We have a 4 year old black lab mix who has been sick for a couple of weeks.
Her liver values in a small blood test were high, and x-rays showed that her liver was enlarged. She also had a fever.
The vet gave us antibiotics, for any infection and the swelling. She also mentioned leptospirosis and said that the antibiotics should help if she has that. That was a week ago. We have since taken her in for more extensive blood work whose results are still out.
Initially she was vomiting 10-12 hours after eating, though that has stopped. She is lethargic, rarely eats, aside from people food and treats, and just generally seems very sick.
The vet recommeded an ultrasound which could lead to more tests, or be inconclusive. We want the best care for our dog, but don't have unlimited money. What could be causing her illness and what would the prognosis be? We truly don't want her to suffer if any options are bleak.
Thank you for your help!
If Leptospirosis is suspected, bloodwork and paired titers must be performed to confirm diagnosis. If your dog does have leptospirosis she should probably be hospitalized, be given IV fluid therapy, and other in-house therapies. Leptospirosis can cause severe anorexia, fevers, liver and kidney problems, vomiting and diarrhea and more. The disease is also zoonotic (transmittable to humans and other species), and is reportable to the State Board of Health.
Leptospirosis is on the rise because the vaccine is no longer given automatically, due to it's severe side effects.
Ultrasounds are relatively inexpensive (as compared to surgery or MRI) and biopsy of the liver can be performed under light sedation (so that a surgical biopsy is not required). These biopsies are usually informative.
Other causes of sudden onset liver disease in a young dog are toxin ingestion, other infectious agents (fungal infections: histoplasmosis and coccidiomycosis and others), liver flukes and other parasites, neoplasm, and extension to liver from other diseases such as pancreatitis.
Since the instigating agent is not yet known, supportive therapy is necessary, which includes Sub Cutaneous fluid therapy, anti-emetics (anti-nausea medication), appetite stimulants (as long as they are safe on the liver), antibiotics, and liver support neutaceuticals such as: Milk Thistle, Alpha-lipoic acid, Sam-E, Burdock Root, Choline and Inositol, vitamin D and A, and other antioxidants and more.
Supportive therapy is not expensive and at this stage is money well spent. Essential tests include the Leptospirosis blood tests, Ultrasound and biopsy. You are certainly not throwing money away by having these tests performed, if you love your dog! A Care Credit card may help. Care Credit is a low interest credit card that can be only used for medical, dentistry or veterinary medical bills. It allows you the ability to be able to pay off the veterinary bills slowly over time.
Most dog's do recover from Leptospirosis, if that is what she has, but she will seem to be very sick for a long time. Antibiotics must be given for a month or longer.
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