Aftermath of Macy's Demise

Our household is adjusting to being one man down with Macy's recent passing.  Our hearts are heavy.  The remaining two dogs, my setters Daisy and Ella, are settling into a 2-pack mode v. a 3-pack mode.  Our Macy was a vibrant team member until about 2 months ago.  Naturally, I'm a little reflective, and I wanted to share the products of that reflection.  Hindsight is always 20-20. Oftentimes, we do not now what 'we are adding up to' when presented with discrete bits of observations.

Today as I write, I'm convinced that Macy had a brain tumor.  What started 7 weeks ago as a head-scratching retching episode that oddly began a serialized change in Macy's behavior, is now, post euthanasia, solidified as a symptom a brain tumor. 

About 7 weeks ago, she then presented symptoms of vomiting.  She threw up dried leaf trash (copious amounts of leaf debris which was odd and alarming), and I was concerned that she had a blockage.  I took her to the vet.  They monitored her for the day, and we were told that there was no blockage.  Over the course of a few days she recovered gastronomically--with an occasional episode; however, she seemed forever changed after that visit. Prior to that, we did not notice anything more than slightly more aggressive front door behavior with Daisy.  But hard to put in perspective as sometimes that behavior could be quite explosive in younger years.

Rather, post retching visit, I noticed changes in behavior that were mild at first blush--those nuanced things, that just make you go, "Huh? v HUH!"  She was lethargic--sleeping quite late and having to be rousted out of the bed (she was sleeping in the bed as she had since she was a puppy up until a month ago when she no longer went up the steps). The behavior oddities expanded to present the following:
  • paced through the house with no sense of purpose;
  • difficulty in approaching doorways;
  • stopped coming upstairs to sleep in the bed;
  • disoriented/mildly anxious outside -- would walk aimlessly with no sense of purpose, and would not remember to go to the bathroom
  • lethargic:  She would not get up unless physically roused;
  • lack of comfort posture when resting:   did not look like she was resting in comfortable positions--never seemed truly relaxed (as we all know that dogs can do quite well).
  • No reaction to her name being called.  (She could see/hear);
  • depression:  no interaction with us:  no joy in seeing us, except for a few glimmers of joy. The desire for ball play, the center of her fun, was gone.  I threw her a ball last week and she went after it -- and it gave me some hope.  But that was a glimmer.  Another day, all she did was stop it.
  • Reduced interest in food outside of dinner time.  Though even to the end she had SOME interest in getting to lick a plate.  But it was a shadow of her previous enthusiasm.
  • increased thirst (though this is a retrospective view)
  • urinating/defecating inside after being put out to 'do business' (something she never did);
  • no vocalization (no growling, no barking--this non-behavior from a dog that was vigilant in barking/growling AT EVERYTHING the moved in her field of vision:  squirrels, vehicles (especially the UPS, trash and postal vehicles).

There was no improvement, only degradation, in all of these presentments--and all of these after the retching -- or were mild enough prior to that event and escaped our notice.  She did not present any pain symptoms. I wondered if there was such a thing as canine cognitive disorder.  There is, and she had all of the signs.  I made an appointment with my vet to rule out any other physical issues (hip/leg issues) and to discuss her symptoms.  Outside of a little arthritis in her knee and being overweight, she was in very good shape.  Unless we wanted to spring for the cost of an MRI ($4K), there was little to do diagnosis wise for the cognitive issue.  (Yes, you can get expensive Alzheimer's medication which helps 65% of the canine patients show improvement in at least one of the 10 symptom--that's not really a treatment but a crap shoot).  

Coincidentally, that evening after visiting the vet, Macy had her first seizure that we had witnessed. Mark slept on the couch with her to monitor her.  (Macy had done her couch duty during some of Mark's injuries/maladies).   The next morning she had another.  I made an appointment for euthanasia, as I realized that Macy's condition had deteriorated dramatically. My vet was full, but they were going to work me in.  Another violent, longer seizure, and I called to get in sooner.  She passed peacefully -- an ending that any of us deserve.

Post-euthanasia, I reviewed the literature on canine brain tumors (they are quite common in dogs apparently).  There is quite a bit of overlap between the canine cognitive disorder and brain tumor symptoms.  Her condition, then, was bookended by the retching at first presentation and the seizures at last presentation and the other behavioral changes and aimless pacing in between.  Given that the median survival rate is 50% after 3 months, the escalation of her symptoms makes sense. 

If you are interested in finding out more about canine brain tumors, I found this site at NC State University. They also have clinical trials.  Had I known about their clinical research, I would have submitted Macy for an autopsy (so long as I could get her back).  If you have found this post through your own personal experience with your beloved pet, I wish you well.  As pet owners, we have the opportunity to give our beloved pets a dignified end.  I have had to say goodbye to so many over the years.  And I believe in the saying that a week too early is better than a day too late when it comes to euthanasia.


Post a Comment