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1337091 tn?1275912473

12 yr old Bouvier - not responding to treatment for pancreatitis

My 12 yr old Bouvier stopped eating 6 days ago. I took him to my vet who took blood. His Amalayse and lipase enzymes came back high, suggestive of pancreatitis. He was hospitalized there for supportive care of iv fluids, antibiotics, pepsid ac, no food or water. His x-ray showed nothing clear. 2 days in the hospital, no improvement. My vet suggested I take him to the ER at another hospital for an ultrasound of his abdomen. This morning when i went to take him, he couldn't walk and kept falling over and crying. I literally had to put him on a rug and pull him out to my car and pick him up (he's 91 lbs.) and put him in the back seat. When I got there they put him on a stretcher and took him in. That vet said she was concerned about something neurological going on, causing him to lose balance and fall. The ultrasound wasn't really conclusive, it just showed an enlarged spleen, and pancreas and some shadowing in the stomach. Nothing definitive. Now they're talking about surgery to see what's going on in there. I don't know what to do. I'm already looking at $4,200 and still no definite diagnosis. They can't even rule out cancer. If anyone could give me some advice I would appreciate it. I love my dog so much and it's killing me to see him so sick.
6 Responses
675347 tn?1365464245
Sometimes, with an older dog, just feeling really bad, and not eating for a while can be enough to bring about peculiar weakness that might not happen with a younger dog. (My dog had severe diarrhea one day earlier this year, and was very weak on her back legs for almost 2 days. When I asked the vet about this, she told me the illness although short-lived, and not eating had probably caused this reaction. True enough, once she was better her legs were fine.)
What I'm saying is there may not be any neurological reason for your dog to be so "off his legs" It could be caused by general weakness.
But of course I can't say that as a fact.

It is of course, up to you what your next move will be. If the ultrasound is inconclusive, and surgery is the only way they can tell what is going on inside him, then if you have the money for that surgery, maybe that is the next natural move. Otherwise you will never know what is wrong.
If you gave up, and had him put to sleep, (and some people might advise you to do that) you might be troubled by all the "what-ifs" (what if I'd done it, would he be alive now?...what was the matter with him, it might have been curable, etc...)  and believe me, it would be worth the extra money for surgery to be free of all those doubts and possible self-blame. At least if you do all you can, those thoughts will not be there.

I do hope they find out what's wrong, and help him soon.
Avatar universal
I agree with Giner899, if you possibly can, do everything to find out what is wrong with your dog and to help him improve.  If he continues to decline and will not get better, you won't regret spending the money you did and trying all options.
82861 tn?1333457511
I was in the same position several years ago.  Pancreatitis in my 13 year old dog. It's an extremely painful condition in both dogs and humans.  The treatment is also about the same: IV support, TPN nutrition, nothing by mouth and pain meds and antibiotics if the cause is infectious.   We spent nearly $10,000 trying to to save him, but couldn't.  At least he had excellent pain management the last couple weeks of his life.

Believe me, I know how awful it is to be faced with this decision.  I think you need a very honest discussion with your vet about prognosis.  You know your dog better than anyone.  If his quality of life is gone and nothing can help his suffering, it's time to say goodbye and ease him out of the suffering.
Avatar universal
Whenever an animal's treatment costs are getting into the thousands of dollars, then, at least for most people, money IS an object.  I love my dog, but I do not have that kind of money to sink $4000 to $10,000 into a single episode of veterinary care, at least not without going into debt for the next several years.  And yes, I'll go ahead and say it, it does make a difference to me how much I am willing to spend for what is likely a terminal illness, versus an acute problem that can be totally cured in a young dog.  I'm saying this "out loud," because I would hate to see someone put themselves or their family in a bad situation by trying to do more financially for a pet than they can comfortably do.  In my opinion, there sometimes does come a  time when most people have to stop the financial hemorrhaging that can easily be associated with the critical illness of a pet -- even if it means saying goodbye to that pet.  It's just a sad fact of life.  Finances are part of the reality of the situation and have to be taken into account in the decision-making process, by most people.

gmars, I'm so sorry about your Bouvier's illness.  I wish for the best possible outcome.
82861 tn?1333457511
To clarify, I am not advocating for anyone to go into debt to save a pet for any reason.  Prolonging suffering with advanced medical care in the vain hope that a terminal illness can be cured is the same thing as doing nothing.  In the end, the poor animal is still suffering no matter how well treated in a veterinary hospital and the end is still the same.

In my dog's case, there was no way of knowing which way his condition would go.  Even the vets couldn't call it.  We could have easily had a happy ending rather than a sad one, so we had to take it day by day as the costs mounted up.  And yes, in the end we spent all we could and did all we could until it was clear he wasn't going to recover.

If you must know, at the time we were lucky enough not to assume any debt for that experience.  I nearly depleted my savings account.  When the next dog needed serious medical help a few years later, our economic situation was not so certain.  I sold my car and bought a beater to pay for her medical care.  I'm not saying that "my way" is the only way to handle serious and emergent veterinary care.  My intent is merely to illustrate how expensive it CAN be, and that sometimes you have to think outside the box to figure a way around it.  You also have to have a slice of very cold logic and reason and be willing to see your pet's suffering and your own monetary situation for what it is before making the decision to move forward with expensive treatment.

I would never expect anyone to act as I have where my animals are concerned.  Of course I realize that money is an object and we can't always give our pets "the best" of medical care.  The only thing I ask is that pet owners humanely euthanize their pets when the only option is terrible suffering and medical care is not possible, and that is not an expensive proposition.  
Avatar universal
Thank you for the clarification.  It does help.  I hope you understand, I don't mean any criticism of you or anyone else who responded to gmars's post.  I just felt that another perspective should be offered, in addition to what had already been said.  Speaking for myself, I certainly will do whatever I can for my dogs, but it's a fact that sometimes there is a limit, and I empathise with pet owners who have hit their limit.  Especially given your clarification, I don't think that you and I disagree on anything about the matter.  

BTW, I did not feel that I needed to know your financial circumstances, because my remarks were not personally intended.  My only intention was to let gmars know that, despite the encouragement from others to pursue care, she should not feel obligated to do so if the cost of care would put her or or family in a bad situation.  That aspect of the problem had not been mentioned -- or if it was, I missed it (and my bad, in that case).  

I think you summed it up very well, Jaybay, with your last sentence of the previous post:  "The only thing I ask is that pet owners humanely euthanize their pets when the only option is terrible suffering and medical care is not possible, and that is not an expensive proposition."  Heroic medical efforts for a pet are a financial luxury in many cases, but if you can't afford to at least put a suffering pet to sleep, then IMO you can't afford to have the pet in the first place.
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