving puppy you'll ever meet. But on Memorial Day, she fell ill. A thunderstorm woke me up early in the morning. Molly and her 5 month old brother Winston (they really are siblings...same parents!) were sleeping downstairs. I listened, but didn't hear them stirring, so I went back to sleep. They never seemed too bothered by storms, unless they were outside.
The morning went by uneventfully, as Molly seemed relatively unaffected by the storm. We were going away for the afternoon, so I was busy getting ready to leave. I took the pups outside one last time before leaving. As luck would have it, while Molly is outside, our town's parade passed at the end of the street. Oh boy, she didn't appreciate that, so I rushed her in the house so she could calm down. After it was over, I tried taking her out one last time, but she wouldn't leave the porch. Rather than force the issue and make her more stressed, I cut my losses and thought I'd just deal with the mess she'd inevitably make. She seemed fine, so we went on with our plans for the day.
Arriving home around dinner time, we found a bit of a potty accident (expected) as well as a slightly out-of-sorts Molly. The Legion post near our house does a gun salute on Memorial Day...ugh, this is surely contributing to her stress! Winston was scheduled to go to the vet the next morning for his last round of puppy shots, so I thought I'd call and see if I could take Molly instead. She wouldn't eat, she seemed uncomfortable, and she vomited.
The next morning, I called the vet and they managed to get me an additional appointment after Winston's. So I wrangled the two of them into the car and down to the vet. The vet thought Molly may have eaten something she shouldn't have, as she was just exhibiting symptoms of a yucky belly. We did a round of x-rays to make sure there was no blockage (there was nothing), gave her fluids under the skin (sometimes that's all it takes!), and some anti-nausea meds. I was happy with the course of treatment and we all went home. That evening, Molly still wouldn't eat but instead vomited again. I paged the vet who called me right back. My vet is a small, but very good operation, but they're limited in after-hours services. She told me that if Molly vomited again, to take her to the vet near my house who had 24-hour emergency care. I mentioned that Molly was trembling. Perhaps it's because she's in pain. Some dogs do this. At 11:30 PM, Molly vomited again, so off to the ER we went. The doctor there also thought it was a gastrointestinal issue and treated it appropriately. Again, I felt the correct course was being taken and we went home with more fluids, a shot of anti-nausea meds, and an antibiotic in case this was viral.
The next day (Wednesday), we spent a quiet day at home and Molly didn't seem any worse, nor did she seem any better (the vomiting never returned). However, she still wasn't eating and this was really concerning me. Her trembling continued. I decided that if she wouldn't eat breakfast the next morning, I was taking her back to the vet.
Thursday morning, she turned her nose up at all food I gave her. Boiled chicken, rice, dog food, everything! That's not my Molly. I called the vet and they said to drop her off and they'll check her out and monitor her all day. That sounded like a plan to me. The vet called about an hour after drop-off to ask me specifics about Molly's behavior and said she would call in a bit. Within an hour she called back. "I think Molly has something called Addison's Disease." Wait, what? I've heard of it, but knew nothing about it. Dr. W. spent the next half hour on the phone explaining what it was, how it was treated, and reassuring me that Molly has every chance to live a long, happy life. I processed most of what she said, but knew I'd have so many questions. Bottom line, they were going to test her for that and confirm it, treat her, then hopefully release her the next day. Turns out, her adrenal glands don't produce enough hormones/chemicals and this causes her issues. What is Addison's Disease?
She was spending the night in the hospital, so I went to visit her...armed with all her favorites: Chicken, Pupperoni, peanut butter, and some dog food (have to be a good dog momma, after all). She'd had a dose of steroids, but was still looking a bit rough. It was all she needed to get back on the right path and onward to recovery. She ate the peanut butter, devoured the chicken, and enjoyed the Pupperoni. Dog food...blech! Who wants that? I spent time with her, talking and cuddling, then left her to rest. Friday morning, she was officially diagnosed with Addison's and was starting to feel better with her second dose of meds. I picked her up in the afternoon and we were both relieved.
Molly is only 11 months, younger than most dogs that are diagnosed with Addison's. She takes a daily dose of Prednisone and a monthly injection of Percorten-V, which I will administer. The key now is to understand what triggers her stress and learn to anticipate situations where she'll need that extra boost of Pred to prevent a crisis. I also must be vigilant about recognizing and acting on signs of crisis before they become serious. It's a new experience and there's a lot to learn. Molly and I are up for the challenge.