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Dxenion

Java The Gsd - Going Downhill And We Don't Know Why

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Dxenion   

I think we may no longer be dealing with what we hoped was a recoverable illness but have now slipped into palliative care for our nearly 13 year old GSD Java. Just when we thought she was on the road to recovery from an illness, she's gone downhill again.

She went off her food about 6 weeks ago. We tried all sorts of things to get her eating again and just when one method worked, she'd stop again. We kept her on the lighter end of the normal weight range to help her arthritic hips but the lack of appetite was starting to cause unhealthy weight loss. We discovered by accident that she no longer tolerated the raw meat in her diet and that stopped the occassional morning vomit but then she started bilious vomiting late at night. We switched to feeding more often which worked to control that, but then she stopped eating.

We took her back to the vets again for another thorough checkup. Nothing unusual was found. Her stools and urine outputs were normal and water intake was fine. She is still able to tell our boys off during playtime, prefers to climb up and lie on the lounge rather than in her bed on the floor and is about as active as an old arthritic GSD is expected to be. The vet gave her an anti nausea shot and we then we had to wait for results from the blood test. She was also put on a chicken and rice diet.

We took her back to the vet on Thursday for some tablets to coat her stomach. I also weighed her and she's now lost a bit over 7% body weight. The thinking was that the acid produced at the sight of food was making her nauseous so she didn't wan't to eat. At least she hadn't vomited in a week. Spoke too soon though as she threw up again 3am Friday morning. This afternoon she threw up her medication.

We're going back to the vet on Monday and to be honest, I don't think we'll be bringing her home. :cry: It all comes down to her quality of life. I'm torn because I just don't know what else to try and at her age and in her condition, anaesthesia for exploratory surgery will carry far greater risk than what they might discover anyway. I feel that by describing her otherwise normal health, I'm making excuses to avoid having to make that decision. At the same time I feel absolutely rotten at the thought that there might be something I haven't tried and that if we could just control the acid, she might eat with enthusiasm and put on weight again. If this was something more definitive and terminal, I think I could make the decision much easier. It's the mystery thats tearing us apart.

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Edited by Dxenion

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Kynta   

Poor darling. Best wishes for the vet visit. I have a 14 year old Dobe in palliative care at the moment and I know it is not easy. Bless the oldies - they are so precious.

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Dxenion   

In her prime she worked as a therapy dog visiting people in nursing homes. I remember one dear old lady who could cuss well enough to make a sailor blush. While she was glaring at me and telling me (using very colourful language) just how much she hated big dogs, she was secretly feeding Java cheese twisties one by one from her stash in the bedside drawer. Java of course was happy to accept the offer.

When we were leaving, the carer said she was speechless at what had just happened. Apparently the lady guarded her twisties very carefully, so to watch her feed them to the dog must mean she adores the dog. The lady telling me she hates big dogs was just an act to hide her real feelings and that this was the first time she had spoken with emotion since moving in.

To this day, I think of that lady whenever I see cheese twisties.

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harley   

Oh she is beautiful. :)

It is obvious just how much you love and care for your dogs and I am sure you will make the right decision for your beautiful Java.

I wish you all the best in this difficult time.

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Dxenion   

If it was a defined terminal illness, I could handle that but the mystery is making me second guess if I'm doing the right thing by her. Am I giving in too easy or is it the right thing to say enough's enough?

The OH and I had a talk about Monday's visit so we both know where we stand based on what the vet says. Is it wrong to think that if we make the decision, I'll think I've failed her? I'll wonder if there was some simple thing we overlooked or that perhaps I didn't try hard enough. That's what's making this so darned hard. Not knowing what we're dealing with so we don't know how to treat it.

I watched her climb up on her lounge tonight (her choice - she has a memory foam bed on the floor but prefers the lounge) as she has done for the past couple of years. A bit slower these days but doesn't need help. I watched her shuffling around after the boys, telling them off if they get too rough and for the first time in her life showing an interest in toys. Then I think of Monday and that decision - it just doesn't seem right. Then I think of the not eating and vomiting starting again and think of the impact on quality of life.

That's why I'm sitting up at 3am - I just don't know what the right thing is to do. She's lying on the lounge looking at me as I type and I feel like a traitor for what we are contemplating.

Edited by Dxenion

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I'm so sorry D. I too wish you knew what you were dealing with. You must be so torn. I can't offer any advice, just lots of :hug: :hug: :hug:

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i am assuming that thyroid levels etc as well as vitamins levels....

Vitamin A

Vitamin A, a fat soluble vitamin, is important for your dog’s bone and teeth formation, vision, coat, skin, eyesight and mucous membranes. Sources of vitamin A include dairy, liver and vegetables with yellow coloring. Vitamin A deficiencies have been known to cause eye problems, lack of coat and skin quality, poor growth and a reduced ability to ward off infections. Too much vitamin A can cause your dog to have muscle weakness and bone problems. Signs of vitamin A toxicity also include decreased appetite, weight loss, limping, stiffness and constipation.

The B Vitamins

There are several types of B vitamins including vitamin B-1 (thiamine), vitamin B-2 (riboflavin), vitamin B-3 (niacin), vitamin B-5 (pantothenic acid), Vitamin B-6 (pyridoxine), vitamin B-9 (folic acid), vitamin B-12 (cobalamin) and biotin. These B vitamins are water soluble and, often, to be most effective, several B vitamins must work together. Stressful situations and very cold temperatures can deplete your dog’s supply of B vitamins. Too much B vitamin can also create problems for your dog. For example, too much vitamin B-6 (pyridoxine) can cause nervous system damage and increased light sensitivity. Too much vitamin B-3 (niacin) can cause skin irritations, liver damage and stomach ulcers. In addition, too high quantities of one B vitamin can also cause other B vitamins to be depleted.

Vitamin B-1 (Thiamine)

Vitamin B-1, also known as thiamine, is an essential vitamin for your dog’s overall health. Thiamine has also been found to be a natural flea repellent. Thiamine is found in fruits, vegetables, milk and meat. Though more common in cats than in dogs, thiamine deficiency can cause your dog to be unsteady on his legs, have spastic hind legs, seizures, vomit and lose his appetite. In some cases, thiamine deficiency can be fatal. Thiamine deficiency can result if your dog eats a lot of raw fish or, like many vitamin deficiencies, it can be caused by feeding your dog a low-quality or nutritionally incomplete diet. If your dog is found to have a thiamine deficiency, this condition can most often be completely cured by an injection of thiamine administered by your vet.

Vitamin B-2 (Riboflavin)

Riboflavin is essential to your dog’s ability to grow and develop properly, and it is necessary for a healthy coat, eyes and heart. Riboflavin is found in organ meats and dairy products. A riboflavin deficiency will cause your dog to have poor growth, dandruff, eye conditions, limb weakness, fainting episodes and possible heart failure. Riboflavin deficiency in pregnant dogs has also been associated with birth defects in offspring.

Vitamin B-3 (Niacin)

Vitamin B-3, also called niacin, primarily helps your dog’s enzymes work properly. Enzymes are proteins produced by your dog’s cells to help trigger and regulate important chemical activities in your dog’s system. Niacin can be found in meat. A lack of niacin can cause your dog to have a condition referred to as “black tongue” in which he will have inflamed lips and gums, a lack of appetite and bloody diarrhea. If the condition is not treated, death can result. Niacin has appeared to be helpful in controlling seizures, reducing cholesterol and regulating central nervous system functions. Too much niacin can cause skin irritations, liver damage and stomach ulcers.

Vitamin B-5 (Pantothenic Acid)

Vitamin B-5, also called pantothenic acid, is essential for supporting your dog’s immune system and adrenal functions. Pantothenic acid also helps your dog’s system convert proteins, carbohydrates and fats into usable energy. Adequate amounts of pantothenic acid are necessary to help your dog fight infections, inflammations, asthma and allergies. Panothenic acid is found in many raw foods, both meat and vegetables. However, processing food tends to reduce the amount of pantothentic acid available for your dog to use. Dogs with a lack of pantothenic acid can suffer from abnormal hair loss and stomach upset. Allergies, skin irritations and skin infections are also considered pantothenic acid deficiency symptoms.

Vitamin B-6 (Pyridoxine)

Vitamin B-6, also known as pyridoxine, is vital for protein metabolism. It is also essential in helping your dog use some minerals. Pyridoxine is found in many foods, but can be damaged by processing. Symptons of pyridoxine deficiency in your dog include growth problems, epilepsy, water retention and kidney damage. Pyridoxine deficiency has also been implicated as a contributing cause of allergies, artery disease, arthritis, asthma and even some types of cancer. Too much pyridoxine can cause nervous system damage and increased light sensitivity

Vitamin B-9 (Folic Acid)

Vitamin B-9, also known as folic acid, is necessary for DNA and RNA synthesis, reproductive processes, proper protein metabolism and red blood cell formation. Folic acid is found in organ meats. Folic acid deficiencies can result in reproductive problems, birth defects if the mother is folic acid deficient, weight loss, anemia, weakness, seizures, eye discharge, and immune system suppression.

Vitamin B-12 (Cobalamin)

Vitamin B-12, also known as cobalamin, is essential for DNA synthesis, proper food digestion and nutrient absorption. Cobalamin is also helpful for promoting proper growth, preventing nerve damage and strengthening reproduction. The best source of cobalamin is raw liver. Cobalamin deficiency can lead to anemia in your dog.

Vitamin B-8 (Biotin)

Vitamin B-8, also known as biotin, is important for thyroid, skin, bone marrow, adrenal and nervous system health. Biotin also is helpful to your dog’s reproductive process and for aiding your dog in processing fats, carbohydrates and proteins. Good sources of biotin are corn and beef liver. Interestingly, raw eggs have an enzyme that depletes biotin so, if you feed your dog eggs, you should make sure the eggs are properly cooked. Long-term antibiotic use has also been associated with biotin deficiency in dogs. Symptoms of biotin deficiencies include hair and skin conditions, eye discharge, small litter size and sometimes diarrhea. If not treated, a biotin deficiency can also cause limb paralysis.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C, a water soluble vitamin, aids your dog’s immune system and development. Vitamin C is found in citrus fruits and vegetables. Vitamin C is often used to supplement large-breed puppies and nursing mothers. It has also been used with some success in reducing the effects of some conditions such as hip dysplasia and bladder stones. Too high doses of vitamin C can cause diarrhea (vitamin C is a natural laxative) and a bloated abdomen. In addition, a link has been suspected between too high doses of vitamin C and the occurrence of kidney stones.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D, a fat soluble vitamin, is essential for regulating the bloodstream’s calcium and phosphorous levels, bone formation and proper muscle and nerve function. Vitamin D sources include fish liver oil and sunlight. Vitamin D deficiency can cause rickets, a bone disorder with symptoms such as bowed legs, swollen joints and weakness. Too much vitamin D can create inappropriate amounts of calcium to be stored within your dog’s heart and other muscles. High doses of Vitamin D can also cause vomiting, diarrhea, hemorrhaging, excessive thirst, increased urination, lethargy, limping and bone pain.

Vitamin E

Vitamin E is a fat soluble vitamin important for proper cell functioning and fat metabolism. Vitamin E is also an anti-oxidant. Vitamin E sources include meat such as liver, leafy green vegetables, vegetable oil and wheat germ. Vitamin E deficiencies can cause eye, heart, liver, muscle, nerve and reproductive disorders. Vitamin E deficiency can also impact your dog’s bowels causing damage, hemorrhaging and destruction. Too high does of vitamin E can interfere with your dog’s ability to absorb vitamin A and vitamin K. Significantly, the inability to absorb vitamin K can lead to blood clotting problems.

Vitamin K

Vitamin K, a fat soluble vitamin, is vital for normal blood functions such as clotting. Vitamin K sources include eggs and leafy green vegetables. A lack of vitamin K can cause clotting problems and lead to hemorrhaging. Vitamin K is often used to treat dogs who have accidentally ingested rodent poison.

Minerals

Minerals are natural substances that play essential roles in helping your dog’s system function properly. Your dog’s body does not make minerals on its own. Instead, your dog must obtain minerals from food and water which contain dissolved minerals. Some important minerals include calcium, phosphorus, iron, magnesium, manganese and selenium.

Calcium and Phosphorus

Your dog needs a proper amount and balance of calcium and phosphorous in his body. Calcium and phosphorous are necessary for sound bones and teeth. Phosphorous is also needed for the body to produce its own energy, and calcium is required for blood clotting and for heart, nerve and muscle functions. Generally dogs do not suffer from phosphorous deficiencies, but calcium deficiency is seen in some dogs. Calcium deficiencies can cause lameness, spasms, anxiety, heart palpitations, eczema, decreased bone density, osteoporosis, gum erosion, seizures, hemorrhages, high blood pressure, arthritis, bone fractures and respiratory problems. In pregnant and nursing dogs, calcium deficiencies have been implicated in the development of eclampsia. Calcium deficiencies can be brought about by high-meat diets because meats contain an unbalanced amount of phosphorous. For calcium to be activated, vitamin D is required. Excess levels of calcium and phosphorous can lead to growth problems in your dog. In addition, inappropriately high levels of phosphorous and calcium can inhibit your dog’s ability to absorb manganese.

Iron

Iron plays an essential role in helping your dog’s system function properly. Iron is necessary for red blood creation, enzyme functioning and energy and immune system functioning. Iron deficiency symptoms include anemia, lack of energy, diarrhea, pale gums and hair loss. Excess levels of iron can damage your dog’s heart, liver, stomach and intestinal lining.

Magnesium

Magnesium is an essential component used for proper enzyme function and heart rate and healthy bones, muscles and nervous system. Magnesium also helps rid the body of lead and other heavy metals. Magnesium deficiency symptoms irregular heart rates, high blood pressure, seizures, bone pain, nervousness, irritability, depression and muscle spasms. Inappropriately high levels of magnesium can interfere with your dog’s ability to absorb calcium.

Manganese

Manganese is necessary for enzyme utilization, normal reproduction, milk production in nursing dogs, fat and protein assimilation, blood sugar regulation, healthy nerves and immune systems, and normal functioning of the pituitary gland (the gland that regulates all of the other glands). It is also needed for proper bone and cartilage growth. Manganese is also needed for utilization of thiamine and vitamin E. Manganese deficiency can cause retarded growth and development as well as reproduction problems. Manganese deficiencies have also been reported to impact normal fat metabolism.

Potassium and Sodium

Potassium and sodium must be kept in balance for your dog to function properly. Potassium is needed for regulating body fluid and for metabolic, muscle and nerve functions. It also thought that potassium can help prevent strokes. Sodium is important for regulating body fluids. Symptoms of potassium deficiency include muscle weakness, paralysis, heart problems including irregular heart rate, kidney lesions, retarded growth and dehydration. Some diuretics and heart medications can diminish your dog’s potassium levels. Excess potassium levels in your dog tend not to be a problem as long as your dog has healthy functioning kidneys. However, for dogs with Addison’s disease, dangerous levels of potassium can build up in your dog. Symptoms of sodium deficiency include fatigue, dry skin, hair loss and slowed growth. Heat exhaustion can cause a sodium deficiency. Too much sodium will cause your dog to be excessively thirsty.

Selenium

Small amounts of selenium are considered an antioxidant for dogs that helps slow aging and regulates your dog’s blood sugar. Selenium deficiency appears linked to heart disease, the development of tumors, immune deficiencies, weakness, skin problems, slow growth and reduced fertility. Excess amounts of selenium can cause cardiovascular collapse, anemia, hair loss, limping and liver disease.

maybe a consultation with a reputable holistic vet may be of asistance.

holding Java in my heart and prayers.. i too have sveral aged dogs.. they are so very special, way beyond what words can possibly describe

Blessings on the journey

helen

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Have you scanned her? My old boy Cowan had a partial bowel obstruction that produced very similar results. It went on for nearly 3mths before we found out what it was even after extensive tests. He would go off his food and vomit and then be ok for a few days. During the entire 3mth period he was never quite right but there were periods where he was ok. Because it was only a partial obstruction (tumour) things would build up and after a period clear again. He always had normal stools. He had been x-rayed and had the small bead test to check for an obstruction and because it was only partial neither picked it up. In his case I decided to do exploratory surgery on the understanding that if nothing was found he would be let go on the table. He was 9 1/2 so a bit younger than your girl and he is sitting at my feet nearly 3years later.

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bianca.a   

I am so very sorry to read this *hugs*

Would a B12 injection be worth a try?

I have no advice just thoughts and prayers for you and Java.

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Dxenion   

I'll take this thread into the vets to check the suggestions here. Her last bloodwork was unremarkable which justs adds to the mystery. To top it off she stole some kibble from the boys tonight and ate it with great enthusiasm. It wasn't a huge amount but it's the most spark we've seen her muster up for food in 2 weeks. I guess we'll have an answer one way or the other in 24 hours.

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Sorry to hear.

I would at least try and investigate the matter fully before coming to a decision. As you've said, the mystery is the problem, at least get a firm diagnosis and take it from there.

Good luck tomorrow. She is a beautiful dog.

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k9angel   

I would at least try and investigate the matter fully before coming to a decision. As you've said, the mystery is the problem, at least get a firm diagnosis and take it from there.

I agree. Especially if she appears to be in good spirits otherwise.

I would also request a scan if she hasn't had one already.

Thinking of you both and hope you get some answers. :hug::crossfingers:

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Dxenion   

Last night she left us both standing there with our jaws unhinged as we watched her polish off the boy's dinner and then look around for more. We just about fell over ourselves getting her extra kibble and she even drank some puppy milk (she's never had problems with dairy).

Today's vet trip is now on hold. We're going back anyway on Thursday for a followup and we'll bring up scan and additional tests then. Saturday's dog and today's dog are two different dogs. I can't help wondering if this is just a temporary improvement on a downhill slope or have we sorted out the acid/ nausea issue with the tablets? Tests and time will tell.

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Dxenion   

Decided to go back into the vet today after she threw up lunch (and her anti nausea tablets). Sadly we're faced with stomach cancer :-( Invasive tests would confirm this for sure but at her age anaesthetic is not a safe option and we wont put her through chemotherapy anyway.

I did ask the vet directly for their professional opinion on quality of life and if we need to help her to the bridge today. They said she wasn't there yet because other than the occassional vomiting and now sporadic loss of appetite, she's bright and alert, interacting with the others and is as steady on her feet as one would expect and old dog to be. She's now on stronger anti nausea tablets and will continue the stomach coating ones as they appear to have started working.

I asked about the B12 and the vet didn't think it was required given that we are giving her Nutrigel too. The vet will follow up in two days to see if the new tablets are helping.

So now we know what we're faced with. It's all about making this time she has left the best we can.

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I am sorry about the diagnosis Dxenion. At least you still have her and you have some time to say your goodbyes. Did the vet give you an indication of how long you might have with your special girl?

My girl was diagnosed with cancer 5 months ago and today I found out that it is spreading. As you say though, "So now we know what we're faced with. It's all about making this time she has left the best we can"

Big hugs to Java. The old girl is still fighting!

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k9angel   

I am sorry to hear your girl has cancer Dxenion. :(

Although it wasn't the outcome you (or any of us), were hoping for, at least now you know, and when and if you have to make that decision, you'll know you've done all you could.

Keeping you both in my thoughts and wishing you lots of love and good days in the time you have together. :hug:

Edited by k9angel

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k9angel   

I am sorry about the diagnosis Dxenion. At least you still have her and you have some time to say your goodbyes. Did the vet give you an indication of how long you might have with your special girl?

My girl was diagnosed with cancer 5 months ago and today I found out that it is spreading. As you say though, "So now we know what we're faced with. It's all about making this time she has left the best we can"

Big hugs to Java. The old girl is still fighting!

Sorry to hear about your girl too White shepherd Mom. :(:hug:

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Dxenion   

Sad to hear about your girl too WSM.

We weren't given a timeline. I think that on hearing the C word, we were too shocked to ask.

We're just taking it one day at a time. We took them all for a drive this evening and she seemed to still love it. She's got a self inflating foam air mattress to lie on so she can enjoy the ride in comfort. Someone said to watch for signs that they're no longer enjoying things they used to love. Car rides are one of those things for her. It was so heartwarming to watch her trot out to the car and then wait to be lifted up into it. We went out to collect some goat bones tonight and when we arrived, the staff came over to give them all a pat. I watched as she got up and went to the window for a pat too (something she normally doesn't bother pushing through the other three dogs to get).

I treasure alll these little moments even more because I know that soon they will be just memories.

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I treasure alll these little moments even more because I know that soon they will be just memories.

:hug:

I always find the waiting the worst ....

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