November 2021: Cardiology Check-Up

  • Cardiovascular Examination:
    • Auscultation: Grade 3/6 left apical blowing quality murmur. Heart rate 100bpm and regular. Lungs clear.
    • Thrill: none
    • PMI: left
    • Femoral Artery: good quality bilaterally
  • Release Notes:
    • Limoncello’s heart disease is stable on the current medication and supplements. There has been an improvement
      in the heart size.
    • Her blood work was completely normal.
    • Current medication and supplements will continue with no changes. Sleeping respiratory rate (SRRs) will be tracked at least 2-3 times per week. This is extremely important to anticipating fluid shifts and the onset of congestive heart failure.

Blood Work:

Echocardiogram and Ultrasound:

Porter’s Status Epilepticus Episode

It has taken me 11 months to write this post, as it is a recap of one of the scariest days (and couple of weeks) we’ve ever had with our pups. 

November is Epilepsy Awareness Month. For those of you who may just be joining our pack’s adventures, our 4-ish-year-old English Pointer, Porter, suffers from severe clustering Grand Mal and Focal seizures caused by idiopathic epilepsy. Eleven months ago, Porter almost lost his battle with this horrible disease when he experienced Status Epilepticus (SE) – a cluster of seizures lasting 5-minutes or more  in which the dog does not return to “normal” in between seizures. If it is even possible for something positive to result from Covid, it is that both Brian and I were working from home at the time of Porter’s SE.  Had we not been present for this SE episode, Porter would have seized to death.


December 22, 2020

At 8:44am, Porter began to seize. Porter’s seizures had become a regular…almost “normal?” event in our family. We acted quickly, but calmly, because we were prepared with Porter’s seizure protocol and armed with emergency injections. If he clusters, we give him the shot…end of seizures, right? Not this time. When we saw that he was clustering, Brian administered Porter’s emergency injection of Midazolam. However, despite giving the injections, this time, the seizures kept coming. The seizures were severe, emerging one-after-the-other, Porter was violently convulsing and was extremely vocal… it was one of the most awful things I have had to force myself to watch. Brian had given Porter the maximum number of emergency injections allowed with no success in stopping the clustering. Helpless doesn’t even begin to describe how we felt. Porter was then rushed to the emergency hospital.

We were informed that Porter was experiencing Status Epilepticus (SE), and that it was critical to act quickly because neurologic damage continues to occur until seizure activity has ended. The emergency facility was still not allowing clients inside because of Covid, so Porter was taken into the hospital, immediately admitted to the ER and placed on an IV with anesthesia. Standard procedure for a SE is for the dog to be placed on an IV catheter in order to administer anti-epileptic drugs (AEDs). Dogs are usually heavily sedated with anesthesia while receiving AED treatment. While this treatment is being administered, there are several risk factors:

  • Hypertension, and then hypotension – and both can worsen with addition of AEDs, so closely monitoring blood pressure is extremely important
  • Hyperthermia – temperature must be closely monitored and cooling efforts are often needed. After seizure activity stops, if the dog has been heavily sedated, hypothermia may occur, and warming may be needed at that time.
  • Difficulty with upper airways – gag reflex has to be monitored. If the dog is unresponsive, or if the gag reflex is insufficient, it may be necessary to intubate the dog to help prevent hypoxemia and protect the dog’s airway from aspiration. 

We were told Porter’s prognosis was poor – as less than 25% of dogs who experience SE will not survive the hospital discharge. Given his current state, euthanasia was also suggested as an option. We refused to even acknowledge this as a choice for Porter until we could more clearly determine what his quality of life would be …IF he survived once he came off the IV. 

Porter survived the IV procedure. However, once taken off the IV, the doctors reported that Porter had lost both his sight and the ability to walk (common for dogs who experience SE). Some dogs who are lucky enough to survive the AED therapy make a partial recovery, some dogs make a full recovery, and others remain disabled. Only time would tell for Porter. If he did not recover enough from this point to have a good quality of life, we knew we would have to help him cross over the rainbow bridge.

We were not able to visit with him during his hospital stay due to Covid restrictions. Although it was excruciating not to be there with Porter, the ICU staff kept us updated with photos and video of our boy. 


December 23, 2020

In just over 24 hours, Porter’s vitals and response to medications were enough to convince the doctors that he had a fighting chance and could be released from the hospital. The days that followed Porter’s return home felt like an eternity as we watched for signs of improvement, indications of decline, and additional seizures. 

When we brought Porter home, he laid motionless on the dog bed- eyes glazed over. I have to admit – after seeing him in this state, I began to prepare myself for having to say goodbye to him. The last thing we ever want is a poor quality of life for any of our fur-kids.


January 5, 2021

However, slowly but surely, over the next two weeks, Porter began to show improvement! His eyesight began to return, he was able to pick his head up… then sit up… then stand up…then walk!

As we celebrated his recovery, we also had to decide along with Porter’s neurologist and primary veterinarian, what to do from here. Although in the past, Porter did not respond well to Potassium Bromide, it suggested that we add this back in to his complex cocktail of medications. We believe that addition has played a major role in his recovery and our goal of aiming for zero.


Fast forward to November 2021

Porter went from having a seizure every seven to fourteen days… battling Status Epilepticus (and winning!)…to only having two seizures (one mild Grand Mal, and one mild Focal) in the past 11 months! To say we are thrilled is an understatement. Porter goes on walks, runs in the yard, plays with toys, and partakes in shenanigans with his siblings. He’s happy and loves spending time with any human or dog that will pay him some attention! He is an amazing warrior! At the same time, we know full well that Porter’s battle is far from over. The life span of dogs who experience SE is drastically shortened. In addition, the amount of medication Porter is taking can harm other organs, and also dramatically reduces the other drugs he can take that may help him battle other illnesses and diseases.


November 8, 2021

Porter had his annual neurological evaluation at BluePearl Pet Hospital. Overall, his neurologist is pleased with Porter’s recovery and current status. However, in recent routine blood test, Porter’s Bromine level was a bit high at 3.4 (normal is 1-3 mg/mL). Adjusting his Potassium Bromide dose at this point could put Porter back into an undesirable seizure cycle again, so his neurologist is reluctant to decrease the dose at this time. Porter’s liver panel displayed that his Albumin level was low at 1.8 g/dL (normal is 2.7 – 3.9). His low Albumin is not thought to be related to his abnormal Bromide level. However, we need to find out where Porter is losing protein – the cause of the low Albumin level. A urinalysis was done and came back normal. So now he will have a Fecal Alpha Proteinase Inhibitor test to rule out any gastrointestinal disorders that may be causing Porter to lose proteins. Porter will be monitored closely while the additional fecal testing is underway and discussions among his medical team are conducted.

In the mean time, we will continue to aim for zero as we celebrate each and every day with this very special and amazing soul.

Please help us spread Epilepsy Awareness by sharing Porter’s story.

Dog Tricks

“He is your friend, your partner, your defender, your dog. You are his life, his love, his leader. He will be yours, faithful and true, to the last beat of his heart. You owe it to him to be worthy of such devotion.” ~Author unknown

Trick training is a wonderful way to build confidence, engage and challenge your dog while nurturing and strengthening the bond you have with your pup. Tricks are also an effective method to channel your dog’s energy into positive and rewarding outcomes for both you and your best friend. All dogs regardless of age or breed can learn tricks!

The 3-Parts to Teaching Your Dog Tricks

Trick Training Mantra: Cue, Action, Reward

  1. Verbal or Physical cue to your dog, signaling the desired behavior
  2. The action performed by your dog
  3. Reward your dog

Guide your dog through the process, rewarding each small step along the way. Don’t expect your dog to learn the desired action on the first try. The goal of each training session is to improve the results from your last. If your dog doesn’t seem to be picking up on the trick, go back to an easier step for a bit as to not frustrate you or your pup. Consistency and effort are key. Go through the same motions each day and soon you will see improvement as your dog starts to “get it.” Be sure to move at a pace that is appropriate for your dog, and always choose behaviors which are suitable for your dog’s abilities, age, temperament and health. Keep training sessions brief and be sure to have a variety of rewards for your dog so that he or she remains motivated to play the “trick training game” with you. Always end on a positive note and while your dog is still wanting more – even if you have to go back to an easier behavior.


The sub-menus of this section are a collection of the trick titles our pups have earned from Do More With Your Dog. Do More With Your Dog offers four standard Trick Dog Titles: Novice, Intermediate, Advanced, and Expert. Each must be earned consecutively. Titles are earned by demonstrating a set number of tricks from a checklist. Your dog’s title comes with a PDF certificate and optional hardcopy certificate as well as a ribbon. Tricks must be taught with positive methods, and evaluators have the discretion to take into account the dog’s age, disabilities, and characteristics, and will work with you to establish alternate criteria. Trick titles are recognized by AKC, CKC, DKK.

Do More With Your Dog also offers specialty tittles such as 20:1, Summer Scavenger Hunt, and Alphabet Tricks. These are fun challenges geared toward enhancing your training by utilizing your dog’s skills and your creativity. These challenges also come with a PDF certificate, optional hardcopy certificate and custom ribbon.

What are you waiting for? Grab your treat bag, your dog’s favorite toy, and get started! Don’t hesitate to reach out to us with any questions along the way!

Slice-n-Bake Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup organic whole wheat flour
    • Contains fiber, protein, carbs, vitamins, and minerals
      • **Also contains a protein called gluten, which can be a trigger for allergies in some dogs 
  • 2 oz. finely grated organic cheddar cheese
    • Contains protein, calcium, vitamin A, essential fatty acids, and B-complex vitamins
      • **You can choose low fat cheddar, Swiss and Monterrey Jack, or you could use a non-dairy choice like almond milk cheese
  • 2 slices of uncured bacon cooked extra-crispy and crushed into bits 
    • Fat can be a source of energy, but bacon should be used sparingly as it is high in fat and sodium
  • ¼ cup organic unsweetened applesauce
    • Has fiber which will help keep your dog’s digestion working at its best
  • ¼ cup water

Directions

1. With a fork, whisk together the flour, bacon, and cheddar cheese in a large bowl until well-combined

2. In a medium bowl, stir together the applesauce and water.

3. Pour the applesauce mixture into the flour mixture and stir until combined

4. Lay out a large piece of plastic wrap, and place the dough onto the wrap.

5. Lay another piece of plastic wrap on top of the dough and twist the ends together.

6. Using your hands in a rolling motion, form the dough into a log.

7. Place in the freezer for 45-60 minutes.

8. Preheat oven to 325° F

9. Spray a baking sheet with an organic non-stick cooking spray (I used an organic olive oil spray)

10. Unwrap the log of dough and slice into 1/4 inch thick cookies.

11. Evenly spread the cookies on the baking sheet.

12. Bake for 25 minutes.

13. Cool completely on a wire rack for a softer treat, or turn oven off and let cool in oven for a crunchier treat.

14. When completely cool, let your pup enjoy!

Refrigerate for approximately 2 weeks or freeze for approximately 6 months