Maggie was ill in early February. She was having diarrhea and up several times during the night and just feeling puny. (Never off her food, but Maggie would never miss a meal). We took her to our vet who was concerned as she was very dehydrated (took two units!) and her gums were pale and tacky. He did a fecal and a blood panel. Her blood results were really good. The fecal showed a bacteria...l infection. His opinion was that since she was an older girl, that just as the flu can hit seniors so hard, so this did with her. We deduced that the bacterial infection came from her new disgusting hobby of eating poo. I did wonder at the time about her eating feces, thinking she may be lacking something in her diet. She was put on antibiotics and was back to normal a couple of days later.
Between early February and early March, Maggie was her normal, happy self, playing with Kenzie and Joey, her Jolly Ball, etc. She would have stiff moments when she first got up with her rear, but she'd walk it off after a few steps and then be fine. We only gave her pain medication and Rimadyl as she needed it and she rarely did. She continued her new "hobby", but we stayed diligent in keeping the yard free of "snacks".
Maggie at her usual breakfast and went out with everyone else the morning of March 5th. She was totally normal until around 2pm. She vomited and my husband had let all of the dogs out while he cleaned it up. When he went to call them in, she was laying in the yard and wouldn't get up. He went out and helped her and she got into the house and laid by the back door. She was shaking and again, wouldn't move. He called me to let me know what was going on and I prepared to head home to pick her up and take her in. He said when he grabbed her collar and leash, she immediately jumped up for a car ride. As I was getting closer, he called to tell me things were dire and he would meet me there. I ended up getting to the vet first and told them that she was crashing and they prepared the back for her. When he arrived at our vet's with Maggie, he said she jumped up to see where she was and fell over. He carried her into the clinic (her nose was pointing to the ground as he carried her -- she HATED to be carried and would never have allowed that if she could have helped it) and we immediately went to the back. The vet put Maggie up on the table and they put her on oxygen. She was breathing heavily and her heart was working very hard as her circulatory system was shutting down. She was in shock and laid on the table on her side without moving. For anyone who knows Mags, this is not a position she would ever choose to be in. They took her back for x-rays so we could decide what our next step would be. The x-rays showed her heart was smaller than it should have been. (not sure if that is important, but am mentioning it now because it was evident on the x-ray) It also showed a large amount of fluid in her abdomen. They tapped her abdomen (which was quite distended) and there was a large amount of blood. It was also felt that she'd had a stroke as her pupils had developed nystagmus. (We believe this is why she fell over when she arrived at the clinic) The vet conferred with our regular vet and felt that her condition was very grave. We would have to take her to a specialist for a transfusion and surgery and he felt that there was a good chance that the specialist would not elect to do surgery. We made the decision to let our sweet girl go.
Hindsight I guess is always 20/20 and what I want to share are the things I've since read enough about to question further.
1. Poo eating can be a sign of anemia
2. Hemangiosarcoma can have smaller bleeding episodes, which we think now that early February was.
3. Loss of blood = Anemia. Would this have shown on the blood panel
4. Dehydration related to smaller bleeds?
5. She was drinking a lot (one of the reasons we'd done the blood panel) and shouldn't have been that dehydrated?
5. Pale gums early February
Maggie was never off her food and the antibiotics worked. With the blood panel looking so good, we were excited to have more years with our girl. I do not believe she would not have survived a surgery in the condition she was in post-rupture... but what about in February? From what I've read, there is no cure for hemangiosarcoma. It is very aggressive and by the time dogs show any signs, it's almost always spread to other organs. It is known as the silent killer because most dogs do not show signs until the end. Regardless, I will forever wonder what if? What if I'd read more a month ago instead of after the fact? What if she'd had the surgery in February? What if I failed my beautiful girl? Unfortunately, I don't believe I'll ever get to hear the answers to those questions. The only thing I can do is mention them here in hopes that it sticks in someone else's mind. I don't wish this to ever happen to anyone else, but with the latest article I read stating that between 1 in 2 and 1 in 3 dogs developing cancer in their lifetime, I think we need all of the knowledge that we can get.
Ussi Von Stevenhaus
Rest in peace my Guardian Angel Maggie.
Ussi Von Stevenhaus January 11th, 2001 - March 5th 2013