Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Addison's Disease Awareness: What's Wrong With Hannah?

by Diana King

After my first Pyr girl, Mariah crossed the Rainbow Bridge in June 2012, I was devastated. We had her for 11 1/2 years and she was diagnosed with bone cancer.

I was lost without Mariah and my other two Pyrs were also grieving her loss. One day I found myself looking on Petfinder.com on Great Pyrenees Rescues and saw a precious baby girl, Great Pyrenees wrapped in a pink blanket, I fell in love with her and adopted her August of 2012. Hannah was 12 weeks old then.

When Hannah reached the age of six months she became very ill.

She had developed a twitch above her right eye. She would stop in the middle of her walk and just stare. I took her to our vet and they examined her and threw a few guesses of what it may be.

Two weeks later it was more consistent, more twitches and lasting 30-90 seconds. 

We took Hannah back in. A different vet saw her that day and said she was having focal seizures. Hannah was referred to a neurologist. After a thorough examination they guessed at epilepsy.

During the first three months Hannah had developed numerous UTIs, not responding to antibiotics. Her creatinine became elevated and her electrolytes were running crazy.

Hannah began vomiting, losing her appetite, lost weight and became very lethargic. 

Six different vets had seen her by this time but none could give a conclusive diagnosis! I was getting really frustrated for her being poked, and on one medication to another, changing her diet because one vet suggested kidney disease, she was on seizure medication because of the twitching and then they wanted to do an MRI but said that may not tell them anything at all either, they were guessing.

We had a six month old Pyr puppy that had "twitching," elevated creatinine levels, dehydration, weight loss, lethargy, back-to-back UTIs that never completely went away because she wouldn't respond to any antibiotics ...

I took over and researched Hannah's every symptom.

I looked on PetMD. I typed in twitching and elevated creatinine and BAM, there it was in black and white - Addison's disease. The Great Pretender that mimics so many other conditions and could only be diagnosed by testing for it specifically.

We went the next week to a follow up appointment with the neurologist and I had to carry Hannah inside, she was so weak. 

While we were waiting to be seen, Hannah collapsed. I shouted for someone to come take her and get her some help!

The ER vet and neurologist came out and took Hannah's blood pressure. It was at 40 and plunging, and she was getting cold. I lost it and demanded that she was tested for Addison's disease.

I heard the ER vet say, "We are losing her."

My heart sank. The neurologist said they really don't think this is Addison's because her potassium looked good—he was looking at blood work that was 3-4 weeks old ...

They rushed Hannah back into CCU, while I waited for four long hours and heard nothing.

Finally the CCU vet and the neurologist came out and told me that Hannah was in critical condition. Her kidneys were failing and she did test positive for Addison's disease!

They were giving her IV fluids, prednisone and Percorten.

Hannah remained in CCU for five days. 

When I went to bring her home she literally ran into my arms! I had my baby girl back and she was going home!

Today, Hannah is a healthy, very happy 2 1/2 year old Great Pyrenees who lives her life to its fullest! She is on 5 mg of prednisone every day for the rest of her life, DOCP injections every 25 days and blood work every three months to check her electrolytes and kidney and liver functions.

If she is under stress such as going to the groomer or another vet appointment, I up her dose of prednisone for a day or so until she is regular .

If you love your pup as much as I love this girl, and see something that just isn't right, don't settle for diagnoses that don't bring a solution or at least a conclusive explanation.

Do your homework, stand your ground! 

Moms know their Pyrs and pups better than anyone and if I hadn't researched Hannah's symptoms and monitored them daily for three months, she wouldn't have survived and I would have never known why.

Addisonian dogs can live a happy life if diagnosed and treated.

They will be on medication everyday for the rest of their life but they will be living! Addison's is a tricky disease to diagnose because it mimics so many other conditions—kidney failure, epilepsy, focal seizures, excessive UTIs , weight loss, dehydration, diarrhea, vomiting, lethargy.

But once it is addressed, they can be normal, happy dogs living a long life!

I hope Hannah's story helps pet owners to understand this disease better, it's more common in females than males and it's genetic.

I never knew Hannah parents or her brother because she was a rescue.

PetMD is one of the best resources to research symptoms and conditions your pup may have and by researching this you can help save their life!

I rescued Hannah, but she she rescued me right back when she came back to me! I was not going to let her go that day, I love her too much!!!


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.

Further reading:
So Your Dog Has Addison's Disease
Addison's Disease (Hypoadrenocorticism)

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!

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