What a crazy few days it has been! If you follow along on Instagram and Snapchat, you may have seen a few posts about my dog Sophie. She has been a little under the weather off and on for the last couple of months which has resulted in multiple vet trips, fluids, medicine - all that good stuff. The thing about it all was that we could never find a rhyme or reason - she could be acting perfectly fine with terrible stomach problems so it was hard to figure out if she'd just gotten into something or if she was truly sick.
This past Thursday night, I was getting ready to pack for a weekend trip to Williamsburg when I kept thinking how swollen her belly looked. She's a 3.5 pound dog so she's a tiny little thing, but on Thursday night, her belly was very large. It had happened in the past before but I just had a bad feeling. Of course, it was 11pm when I decided we needed to see a doctor so off to the emergency vet we went. (side note: don't google when your dog/kid/family member is sick. It will only result in hysterical crying at your house, in the car, and in the vet's office...). Thankfully, the vet reassured me it wasn't what I thought it was (thank you google results for "Dog Bloated Belly), but they knew something wasn't right. After quite a few tests, the vet came in and suggested she stay overnight to receive plasma because her protein levels were extremely low and her abdomen was filled with fluid, and then take her to NC State the next morning. We wanted to take her home but they advised us of the risks so my dad and I decided to leave her there.
I slept about 4 hours and headed back to the emergency vet to pick her up, and she definitely wasn't feeling that well. She had a catheter in her tiny leg, and though we trusted the opinion of the emergency vet, we wanted to see our primary as well. We took her in and he confirmed the opinions of the e-vet. Not knowing how long we would be in Raleigh, my mom and I packed a suitcase and headed to NC State's veterinary hospital. Thankfully, they knew we were coming in so as soon as we got there, the triage nurse met us and took her back. After evaluation, the emergency department said we had done the right thing by taking her to the vet the night before and giving her the transfusion, but she would have to continue to be tested and then transferred to the Internal Medicine department the next morning. They also suggested there was a good chance she would have to stay until Monday, which was disheartening but we were just ready to have some answers. We had visiting hours with her for a bit, getting lots of puppy snuggles, but we eventually gave her back and Mom and I found a hotel not far away.
We went to dinner and had a much needed glass of wine + a trip to Target and then we were both exhausted. My phone rang bright and early and they told us she was perfectly stable and that all the staff was absolutely loving her, which made me feel better. We headed back in and they told us that more than likely, on Monday, she would be having an endoscopy to get a better idea of what was going on. They had narrowed the problems down to a couple of things that all have to do with protein leakage through the GI tract, but they procedures would lock in an exact diagnosis. The whole time, we had been warned about the possibilities of something serious happening to Soph during all of that so we were a little on edge about the whole situation.
After about an hour of visiting with Sophie, the doctor came back in to talk - and this time, she had a different suggestion. After talking to the team, they felt that there were extreme risks with doing the endoscopy due to the fact that you have to fast for 24 hours prior (and Sophie is only 3.5 pounds which is very dangerous), and she was also at a risk for blood clots. The words "sudden death" were mentioned and finally, the vet suggested we take her home with a very strict diet and medications. In her opinion, the risks were too high to go through with the procedures at this point and she is stable enough from the transfusions and medications that it's not dangerous for her to be home - their hope is that with the intense prescription diet change and medicine, we will notice a complete turnaround. Though we don't have an exact diagnosis (though they think it's something called lymphangiectasia - issues with the stomach, proteins aren't absorbed, fluid leaks through the cells, etc.), we are all very hopeful that this "lifestyle change" will work wonders for Sophie and we won't have to go through with the procedures.
Over the next few weeks, we'll be back at the vet several times to check blood levels, protein levels, etc., and I will probably be even more of a helicopter dog-mom than I already was prior to all of this, but I'm thankful for an incredible team of vets - from our primary vet to the great team of students, interns, residents and doctors at NC State. I also think they were a little sad Sophie was leaving. She was snuggled and held most of the time she was there which made us feel so much better about not being back with her at all times.
This is quite the novel, but Soph is like my baby. I got her in college and she's gone through 3 different moves, 3 different cities, two jobs, lots of real-life things - so I would do anything to keep her healthy! And the biggest point - if you have a gut feeling that your dog is sick, more than likely you are right. The vet trips can be extensive and expensive, but my little gal is worth it no doubt. Thanks to all the sweet messages, notes, calls, etc. to check in on this tiny pup of mine!