Friday, January 11, 2013

Addison's Disease in dogs, remembering our basset hound

Lola November 2012
This seems really personal to write out here , but I hope that someday someone who needs to know more about this disease who frantically tried to read everything they can about it on the Internet finds this and thinks its helpful (plus I feel the need to get this off my chest today, as a way to deal with it i guess).This is Lola's story. 

Lola was a 3 1/2 year old adorable basset hound. She got very ill in October of 2012. She had two extended stays at the vet because of it. The first symptom was started vomiting. Just a little at first almost immediately after drinking. And she drank a lot! Then she started throwing up her food, which lead to her not eating at all. In her first extended stay they gave her an IV, nausea meds, got her back eating and diagnosed her as having a stomach bug that was taking longer to get over and was on antibiotics. 

She threw up again the same day we brought her home. Lola was just OK the following week, she seemed weak and seemed to shake a lot, so we would cover her up with a blanket. When she stopped eating and vomiting bile we took her back. Same thing, IV, meds and she got better. This time she was diagnosed as having acid reflux and was now on a dose of some meds to coat her throat and over the counter antacids.

Quickly she deteriorated again, this time worse. In addition to not eating, drinking, she didn't want to move hardly at all, she started loosing control of her bladder. She shook so bad it looked like she had Parkinson's and she seemed to limp around like her legs or hips hurt. This time when we called the vet they mentioned they would have to do a test ACTH test and see if she had Addison's Disease. Of course, I had no idea what that was, so I started reading. The more I read, the more terrified I became. She would be dependent on pills or injections for the rest of her life. Let me also make clear, really expensive pills or injections. We did the math and figured if she lived 10 more years we were looking at least around $15,000. I was heartbroken. It was difficult to justify that kind of expense, after all she's a dog. Though a member of our family we were being faced with an additional $100-200 a month in expenses for her, not to mention all the crisis bills that were already almost $1000. Our heads were spinning.

Addison's Disease to be brief is when a dogs adrenal glands don't function properly, they stop producing or don't produce enough Sodium and/or Potassium. You can go to to read the specifics as it gets complicated. Interesting enough humans also get the disease. The ACTH test results would show how Lola's adrenal glands reacted and let us know for sure if she did have this. Lola was diagnosed with Addison's on November 3th, and came home on the 6th. She had lost 15 pounds total, had shaved spots all over her legs and neck and I paid a $800 bill.

Lola days after we brought her home 2009. She grew fast!
I am not trying to make this about money, though it may seem that way. I just remember how terrified I was when  we first learned about this, not to mention how awful it was to have a sick pup. This was our baby, she slept at my feet every night. Our daughters adore her- and the truth was she was slowly dying in front of us. It was going to really hurt our budget to save her. But we gave it a try. We tried to find some wiggle room to pay for generic  Florinef  pills every 25 days (they ranged from $60 -$80 every 25 days), she also took Prednisone but it was affordable. You can also use drug that is given in a shot, but it priced out much higher per vial for us. Lola had follow up visits and blood work as well. Prednisone caused her to be absolutely manic about water and food, and urinate an irritating amount of times in a day, often on the floor. We worked that dosage down and it improved.

Lola got better. Actually better than we had seen her in some time. Apparently this disease had slowly been affecting her for awhile. She started running around the house and barking again. That adorable bellowing woof that bassets do! Her December check up looked great, and she just kept getting better. There was a light at the end of Addison's tunnel, it seemed like she would lead a long normal life. I had a difficult time believing that at first, as I am positive most Addison dog pet owners do. After two months I felt relieved. 

Lola December 2012 talking up a whole chair to herself at Christmas. She was so spoiled! 
Unfortunately, our Addison story does not have a happily ever after ending. Lola passed away suddenly January 10, 2013. We don't and never will know why exactly, but guessing she either hurt herself playing outside in the sunshine that afternoon, or her organs did sustain damage during her prolong crisis states and her little body just couldn't do it anymore. It is devastating because Matt and I were there and watched her pass- completely in shock. She had been totally normal that morning. She turned her nose up a dinner that night, which was the first sign. Then we noticed she seemed tired, and acted like something hurt when she jumped off the couch that night. But she was happy tail wagging, begging for people food, took her meds, and after a short 1 minute rest from jumping of the couch got up and walked off. She went to bed with us as she always did but passed sometime shortly after midnight very quickly. 

We miss her dearly and will love her forever. 

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