A New Year is well upon us and I’ve made a decision to change the format of my blog. The old, preachy topics of heartworm, flea, spay/neuter and the holiday poisonings are very important, but boring and well…preachy. Then, a new year comes along and it’s spring and time to talk about fleas again.
This, however, left me with no good ideas, so I decided to center my blog on the happenings in the clinic. Every day, something sad, funny or great happens and I hope that sharing some of them and perhaps sharing the medical relevance will both entertain and enlighten all four of my readers!!
Bentley is a golden retriever who is neutered and will be turning four in a few weeks. Just after the new year, he came to see us because he vomited some foam three days prior. His food had changed a few weeks back and he seemed lethargic. Otherwise, all was good. Because he was young and golden retrievers are known to eat things they shouldn’t, we did xrays. His xrays looked pretty good but his blood work showed there was inflammation or infection somewhere. We sent out blood for a complete blood count, gave him some fluids and sent him home on an antacid while we waited for results.
That night he perked up quickly, but it did not last. He came back with a fever that he didn’t have before. His blood work showed he had a high white blood cell count so we did some chest xrays because of a concern that he could have an infection in his chest, and because we’d seen some fungal infections this summer. We started him on antibiotics, ordered an antifungal and sent out a test for the fungal infection called Blastomycosis. The test came back positive.
Blastomycosis(Blasto, for short) is a fungal disease caused by inhaling spores from soil or sand into the lungs. The fungus can then spread throughout the body. We have seen dogs with the infection limp, become blind, or even die from this disease.
Luckily, Bentley is doing well but will need treatment for quite some time, perhaps up to one year. The other fortunate thing going for Bentley is that he has a family willing to do a lot for him. Vomiting is not a very specific sign and neither is a fever or lethargy. We needed to do a lot of tests including one for Addison’s disease which he turned out not to have. All of these tests helped us get to the answer.
Bentley’s case is an example of a time where although it took a lot of time, effort and money, we arrived at a diagnosis and a treatment plan with high hopes of success. Sometimes, our answers come quickly and at other times, we cannot narrow it down without extensive surgeries or expensive tests such as CT scans or MRIs.
Be up front with your vet, make sure they listen, and be honest about what you can afford. If you feel that they are not listening, find someone who will. If you feel they are being judgmental, find someone who isn’t. We are here to help you, and although we may want to do tests you cannot afford, we work with varying budgets all the time( both at work and at home). We understand and aim to work with you, as a team, to help your pets.
The joy our staff felt when Bentley came back in for a recheck was amazing and made for a great day. When Bentley was not feeling good, it made for hard days and restless nights and we all smiled when his owners sent a picture of him feeling better at home. Each day, there are highs and lows. Hopefully, this new format will inform you on some diseases and more of what it is like working in a veterinary clinic.
Next time, although he has passed, I will tell the story of an amazing little dog named Brady.
Thanks for reading!