Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Asher Update

Asher is finally starting to be his old self again. He may have lost a lot of weight (he's 115 lbs now, he should be 150 lbs) - but he's been eating a bunch, and we're feeding him 4-6 meals a day of high-fat content stuff to get him back up.

The vets diagnosed him with Addison's Disease - an adrenal gland disorder that causes the gland to not produce a very important chemical that can have all sorts of bad side affects - renal failure being a particularly bad one. They couldn't figure it out until they fixed his kidneys, luckily, there appears to be no permanent damage and he pulled around after three days in the ICU.

Now, he has to get a special injection once every 25 days (more or less) that compensates for his gland disorder. $150 a bottle, less than 2 doses per bottle. I figure it is better than putting him down, especially because he's so young.

It is good to have my favorite dog back. Now, he just has to eat to get his weight back up.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Asher is very ill

The last 24 hours or so have sucked. One of my Great Danes, Asher (the younger male), has been showing signs of illness, and he's lately turned for the worse. He became very lethargic, stopped eating, and was dehydrated. A visit to our vet resulted in a trip to the local emergency vet care clinic and ICU, because blood tests showed his kidneys were having difficulty and he was severely dehydrated, and also had lost about 10 pounds in the last 3 weeks.

The ICU people have him on IVs, but he didn't really respond overnight like they initially thought if it was the neurological disorder my vet originally thought it could be. That left three options - infection, toxin, or cancer. Toxin was unlikely given that the other dogs are fine and are in the same area as him. So, they just did an ultrasound to check out his abodmen. Luckily, no signs of cancer, and the kidneys appear outwardly healthly.

That means it is probably an infection. Unfortunately, finding out which one is not easy. They already have him on hardcore antibiotics, but kidneys take time to recover, and the most likely infection takes about 10 days for confirmation (my vet already sent out the test because that was her alternate diagnosis in the event that it wasn't a neurological disorder that it initially appeared to be). In the meantime, the ICU is trying to get his kidneys propped up. He's eating and drinking again, so that's good. But it will be 24 to 36 hours before we know if the antibiotics and IV fluids help his kidneys. If we can get past that, they can give him targeted treatments once they know exactly what infection it is, but it won't matter unless his kidneys start working again.

So, I'm better than I was an hour ago, when cancer was a real possibility. Now, though, we're just waiting. We'll probably be visiting him later today. This seems a lot for a dog, but this dog we've raised since just a puppy, and he's only 2 and a half years old. He's such a good dog too, gentle, kind. I'm just kind of numb right now.

In addition to all that, paying for this care is expensive. So far, we've not reached the point where we have to say "that's all we can do, he's a dog, and we can't spend all our limited resources on him". But I dread having to make that decision... I mean, it would have oddly been easy if they had found he had cancer. Asher would have had little hope for meaningful recovery, and it would have been a mercy to stop there. But now, we don't even know what kind of infection it is - and I'm not willing to to say "stop" when treating him for 36 hours could easily fix him as good as new, despite the significant expense.

This, of course, is just adding to the stress my wife has over not having a job right now. She's holding together remarkably well, though. I'm trying as best I can to be a source of strength for her. Sometimes, I worry I'll give in to the worry, but I don't have that luxury when she needs me.

Please keep us and Asher in your prayers. He's such a good dog, no, the best dog, he deserves a long and happy life.