Wednesday, December 30, 2009

12_30 Update

My company left on Monday and yesterday was a day of extreme rest. :)

Like I mentioned in my last update, Elvis handled all of the activity here over Christmas very well. He was quite engaged in what was happening, and if someone rang the doorbell and came in to the living room, he was quite curious about them and wanted to at least come in and sit across the room and observe. A far, far cry from his earlier actions with company.

He's been on the 1/3 Pred a day regimen now for several days, and will continue it through Friday. Beginning Saturday, he starts on the 1/4 tablet per day for two weeks. Though I've noticed a bit more coughing in the last day or two, I'd say the Prednisone treatment has handled 85-90% of his cough/wheezing. This is very good. Now what will transpire when he moves down to the 1/4 tablet, we won't know until it happens. And then we'll have to see where we are when he comes completely off of it. Currently the improvement is such that he's not really being given any Torbutrol, and his Guafinisen is reduced.

Sunday night will be another heartworm pill. This is to treat the incubating heartworms again...just like last time. Once we see how he responds to the reduced Pred dosage (and then life without it), Dr. Walthall will make the decision on whether to treat the adult heartworms.

So that's where we are. Unless there's some extreme change, I suspect I won't post another update until sometime Monday or Tuesday after he's cleared the treatment hurdle. I don't expect any problems since there weren't any last time, but I do want to keep a close eye on him three or four days after the treatment because that's when he started having problems with the serious cough/wheeze.

I hope everyone has a happy and safe New Year, and I'll see you next week. :)

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas photos

Here are three photos from yesterday. And yeah, we got the space alien look going.

Elvis:


Skeeter and Elvis

Haley and Elvis

12_26 Update

I know I said I probably wouldn't update until Sunday, but I think I forgot what day it was when I said that. :)

This will be quick, though, since we've got out of town company that won't leave until Monday.

Elvis has handled the Christmas spirit really, really well. He had no problem when my dad and stepmom were here earlier in the week. He's handled all the decorations and kitchen banging and rattling really well. And he handled all yesterday's activity really well. An enthusiastic "Attaboy!" for him.

He went down to 1/3 a Pred yesterday, and he'll have another six days of that. The Pred has helped him enough to where I'm only giving Guafinisen at need now and Torbutrol if he can't seem to stop coughing....and that's pretty rare. He's also at 8.4 pounds, so as much as he's food motivated right now, his weight is still in good shape.

It looks like the steroids have really helped stabilize him, which is great. I do want to speak with Dr. Walthall about continuing to use the Enalapril. I'm honestly forgetting what benefit that medicine is supposed to have. And am I seeing it? (SOOOOOO many drugs. LOL) I won't talk to them until sometime next week, though, so we'll just keep on giving him his small dosage twice a day.

That really is all, though I am going to post a picture or two in another post. We got some of him, Haley and Skeeter yesterday, so I want to get them on here.

I'll post another update in a few days.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

12_24 Update

Since I've got a ton of stuff to do today in preparation for Christmas Day tomorrow, I'll make this brief.

Elvis has now had four days of 1/2 pill (5 mg) of Prednisone, and it's definitely making a difference with him. There's MUCH less wheezing/coughing going on, and I've been able to seriously cut back on his Guafinisen and Torbutrol. He still gets his Robitussin DM (which has Guafinisen in it) with breakfast and dinner, but the Torbutrol has been cut back to may 1/4 pill per day. He got one this morning, and he got one at dinner last night, but I'm generally seeing that instead of two 1/4 and one 1/2 Torbutrol, it's really about one 1/4 pill.

So that is a definitely improvement.

The Prednisone is certainly ramping up his appetite and I am having to watch him. He's highly motivated to grab stuff that falls on the floor, which is something he has never done before. I'm pretty sure he's going to put on some weight during this course of medicines, but I'll weigh him today at the normal time and make the necessary adjustments.

This will probably be my last update until maybe Sunday. I did call his clinic yesterday to let them know the Pred is helping him. He'll move over to 1/3 pill starting tomorrow, and I will call the clinic early next week and give them an update.

So with that, I'll close and wish everyone a very happy and safe Christmas.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

War vets, shelter dogs heal together in program

War vets, shelter dogs heal together in program

Soldiers with PTSD find comfort, inspiration in needy pooches

One of the goals of Pets2Vets is to raise awareness about post-traumatic stress disorder. Sharpe says that while a few groups provide veterans with service dogs, many PTSD and traumatic brain injury patients do not qualify for these programs. Even when they do, because of the stigma still
attached to psychological problems, they may hesitate to apply.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/34572712/ns/health-pet_health/

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

12_22 Late update

Apparently the Prednisone is acting faster than I thought it would. Elvis has hardly coughed or wheezed all day.

With that in mind, I'm going to delete his bedtime Torbutrol since it's rather pointless to give him the Super Duper Cough Stopper pill if he's not coughing. I'll give him 1/2 of a Guafinisen since he never got one this afternoon. If he doesn't cough tomorrow, I'll just go with the Guafinisen like I used to.

One thing the Prednisone is definitely doing is making him a really hungry fella. :)

Not unexpected, but he's been seriously looking for food whenever there's an opportunity. I'll weigh him tomorrow to be sure he's not doing anything funky with his weight.

I'll post another update sometime tomorrow or Thursday.

Monday, December 21, 2009

12_21 Update

Elvis got his first dose of steroids today. So far. So good. He'll be on them for the next 3 1/2 weeks. It's Prednisone, so he gets a full dose (half a 5 mg tablet) for four days, then eight days of 1/3 tablet and then two weeks of 1/4 tablet.

Since it takes a few days to kick in, I doubt we'll see much in the way of improvement until Thursday or so. I have hopes this will help his wheezing and coughing.

Randall and I had my dad and stepmom over today for a gift exchange, and I wasn't sure how Elvis would do since there would be packages and tissue paper. Lots of rattling stuff tends to make him nervous.

Everyone was crated when they first came in and then we put up the gates and let everyone out of the crates so they could be in here in the den, loose but hearing the noises. When we took the gate down from the kitchen into the living room, Haley and Skeeter came right in (they'd been up at the gate and Elvis had been with them). Elvis came in and skittered around a bit, ran out of the room and then came right back in.

Randall picked him up and put him in the chair with me where he watched while I took stuff out of bags and had tissue paper rattling around, and he did beautifully. He was sort of big-eyed, but more out of curiosity than anything else. When I was done and he'd had a chance to sniff stuff, he promptly curled up and took a nap.

We were really proud of how he handled himself. He only wheezed and coughed a couple of times, but not loudly and not for long. He just continues to surprise us when he's asked to handle situations that are different than the usual. We don't push or stress him, but when he can move at his own pace, he really does well. A far, far cry from how he was five months ago.

I suspect I won't post another update until later this week. My mom is coming in from Dallas on Friday, so I'll try to get something up on Thursday...hopefully I'll have news about the steroid treatment.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

12_19 Update and Future Plans

The update part is actually very short. :)

Elvis continues to wheeze some and cough some, but if I had to put it on a scale of 1-10, I'd say he pretty well stays at a 2. Sometimes up to a three, and sometimes down to a one, but on average it's a two. This is good because it means he can continue to sleep through the night, and I don't have to push water on him because he's coughing so much and dehydrating himself. A definite improvement there.

Now, for the future plans. :)

He will begin a small dose of steroids on Monday to help him with his wheezing/breathing. I had hoped he'd be able to go on them, but Dr. Walthall wanted to consult with some other vets to ensure that the steroids would be OK for a dog with his physical problems. It is OK, so Monday Randall will drive out to the clinic and pick up his pills.

If these help stabilize him, Dr. Walthall wants to look into treating the adult heartworms that he has. She feels that many of his problems may actually be coming more from that situation, and if he's stable, addressing it could very well help.

Making the assumption here that the steroids will do what we hope, I've emailed Fallon (the new foster care director at the shelter) to find out how she wants to handle this. Normally, heartworm treatment for positive dogs is given by injection, but because that is so very debilitating, Dr. Walthall wants to use a monthly treatment pill each week for a few weeks. Right now, I'm not sure where I'm getting the pills, but since this is a treatment like his Lasix and other heart drugs, the shelter should pick up that cost. Once he's been treated successfully, then he can move over to the preventative I use for my guys and it will be treated like just part of his diet.

I did ask that we not make any plans to start this until after the first of the year. There's just too much going on at home to add something like this. I want us to be able to give him our undivided attention. I doubt we'd make the decision to move to the new treatment before then, but I wanted to mention it just in case.

And that's where we are. I'll post another update after he's had a chance to be on the steroids for a bit and we can see if they're helping.

Friday, December 18, 2009

12_18 Medicine/Feeding Update

Posted because I'm afraid I'll lose my mind (and my notes) over the weekend. :)

Elvis, btw, is doing pretty well. Still sleeping through the night. Still wheezy (but a bit less so) and still coughing (but less so), but all in all, he's doing better than he was earlier in the week.

Breakfast
1/3 cup food
1/4 cup water
1/4 Enalapril
1/4 Torbutrol
.5 ml Robitussin DM
.75 ml Lasix

Midafternoon (if needed)
1/4 Torubtrol
1/4 Guafinisen

Dinner
1 1/2 Tbsp food
1/8 cup water
1/4 Enalapril
.5 ml Robitussin DM
.75 ml Lasix

Bedtime
1/2 Torbutrol
1/4 Guafinisen

We're still waiting to hear about the steroid situation, but right now he seems stable, and that's the main thing. His weight is definitely fluctuating, but I suspect that's because I've been tweaking the medicine and food/water amounts. He's down closer to 8 pounds, so it's not too radical.

We're having family over Monday afternoon, and I've got quite a bit to do this weekend, so unless his situation changes, I probably won't update this blog until Monday night.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

12_17 Update (Thursday)

Just a very quick update here.

Elvis is about the same. Still sleeping through the night with some very mild coughing, so that's good.

Dr. Walthall is still waiting for information on the consultation on the steroids for him. Not sure if we'll know anything this afternoon or not. Might be tomorrow. I will say that 1/4 of a Guafinisen given with either 1/4 or 1/2 of a Torbutrol really helps. The two drugs seem to work very well together in controlling his cough...better than they do alone.

Right now, he gets 1/2 Torbutrol and 1/4 Guafinisen right before he goes in his crate for the night. At breakfast, he's getting .5 ml of Robitussin DM (has Guafinisen in it) and 1/4 Torbutrol. If he needs it during they day, I'll give him 1/4 Torbutrol and 1/4 Guafinisen. That seems to be working with him right now. He's also back down to .75 ml Lasix twice a day, and 1/4 Enalapril twice a day.

His antibiotics ended yesterday, so that's one less pill for him. Yeah!!

That's where we are right now with him. Hopefully I'll have some information about the steroids late this afternoon or tomorrow. If not, it will be Monday.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

12_15 Update

Whew! What a day.

We stopped in for Dr. Walthall to check over Elvis since her last time to see him was last week in the middle of the night. From what she could hear, his heart sounds good (for what we're working with here), but his lungs sound like the Rice Krispie guys. Snap. Crackle. Pop.

His medicine was refilled and didn't particularly change. He's got 1.5 ml Lasix (that's been .75 twice a day, but I think I'm going to split this into three doses and see if it helps. He can have a morning, lunch, dinner dosing). His Guafinisen stays at three 1/2 pills a day. His Enalapril (heart med) will stay at 1/4 pill twice a day and his Torbutrol will stay at 1/2 pill before bed, and another 1/4 during the day if he needs it. He'll end his anti-biotic tomorrow night, so that that will be one less pill to fool with.

Dr. Walthall wanted to consult with another vet about possibly using steroids on him for his wheezy breathing. The concern here is that it could thicken the fluid he's got with his congestive heart failure, but I suspect we may try it for at least a little while if we can. His breathing is really bad.

He's also going to get a monthly heartworm treatment like the rest of the house does. I want to talk to her about that again, because the shelter doesn't provide the treatment for fosters, and I use Ivomec liquid. He would get a tiny dose, but I'm going to have to get a 1 cc syringe before I can do much. My syringe isn't calibrated that finely.

So that's where we are right now. There's no question he's improved over last week, but I really would like something that would help ease his breathing because that seems to be what triggers his bad coughing spells.

Not sure if I'll update tomorrow or not. A lot depends on what I hear about his steroids and if his sleeping habits change (we're back to sleeping through the night which is MUCH appreciate).

I'm hoping to get a few pictures in the next week. I'd hoped to get some before now, but there's not much point when he hasn't felt well. He's feeling much better now, though, so pointing a camera in his direction is more likely. :)

Monday, December 14, 2009

12_14 Update

Thought I'd done an update earlier today. Oops. So I'll make this one quick.

Elvis did well again last night, so we all got sleep. Tonight, I'm going to dial him back to 1/4 Torbutrol rather than 1/2 and see how it goes.

I've scheduled an appointment for him tomorrow to see Dr. Walthall. I did talk to her briefly today to check on medicine amounts for his cough and she asked me if it was dry of wet. Most of the time it's dry. Sometimes it's wet. And sometimes I have a hard time telling.

So we'll deal with this tomorrow. Fortunately he'll be in the room with her and I'm pretty sure he'll cough, so that should help.

He's gotten some ottoman time today which is VERY important to him. :)

I'll post tomorrow afternoon after we get back home and update how things are going with the little guy.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

12_13 Evening Update (Sunday)

This is going to be short post because I'm beat...been in the kitchen all day.

Elvis had a good morning and early afternoon, but his day started going downhill the more the smells from the kitchen increased. I was actually roasting a turkey and about 3:30, it began to smell good and Elvis' wheezing increased.

Got worse at dinner. :) As he gets excited, he wheezes a lot and coughs more. He's felt good enough, though, to race Skeeter out the back door. I know that's not in his best interest, but he loves it and he's not really felt up to it until today. He also spent a lot of time meandering around the yard since it was a really pretty day and warm enough that Haley and Skeeter both wanted to spend time in the sun

I'm going to go give the old man some ottoman time this evening. He got a bit before lunch and he was VERY happy. I've been pushing the water today some since his coughing has been more pronounced. He'll be getting some of that here shortly and then we'll head in for time in his favorite nap spot.

Hopefully we'll have another good night tonight. I'll call the clinic in the morning and set up an appointment. I'll need to restock the medicines, too. And he's down to 8 pounds which is good.

I'll post again in the morning.

12_13 Morning Update (Sunday)

Hhmmmmmmmm....I don't want to be TOO optimistic here, but Elvis slept mostly through the night. Which meant I wasn't up at 4 am giving him another cough pill and shoving water down him.

Randall said shortly after midnight he started coughing about every hour, but that it was fairly soft and only went on 30-45 seconds. I suspect he would get up and shift around.

He was VERY happy to see me this morning. This is the first time since Wednesday that he's gotten up and greeted me with his wagging stump and goofy grin. Coughing? Yes. Wheezing? Yes. But still very happy. Randall said he went over to the gate a couple of different times to look through and see if I was coming.

He also cleaned up his breakfast dish. Not really surprising since he didn't get fed in the middle of the night.

There is also a tremendous amount of interest in what I'm doing. As in..."You going to the ottoman, yet?" sort of interest. So I suspect in the interest of keeping him comfortable, I'll head in there so he can have a half hour of his favorite past time.

So, things are better today than they were yesterday. He's less wheezy for the most part. The cough is still definitely with him, though it seems to stop sooner than it did yesterday. So this is very good news. It looks, too, as if the dietary distress is ending. I've not seen him straining to potty and he's not taking nearly as long when he poops.

I'll definitely call Dr. Walthall tomorrow because I want her to see him. If not tomorrow, then Tuesday. I'll need to reup the drug supply, and I want a good talk with her (and I'll pass on the info to Fallon at the shelter), but I'm really wondering if what we're seeing isn't the new normal for him. There is still no distress when he's coughing, though he does look at me as if he wants me to make it stop, but it seems as if he's treating it as an annoyance rather than something that's interfering with him getting his breath.

With any luck, what we're seeing is something that can be handled. His heart disease is never going to go away, and at some point it will mean the end for him, but as of today, I don't think that point is right now. It could rapidly change, but my fingers are crossed that we're not going there tomorrow.

I'll post again tonight.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

12_12 evening update

It's been a mixed bag here, today.

Elvis is still hacking, coughing and wheezing, but what is interesting is that he doesn't seem to be in any real distress. Obviously he's not real happy when he's having a bad bout, but he's very alert, interested in what's going on, and eating everything we put in front of him (or doing his level best).

In a way that's encouraging, but in a way it also disturbs me. If he had some infection causing this, I would expect some lethargy and lack of interest in food and household happenings. That's not the case. Now, he's also only had three full days of Clavamox and Dr. Walthall did say that the blood panel showed high normal for infection, so I guess it's possible this is something low grade. Sure doesn't sound that way, but maybe it is.

One GOOD thing is his weight is down some. Yesterday he'd ballooned up to 8.8, and today he's down to a more normal 8.2. I'd still like to see it a bit lower because looking at him gives me the impression he's retaining fluid. And there's only so much Lasix he can have. I've actually given him a bit more last night and today than I feel really comfortable with, so tomorrow I'm going to have to dial it back some. Ditto with the Guafinisen. He's not showing much in the way of drowsiness, but I'm having to use more than I'm comfortable with. And he won't take liquid Robitussen DM unless its well camouflaged in food. I can't blame him. That stuff is cherry and its vile.

I'm iffy on how his stool is doing. The only reason I noticed blood in it at all yesterday was because he'd pooped in the house. He's not done that today. I think it's still somewhat loose based on how he's acting outside, but I would say there's definite improvement in the length of time he tries to potty. That's a good sign. I'll keep with the rice and yogurt until I see a reversal, but I am almost 100% that this was invoked by the turkey stock. Won't make that mistake with him again.

This is where we are tonight. He's been haunting the hell out of me most of the afternoon, so I know once dinner is over, I will be heading into the living room with my book so he can spend some ottoman time. He's not had any of that in the last several days, and he's obviously missing it. The fact he hasn't been pushing until now may mean something. Usually he starts bugging me nightly if I haven't gone in there, but the last three days haven't been that way. Maybe this is a good sign. I sure hope so. Because even if he's not seeming to suffer from his coughing spells, it's killing me to hear them.

I'll post again in the morning.

12_12 morning update

Not a great night here.

Elvis' half pill of Torbutrol only held him until 4 am. He started back in coughing and hacking, so I got up and let him outside after giving him 1/4 of another pill plus some Guaifinisen. Since I knew he would also need fluid, I gave him a bit of food, Kaopectate and water. He gobbled that down.

Haley and I took benedryl, and even with that Haley wouldn't go back to sleep, so about 4:30, Randall went out and got her and stuck her in bed with us. I hated to "reward" her bad behavior, but in the middle of the night there is only so much whining and yipping we can stand. Not only that, but since her crate is right next to Elvis', she was disturbing him.

Randall got up and left me to sleep. Elvis got his Clavamox and heart pill. When he came to wake me up at 9:30, he said Elvis wasn't doing well. Lots of coughing going on...bad enough that he finally had put him in his crate.

I gave him breakfast, and he didn't clean the bowl. Not so much that he wasn't finished, but I think he was slow because he wasn't as hungry. Everyone has been outside, and I'll put Elvis back in his crate in a bit with the bowl. I suspect he'll polish it off then.

So here's where we are. Still a lot of coughing, hacking and wheezing. This isn't good. My fear is that either the Clavamox isn't working or, worse, this isn't an infection but a progression of his heart disease. If it's the latter, I suspect we're at the end for poor little Elvis.

I plan on calling Liz at the Humane Society in a bit and having a talk about how to handle things from here on out. Randall and I will do everything in our power to pull him through this, but I think Dr. Walthall suspects this problem is from his heart disease, but she's willing to go with an infection as a possibility. Ultimately while we'll do whatever we can, we also won't let him suffer. Right now he's a bit unhappy and uncomfortable, but his problems are controllable. If, however, there won't be any improvement, we'll have a decision to make.

I've got a lot of kitchen stuff to do this morning, but I'll post an update this afternoon.

Friday, December 11, 2009

12 _11 Early evening update

Man. What a day. Not that Elvis is doing worse, really, but that there comes a point where I'm up to my ears in medication and problems and I begin to think I'm losing my mind.

There is still a lot of wheezing and a lot of coughing going on. Stress, excitement and movement seem to be the main drivers.

I did finally talk to Dr. Walthall late this afternoon (she's had the day from hell), and we talked over some options.

The main concern right now after the wheezing/coughing is the blood in his stool. It's possible he's going into kidney failure (though that panel was excellent last week and he doesn't act the way other dogs of mine have acted when going into late stage renal failure). It's possible it's cancer. That's always a shadow. But the most likely culprit is yours truly helping him get more fluid down by giving him the smoked turkey stock. Even defatted and with very low sodium, it's rich. It just seems too likely that I've caused the problem. Right now, it's being addressed by giving cooked rice, kaopectate, yogurt and canned pumpkin. I'll keep an eye on it, but his stools are loose and that didn't start until today after a couple of goodly amounts of stock.

Dr. Walthall and I will look at this again on Monday if it's still happening, because it's also possible he needs a GI protectant. I know antibiotics can also sometimes loosen stools, so while it's in the back of my mind, my main worry is dehydration. So this stays as a "monitor and try to clear up with diet change."

He's getting his Clavamox twice a day in a little ball of food. This is the one thing that might change on Monday. Dr. Walthall can give him an long acting antibiotic injection, so if I'm not seeing improvement by Monday and need relief from pill handling, he'll go in for that.

His Enalapril is another twice a day, and that's going easy because, like the Clavamox, it's in a food ball and he scarfs if down. That's one thing you can say about Elvis: whatever he has that's going on really isn't causing an appetite problem. He's a proper little pig.

So the two main things now are the Lasix and the cough medicine.

The Lasix is really a no brainer provided he's getting enough fluid. I did give him a pill today rather than the liquid because he was drugged from the middle of the night Torbutrol. That's a once a day thing (and I've only got one more), so I'd like to get him back on the liquid tomorrow. That gets tweaked just about daily, so there's no real issue with it.

Back to the cough. It can get bad. Obviously NOTHING like it was two nights ago, but he's wheezing and the cough can get hacking. On a scale of 1-10 today, I'd give it a 2 or 3. Not bad, but I want him to sleep tonight.

I will give him a bit more rice, yogurt, kaopectate and pumpkin with a bit of water about 10. I'll also give him 1/2 of a Torbutrol at the same time. I'm going to have to go out and see how Guaifenisin reacts with it because I don't want to overdo it, but I do want that available if I need it later tomorrow.

So that's where we are. His weight is up to 8.8 lbs which is a significant gain for him, but since we've been pushing food/liquid, I think that may be where some of it's coming from.

Hopefully the night will be uneventful since everyone here needs a full night of sleep. I'll post in the morning on what's gone on.

12_11 - early afternoon update

For now, I'm going to have to start posting more medical note taking stuff in here. If I'm not careful, I'm going to start having trouble reading my hand written notes, so this is the best place for them.

8:10 am. Pooped in his crate. Loose stool, but not unexpected because of the turkey stock (it's rich). He moved out onto one of the dog beds, and there's been no sustained coughing. Offered him some liquid and he showed no interest.

9:30 am. Gave Clavamox and 1/4 Enalapril in a bit of food. Still not interested in breakfast, but he's gotten up several times for water. This is the first time in two days he's really done this.

10:45. 1/2 Guaifinisen, 1/4 of 50 mg Lasix tablet (he won't have more Lasix today). He's more alert. Still coughing, but less intense (2-3 on a scale of 10).

11:25. Pooped a little in house. Very loose and a bit of blood in the mucus. Went ahead and called the clinic, but they'll have to call me back.

12:15. Ate 1/4 cup rice, 2 Tbsp plain yogurt, 1/4 C stock. Was looking for more. I could hear him wheeze when he was eating, but it seems that that and drinking tend to increase it. Once he was finished eating, the wheezing eased.

He's been outside and followed everyone around. He's in the basket now and resting with no coughing and little wheezing. I'll call the clinic again after 1:00. I hate to be a pest, but I also want a nap this afternoon, so if Dr. Walthall wants to see him, I want to be sure and talk to her.

Also, I really do want some sort of game plan for over the weekend. Some things I want to check are whether the Clavamox will help address the wheezing at some point. I also want to verify the amount of fluids/day, whether I should worry about the loose stool (Pepto maybe?) because of dehydration, and what the dosage/24 hours is for Torbutrol. There's probably more, but I'm forgetting it. :(

I'll post again later this afternoon.

12_11 - morning update

Well, while last night wasn't what Wednesday night was, it sure could have been better.

Right after 7:30, Elvis started in with the hacking cough. You could see him getting worse as time went on. Finally at 8:15, we tried 1/4 of a Torbutrol. Dr. Walthall had suggested that dose first, but after an hour had passed, there wasn't any improvement. He hadn't gotten worse, but he hadn't gotten better. So, the second 1/4 tablet was given.

Things stayed pretty much the same. No worse, but not really better. That's something I'd noticed with him with his milder cough tablet. Two 1/4 doses, even given within an hour of one another don't work. He has to have the 1/2 dose all at once. It appears that this is the same problem with the Torbutrol.

Finally at 10:10 when he began hacking badly, I gave him a full dose of Guaifenesin. That did it, and Randall and I got ready to head to bed...gratefully, might I add.

Before shutting down for the night, I wanted to see what the maximum dosage would be for a dog his size. Ideally he would have had 1/2 tablet within a 20-24 hour period of time, but if he started back up coughing, I didn't want to have to go in search of information at 2:00 in the morning. Getting Randall involved for the numbers conversion from a medical website (I suck at math), the prescribed dosage was 1/4-1/2 of a 5 mg tablet every 6-8 hours for a slightly smaller dog.

Armed with that information, we headed to bed.

At 4:45, Randall shook me awake. Elvis was coughing again and had been for 7 or 8 minutes...plenty of time for him to have shifted around in his crate, coughed and settled back down.

So I went ahead and let him outside to potty and then gave 1/2 a pill. Sadly, I totally forgot to give him fluids, and when I tried, you could tell the narcotic side effects had started, and he just didn't comprehend the dish. Unfortunately, when I first wake up, I'm seriously sleep walking...the brain doesn't engage at all until I've had coffee. If this happens again, though, I'll remember. Hopefully the coughing won't keep him from being interested...I won't know until I try.

Randall and I went ahead and got up. At nearly 6:00 am, he's coughed a bit. I can't compare it to what he did in the wee hours of yesterday morning because Randall and I had passed out in bed.

I'll update this blog, and email a link to the clinic. Unless things go south, I suspect he'll be fine this morning. I do want to touch base with them this afternoon, because the clinic is closed on Saturday and Sunday.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Medicine change - update

OK. The results from the CBC are in, and I spoke to Dr. Walthall. Essentially there is one count that is high (and it relates to infection), but his white cell count is normal, though it's a high normal. With that in mind, Elvis will start a course of antibiotics today.

Talking back and forth through some medicine options has given us this: he will stay on his current Lasix dose (.75 CC twice a day), the Guafenisen will stay, but it may get swapped around with Robotussin DM, and, obviously, he'll have an antibiotic through however many days the course is for.

We're also going to add 1/4 of a 2.5 mg dose of Enalapril twice a day. That's a heart drug that dilates the blood vessels and it may or may not address some problems. The issue is just what exactly his heart is doing. If it's working too hard because of blood vessel constriction, it should help. If the heart is too enlarged and pushing against his cough "reflex", it won't. There's no real way to know, so since the Vetmedin gave him such a wonky behavior problem, Enalapril is the way we'll go.

The high powered cough pill is our ace card. He may or may not end up having a dose of that every night...it's too soon to say. Dr. Walthall did say that on a scale of 1-10, last night he was a 10 and, by rights, shouldn't be alive. Elvis is basically a strong dog, though, so he came through something that might have killed another dog.

The other concern here is the fluid level. That was apparently what was contributing mightily to his disorientation last night. We're going to take a wait and see approach on what's needed here. The fluids are given sub-Q, so that may be something that we end up doing here at home at some future point (that's me talking, not Dr. Walthall, but I'd have absolutely no problem with doing it if it helped). Keeping him hydrated may also be a key to keeping these bouts under control. It's another thing to consider.

Randall has run to get his antibiotics. Since Elvis kept down his breakfast and hasn't shown any gagging or real coughing problems, I'll give him another couple of tablespoons of food and start his antibiotic then. The Enalapril will be started tonight with his dinner.

So that's where we are. Sort of an exhausting and non-definitive end, but I suspect that's the way his crisis we'll go. He'll rock along fine, and then head off into the land we don't want to visit and we'll reassess him at that point. Tiring, but that's the way it is really.

Elvis' Midnight Ride

Or maybe 12:30 am would be more accurate.

He was coughing and hacking all evening, and I finally called Dr. Walthall at home shortly before 8 pm. We settled on giving him 1 ml of Robotussin DM at 8:00 and then again at 9:00 if he was still having problems. I ended up giving both doses and that seemed to help some.

The humidifier ended up not making that much difference, so we went ahead and brought his crate back out here for the night. He went in fine, and seemed to be settling down, but when we turned out the light at 11:20, he started coughing. Finally at 11:30, I got up to take him in to the living room to sit on the ottoman.

Bringing him in and sitting him down allowed me to really take a good look at what he'd started doing. The coughing had progressed seriously and his breathing was terribly labored and wheezing. He also seemed extremely disoriented and when I opened his mouth, I could see his tongue was turning blue. He just wasn't getting enough oxygen.

Yelling for Randall, I called Dr. Walthall at home and, bless her heart, she met us out at her clinic around 12:30. She had told me on the phone that she wouldn't go to heroic measures to save him, and that was something I could understand.

We got him in, and, fortunately, that wasn't called for. She gave him fluids, an antibiotic and Lasix shot and drew blood to run a CBC on Thursday morning. He perked up, and the coughing slowed and his breathing became less labored, though he was still a bit wheezy. 1/2 of a Torbutrol (cough suppressant) and 10 minutes latter, and we had us one dozy Elvis.

The ride home was uneventful, and he went right to sleep once we got his crate in place.

This morning at 7:15, Randall woke me to let me know Elvis had vomited a bit but, other than REALLY needing to pee, seemed normal.

When I got up at 8:00, I decided I would cut his food back some. So instead of 1/3 cup food, he got 1 tbsp with 1 cc of Lasix and 1/4 cup of water. He cleaned all that up, and did his normal morning potty routine. He's still dozy, but more alert. Still a slight occasional, but very soft, cough despite the kick ass cough pill at 1 am. Picking him up and listening to his chest still gives me a bit of a wheeze, but I'm listening with the naked ear, so I won't lay money on what I'm hearing.

I've got a call into the clinic...they still need to run the CBC. Dr. Walthall and I agreed that he most likely will need to come in again later this morning to be checked. I really would like that because today is their half day, and I sure don't want a repeat of last night if I can at all help it.

I'll post another update once the results of the CBC are in and after our visit back out to the clinic.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

12_9 Update: Coughing Elvis

I think the dry cold is really causing some problems for Elvis. He was coughing some yesterday when it was cold and humid, but today it's been very cold and quite dry and his coughing has escalated alarmingly through the afternoon.

I've given him four doses of his cough medicine today, which unfortunately isn't really doing the trick. I also upped his evening Lasix to 1 CC. I'll do that again with his morning dosage, but I want to keep the evening dose at .75 CC. I'm hoping bumping that one dose up in the morning while keeping the regular dose with the evening meal won't trigger the behavior issues. Also, I'm hoping that if it helps it's something I only have to do when it gets really cold and dry. Our heater has been coming on more today, and I know that's contributed.

We've also moved him into our room since there's a humidifier in there for me (no salivary glands means that's an absolute must for me), and he'll be in there tonight. So far, his coughing has lessened some, but it's hard to say what's helping the most...the moister air or the drugs. No real way of knowing right now.

I called the clinic this afternoon, but never heard back. I'll call in the morning and see if Dr. Walthall has any ideas or suggestions. I first thought it might be some delayed reaction to the heartworm treatment, but that doesn't make much sense to me. Not sure what the answer here is, though. :(

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Everything Looks Good

(I meant to post an update late yesterday afternoon or early evening, but got busy and forgot. Oops!)

It looks like Elvis has made it through his initial heartworm treatment with no trouble. It's now been nearly 36 hours since we gave him the tablet, and we've seen no side effects at all.

I put a call in to Dr. Walthall's clinic yesterday afternoon to give a quick update and also to ask what the dosage would be for him for the heartworm medicine I use. Since it's a cattle wormer and he's a toy breed, I really need to be sure I don't overdose him on it. I think I'm even using a bit too much for my standard dachshund. I suspect that since I've been using it for 15 years, the thinking on the dosage amount has probably changed.

Anyway, starting next month he'll join my other two in the monthly preventive, which I am very happy to see. His little heart has enough going on without adding more of a load to it.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Cautiously Optimistic

It's now 3:30 pm, and Elvis doesn't seem to be showing any negative reactions to last night's heartworm pill. I'm cautiously optimistic at this point, and if he continues in this same way through the rest of today, I suspect he will have handled the treatment just fine.

If he goes through this, then starting next month he will join my guys on a monthly preventative which, while it won't address the adult heartworms that he currently has, will at least prevent further infestation.

I'll post another update tomorrow morning.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Heartworm Pill Tonight

In about a half hour, Elvis will receive his heartworm pill.

Dr. Walthall wanted us to this tonight so that in 12 hours (when I assume the risk would be the greatest), her clinic will be open.

With any luck, there will be no complications, but, of course, we're going to worry about him. I'll post an update sometime tomorrow. I plan on calling the clinic before lunch and letting them know how things stand and then again before they close. Obviously if there's any problem, we'll take him in as soon as we can.

Cross your fingers for the little guy.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

December 3, 2009 - Major Update

A rather lengthy and involved update today.

First. Elvis is doing great.

Randall and I have been decorating the house for Christmas, and Elvis has handled the addition of two Christmas trees into his world just fine. He basically just gave them a quick look when he walked into the room(s) and didn't blink. More importantly from my perspective he didn't act like my foundation male dachshund did every year he saw them...."Oh Mom!! My very own personal tree...in the house. You SHOULDN'T have!" Gusto never did care for my reaction to his attempt to claim ownership of the tree. So it's great that Elvis hasn't even given that a thought.

And, like I mentioned in my last update, since I have a loaner laptop, I'm able to catchup on my political news addiction which, of course, means being at the computer a lot more. This definitely doesn't meet with Elvis' approval since he'd gotten incredibly used to spending lots of time laying curled up on the ottoman with his head on my leg. He misses the hours of soft spot time. :)

I'm also happy to say his medicines are now where they should be and he is stable both physically and mentally. With any luck I won't have to tinker with them again for a while. And when I do, I'll keep in mind his behavioral reactions.

The other really good bit of news is that Randall and I took Elvis in to see Dr. Walthall for his follow-up appointment this morning. She was very pleased with the way he looked (and so are we). Everything about him looked good today and he acted well, too. He showed some minor stress, but it was what you would expect from any dog...some panting, some shedding, and a bit of shaking until he realized no one was out to kill an Elvis. Even after he came back in the exam room after getting the x-ray taken (and we could see his reaction from where we were to being laid on his side for the picture). He settled right back down. He coughed once the entire time we were there, so that was really excellent.

Dr. Walthall ran a blood panel on him and everything looked really good. Dead in the range for a healthy dog, which he isn't, so it's even better in my book. The one area that was a bit elevated was the sodium, which is not unusual for a dog with a heart condition. She was happy to see the albumin was dead on and I was glad to see the glucose level at normal (I've been sitting here expecting diabetes at some point). So all this was excellent.

She went ahead and took a picture so she would have a baseline on what he's like on a good day. You could see the heart was enlarged and some of the shadowing showed scar tissue from the heartworms (that's really a best guess). One perplexing thing was a shadow down at the bottom of the picture (I'm guessing close to between the front legs or close to that area), and it could be a mass. No real way of knowing, and it's something that she's not interested in right now and, really, neither am I. I wouldn't be surprised if there was something there, but since we're looking at palliative care, really, it's simply something to recognize is there. So we nod and wave at it, and move on.

The really good news is that Elvis will have a dose of heartworm medicine Sunday night (provided weather cooperates and Monday is clear in case we have to high tail it to the clinic). This is the option she had mentioned to Randall six weeks ago, but it really did have to wait until he was stable. Since he is, we're going to give it a shot. It's not as debilitating as the shot treatment, but there is some risk, obviously, and we want to be where we can get to her clinic if something goes wrong. With luck, all will go well and my next update will talk a bit about how the treatment went.

Also, there's no further follow-up scheduled unless something happens with him. That is probably the best news in my book. Obviously everyone knows this dog is on limited time, but having him healthy and stable and content is just about the most important thing he can have. He's definitely a gift, and I'm very grateful that Randall and I have been given the time we have to help make his life comfortable and happy.

Now. Fingers crossed for an uneventful treatment. After the pill Sunday night, if all goes well, he'll move over to the monthly treatment we give our other dogs. That will address the baby heartworm issue, and the adults should die off over time.

The last bit of news is his weight. The battery on our digital scale died three weeks ago, so I hadn't been able to weigh him. The clinic showed him at 7.6 and we got him at 7.4 when we got back with the new battery in hand.

So all in all, everything looks really good with him. Tomorrow is supposed to be very cold with a chance of snow. I'm sort of hoping we get some (and that it sticks) because I really would like some pictures of him in it. Skeeter and Haley both hate snow, but Elvis has enough coat on him to handle it provided he's not out for a long time. So maybe there will be some new pics of him soon. :)

Sunday, November 29, 2009

November 29, Update

Man. It's been nearly 10 days since my last update. Oops! But I had a loaner laptop come in last week and I've been busy getting that up and running, so hopefully I can do a bit better.

Elvis has had a bit of an inadvertent medicine problem. Mea culpa. I had put him back on 1 cc of Lasix twice a day since he was taken off the Vetmedin and it has been more humid here which had increased his coughing, and it finally caught up with him. Not being used to toy breeds, I forget sometimes that medicine amounts can really add up.

Bless his heart. It wasn't ANYTHING like the Vetmedin, but that's probably because we noticed it sooner. He was having the same sort of behavioral reaction that he had with the other medicine. Increased spookiness, some confusion and general trust issues. His coat had also gone to shit...shedding and flaking...and while the olive oil that I added to his diet was helping, it couldn't do it all.

He got cut back to .75 cc twice a day about five days ago, and he's made a full behavioral recovery. His coat has also come back nicely. I really, really, really am going to have to watch his dosage amounts.

I also need to call Dr. Walthall's office tomorrow and set up a follow-up appointment with her. She had wanted to see him about six weeks after the first time we took him in, so it's about time. I wanted to get us past Thanksgiving and some doctor's appointments I had before we took him in.

All in all, though, he's doing really very well. His coughing is very much under control, though I've notice a bit of wheezing occasionally, and his behavior and attitude are good. Definitely a far cry from the scared little boy we brought in here in July.

I'll post another update after we see his vet.

Friday, November 20, 2009

November 20, 2009

Randall and I went by the shelter on Wednesday to pick up Elvis' medicine, and like we'd hoped to do, we took him with us.

The folks there were very happy to see him and said how good he looked. Sadly, poor little Elvis didn't enjoy the experience much. He definitely knew where he was, and started shaking and coughing right after he got into the lobby. He was much, much worse than he was when we took him to the vets office.

I suspect that he thought he was being left, since Randall said when he got back to the van and saw his crate, he was VERY excited to get back in there. Anyway, we'd hoped he'd do better, but I completely understand that he was anxious about the situation. And, as you can imagine, he was very happy to get home and back with his buds. :)

On a bit unrelated note. I got the results from my CT scan yesterday, and the cancer still hasn't returned. That means I will feel much more like enjoying the holiday season and able to tackle whatever needs Elvis has over the next several months. I won't have another CT until next December, so unless something shows up physically, I'm not going to give it another thought.

Also, this means that I can definitely speak more with Dr. Walthall about the immature heartworm treatment she mentioned to Randall. I'll call her next week and get an appointment set up for after Thanksgiving. Elvis is doing very well, but I'm not a vet and I can only go on what I'm seeing.

Not sure if I'll post an update next week or not. I probably will because Randall and I don't really celebrate Thanksgiving, but do our Christmas decorating...and since I still wear out easily, we'll start it on Monday or Tuesday. I'll probably end up updating on how Elvis has handled the experience...because there is a LOT of decorating in this house. :)

Sunday, November 15, 2009

November 15, 2009

Ever have one of those "AHA!!!" moments? Well, Randall and I had one today.

Elvis has been getting back under his desk, and working himself further and further back into the corner. For no reason that we could understand. And he's just been spooky as all get out. For no reason we could understand.

So, last night, Randall went and got a box and stuck under the desk. Smoked out, Elvis had to come out and deal with the world. And low and behold, today he's been a different dog. Apparently there's some sort of cycle that he gets into if he can hide away. He hides, he gets spooky/scared and he hides more and he gets more spooky/scared. And around it goes.

But, apparently, when he has to come out and be more involved in the goings on around here, he becomes a great deal more brave.

So he's off the cholodin and the box is a permanent fixture under Randall's desk. What an improvement. :)

Our only problem right now is that the humidity is going up, and it's playing hell with his heart condition. I'm not sure there's a thing we can do about it, but it's definitely an issue...even here in the house. He'll just be monitored closely and given another cough pill if he needs it. His spooky/scared bit was aggravating the problem, so at least we've got that worked out and that part is alleviated.

I would like to give him a bath early in the week and take him with us to the Humane Society when we go pick up his medicine refills. He's still shedding like crazy, but I know the Lasix is causing that. I want them to see him, though, since he's doing so much better than he was in July when we brought him home.

Friday, November 13, 2009

November 13, 2009

(Just a quick update here, since I'm still using my husband's PC.)

Elvis is doing well. Occasionally he has to have another cough tablet added to his two 1/2 pills he gets a day, but at this point, he's not on any special heart medicine like the Vetmedin. He's still getting his Lasix, and with the cough tablets, that seems to be enough.

I have added 1/2 CC once a day of olive oil. The Lasix seems to really dry out his skin and coat (which is understandable since it's a diuretic), and that seems to be helping. I'm also brushing him daily with a slicker brush (to pull out the dead hair) and then following up with a bristle brush to work out the dander. Takes all of five minutes (he's a small dog! LOL), and it does seem to relieve a lot of his itching and has improved the feel/appearance of his coat and skin.

Also, he seems to be having a bit more trouble with anxiety. Nothing huge; nothing unmanageable; nothing consistent, but I have some cholodin here that I had when we had my senior dachshund, Brenna, who suffered from dementia in the last stages of her life. Cholodin is something that actually seems to work (to varying degrees) to help alleviate a lot of senior dog "moments" and physical problems associated with that. He's getting 1/4 tablet, and I just started him on that three or four days ago. It takes a week to 10 days to kick in, so by the end of next week, I hope to see some stabilizing. If I don't see improvements within 2-3 weeks, I'll take him off it. No point in over-medicating the little fella.

And, as I think I've mentioned before, he's massively obsessed with finding soft spots to lay on. Preferably between someones legs so he can be "protected." He's been spending a lot of time on the ottoman in the living room, and you can see him circling it and staring lovingly at it when he can't get up there. I guess it's safe to say that's his obsession. Every animal in this house has something to obsess about, and soft spots (the ottoman in particular) are his. LOL

On a personal note, I've got a CT scan scheduled for this afternoon (being a cancer survivor, I get these), and once I get the results (hopefully by the end of next week), I'll want to make an appointment for his vet to see him around the first of December. Nothing special at this point, but she wanted to check him out, and I want her to see him and talk to her about treating the unhatched heartworms. I don't know enough about that to say grace over, so I'd like to find out more about what's involved and what he'd go through.

Monday, November 02, 2009

November 2, Monday

It's been a slow week. :)

Elvis' weight seems to have gone back up to the over 8 lb mark. The last several weighings that I've done have put him at 8.6 or 8.8, which is good. I really would rather have him over 8 lb. I suspect that when he drops down under 8, the heartworm eggs are hatching. I definitely want to keep an eye on this, and I do want to talk to his vet before Thanksgiving.

The only thing I'm seeing right now that has me a bit concerned is his coat. He's blowing an awful lot of it, and the texture seems a bit different. Not sure if this is heartworm related or just something he's cycling through. If it keeps up, this will get mentioned to Dr. Walthall. Right now, I'm simply brushing him every couple of days to pull out the dead coat.

I will say his 1/2 pill twice a day of the cough medicine coupled with the .75-1 CC of Lasix twice a day seems to be doing the job very well. I have only rarely had to give him another cough tablet to help ease his cough. And, since he's not panicking hardly at all now, that doesn't drive the coughing to a worse state.

He has also developed an EXTREME love of soft spots...in particular the ottoman that's in the living room that I use when I'm stitching. He's gotten where he "haunts" me here in the den if I've not spent an adequate (according to him!) amount of time in there so he can lay on it. He still goes in and stares lovingly at it during dinner, and last night, when Randall picked him up off it and brought him here in the den in preparation for going outside, he said Elvis rushed back around the corner to get back to it. LOL

Apparently, too, Elvis has some pretty sharp elbows that he uses to be first out the door when all three dogs go outside. He muscles his way past Haley (a feat when you consider he's all of 8 or so pounds and she's over 20), in order to get out the door first and then he races to beat Skeeter to the back of the yard. He's got quite the competitive streak when it comes to this, so he does everything he can to be first out the door. Yesterday afternoon, he was pushing out the door so hard that he ended up going out at an angle and tripping over his feet.

I'd love to get a video of this, but I'm not sure I can. It's funny though to watch him fight to be first out and then pin his ears back and take off. I just wish his heart condition didn't limit his physical activity, but it does. Otherwise I suspect he and Skeeter would do a lot of running in the yard.

I know I keep promising more pictures, but I'm having a hard time a) getting pictures taken because of the rains we've had and b) getting new ones off the camera because my online time is so limited right now. I hope to have some posted this week.

Monday, October 26, 2009

October 26...A home of his own.

I spoke with Liz (the HS foster director) this morning at the shelter, and it's official. Elvis is now in permanent foster with us.

While Randall and I always knew it would be a very remote possibility that someone would want to adopt a senior special needs SchipperChi, it was something that we knew might happen. That's no longer the case.

Elvis is doing very well here. So well, that Liz suggested this arrangement and we are happy to agree to it. Ultimately, nothing changes in what we're doing, but it takes the possibility of placing him in a home out of the equation.

The medications will continue as before, and his visits to Dr. Walthall will happen as before, so all that's the same. I did call Dr. Walthall's office this morning to let them know about the change, and I will want to talk with her in a few weeks about the idea of treating Elvis' hatching heartworms, because I think they are going to be a problem. I didn't want to commit to that if there was a chance he'd be adopted in the middle of this treatment.

We'd said that Elvis had a home here for as long as he needed one, and we're happy to make this a forever home for him.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

October 24, Saturday

Things got a bit hairy this last week since my mother came in for a visit last weekend and came down with a sinus infection. She was here until yesterday, so updates took a backseat.

Elvis has been on strictly the Lasix and Guaifensin (cough medicine) for the last several days, and it seems to be working. That's really good news because I'd like to hold off on the heart medicine for as long as we can.

I'm not seeing any more coughing than before, and his appetite is good, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed this is where we'll be for awhile.

Randall is hoping to get the yard mowed tomorrow and, if he does, Elvis will get a bath. He needs it since, for some reason, he's blowing coat. I took the slicker brush to him and got a lot of undercoat out, and a bath will help loosen it more if it's ready to blow and I can slicker it off him.

I'm also hoping that once the yard is mowed I can get some new photos. Since he's feeling like his normal self (after completely getting the Vetmedin out of his system), I suspect he'll handle his bath, nail clipping and photo shoot well. :)

More later.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

October 20, evening

OK. Had a good talk with Elvis' vet, Dr. Walthall, and what we've decided to do is keep him on the 1cc of Lasix twice a day and give him 1/2 a cough tablet twice a day. This new cough medicine is working like a suppressant, even though it's actually an expectorant.

Pretty much as long as this works for him, it's what I will do. I have his new heart medicine here, Enalapril, and while the dosage would be low, it's got some nasty side effects that can crop up. So what I'll do is keep the Lasix and cough medicine going, and when it stops working, I'll add this new medicine into the rotation. When that happens, Dr. Walthall will need to run a panel to check is kidneys and liver and then do follow-up panels occasionally.

I'm hoping that this won't be necessary, but we'll have to play it by ear. I've got a bit of wiggle room with the two medicines he's currently on, so I'm hoping I can tweak them as necessary for quite some time. I've also promised to update them every 10 days to two weeks.

When Randall went to pick up the meds, Dr. Walthall mentioned that I should keep an eye on his body mass. If he begins to lose it, she thinks she can treat the hatching heartworms which are the cause. This is another nasty treatment and something I would prefer not doing until the holidays are over since there is a considerable number of side effects to the treatment. I'll want her to see Elvis in early December, and she and I can go over the options then. If he needs it sooner, then it's what needs to be done, but I'm keeping my fingers crossed that we can wait some for it.

All in all, though, he's doing very well. My mother is still here and won't leave until Friday, so he's getting some socialization and handling it well. He doesn't handle routine changes very well, but he's actually coping better than I thought he would.

I will probably move to updating the blog every three to four days unless something changes. I do hope to get more pictures of him later this week after the yard is mowed and he's had a bath.

Monday, October 19, 2009

October 19, morning, medicine update

Elvis handled all the company yesterday very well. We put his crate in the bedroom so he could have space, and I brought him out once to meet people. He was unsure of the situation, but he settled down in my lap with little trouble. He wasn't out too long (five minutes or so), but he was fine.

The bad news is the reduced dosage on the heart medicine is just not working. It's doing pretty well with the physical symptoms, but by Saturday night, the behavior problems had come back. Not as significant as before, but they're there and noticeable. So I had to take him off the Vetmedin.

I'll call the shelter this morning and see how they want to handle the extra medication. I had opened two of the three bottles and broken the pills in half (he was doing so well through most of the first bottle that I didn't even think to only open one bottle!). He's going to need more Lasix and his cough tablet soon, so I'll go ahead and request those, and then I'll call his vet to find the best way to get him on his new meds (not sure if we'll need to take him out for a visit or if we can just pick up the meds there or at the shelter).

Hopefully he'll be on the new stuff my this evening or tomorrow. I hate to have him just back on the Lasix, but I've upped the dosage to a full CC and he has responded to that, so it could be worse.

I'll post another update once I know more about what's going on with the medicine.

Friday, October 16, 2009

October 16, morning, medicine update

**fingers crossed**

It looks like the new dose is working. It's hard to say about the behavior, but I believe he's about 95% of normal right now. Since I've been doing so much around the house this week, I know it's a bad time to be trying to rate normalcy, but he is definitely acting better.

I'm still not real sure about his cough, again because of the stuff that's been going on around here. And this weekend won't help determine much since there is so much that will be going on.

With all this in mind, I am going to go ahead and give him 1/4 of a cough tablet with breakfast through Tuesday. I just think with all the activity and company he needs it.

Also, I'll call his vet this morning and give her an update. I'd like to wait until maybe Wednesday of next week to make a final determination on his medicine. By then I'll need to get some more Lasix and cough medicine in, so if I still have reservations, I suspect he can be put on the new heart medicine.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

October 15, morning, medicine update

So far. So good.

Elvis' behavior on the reduced dose of Vetmedin seems OK. Course, it took nearly 3 weeks the first time, so it may end up being a delayed reaction this time. I've got my fingers and toes crossed, however.

The next big step is to see how he does physically on the reduced dose. Last night there was quite a bit of coughing going on, but that isn't particularly unusual. It seems that night time is when he does most of his coughing, so whether it was the reduced dose, the dust I stirred up cleaning, the increased humidity or just the time of day, I don't know. This will be monitored because if the reduced dose doesn't handle his coughing consistently, he'll need to go on the other medication.

I call the clinic tomorrow to let them know how he's doing, so I'll probably wait to post another update until then.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

October 14, morning, medicine update

Randall and I talked it over last night before bed, and I mentioned my strong concerns that taking Elvis completely off his heart medicine without putting him on a replacement was just not a good thing to do. Randall agreed and suggested I go ahead and get the Vetmedin back in the rotation and reevaluate his behavior Thursday night.

So this morning, that's what I did. He acted his normal, goofy self when I got up, so his heart pill was in his morning dish. Considering the banging and rattling that was done in here yesterday, and the fact I have a bit more to do in the den before I'm done (and that's where the crates are), Randall will move his crate into the living room before I get started in here, and Elvis will go in there until I'm done.

I'll be calling the clinic Friday morning to give them an update, so if I am still seeing behavioral weirdness by then, we'll go get the different medicine. The problem is exacerbated by the fact we've got company coming in over the weekend, so it's a bad time for emotional problems. Ultimately it doesn't matter because his health is more important, but it's still a bad time because we're so busy for the next week.

I'll report again either this evening or in the morning on how he's doing.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

October 13, evening, medicine update

Mixed news here.

Since Elvis was doing so much better this morning and, in keeping with what I told the clinic I was going to do, I gave him 1/2 of a Vetmedin with breakfast. That's the mixed news.

Today was a day where I had a lot of cleaning to do here in the den (we're having company coming in for the weekend), and there was a lot of sound and fury going on. And Elvis was spooky. **sigh** Not good timing for my cleaning, but there wasn't an option. So, tonight at dinner, I skipped the Vetmedin. I increased his Lasix to 1 CC and gave him 1/2 a cough tablet rather than 1/4.

I spoke with Dr. Walthall this morning, and she let me know that there is another heart medicine available which, unbeknownst to her, was recommended BEFORE trying what he's on. Since there is so much of the medicine and since I opened and halved two bottles, I told her I felt like we should try tweaking his dosage. She agreed to that, and I told her I would call the clinic back Friday morning to let them know how things were going. At the time, I was going to try 1/2 pill in the morning and in the evening.

So that's where my dilemma comes in. Because he became so spooky this afternoon, and because I don't know whether it was the external stimulus or the medication, I've decided to discontinue the Vetmedin until Thursday evening. At that point, if things are going well, I'll give him 1/2 pill with dinner and see how things are Friday morning before I call the clinic.

I'll increase his Lasix to 1 CC during the morning feeding and try .75 CC with dinner. Cough tablet at night, and as needed during the day.

I'm not 100% happy with this, but I don't think it's fair to make a decision about the medication until the clanging and banging is done around here. Obviously, if his physical situation changes, the vet gets a call and two opened bottles of Vetmedin or not, he will go on the new medication.

So that's where I am. I'll probably post a quickie update tomorrow night and something on Thursday, but I suspect much will wait until Friday.

October 13, morning, medicine update

So far. So good.

When I got up this morning and came in the den, Elvis was doing his goofy greeting routine. I'd say he's about 95% back to his normal level of behavior, so when I fed him, I went ahead and gave him 1/2 a Vetmedin. Depending on what I see the rest of today will dictate what I do tonight.

Also, I plan on calling the clinic in a bit and letting them know things are much happier over here and see if there's anything else that needs to be done. I am glad to see that being off the medicine for only 36 hours gave us such a dramatic turn around. That does make me believe it was the level of the medicine he was taking, but I'll see how he does on the reduced dosage.

Monday, October 12, 2009

October 12, evening, Medicine update

There's a definite behavioral improvement since Elvis has been off the Vetmedin for 24 hours.

I talked to the clinic, though the vet was so swamped I didn't get a chance to speak with her. What I've decided to do is to cut him back from 2 pills/day to one pill. That will mean a half in the morning and a half with dinner. His Lasix will remain the same and, if possible, his cough tablet.

I'm hoping to start the new routine in the morning with his breakfast, but a lot will depend on how he acts when I come through the gate in the morning. If he's panting and wagging his stump and grinning, I'll go ahead and start it. If not, I will wait until dinner tomorrow night. I've got to get enough of a normal behavior started so I can tell if he's reacting poorly to the new dosage.

We're keeping our fingers crossed because the medicine does help him, but there's no way we can deal with the behavior changes. They're not good for him or us.

October 12, morning, Medicine update

Elvis is showing some pretty serious behavioral changes that I think is due to his new heart medicine, Vetmedin.

We'd noticed he was spookier in the last several days than he had been earlier, but we just put it down to regression, which he's done before. It seemed, though, to be a strange spookiness. Last night, though, we knew for sure it was something else.

When I was letting everyone in from their 8:30 potty break, he came tearing down the path like normal, hopped up on the step, took one look at me in the door and panicked. There was no way he was coming in past this person who was obviously up to no good. I got Randall to call him, and he did the same thing. Randall finally put the blind down over the door window, opened it up, stood behind it and Elvis came in. Not normal. Not even when we'd first brought him home from the shelter had he ever done that.

He's also been showing fear when we'd go to pick him up. He'd run like hell from you, but once he was picked up, he was fine. It would take me five minutes to coax him to me so I could pick him up to put him on the ottoman or in my lap when I would go to do needlework. If I put him down to run to the bathroom or refill my water glass, it would be the exact same procedure. Five minutes to get him to come to me so I could pick him up. It's like as soon as his feet hit the floor his brain left his body.

So I looked up the drug's side effects, and sure enough, behavioral changes is listed.

I put in a call to his vet just now. I've got a lot of his medicine here, and he's at the upper limit of the dosage, so it's possible we can cut him back and see a change. It works very well otherwise, so I'm certainly willing to work on tweaking the dosage, but I'll wait to hear back from Dr. Walthall. Meanwhile, I pulled him off of it this morning. I gave him a cough pill as a preventative (usually I only do that at night) and his Lasix is the same. Hopefully we'll be able to work through this.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

October 1-3, Thursday-Saturday

I'm having to combine some of these entries since my online time is so limited now.

Nothing much has really happened except that I did try to cut back too much on Elvis' Lasix on Thursday and he had a bad day coughing. That was my fault. He stabilizes nicely with .75 cc twice a day, 1 heart pill with breakfast and dinner, and a quarter cough tablet with dinner.

Not sure if the draw Friday afternoon was me or the chair, but I had Randall take him in to the living room and sit on the sofa with him for awhile. He needed the reassurance. Everything was fine until I came in and decided to sit across the room in the chair. Elvis perked up his ears, ran down to one end of the couch, then to the other end where Randall was sitting, and decided to take off. He landed about four feet off the sofa and came running up to me wanting to get up in the chair. Very unexpected. LOL

Other than those two things, really not much happened. He's getting sofa time Friday and Saturday night since we're watching a movie and he always enjoys that.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

September 28-30, Monday - Wednesday

Wednesday

I called his vet today to give an update. The new heart medicine seems to be working quite well. His weight has stabilized again in the upper 7 pound range with the occasional bump over 8 pounds. I'm still not really thrilled with this because the increase in the food is considerable, but as long as he continues to maintain and not lose, I guess I'll be content. The vet's office said to monitor it and if he starts sliding back down to call them. I'm also to call every 10 days to 2 weeks to give an update. No problem.

Today was bath day for everyone. Elvis rolls, so his coat was dirtier than I originally thought. He's now a very clean Stumpy. He was also a very WILD Stumpy when he was dried off enough to go outside. I didn't see it, but Randall said he and Skeeter were tearing up and down the yard. All I know is he got 1/2 a cough pill when he came in. The excitement and exercise kicked off his cough, but I really can't begrudge him this. I just wish he was able to play with Skeeter more because he does enjoy running. Unfortunately, the congestive heart failure means his exercise has to be monitored and in moderation.

I'm also doing a major recipe binder reorganization. I only write this because Elvis REALLY dislikes the rattling of the paper and the clicking of the binder rings as they close. He's pretty much moved over to Randall's side of the room and he looks at me with extreme disgust when I start working. :) Mainly he's to be found under Randall's desk, but if the noise isn't too bad, he hops in the basket with Skeeter. I'm assuming the desire for a soft spot coincides with safety in numbers. Fortunately I'll only be doing this for a few more days, so it will end.

Monday-Tuesday

Another combo day. I had a couple of posts written up, but my husband's text editor doesn't prompt to save (or didn't) when exiting the application, so I lost it.

The increasing food has definitely helped him stabilize his weight. I've also more or less cut him back on his Lasix to .75 cc twice a day, and I'm not seeing an increase in his coughing. It looks like the new heart pill has definitely helped there. And he's getting 1/4 of a cough tablet with his evening meal. If he needs any during the day, I give it to him, but that seems to happen only rarely.

I've also posted some pictures of him and Skeeter. This is what happened Monday when Elvis decided he wanted to be in an even softer spot than usual when I started my needlework. Fortunately Skeeter took it without blinking an eye, and, just as fortunately, Elvis soon got too hot under the light and moved down to lay on the ottoman (the ottoman is at the same height as the chair, so it's very easy for him to shift around when he feels like it).



Friday, September 25, 2009

Irregular posting

My posting is going to be irregular for a while since my PC finally did die and I'm using my husband's.

Elvis is doing well, though there is still more weight loss than I care for. I've increased his food to 2 tablespoons twice a day (began on Thursday evening), so I'm hoping that by the time I call his vet on Monday or Tuesday, I'll have a better feel for what his weight is doing.

I will say that Elvis is rather enjoying the new, reduced PC time, since it means he gets to spend time either on the sofa when I'm watching a movie, or on the ottoman when I'm cross stitching. Soft, padded locations seem to meet with his approval...to the point where if the gates are down, we're likely to find him in the living room staring longingly at the sofa. :)

I'm also still tweaking his medicine. He's getting the one heart tablet with breakfast and dinner, and a reduced amount of Lasix (about .75 cc total for the day; it's hard to tell exactly because the dropper that comes with the medicine isn't very well calibrated). I've taken him off the cough tablet with his morning feeding, but I do add 1/4 tablet with dinner. That seems to stop his coughing before it starts (there's more activity during the evening hours around here).

I'll continue to post every few days, though I'm not sure it will be as detailed as before. Hopefully Elvis will have a bath next week (still waiting on Haley to come out of season) and get his nails trimmed. And I'm hoping to get some short video of him now that the yard is mowed. :)

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

September 19-21, Saturday-Monday

Saturday/Sunday

I'm combing these two days because both are seeing a lot of medicine tweaking.

I have no idea what's causing the increased coughing (progression of his disease, new medication, something else), but he's been doing quite a bit of coughing and I've been tweaking his cough tablet for the last couple of days. Saturday ended up with two 1/2 and one 1/4 tablets throughout the day. Sunday morning I went ahead and added 1/4 of a tablet to his breakfast and I've not heard any coughing today. I'll add another 1/4 tablet to his dinner unless I end up having to give him something before. This is really frustrating because I've no real idea how long his new heart medicine will take to begin working (what I've been reading is showing several days) or if it will at all.

I am also keeping an eye on his weight because he has been down from his 8 pound weight since I weighed him on 9/7. He's been between 7 and 8, so it's not extreme weight loss, but he's sat at 7.2 now for five days. I know weight loss is a symptom of congestive heart failure, but I don't know if this is tied to anything I need to worry about, so I'm going to weigh him every day for the next several so I can keep track of what's going on. My intention right now is to monitor what his coughing/breathing and his weight do over the next two days and if there's still concern, I'll call the vet on Wednesday or Thursday.

Monday

Yesterday and today, I added 1/4 of his cough tablet to his breakfast and dinner, and that seemed to "preempt" his coughing. He actually did really, really well with it today (and Sunday I saw less, too). Weight today was at 7.6, so while that's less than the target range I like him in (8-9), it's a gain from the last few times I've weighed him.

He did have a really bad experience tonight, though he handled the aftermath well. I had just put him on his lead (it's usually attached to the arm of my desk chair), and when I got up to go check the progress of our dinner, I didn't notice the lead wrapped around my ankle and tripped. Since we have linoleum throughout the house, I fell hard and loud and dragged him and my chair a couple of feet. Fortunately I didn't hurt myself, but the other two dogs weren't convinced and had to be crated so I could check on Elvis. He was pretty badly shaken and his little body was vibrating, but he wasn't coughing, and after a couple of minutes in my lap, he calmed down. Obviously I would have preferred not falling and traumatizing him, but he actually handled the situation pretty well. A far cry from how he would have done a few weeks ago.

We also took him outside this afternoon to try out his new "swimming pool." That wasn't at all successful, in part because a) it was very new and strange to him and b) we were out there (something he really isn't used to). I suspect we'll need to get him used to the new container here in the house first and then take it and him outside and see if the experience improves. We may have waited too long because it is beginning to get cooler here, though not by a tremendous amount, and he's still our resident water baby. Here are three new pictures of him, too.



Saturday, September 19, 2009

September 16-18, Wednesday-Friday

Wednesday

We went ahead and took Elvis in to see the vet who works with the Waco Humane Society. Mainly I wanted her to check him over since she hadn't seen him since mid-July when we went to get him to foster him. His weight was down a bit from where I'd like it (though her scales are different from mine and I'll always go by mine...he was 6.8 there and 7.6 here).

She did ask what medicines he was on, and added a heart tablet to his routine. His cough pill changed, too. The heart medicine is one pill twice a day, the Lasix is still twice a day, though I will try decreasing that a bit once Haley comes out of season. Dr. Walthall said to basically tweak his dosage, so for now it will be the heart pill (Pimobendan 1.25 mg) twice a day, the 1 cc Lasix twice a day and the cough pill which is an expectorant (Guaifenesin) at 1/4 to 1/2 pill as needed for coughing. Once we know if the heart pill is working, I'll start backing down his Lasix a bit. The heart pill might also back down some, but that will be dependent on how he handles the lower Lasix dosage (I can see a drug diary in my future to keep up with this!)

Also, he handled the trip and the office visit, really, really well. He shook some (not unusual) and was nervous, but he didn't cough and he handled the exam and new people really well. I did put him down on the floor while we were getting the medicines sorted out, and he was confident enough to smell around the desk. So he weathered that little experience very well, and I was proud of him.


Thursday

He got his first dose of the heart pill this morning with breakfast. Got his Lasix and then a couple of hours later, he got a cough tablet. The heart pill will take several days before we know if it will work well, so I'll call the vet in a week or so. This new cough pill works fast, though. It also seems to really halt his cough. His other tablet worked, but he'd occasionally cough after he'd had it. This one doesn't let any cough through. He's also not wheezing, which is something I'd been noticing some over the last few days. Nothing bad, just a bit of a wheeze (one reason I wanted him to see his vet) that seemed a bit tough to stop.

So far he's been good all day with the new stuff. The heart pill will effect the blood pressure, and the vet warned me he might be a little light headed. Not sure how I'd know unless there was something physical to key in on, but I've not seen anything today, so he may be handling that well.

One thing I did find. I will NOT cut the cough tablet down to 1/4 before making sure the new heart medicine works. Tonight I ended up doing 1/4 pill about 25 minutes apart, and then when that didn't kick his cough, I had to give him another 1/2 pill. So the 1/4 test is going to have to wait a bit. From my notes, it looks like his cough kicks in about 2 hours after his Lasix.


Friday

This morning Elvis ate breakfast at 7:00, and by 10:30, he hadn't started coughing. Not sure that means much, but I'm keeping my fingers crossed that the new heart medicine might actually be kicking in faster than we expected. One meal does not a good sample make, though, so we'll have to wait and see how it goes the rest of the day and over the weekend.

Apparently the outside air is triggering something with him. I've often wondered if he wasn't allergic to something out there since he spent so much time his first several days here scratching. He does fine with his cough when he's inside, but Randall and I notice that it's when he comes in from outside that he's most likely going to cough. He has sometimes done that in the past right after eating or drinking, but that always passes within a few minutes. When he comes in from outside and starts coughing, he doesn't stop until I give him a pill. That happened late this afternoon after he came in from his pre-dinner trip outside and then again after his final trip out for the night. I'm really hoping the new heart tablets will help with this, but I've no idea yet.

It's finally stopped raining after nearly a week of it, so I'm hoping to get some new pictures of him. I'd like to take some video with my digicam, but that might have to wait until after Randall mows the yard.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

September 13-15, Sunday - Tuesday

Sunday

Sunday was more of the same with the PC. One thing of note did happen. The keyboard tray fell out of my desk again, and this time Elvis was sitting very close to it (on his lead). He definitely didn't like what happened, but he only moved away a couple of feet and didn't panic. No coughing or cringing. So the lead is definitely making a big difference in how he handles strange or unpleasant happenings.

Monday

He definitely doesn't care for being left alone in the den. Haley and I were in the kitchen, and Elvis was a bit hacked off at being left out and let me know. I ended up bringing him in to the kitchen and leashing him to the island while I was working. He was much happier and didn't sit around barking to get my attention. :)

Tuesday

I have to admit that while my breed will always be dachshunds, the little Skipperchi is a cute fellow. Elvis has realized that wagging his stump gets him all sorts of attention, so he does that a lot now. He also "smiles", though I suspect that's more a result of him getting rather excited and panting, but whatever the cause, it looks like a smile. He also has gotten where he'll stand up and put his feet on my chair or leg when he wants attention...the fact that that seems to happen in close proximity to feeding time doesn't reduce the fact it's endearing. I'll also say there are a lot of times when his "voice" sounds remarkably owl-like. Randall said it isn't quite that, but he's in here in the den with him. If I'm in the kitchen, it definitely sounds like a hoot. This is different than the bark he uses...this is more a "Hey you! Don't forget about me!" sound. Kind of funny the first time you hear it.

I've also had to change the living room furniture arrangement back to the way it was originally. I just can't cross stitch while sitting on the sofa, so Elvis is going to have to learn that Skeeter has HIS place in the chair under the light and that he (Elvis) is going to have to work around that. He's a bright little guy. I figure he'll come up with something. :)