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Old December 27th, 2013, 02:52 PM
Chris7 Chris7 is offline
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Join Date: Dec 2013
Location: California, CA
Posts: 5
pancreatitis in older dog, any tips / suggestions

I am very much new to this, but would appreciate anyone’s help or advice during this difficult time. My 12-year-old shepherd mix has been in the vet hospital coming on 48hrs. for pancreatitis.

On Monday (12/23) at 6:30 am she threw up bile and undigested food – had all the normal symptoms of pancreatitis; did not want to move, would not eat, would not drink water and looked to be in pain. I was at the vets office by noon and she was given a pain shot, anti-nausea shot, a fluid pack to be given under the skin at home (200 CC once a day) and Tramadol for pain (100mg twice a day). She came home and slept on her bed and looked to be looking a little better, but at 2 AM she attempted to get up and took maybe 6 steps and collapsed in front of the kitchen. By Christmas day (Wed. 12/25) she had not moved from the spot in front of the fridge and was still not showing any interest in food, on Tuesday 12/24 she had started drinking bits of water that I would give her with pedialyte and did not throw any of it up.

At 5:30 pm on Christmas night I rushed her to the Vet Emergency room to be treated since I saw no improvement. Once there she was put on an IV and pain meds. Her blood pressure was normal; she had fluid in her abdomen, which they tapped to make sure it wasn’t blood (which it wasn’t), and told that she seemed to have an irregular heartbeat. She was left at the hospital to recover. Blood work was ordered that showed high levels of enzymes in her pancreas (don’t know the exact number). X-rays were done, which showed an enlarged liver. She was put on an EKG to monitor her heart. Was told that she ate some food once she was left there, but then refused to eat food again.

When I visited her at 2pm yesterday (Thur. 12/26) she didn’t even acknowledge that I was there and would not lift her head. She had been taken out but was not able to walk or stand on her own. She seemed to have no change in her condition, other than the fact that she was extremely scared of her surroundings. I came back at 6:30 with the rest of my family and she was brought to a visiting room on a cart. She seemed more alert then and lifted her head and started crying when she saw all of us. She even turned on her side when we were petting her. I asked for food in an attempt to get her to eat – which she did eat half of.

We discussed our options with the Vet – (1) Perform an ultrasound to see if there is a mass around her liver or pancreas, which they would then take a sample of to test for cancer. Or (2) Put her down (Which he said wouldn’t be wrong given her age and future quality of life) . After much thought we decided to give her another day and perform an ultra-sound, which would put us very close to spending a little over $4,000 up to this point(these emergency vet hospitals sure are expensive).

I called this morning (Fri. 12/27) for an update – another Vet was handling her case today (these hospitals seem to change vets on a daily basis). She said that she was still extremely lethargic, would not move/ could not walk without assistance, and was again not eating anything. The only good news is that she had not thrown up the food she ate last night. She would be continued on IV and pain meds. Her ultrasound would not be able to be performed until this afternoon, afterwards they would probably insert a nasal feeding tube. They will be calling me after the ultrasound to explain their findings.

At this point I am extremely unsure of how to proceed after the Ultra-sound. If there is a mass and it is cancerous than I don’t think I should put her through the pain of treatment – but even so I won’t know this for a couple of days since they have to send the samples out for testing. She is 12, going on 13, and I don’t think it would be fair to expect her to go through all of that. But, what if it just shows that it is a really bad case of Pancreatitis? When do I know enough is enough? Money is certainly an issue, I don’t know how much longer I can afford to keep her at the hospital given they charge close to 1,000 a day with all the meds and tests they run on her. Also, she hates it in there – she has always been a scared dog and I stay up at night imagining how bad she must feel to be in a foreign place and to have all of these procedures done on her – she looks terrified. Any suggestions or thoughts from people who have gone through this? Am I just trying to hold on to my Blanca, even though it’s her time?

I forgot to mention that she did have a previous pancreatitis attack a little under a year ago. She had all of the same symptoms and it looked really bad then (although I don’t know if that’s just because it was the first time we experienced it). On her first attack she wasn’t hospitalized – we just gave her fluids under the skin at home and pain medication from regular vet. She wouldn’t eat or drink for three days – but on the fourth she started eating bits of rice and we slowly got her back to normal. Since then we have been extremely on top of not giving her human food – other than rice, lean boiled chicken mixed in with her regular grain food. She’s also been on 10mg of Prednisone for severe allergies every Monday, Wed, and Fri for a while.

Any suggestions? Thoughts? Sorry for the super long thread….
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