Monday, March 31, 2014

Chicken and Rice - Check!

For Rylee's breakfast this morning, I made up some chicken and rice. I boiled the chicken and double cooked a batch of rice in the chicken water, and boy did the house smell yummy. Hubby came downstairs wanting to know what I was cooking for lunch. I told him he could have some if he wanted, but he opted not to try it.

Mmmm... looks and smells tasty!
I gave her some chicken earlier in the morning so I could watch her and see if she had any kind of reaction, but she seemed just fine. I added in a bunch of rice with the leftover chicken and gave her half of it around 11am and the other half around noon. I was hoping I wouldn't see it come back up.

Without knowing exactly how much to give her, I gave her a cup of chicken and two cups of rice. Someone told me to give her the same amount of chicken and rice as she gets in kibble, so I went with the 3 cups. She'll get 3 more cups tonight for dinner, assuming all is well when I get home.

Waiting patiently for her breakfast.
I plan on keeping her on the chicken and rice for a few days. It'll give her digestive system a chance to calm down and flush out anything that might be upsetting her. I'm not sure what the plan will be after that, though. The SD is done for sure... I'm not feeding her anymore of that, and at this point, I'm kind of over my vet, so unless things really go downhill or something else comes up, I'm not planning on taking her back in. If her system does ok on the chicken and rice, I'll consider her "healed" and any diarrhea after that will be food related in my book.

The tricky thing is, it won't be easy to add new things until I find out what she's allergic to... or do I just buy random things and feed them to her until I find something that makes her face swell again? I don't think I can just keep feeding her chicken and rice long term while I try new foods, and I can't just add back in "kibble" because there are a ton of ingredients in that stuff.

I just bought a brand new bag of the Fromm on Friday, and since she was doing ok on it before the Tuesday from hell, aside from being a little itchy after eating it, should I feed her the Fromm again and just deal with the itchy face for a while? Maybe I could give her an extra Benadryl? She's still a growing puppy, so I'm worried about what she's eating because I want her to get the right nutrition. It seems like commercial large breed puppy food is the best thing for a growing puppy. That being said, perhaps instead of adding back in the Fromm, maybe I should try a grain free kibble and see if she does better on that?

Luckily I have a few days to ponder...

I appreciate all the comments and suggestions. You've helped a ton!

Sunday, March 30, 2014

A Rylee Update

So, the Rylee saga continues...

I finally started seeing improvement in Rylee's stool this past Thursday. I was nearing my wit's end and was considering fasting her for 24 hours and then starting her on boiled chicken and rice. Then, like magic, Thursday morning when I took her outside, I saw a little shape to her stool. It was still super squishy, but I was very excited to see something other than a giant mess. The other 2 times she went on Thursday I saw a tiny bit of improvement each time, along with Friday morning and afternoon, so Friday night I decided to start adding back in a little bit of her usual food (Fromm large breed puppy). She's been getting 3 cups of Science Diet in the morning, mixed with water and a couple spoons of the wet SD i/d, and 3 cups in the evening, mixed with water and a couple spoons of wet SD i/d, along with her probiotic. I decided to replace 1/4 cup of SD with the Fromm at each feeding.

I can't remember exactly which day was the first, but there have been a few mornings since we started this SD diet where she hasn't had much interest in her breakfast. She inhales dinner like a Hoover vacuum, but breakfast is a different story. I would make light of it by saying things like, "I wouldn't want to eat that crap either, Rylee..." She'd pick at it and eventually finish it so I didn't think much about it. Yesterday, though, she had no interest in breakfast. She lays on her place while I mix it all up, and then I put the food in front of her and say, "ok" and usually she peels out trying to get to her bowl super fast. Yesterday, she just stared at me with those eyes and eventually got up, but didn't go anywhere near her food. Throughout the morning she walked wide circles around her bowl like it had some kind of contagious disease. A few hours later, she decided to eat it, and then last night she scarfed it down like it was the best thing ever. The probiotic goes in the dinner bowl, so I can't even blame it on that...

This morning, Rylee threw up in her crate three times before our usual wake-up time. The first time was rather messy, with stomach contents, but the other two looked like mostly saliva. She's done that once before and then was fine for the rest of the day, so I just cleaned it up and got back into bed. Her stool was normal when I took her outside (well, normal for her right now) and when we came back in I fixed her breakfast. Same as yesterday... zero interest. So I just moved her bowl out of the way and went about doing a few things around the house. Then I got to thinking... I wonder if it's the food she's not interested in, or if it's some kind of "I'm just not hungry in the morning for some reason" thing. So I started trying to think of something I could feed her that wouldn't mess up the little bit of progress we've made in the poo department, but that would let me know if she had an actual appetite. She'd eat cookies on her death bed, so those don't count. I remembered I had a little bit of this leftover:

I used to mix a couple spoons of this (and other assorted Natural Balance wet food flavors) with her Fromm back in the day when things were good. I like adding a little bit of wet food and water to her kibble to make a "gravy". It always looks more yummy that way. There was about a third of the can left, so I put some in a bowl and gave it to her. She gobbled it up. Ok, so something about her current breakfast is yucky.

Shortly after feeding her the Natural Balance lamb, hubby and I went to grab some lunch and get some groceries. We were gone for about 2 hours or so, and when we got back, he went upstairs to get her out of the crate. When he brought her downstairs, I went over to say hi to her and noticed that the saggy part of her lip on the left side was really swollen. I asked him what happened to her face and he said he had no idea, so I showed him how swollen it was. We thought maybe she caught her lip while she was scratching her face or something, but after I took her outside to go potty, I noticed it was actually her entire mouth that was swollen.

Not so good iPhone pictures, so you can't really tell, but her lips on both sides of her face, along with her snout, were swollen. Hubby got some Benadryl from the pantry and we gave her a couple of them to help with the swelling. She seemed fine, and was breathing ok, so we started brainstorming...

She must be allergic to something in that Natural Balance food! After she ate it, she went right upstairs to her crate, so it had to be the food.

While I was getting ready for work, I started thinking and the pieces started coming together...

Ever since we've had her, the first thing she always does when she gets done eating is run over to the area rug, throw herself on the floor, and start rubbing her head all over the carpet. At first we thought, "silly dog... look what she does when she's done eating! Wonder why she does that?" She did that with the crap food the breeder was feeding, she did that with the Blue Buffalo large breed puppy I fed her for a while, she did it with the Fromm food, and she's done it with the SD as well. With swollen puppy lips, I have to conclude that she was doing it because she was having a reaction to something in the food and it was making her face itchy after she ate.

Also, back when things were good, she got 2 Benadryl capsules with breakfast and 2 with dinner because she was really itchy, so we started her on that. For breakfast she also got a 1000mg fish oil pill and a 400iu vitamin E pill. Her itchiness had all but stopped and she was doing great, but I stopped all those things when she got sick. So perhaps the Benadryl she got with her food was enough to counteract the food allergy, at least to some extent? She still had an itchy face, but didn't have the swelling? Or maybe she swelled, but not enough to notice?

The tricky part is going to be figuring out what exactly she's allergic to... I've used different kinds of canned food and different kinds of dry food, but that wet lamb really seemed to send her over the edge, especially considering she only had about 1/3 of the can. Maybe since lamb is the only protein in the food, and not chicken or any other protein, it's a grain she's allergic to? Maybe she's allergic to lamb and grain? Seems like some kind of grain would be in all the foods she's eaten since she's never been on a grain free diet, although if it was corn, seems like the SD would have given her a really bad reaction since that's about all that food is. I might just need to take her into the vet and have them do an allergy test. That would probably be the easiest course of action and be less frustrating that trying an elimination kind of diet, especially considering how easily she seems to get diarrhea.

Hubby is on Rylee duty tonight while I'm at work and he's keeping an eye on her. We gave her the rest of her breakfast after giving her the Benadryl around 2pm, and she picked at it until it was gone, but he just texted me to say she threw it all back up. So I told him not to feed her any dinner tonight, and tomorrow I'll cook her some boiled chicken and rice and we'll go from there.

And here I was just starting to think that I solved her mystery illness... a friend of mine told me that it was possible that she picked up some kind of bacteria from the ground that made her really sick. Rylee does love digging and shaking pieces of grass that she digs up, so it's possible that she ingested some dirt Tuesday, or even before, and got sick. The emergency vet said they did notice some stuff in her tummy that could have been dirt, and my regular vet commented after one of her stool sample testings that her stool was a little gritty. So I was content with saying she picked up something from the ground and it just had to run its course.

But maybe it's been a food allergy all along? Or maybe I got hit with two things at once... a bacteria AND a food allergy that has gotten worse?

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Condition Shots

Mostly for my records, but also for your enjoyment. I wanted to get some condition pictures of her before spring gets here (if it ever does). That way I can keep an eye on her weight with the inevitable Cushings/insulin saga that is sure to consume my spring and summer.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

A Trail Ride!

The boarding barn where I keep Lilly is only a small piece of the property owned by the family of the guy that runs the place. It's been in the family since about 1750 and they own over 800 acres. A lot of it is cow pasture, but he also grows his own coastal and alfalfa hay. There are some trails out behind the barn, which Lilly and I have been on before, but I've heard there are miles and miles of trails across the street, which is where most of the property is. I've been told not to venture back there by myself because it's easy to get lost... oh, and there are wild pigs out there. Okie dokie.

Well, the barn owners were hosting a trail ride this past Saturday, featuring the trails across the street. They've had a few other group rides but I've never been able to make it to them for one reason or another. The weather looked gorgeous this time, but I wasn't sure about Lilly's hooves. I knew we'd be going through a quarry, and it would be mandatory for her to wear her boots.

I got rid of her Old Mac's, but I kept her Renegades for times just like this. They had loosened up a bit and I knew I needed to mess around with the cables and get them tightened up. I worked on the boots for a good hour on Friday (what a pain in the ass), and finally got them where I thought they'd be good. Then I walked Lilly around outside and on some stones to see how she'd do, and she seemed fine. So I put my name on the list for Saturday.

I got to the barn early Saturday morning, tacked Lilly up, and waited in the arena for the rest of the riders to finish getting ready. There were 13 of us total heading out, and it looked like a beautiful day. I was so excited! I can't remember the last time we did a trail ride like this and it was going to be so much fun. As we started heading out, a lot of the horses seemed a bit fresh... including my own. A couple horses were rearing and having a grand old time, while Lilly was terrified she was going to be left behind. She was prancing, chomping on her bit, and slinging her head around.

"Well isn't this fun?"

I was hoping she was just excited and happy to be out, but would eventually calm down. Unfortunately for me, that's not what happened. She was psycho for the entire 2 hour trail ride. We either trotted, cantered, pranced, or ran sideways. I thought a couple times she might fall right off the quarry ledge into the giant, empty pit below, taking us both to our deaths. Needless to say, it wasn't as fun as I thought it would be.

The trails were beautiful, though. We went through woods, open fields, meadows, and creeks, and it was so much fun to watch some of the other riders gallop their horses in the fields. There's no way I was doing that with Lilly, but one of the boarders has a gorgeous, humongous Percheron cross and he is a beautiful mover. He was breathtaking as he thundered across the field.

I managed to snap a few pictures here and there, and I'm hoping someone took a couple with me in them. Or maybe I'd rather not see... hard to say.

She has a real issue with being in the back of the pack, so if I managed to keep her number four or higher, she was a bit more calm. Still crazy, but not running into people with her hind end. It wasn't always possible to be in the front, so when we weren't, I just had to make due. The good news is, I didn't fall off.

I am SO sore today, and I have no doubt she's feeling it as well. So much for hoping for a nice, leisurely trail ride.

I was also quite disappointed in my Renegades. Granted, this is the first real test they've encountered, seeing as how we went through mud, water, up hills, down hills, and the fact that she at least trotted the whole time. By the time we got back to the barn, the flap on the outside of her left boot had folded under her hoof. I'm thinking maybe I just need to get some new cables and replace the ones I have, assuming the boot is still in working order. They did their job, though, as Lilly was clearly not uncomfortable in the least.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

This Is Why I Can't Have Children

They're doomed to have digestive issues.

If you've been around this blog for any amount of time, you know that Lilly suffers from unexplained bouts of diarrhea on a fairly regular basis. Despite my best efforts, and the best efforts of numerous veterinarians, no one knows why. I have my theories, but I can't seem to prove a single one of them. I've tried countless experiments, supplements, feed changes, and medicines... you name it, I've probably tried it. It's to the point where we all just shrug our shoulders and are thankful that she doesn't also get sick and dehydrated. I always have a supply of Desitin on hand for the times when things get really bad. I've just learned to cope.

I've realized that the poo gods are punishing me for some reason, because now I'm dealing with a similar issue with Rylee.

I want to be just like my big sister!
Back on the morning of March 4th, all was right with the world. I had her on a food I really liked and I had her dry skin and minor allergy problem under control. She was a good weight, had a shiny coat, a good appetite, solid poo, and had a never ending supply of energy. On the evening of March 4th, though, it all came crashing down.

As a side note, does anyone obsess over poo more than pet owners? Just sayin...

Because of my work schedule, I'm home with her until about 3pm and then I go into work. I get home around 1am so her schedule is shifted to accommodate me. She eats breakfast around noon and dinner around 1:15am. So that evening, when I got home and went upstairs to get her out of the crate, there was a mess inside. She never goes in her crate, so I knew something was wrong. When I took her outside to do her business, she had liquid poo... as in straight up liquid. I thought to myself, "well, that explains why she probably couldn't hold it all evening..." She's had an upset tummy before (she's a bit sensitive), but I just add in a little bit of pumpkin with her food and it seems to help. No big deal, I had a can in the pantry.

I mixed up her food and she ate it right up. As I was cleaning up in the kitchen, I saw her go into the living room and then she started acting suspicious. We have a sectional couch that blocks my view from the kitchen, and it sits on a nice area rug, so I went over to see what she was doing and found a giant pile of vomit. Since she had just eaten her food, it was still pretty much what had just gone down.

Our entire first floor is hardwoods, minus the area rug... could she have vomited on the wood floor? Of course not.

I wasn't overly concerned yet, although slightly irritated that she did it on the rug, and I ran back into the kitchen to get a bowl and spoon to clean up the mess. As I was cleaning it up, I heard a noise over on the other side of the couch... she had thrown up again. At least it was on the hardwoods this time. So I hurried up and finished getting the solid stuff off the rug and then went back into the kitchen to get some paper towels and 409 for the floor. While cleaning up what was on the wood floor, I noticed she had some poo in her vomit. This is when I got really worried. Why is there poo in her stomach? Immediately I start thinking she might have some kind of obstruction somewhere. While I was preoccupied with that, she threw up on the rug again, and again.

"How much food did I feed you?!"

I grabbed my phone and called my vet, knowing they'd have an emergency number on their recording. Once I had that number, I called them up. After explaining what was happening, they recommended I bring her in right away. She had quite a bit of water while I was on the phone with the vet, and I'll remember to take that away from her if this ever happens again. It was about 2:30am at this point, and we loaded up and I sped towards the vet hospital.

Rylee rides in the back seat of my brand new truck (2014... bought it in December). I have a canvas hammock back there that keeps her from rolling onto the floor if things get dicey, and it keeps my seats nice and clean. About 5 minutes into our trip, I saw her lips get saggy and before I knew it, all the water she drank came right back up. *sigh* Not even 4,000 miles... I felt so bad for her, though... after throwing up, she came over and sat behind my seat with her head on my shoulder. I gave her little kisses on her nose and told her she'd be feeling better soon.

The emergency vet gave her a shot of anti-nausea medication when we got there and then went about getting her information. I told the vet to go ahead and do whatever she thought she needed to find out what was going on, so they took her back and had her for about two hours. They did blood work, x-rays, a parvo test (even though she's had all her vaccinations), and a thorough physical exam. She was pretty severely dehydrated, so they gave her subq fluids and came to the conclusion that they had no idea what was wrong with her. She was quite painful in her belly, but everything else came back normal, which was good, but we didn't have any idea why she was so sick. The vet said she thought Rylee might have some kind of virus, and maybe ate some of the poo in her crate, which is why I found it in her vomit.

The vet kept asking me what she could have eaten, but she's never unsupervised. She was fine Tuesday morning, and she was crated the whole time I was gone. We did play outside that morning, but I was with her at all times. I would know if she had found something gross to eat.

They sent us home with some cans of wet Science Diet i/d food and instructions on how to feed her a bland diet over the next couple days. No meds or anything, although they said the anti-nausea meds should last 24 hours. It was a rough couple days after that. I ended up taking a couple days off work because she couldn't go more than 2 or 3 hours without needing to go outside. It was still like liquid and occasionally she'd go in her crate and not even know it. The smell would wake me up and I'd look over and she would be sound asleep. I did a lot of cleaning, a lot of bathing, a lot of laundry, and not much sleeping.

On Thursday of that same week I took her into my regular vet because I was concerned with her being dehydrated again and since the emergency vet didn't give me any meds, I thought she might need something. Her poo was too watery to get a stool sample, so I told them if it ever was solid enough, I'd take in a sample for them. Since her illness was a mystery, they gave me some antibiotics and probiotics to give her over the next couple days. We figured things would start to clear up shortly.

By Sunday she was doing better and I didn't need to take her outside nearly as often. Her poo was now more like pudding, but I was glad it was starting to get at least a little solid. I took them a sample that Monday and it came back negative, including giardia, which was a hypothesis for her mystery illness.

Since that Sunday, though, which was the 9th, her poo has been like pudding. I just kept waiting and waiting for it to start to get more solid looking. I anxiously awaited every potty break and was subsequently disappointed with what I saw. Once her probiotics and antibiotics ran out, I started to wonder. I know antibiotics can sometimes cause loose poo, so two days after they ran out, I called my vet again. I spoke to one of the techs and she said Rylee might just need a bit more probiotic. So this past Monday I went in and got a box of 30 pills. She told me to give it some time to work, but if things happened to get worse, definitely give them a call.

Well, things got worse. Tuesday we were back to liqui-poo so I called the vet and took her in today. They did another fecal, although somehow this one was different, and it came back normal. Since no one has a clue, she gave me a broad spectrum dewormer in case she has some weird parasite, which will take at least 4 weeks to work. The first dose kills off any active parasites, and the second does 3 weeks later kills off any that might be eggs right now. She also wanted me to switch her food to Science Diet i/d kibble (of course she did). If the food and/or dewormer doesn't help her, then we'll have to start more extensive tests... like an ultrasound and a test for EPI (Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency), which is common in German Shepherds. I was already reading up on that as a possible cause and I don't think she fits the bill, but it would definitely be something that would need to be ruled out.

As far as food goes, she was doing great on the Fromm Large Breed Puppy food. She's been on it for months, but I suppose it's possible that maybe it's too rich for her right now. I don't much care for the Science Diet stuff, but I'm willing to give it a shot because at least it'll shut my vet up. I'd actually rather just give her boiled chicken and rice, but perhaps that'll come later.

My regular vet doesn't think Rylee had a virus... she thinks it might be a parasite. If we were just dealing with diarrhea, I might think that, but what caused the horrible night of non-stop vomiting? It's the piece I can't figure out.

Why, why, why?? I just don't know. The poo gods hate me.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

I'm Not Going To Panic... Yet

My trimmer was out today for Lilly's 5 week appointment. I noticed as I was bringing her in from the pasture, she was a little bit tender. She definitely doesn't have a pair of rock crushers, but usually she's not quite that tender on the footing leading in from the pasture.

When Crystal was trimming, we found the possible culprit... she had some bruised laminae on both front hooves. I couldn't get a very good picture, but the bruise on her left front was worse than the bruise on her right (the right being the seedy toe hoof). The bruises were both in similar spots and the white line was nice and tight, so we're crossing our fingers that she doesn't have a touch of laminitis. Or if it is, hopefully it's mechanical. Like perhaps the hoof wall had a little too much leverage on it. Her mustang rolls still looked pretty good, so I'm not sure about leverage causing an issue, but maybe she bruised herself playing in the pasture... we've had a couple nice days and the horses have been playing a lot. Or maybe her hoof was slightly unbalanced since we were at 5 weeks since her last trim. I'm ok with all the possibilities we came up with, except laminitis.

Bruises on both hooves were near the center of the toe.
It's a little early in the year for things to be getting crazy with the sugar levels in the grass, I would think. We'll have two days of super nice weather but then we go back to crappy cold weather. So if the grass is spiking during the warm stuff, it's being stifled during the cold... rinse and repeat. There's a little bit of green grass out there, but not a whole lot.

I'm slightly panicked, but trying to convince myself it's just a tiny, minor issue. I'll be monitoring her closely, but if she actually has a touch of real laminitis, the upcoming summer months do not look promising.