I don't know how many lives a dog has, nine like a cat? or more?
However many it may be Finnegan is now short of a few more.
About two months ago we began to get a little concerned about the hound, he seemed to be panting a bit more than we thought he should but it was hot so were not too concerned. But then he seemed listless and a bit down and was he loosing weight too? So an appointment was made to visit Katie for a checkup, we queried heart and possible lungs, perhaps Maia bronchitis was contagious? Upon examination Katie couldn't really find anything, maybe a faint hint of a heart murmur, maybe his lungs were working harder than they should. With his family history we all decided that an x-ray of his chest would be a good place to start and an appointment was made for the following Tuesday for Finnegan to be the guinea pig for Eastgate's super new digital x-ray machine.
But Finnegan took things into his own paws. On Sunday he was really down, flaked out on the sofa and then he turned his nose up at his tea. Now, he may be a hound but he thinks he's a labrador and not eating is seriously not good. Then at just after nine he was sick, bringing up his breakfast which was very sour having been in his stomach all day. He didn't want his bed time biscuit and was sick again overnight. Consequently at 8:30 on Monday 3 September we were on our way to Pickering with a very poorly hound. He was booked into his private room, initial tests again showed nothing in particular. Last time he'd been like this (last year) fluid therapy got him through it so that was the initial treatment along with blood tests for cardiac enzymes and a heart scan. We'd see how he went and then maybe x-rays, but we were all thinking he'd eaten something and got it stuck. No significant improvement but no marked deterioration either, the heart scan had shown that his cardiac muscles were doing what they should and functioning well. X-rays on Tuesday to see if there was anything obvious.
But not what we thought, the lower part of his guts were full of gas. Katie phoned at lunchtime to say he was on his way to theatre and she's let us know how he was doing later that afternoon.
It didn't look good, his colon was distended and virtually black and the whole GI tract was in stasis. No foreign object was found and biopsies were taken. He came through the surgery well and began to recover. We went to see him on Wednesday taking boiled chicken and pasta (we're old hands at this). He didn't like being at the vets and wasn't really eating properly, sulking Katie called it. Thursday afternoon he was deemed fit enough to come home. He was delighted to see us and pleased to be coming home. He couldn't settle and paced back and forth until we thought if you don't lie down you'll fall down. He has so many pills he should rattle, this is just one dose!
His first check up was on Friday morning with another booked for Saturday morning. Friday morning he was up and about again, quite bright and interested in life, he left a lovely deposit on the car park and Rob declared him well enough not to need to come back on Saturday but we would be back on Tuesday for Katie to check on his progress, stitches and hopefully have bloods and biopsy results. Huge sighs of relief all round.
Once again the blasted hound took things into his own paws. Saturday morning he ate his breakfast and seemed to be doing OK but by 11:30 he wouldn't take his pills in juicy chicken morsels and I ended up putting them down his throat. By three he was burning up and radiating heat. Emergency call to Eastgate, Helen would come and look at him. His temperature at half past three was 40.4 (should be 38.5). We would trying bringing his temp down with cool damp towels and fans, he had a shot of loxicom too. It didn't work, at five his temp was still 40.1, this was relayed to Helen and as expected once again we were back to Eastgate. Helen and Laura met us, Finnegan slouched into room two and lay down on his already prepared bed. It was decided that they would open him up again there and then. We hugged him and once again said our goodbyes. Helen phoned at around nine to say he had come through the surgery well; it was, as we'd feared, peritonitis, the colonic biopsy had come apart and was leaking. They'd cleaned him up, checked the rest of his guts which were pink and looking healthy (one good thing), repaired the leaking biopsy site and double stitched it back up (I think they would have superglued and stapled it too if that would have helped) and left him with a open drain - in other words only partially sewed him up again to let all the foul smelling the fluid leak out. When he was running the extreme temperature his scrotal skin had become inflamed and damaged so we'd agreed to a castration at the same time as the surgery, as being the quickest and easiest solution. Because Laura decided on using the open drain technique it was thought that a surgical wound so close to the 'grot' was not a good idea so Finn was left intact (for now). The next 24 hours were critical. He was left in peace with IV fluids, anti-everything and painkillers. His dressings were changed every two hours (even through the night). Helen phoned early Sunday morning to say he was still with us and looking a little brighter, he'd been out in the garden and done a puddle but they weren't going to offer any food yet. She'd phone again later with another update, which she did at just after six. He was improving, looking much brighter and had taken a little turkey, everyone was very pleased with him. Once again she'd phone in the morning. Monday (10/9) the improvements continued, the drainage fluids were decreasing in volume, looking much cleaner and no longer smelly. Tuesday morning Katie's back on duty and takes over Finnegan's case again. The bloods have come back and he's in the lowest risk group for cardiac events, you can never rule it out but it looks unlikely. The biopsies are back too showing that he has Irritable Bowel Disease but throughout the whole GI tract, she didn't take a sample from his stomach but looking at how far up the tract the IBD is showing it seems likely and sensible to assume his stomach is affected too. In addition the gut is highly reactive, so he's allergic to something. As if that's not enough on the microscopic level he's got 'leaky guts' meaning that proteins (including the allergens) escape his digestive system and infiltrate the whole body. On the positive side there is no evidence of any tumours or any markers either. And even better they're planning to sew him up again and do the castration. He came through this latest surgery well but by the evening his ear is pouring with green pus, it wasn't yesterday or this morning but now...
All things being equal we can collect him on Wednesday.
Wednesday (12/9) lunchtime Katie phones to say he's raring to come home. No poo yet but he's eating well and although he's listening to classic fm is just lying around being bored and she thinks he'll recover better at home. Needless to say we're there within an hour and he's home. Which so far is where he's stayed giving Mum her favorite birthday pressie of a normal dump on the yard (well she's strange, plus she's his official poo monitor, I deal with pills and gunky ears!).
He's steadily improved, eaten more, gained more energy, shown more interest in the world and is even trying to play with labradors again. We had a watchful 48 hours after he started dumping again but he came through without any further disruption. He had his stitches out on Thursday, having healed well, and more bloods taken because now we start trying to work out the root cause and look at future management - Dr House is in the house! We're weaning him back onto his normal euk and bonios so that in a few weeks when all the usual proteins are back in his system we can do an allergy test. We're all hoping it comes back for something easily excludeable, like wheat, easier for dogs than for people.
And yesterday's light bulb, OMG moment with the plaster may have a role to play or there again it could be a complete red herring.
Watch this space...