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Leo the Boston Terrier Medical Update: Pet Parent Warnings, Cushings, Medications and Second Opinions

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Leo the Boston Terrier Medical Update: Pet Parent Warnings, Cushings, Medications and Second Opinions

*AS NOTED IN PREVIOUS BLOG POSTS I AM NOT A VETERINARIAN OR DOCTOR OF ANY SORT.
**I AM A COLLEGE DEGREE HOLDING PET OWNER THAT BELIEVES ALL PET PARENTS NEED TO BE PROACTIVE, DO THEIR RESEARCH, FOLLOW THEIR INSTINCT AND ADVOCATE FOR THEIR PETS. IF IN SHARING OUR EXPERIENCES AND LEO’S STORY WE CAN HELP OTHER FAMILIES IT WILL MAKE US FEEL LIKE WE CONTRIBUTED TO THE WELLBEING OF THE PETS AND THEIR LOVING FAMILIES.
As most of you know Leo had an anterior luxation that caused acute glaucoma and had to have an eye removed in May of 2013. In October of 2013 we noticed some symptoms in Leo that lead us to believe he may have Cushing’s Disease. Symptoms at the time included: weight gain in belly, fur loss on lower back region, panting and a slight increase in water intact. We took Leo to the vet and expressed our concern stating that we thought he may have Cushings and requesting he be tested for it. At this point in time that vet told us that the symptoms Leo was experiencing were common signs of a thyroid issue. They tested his thyroid and told us it was low at which point he was put on Soloxine. A few months later we took him back in to the vet for bloodwork to see how his levels were and Leo was diagnosed with a non-specific liver and kidney issue as a couple of his liver enzymes were elevated and he had 3+ proteins in his urine. Leo was then put on Denamarin to assist with liver function. More time passed and bloodwork was done two more times by this vet, both times Leo still had elevated liver enzymes and protein in his urine. Finally, we were able to talk them into testing for Cushing’s Disease as Leo had an increase in Cushing’s symptoms. They ran the test and it came back negative for Cushing’s Disease. We then continued to monitor Leo’s liver and kidney function with no definitive answers as to what was going on, what was causing the issue or how to effectively treat the issues. At our final visit with this vet they diagnosed Leo with high blood pressure and attempted to put him on medication for that…at this moment I decided to follow my gut and seek a second opinion from a holistic vet in our area.
Upon meeting the holistic vet and having him examine Leo and go over all of his records he noted that Leo’s thyroid was fine and that he did not need to be on the thyroid medication Soloxine in the first place. When testing the thyroid there are three numbers that come back, many vets only focus on one of the numbers, but all three numbers need to be taken into consideration. Our new holistic vet explained that thyroid issues are often times over-diagnosed in dogs. At this point in time we decided to take Leo off of the Soloxine as he didn’t need to be on it in the first place and it was what was probably causing the increase in blood pressure for Leo. A month and a half after taking Leo off of the Soloxine we took him in to run blood tests and check his blood pressure. Leo’s blood pressure was perfect! Leo’s thyroid was perfect! A couple of Leo’s liver enzymes were elevated and Leo did still have protein in his urine. We put Leo on some Chinese herbs to help with liver function and decided to do more bloodwork the following month. The next set of bloodwork came back with Leo still having increased levels of liver enzymes and protein in his urine, Leo also had increased calcium levels. At this point with all of the bloodwork results all of the signs were pointing towards Leo either having lymphoma or Cushing’s.
As concerned pet parents we were not good with the idea of Leo having lymphoma, so we started researching Cushing’s again, at which point I made a few very interesting discoveries. The following is the exact (minus the blocked out names) email that I sent to our holistic vet sharing the information I found and seeing what his thoughts were:
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Dr. ___________________,
I apologize for the length of the following email, but also know that typically I am better at explaining things in writing than I am verbally…so it is a bit of a read, but I feel there are some good points. Goal is for Leo to be as healthy and happy for as long as possible. I know that there is a chance that Leo has lymphoma, but looking at all of his symptoms, etc. I feel that he probably has Cushing’s Disease.
The symptoms most commonly seen in dogs with beginning Cushing’s include:
Increased thirst and urination (which can lead to the symptom of incontinence): When monitoring Leo he does drink significantly more than our other two dogs. During daytime hours they drink nearly the same amount, but Leo is up at least three times every night drinking water. Leo also requests to go outside far more often than the other two dogs. We have been lucky thus far and not had any incontinence issues.
Increased panting: When first bringing up the concern of Leo possibly having Cushing’s with old vet I did inform them that Leo was panting much more than normal. Leo, at that time, could sit and just pant, even with no physical activity prior. Leo is currently not doing this anymore.
Weight gain in the abdominal area, in spite of a reduction in calories (pot belly): The main symptom noticed with Leo, other than hair loss, was that he was getting or had a Buddha belly that was mainly noticeable when he was sitting, but was also quite noticeable when he was standing (he appeared almost pregnant).
Thinning skin and change in the pigment of skin, from pink to grey or even black; bruising: Leo’s skin does appear to be thinning, especially in the belly and neck area. Leo’s skin pigmentation has also changed in his ears turning to the greyish black color.
Hair loss and dullness of hair: Leo has significant hair loss on his lower back. Leo has also lost much of the sheen of his coat.
Irritability or restlessness: We’ve not seen much irritability out of Leo as he is typically very good natured. We have noticed a lot of restlessness.
Increased hunger: No increase in hunger noted.
• Seems very tired and inactive: Leo does at times seem very tired, but still has a great amount of physical activity and enjoys playing. We associated his decrease in activity with an increase in age.
Gets skin infections: Leo is suffering from ear margin dermatosis that he has never had before, this is new to him.
Decreased Muscle and bone mass: Leo’s muscle tone is lacking compared to how it used to be, we just associated this with aging.
Much less common are symptoms of rear limb weakness and blood clots. Leo has shown signs of weakness in his rear legs. Old vet noted that he did not immediately move paw back when she curled it under and stated it was “nerve damage.” We have witnessed Leo having episodes of back leg shaking and this has been increasing. Noticed it for the first time about 6 or so months ago. There are times that Leo’s back legs or hind end will shake while he is standing, but this does also occur sometimes when he is in a seated position.

Cushing’s is an over production of cortisol which is the stress hormone. Leo didn’t start showing any symptoms until October of 2013. In May of 2013 was when Leo had his eye removed, which could have been a trigger as he had been in a lot of pain prior to surgery and losing half of your vision, plus your depth perception, along with running into things, etc. has to be very stressful on him. The increase in cortisol can affect immune function, “trigger a glucose release from the liver” (thus making the liver work harder and I would assume knock liver enzymes, etc. all out of balance). “Cushing’s dogs get referred after a misdiagnosed liver disease. The liver of an animal with hyperadrenocorticism gets overtaxed from trying to process the excess cortisol in circulation throughout the body. This causes an elevation in the liver enzyme alanine aminotransferase (ALT) and the inducible liver enzyme, alkaline phosphatase (ALP).”

There are two major types that affect dogs:
Pituitary dependent. This form is the most common, affecting about 80% to 90% of the animals who have Cushing’s. It happens when there’s a tumor in a pea-sized gland at the base of the brain, called the pituitary.
Adrenal dependent: This type comes from a tumor in one of the glands that sit on top of the kidneys, called adrenal glands. About 15% to 20% of diagnosed dogs will have this type.

When we first took Leo to old vet with concerns about him having Cushing’s they diagnosed him with a thyroid issue and put him on Soloxine. The following are cautions linked to Soloxine:
Cautions:
Soloxine should not be used if your pet has ever had thyrotoxicosis, or an uncontrolled adrenal gland problem. Tell your veterinarian if your pet has heart disease, anemia, diabetes, or problems with the pituitary or adrenal glands. If you give your pet insulin or diabetes medication by mouth, dose adjustments may need to be made.

Being that Cushing’s Disease in dogs has two primary types: Pituitary dependent and Adrenal dependent and that the above states that Soloxine should not be used in cases where the animal has issues with pituitary or adrenal glands I question if Leo being on Soloxine when the Cushing’s test was done could have affected the test results.

Depending on your opinion I would really like to re-test Leo for Cushing’s Disease, or start to treat him for Cushing’s Disease to see if it would help him.

Sincerely,
Roxanne ______________
SOURCES:
http://pets.webmd.com/dogs/cushings-syndrome-dogs
http://healthypets.mercola.com/sites/healthypets/archive/2010/09/21/cushings-disease-caused-by-pet-stress.aspx
http://www.1800petmeds.com/Soloxine-prod10138.html
http://healthypets.mercola.com/sites/healthypets/archive/2010/09/21/cushings-disease-caused-by-pet-stress.aspx

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Our holistic vet received this email on Monday November 2 and by Friday the 6th we had Leo in testing him for Cushing’s a second time. As you remember from above the old vet tested him and it came back negative. This time Leo was not on unnecessary medication (Soloxine) that would skew the results. On Monday November 9th we received the call that confirmed that Leo DOES have Cushing’s Disease.
Leo has now started Vetoryl, one of the only FDA approved medications to help with Cushing’s…not a cure, but a help. Leo has only taken two doses so far.
Now our adventures in diagnosed Cushing’s Disease begins….we will be sharing Leo’s story along the way.

**PET PARENTS:  PLEASE FOLLOW YOUR GUT.  FOLLOW YOUR INSTINCT.  GET A SECOND OPINION OR EVEN A THIRD IF NEEDED.  DON’T BLINDLY TRUST A DIAGNOSIS IF YOU FEEL LIKE IT COULD BE SOMETHING DIFFERENT.  DO YOUR RESEARCH.  ASK QUESTIONS.  ADVOCATE FOR YOUR PETS–YOU ARE THEIR VOICE!!!

Leo the Boston Terrier with his sister Kuki and brother Doc.

Leo the Boston Terrier with his sister Kuki and brother Doc.

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Leo the Boston Terrier One Year Post Enucleation

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Yesterday, May 3rd, was the one year anniversary of Leo’s enucleation surgery.  Remembering back a year ago to how scared and stressed out we were and comparing it to where we are now…wow, the change is amazing!  Leo is a resilient, strong, brave and doing wonderful.  On occasion he runs into things, misjudges steps, and loses treats & toys on his right side, but other than those little things he is thriving.  Leo is the spunkiest 11 year old dog we know. 

In December we did have a health scare with Leo.  Out of nowhere the right side of Leo’s face swelled up.  We immediately took him to the vet and were prescribed antibiotics and pain medications.  When the vet was checking Leo out they couldn’t tell if it was an abscessed tooth or an infection associated to his enucleation.  Being that the antibiotics cleared up the issue right away and Leo has had no further facial swelling we learned that it was not caused by a tooth.  When a dog gets enucleation surgery bacteria can live in the eye area dormant for an extended amount of time and then all of a sudden decide to cause an infection, and that is what happened with Leo.

Leo also started gaining weight back in September and we just attributed to a change in dog food…we really didn’t notice the weight gain until around November.  Once we noticed the weight gain we got the kids back on the good dog food.  Unfortunately, Leo continued to gain weight.  We also noticed that he had a lot of dryness in his ears, areas of his fur were thinning and his energy just wasn’t as high as usual.  Leo’s wonderful vet (who loves him!) had us to blood testing and we found that his thyroid isn’t working correctly, which all of the symptoms we had noticed are warning signs.  Leo is now on medication for his thyroid twice a day.  Since starting the medication we’ve noticed that he has more energy and does his wiggle butt dance more often.  In time Leo should lose the weight that he gained and his fur will start filling in more.

Overall, Leo has had a great year.  He is amazing, happy, funny, loving, and all those other great things Boston Terriers are.  We look forward to sharing many more years of Leo stories with all of you and thank you all for following Leo’s story.  We are so happy to hear that Leo’s story helped so many families going through the same thing.  Leo says “snots, snorts and kisses to all.”

 

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Leo still believes he is a beaver.

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A smile makes the day brighter.

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Leo doing some major bossing!

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Golden Birthday ice cream treat.

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Leo is an expert at staring contests.

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Leo doing more bossing, but this was on his birthday so he had the right to 🙂

Happy Golden Birthday Leo!

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Yesterday was our wonderful one-eyed Boston Terrier Leo’s Golden Birthday!  The big 11! I am so lucky and blessed to have this little black and white bundle of joy in my life.  Thank you Leo for being such a great boy!

Samsung Cell Photos 232Over the weekend we did our special birthday tradition where Leo gets to go to the “toy store” and pick out any toy (or two) that he wants.  Leo is yelling at me in this photo because I am not playing like he wants me to!

Samsung Cell Photos 271Early morning birthday photo!  Leo is not fully amused with me as his goal is to get some lovins and go back to bed…he is not a fan of the time change.Samsung Cell Photos 302 Samsung Cell Photos 301 Samsung Cell Photos 300 Samsung Cell Photos 299 Samsung Cell Photos 298 Samsung Cell Photos 297 Samsung Cell Photos 296 Samsung Cell Photos 295

Of course, as we all know, you can’t celebrate a birthday, none-the-less a GOLDEN birthday without your own special bowl of ice cream!  Leo got spoiled with ice cream and his very own dog-friendly cupcake.

 

Leo or International Dog of Mystery?

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Leo or International Dog of Mystery?

Leo or International Dog of Mystery?

 

Our very handsome one-eyed boy Leo decided to try out a new disguise today…we think he pulls it off very well 😉

Leo 6 Months Post Enucleation Surgery

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Amazing how quickly 6 months has passed and how well Leo has adjusted to being a handsome one-eyed old man.  Leo is doing fantastic and overall has adjusted to only having one eye very well.  Leo still has all of the energy he has ever had…gives his much younger brother a run for his money every day.

Leo still occasionally has depth perception issues and sometimes will accidentally bump one of our fingers with a tooth when he is reaching for a treat.  Leo has allergies that cause extra tears at times, we have noticed that with just having one eye Leo does seem to tear more from that eye…which causes some stains if not gently cleaned daily.  Leo will also sometimes “lose” a toy on his right side, at which point we have to have him turn to see it.  Leo is a very fast boy and is a toy addict, my husband and I both sit and wonder how in the world we ever got a toy away from him when he had two eyes…Leo only having one eye at least gives us a little bit of a chance 🙂

 

DSC06518  Leo is still very handsome and photogenic…he loves spending time outside and posing for the occasional picture.

 

DSC05999 Always with a smile on his face.

 

DSC05683This summer Leo & his siblings went to the ocean for the first time.  Leo LOVED it.

 

DSC05932  Spoiled Rotten!

 

DSC06415Of course Leo does take it easy sometimes while using his humans as self-warming pillows.

 

 

 

Leo-5 Weeks Post Surgery

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Wow, time does fly…it has been 5 full weeks since Leo’s surgery and he is doing fantastic.  We, as his humans, are not as paranoid as we had been about letting him play and Leo is very thankful for that.  Leo is also in the summer spirit, enjoying a lot of time outside and some wonderful summer snacks (Leo is a watermelon junky).DSC05293 DSC05327 DSC05329 DSC05331 DSC05336

Leo-4 Weeks Post Surgery

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Today is the 4 week anniversary since Leo’s eye enucleation surgery…wow, 4 weeks already.  Leo is doing wonderful.  He seems to have almost completely adjusted to only having one eye as he is very rarely bumping into things on his right side anymore.  Leo is still full of his energy and spunk giving his other furry family members a good run for their money.  Oh, and 98% of his fur has grown back in.

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