Kermit was a spirited sweetie with a unique personality, adopted as a stray. He was an oddball, who brought his own kind of entertainment and challenges.
Kermit loved his family and enjoyed going on hikes in nearby trails. After one of the hikes, about ten minutes after they got home, Kermit collapsed.
Something was wrong.
He came-to fairly quickly; was the hike too much for him? A trip to a vet and blood work later, the diagnosis was in.
Kermit had Addison's disease.
What the heck is Addison's disease?
Addison's Disease means that adrenal glands are not functioning properly. It is hard to diagnose because symptoms can point to other things. In Kermit's case, to put it in layman's terms, his body was not producing the hormones necessary to deal with physical or emotional stress. So when he went on that hike, his body wasn't able to deal with the exertion. Symptoms can be sudden or gradual and can stop and start, another factor that makes diagnosis difficult.
Common symptoms include: lethargy, depression, vomiting & diarrhea, decreased appetite, shaking, and muscle weakness.
Kermit's collapse was an acute episode, called Addisonian crisis.
This happens when blood pressure drops dangerously low.
There is no cure for Addison's, but it can be managed with medication.
Kermit was put on a daily dose of fludrocortisone, a medication that had to be taken daily for the rest of his life and adjusted based on regular blood test results.
Together with a healthy diet, supplements and regular moderate exercise, the meds seemed to keep Kermit's Addison's under control.
Before any stressful situation, Kermit got an extra half dose leading up to the event and during the event.
It is important to realize that even positive excitement constitutes stress.
Out-of-town guests were a welcome excitement for Kermit but the thrill of it could send him into and Addisonian crisis.
For a couple of years, Kermit was living a happy life and all seemed good.
Then, one day, Kermit suddenly collapsed. This time it was different, though. His body stiffened and he started convulsing. The few seconds it lasted seemed like forever. After the episode he stood up, walked around a bit, pooped, drank a ton of water and went about his normal business.
Even though he bounced right back, Kermit was rushed to a vet.
Seizures are not typically one of the symptoms of Addison's disease. Blood work didn't reveal any answers. On top of his Addison's disease, Kermit was diagnosed with non-specific seizure disorder.
One theory was that the seizures could be the toll his Addison's was taking on his body but it was just a speculation. There was no telling whether it was going to repeat or how often it might happen. For the time being, Kermit was kept on his meds only.
Over the next couple of years, Kermit had a seizure every now and then.
Because they were sporadic and treatment would be rather invasive, things were left alone. But as time went on, the seizures became more consistent and out of the blue he would get cluster seizures too.
What was setting them off?
However, his house mate knew when they were coming. She would stick to him like a glue, licking his eyes. And then he would get a cluster seizure. Not that there was much that could be done with that knowledge, but at least one could tell what was coming.
The main thing was to keep him from injuring himself, comfort and support him.
Apart from the seizure episodes, Kermit was his normal happy self.
Eventually, though, the seizures took a tool on his brain and Kermit started showing signs of not being all there. He started soiling in the house, unaware he was doing anything wrong.
Then he began chewing on his front leg.
At first just a little nibble ... then he just chewed and chewed and chewed. He couldn't snap out of it.
Kermit was set free.
Living with canine Addison's disease: Kermit's Story, part one (the adoption)
Living with canine Addison's disease: Kermit's Story, part two (our lives before the disease)
Living with canine Addison's disease: Kermit's Story, part three (the diagnosis)
Living with canine Addison's disease: Kermit's Story, part four (the disease and the end)
Do you have a dog diagnosed with Addison's? Is your dog unwell and nobody can figure out why?
Addison dogs Facebook support group is comprised of individuals from around the world who are striving toward healthy, active lives for their canine friend(s) with Addison’s disease. They seek to improve wellness for the whole dog—including body, mind and spirit.
Addison Dogs also works to educate and support the companion animal community about Addison’s disease in dogs. The goal is to foster open communication about the variety of options available to the caregiver of a dog with Addison's disease.
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Do you have a story to share?
Your story can help others, maybe even save a life!
What were the first signs you noticed? How did you dog get diagnosed? What treatment did/didn't work for you? What was your experience with your vet(s)? How did you cope with the challenges?
Email me, I'll be happy to hear from you!