Sunday, March 14, 2010

Could It Be Pancreatitis Again?

I'm starting to think the vet got it wrong again. I'm not saying I don't believe Bella has a bronchial infection; I do. I saw the spots on the x-ray. I'm not saying she doesn't have an enlarged heart. I saw that as well. What I am saying is that several years ago the same damn vet missed the signs of pancreatitis, even after a full blood workup, which means they could very well be missing it now.

Last time, Bella didn't have all the typical signs of pancreatitis. She wasn't throwing up. She didn't have diarrhea or yellow, tarry stools. The only real symptoms that she had were her stomach was bloated, she screamed when you touched her, and she couldn't go up the stairs or drink out of the toilet anymore (that is, she couldn't do anything that extended her stomach too much). When the same vet's office ran her blood work, the results showed that her amylase and protease levels were off the charts. Whichever of the vets looked at it wrote "OK' by those readings, told me that the only thing wrong with Bella was she was fat, and then faxed me a copy of them after I insisted on having one.

When I got that copy, I faxed it to my mom, who in turn took it by the office of the vet who gave me Bella back in my hometown. She said Dr. Young took one look at it and said it was pancreatitis and that a first year vet student should have caught it. If I remember correctly, I withheld food until the next day, started her on boiled chicken and rice, and ordered her the lowest fat food I could find online and a product that was like Prozyme but cheaper. She was better in a week.

Since then I have kept her on a low fat food so I don't think the dog food itself would have caused it. In fact, the Solid Gold food she was on is probably the lowest fat commercial dog food you can find. It only had 6 percent fat. However, I'm wondering if one of two things or maybe a combination of those two things could have caused a flareup: Rimadyl and the cheese I was giving her the medicine in.

The Rimadyl was a two-week supply, but after the first week, I only gave it to her once a day instead of twice, which means she was on it for three weeks. I have read online that Rimadyl can cause pancreatitis. Whether it can do so in three short weeks, I don't know.

The cheese that she ate wasn't much. Usually I give the dogs their medicine in Pill Pockets, but those things cost around $8 a bag. I was running low on funds so I was trying not to blow $8 on Pill Pockets of all things. I tried the old standby--peanut butter--first, but the dogs kept spitting out the medicine and just eating the peanut butter. They did the same thing with bologna. Cheese was the only thing I could get them to swallow with the pill.

I know cheese is high in fat, but I didn't think that little bit would hurt her. She had some in the past. However, now that I think about it, her dog food back then had enzymes and probiotics built into the kibble. Therefore, if she swallowed cheese around the same time, maybe there were enough enzymes and probiotics in her system to counteract it. I'm looking at Holistique Blendz ingredients online now, and there's not a bit of enzymes or probiotics in it. The Blue Buffalo that they were eating prior to the Solid Gold, on the other hand, did at least have several different types of probiotics already built into the kibble.

The idea hit me this morning when I decided to put Bella in the shower with me. Yesterday was a really bad day. There was only a couple of hours where she didn't appear in pain/unable to breathe (I'm saying both right now because I still don't know which of the two it is). Last night I powered up the vaporizer and had it blowing right over her on the dog bed. (She refused to get in the bed with me and tried to bite me anytime I came near her.) The vaporizor didn't seem to help that much. Neither did the Benadryl nor the antibiotics that I gave her last night so this morning I decided to bathe her to see if I could get any allergens off of her, just in case that was the problem, and simultaneously let the steam from the shower open up her lungs.

When I went to rinse the shampoo off, I tried to lift up her rear end by putting my arm under her stomach, not her chest. She immediately yelped and tried to bite me. She didn't do this when I lifted up her front end and touched the chest area. That's when I started thinking it was pancreatitis again.

After the shower, I went online and found out the hunched over position, which Bella has had for little more than a week now, is the typical position for a dog with pancreatitis. Of course, all the articles suggested a blood test, which Bella has already had and was supposedly normal. However, it was supposedly normal to the exact same vets last time she had pancreatitis as well, even though her amylase and protease levels were sky high at the time. If they missed it before, I have no problems believing that they would miss it again.

Here is what also adds to my suspicions that she's having pancreatitis on top of everything else. First, like I told you when all of this started, she seems to have the worst reaction about 30 minutes to an hour after she eats. Wouldn't that be about the time the pancreas comes into play? If pancreatitis is already occurring, that means her enzymes are not doing what they're supposed to do when the food hits and leaking out even more, causing additional pain.

Second, I had to go buy some batteries from the Dollar Tree a little while ago so I could record one of these spells in case I go back to the vet in the morning. I wanted to try to cheer Bella up so I bought a bag of those fabric balls that you throw in pools. I think they're called splash ball. Bella chased them for an hour once I got home. If it was just the bronchial infection or the heart problem causing her episodes, I don't' think she would be able to run for an hour straight, not without having another episode.

Third, she hasn't wanted any people food lately and has barely touched kibble or canned food. Again if it was just her chest, she would probably still want to eat. At least I think she would.

Fourth, she has allowed Bailey cuddle up to her more than me. That's what she did the last time she had pancreatitis. She wouldn't let me touch her, but she'd let Bailey lie next to her with his head buried in her fur. Heck, last night she sat right on top of him just trying to get away from me.

So here's my predicament. When I woke up this morning, I was determined to go by the vet and make them give her a steroid or something to help her breathe. However, if it is pancreatitis, the steroid wouldn't help and might even make things worse.

So should I withhold food and meds for 24 hours, which is what you're supposed to do with pancreatitis, and then feed her boiled chicken and rice for a few days; go by the vet and ask about the steroid; go by and ask about pancreatitis (remember they never admitted they were wrong or that she had it the last time either); or spend what little bit of grocery money I have left on a second opinion?

Right now I'm leaning towards doing the first one for a few days and then doing the last if I don't see an improvement. If it works, then I could spend the money on a new bottle of Prozyme, which isn't cheap and which she really needs anyway, instead of useless drugs that will cause more issues in the long run. I would hope going off her antibiotics for 24 hours wouldn't hurt too much in their effectiveness. I also want to start her on Seacure, which I luckily already have. I hear it does wonders for all kinds of ailments, including pancreatitis. I bought it years ago, but it's still in date for another month.

Any advice?

(Sorry, I know that I said I'd try to write about something else this weekend, but Bella has been the only thing on my mind.)

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