Intro to Porter and Tips for Living with a Fur-Kid Who Has Epilepsy

Some Superheroes Fight Crime, Mine Fights Epilepsy

My Epilepsy Warrior is a 3 year old English Pointer named Porter. Approximately 2.5 weeks after Porter joined us as a Pointer Rescue, Org foster dog in December of 2018, he had a Grand Mal seizure in the middle of the night. Since then, he has stumped doctors as his epilepsy continues to progress and evolve with no significant response to the usual medications. Porter has been a trooper to say the least. Despite all the ups and downs of his battle, Porter remains a happy and loving pup.

Aim for Zero

Brian and I have – and will continue to – put forth our best efforts in trying to help Porter. For the past year and a half we have unsuccessfully been able to make considerable progress with Porter’s seizures. Although we have researched on our own as well as received ample medical advice and other suggestions, we can’t make too many changes all at once. Everything becomes a waiting game as we sit tight to see if a newly implemented change will make a difference. It is heartbreaking and frustrating to helplessly watch your fur-kid suffer through Epilepsy…but ultimately what we feel as PAWrents is minuscule compared to what Porter is dealing with. Our goal is to reduce both the severity and frequency of Porter’s episodes – with our ultimate objective being ZERO seizures. As we strive to lessen the severity of Porter’s Epilepsy, we are doing our best to balance his medical treatment with maintaining a high quality of life for him. Some people have suggested we stop trying to figure out Porter’s epilepsy. Anyone who knows me well knows that the suggestion for me to “stop” only fuels my determination. In my opinion, to cease trying is the equivalent to giving up on Porter. Giving up is not an option. We will never stop. We have one mission: AIM FOR ZERO.

“Experience is not what happens to you. It is what you do with what happens to you. Don’t waste your pain; use it to help others.”

~Rick Warren

Having a dog with Epilepsy and experiencing canine seizures for the first time can be traumatic and definitely may alter your lifestyle. However, that doesn’t mean these modifications have to be distressful. Embrace the changes, make the necessary adjustments, and turn them all into positive actions. Educate yourself, and pay it forward to others as you share your knowledge that may help fellow PAWrents who are not familiar or experienced with Canine Epilepsy.

Porter is the first fur-kid we’ve had with Epilepsy. To be honest, it has been upsetting, frustrating, heartbreaking and has left me feeling helpless to say the least. My intent for this section of the blog is to share information that has helped me both understand the disease and better prepare myself to assist and support Porter. Within the “Porter’s Epilepsy Episodes” entries, you will find the following:

Seize the Day

Do NOT let epilepsy hold your dog back. Yes, I will fully admit: Epilepsy is a scary thing… However, it is not a death sentence. Despite your dog’s diagnosis, they can live a healthy and happy life. Porter still enjoys many activities such as camping, hiking, and playing with our other dogs just to name a few. Mindset matters and your pup can sense your mental attitude before you even realize your own mood. Keep your head up, stay positive, and allow your dog to live their best life!


“Always plan ahead. It wasn’t raining when Noah built the ark.” ~Richard Cardinal Cushing 

Porter’s seizures used to have a pretty predictable pattern. His seizures were always in the middle of the night while we were with him. However, that is not the case any more. Regardless of when you think your dog will have a seizure, it is best to be prepared. Just when you believe you may have it all figured out, Epilepsy likes to throw a curve ball. The last thing you want is to be in a panic and without a plan when your dog is in the middle of a seizure.

With epilepsy, you never know where or when a seizure episode will occur. We have a mini backpack – much like a baby bag – that we carry with us any time we leave the house with Porter so that we have Porter’s medication and essential supplies on-hand no matter where we are. At home this bag hangs on a hook close to Porter’s crate for easy access, and so that we always know where it is in an emergency.

Porter also always wears a collar when he is outside or traveling . Attached to his collar is his regular ID tag as well as an extra tag that says “I have seizures and need medication.”

We also have a plan in place for the moment a seizure begins. The first one who notices seizure activity simply says “seizure” and we both begin our routine. One of us stays with Porter, talking calmly to him and making sure he is safe while timing the seizures. The other grabs Porter’s backpack in case he needs his emergency injection. Once Porter is conscious, one of us takes him outside to allow him to safely move about during his Post-ictal Phase and potty if necessary while the other changes-out bedding if Porter vomited or lost control of his bladder or bowels. We then work together to compose notes on the seizure.

Seizures may occur while your dog is home alone. Look for dangers – and mitigate them. If your dog is not crated while you are gone, use baby gates at the top/bottom of stairs to keep your dog safe. Your dog can be seriously injured if they are at the top of the stairs when a seizure begins, or if they try and navigate the stairs while they are disoriented during the Pos-tictal Phase following a seizure. Porter is crated while we are gone, and we use cameras to monitor him. We chose the Google Nest cameras, which allow us to set zones and alerts for both movement and noises. The cameras also offer a constant-record option, which is helpful in tracking the time, length, and severity of the seizures. Clips can be saved from the video and shared via text or email as well.

Traveling with your pup? Seizures don’t take a vacation and can occur in transit, or at your destination. Before you hit the road with your 4-legged road tripper, research emergency veterinary hospitals along your route, and in the surrounding areas of any stop-overs as well as your final destination. Having this information already saved in your phone will lessen your stress in the event your dog has a seizure and needs medical assistance while you are beyond the drivable distance to your dog’s medical team. Be sure to take enough seizure medication (and special diet) to last for longer than you plan to be away in case your stay is prolonged for any reason.

If you attend dog sporting events, leaving a note with instructions on top of your dog’s crate could be a life saver. Any time we are at a dock diving competition with our dogs, we have a sign that hangs on Porter’s crate explaining that he has seizures and what to do/NOT do for his safety. We do our best to be sure one of us is always at our team canopy. We also recruit friends to be “on-watch” in the event we have to walk away from the dogs. We also include both of our cell phone numbers on the crate sign so that we can be reached immediately in the rare event we are both away from our team canopy, friends are unable to watch the pups, and someone observes what they think to be a seizure.

Help others be prepared as well. This includes your dog sitter, your family and friends coming over to your house, other PAWrents at the dog park, etc. Keep in mind that you may be used to observing your dog seizing, but seizures that include convulsions like Porter has are extremely upsetting for some people to see. Prepping others for what your dog’s seizures look like will lessen their anxiety if they witness your dog having an episode.

Don’t Worry, I’m All Write

It’s essential to take notes and have easily accessible information about your dog’s condition, as well as tips on how to deal with it. I choose to keep my notes in Evernote . Evernote offers easy access from both my computer as well as an app on my phone and allows me to easily share information when needed. Within Evernote, I keep a journal of Porter’s seizure activity, a list of his current medications / supplements and their dosages, and his seizure protocol. It is very helpful during a doctor’s visit to have all the information needed without having to try and remember it all on-the-spot and while you may be stressed. You think it all would become routine, but if you are like me, having information in front of you to refer to during a traumatic time is a must. Sharing the information about your dog’s Epilepsy as well as the seizure protocol is especially important when it comes to dog sitters and anyone else who is ever alone with your dog. When a seizure occurs, it’s much easier to avoid panic and fear when there are clear instructions on how to help.

Connecting with others is rewarding; it makes us feel like we’re not alone in the world.~ Jonah Berger

Seizures are a very upsetting thing to experience with your dog regardless of how knowledgeable you are about the disease. Knowing that more seizures are coming but not knowing when can be both overwhelming and extremely unsettling. Not being able to control the seizures and watching helplessly as your fur-kid suffers is excruciating and leaves you feeling alone, weak, and powerless. I am tremendously grateful and fortunate to have an outstanding and brilliant medical team for Porter. I am also blessed to have a wealth of knowledge, support, and information from others who are also dealing with Canine Epilepsy through connections with rescue and dock diving friends. Please keep in mind that you and your pup are not on this difficult journey alone. Talking to your veterinarian can surely help ease concerns you may have regarding seizures. However, forming connections with others whose fur-kids are also battling Epilepsy is priceless. We are all in this battle together…your fight is our fight. Please do not ever hesitate to reach out to me!

**To contact me, there is an email option on the home page of the blog, also found in the upper right corner of any page of the blog. Feel free to also send me a private message on Facebook , Instagram, or Twitter .

Seizure Do’s and Don’ts

Your dog has a seizure… what do you do (or NOT do)?!

These Do’s and Don’ts are just suggestions. As always, what is best for you and your dog should be discussed in detail with your veterinarian. Also, these are not listed in any particular order.

DO:

  • DO remain calm (as hard as it may seem). This can be difficult, but your dog’s health depends on your ability to focus.
  • DO contact your vet or bring your dog to the ER if you are questioning in any way if the dog needs medical attention
  • DO contact your vet and/or bring your dog to the ER if
    • the seizure lasts more than 3 minutes
    • your dog has 2 seizures within a day
    • your dog is having difficulty coming out of a seizure
    • your dog comes out of one seizure and goes immediately into another
  • DO time how long your dog’s seizures last and record them in a seizure diary. Knowing when your dog’s seizure started and how long it lasted will give your veterinarian important information about your dog’s symptoms.
  • DO  film your dog’s seizures when safely possible and show the videos to your vet. This will help you time the seizure. It will also assist the doctor in identifying the type of seizure and better equip them to advise you. 
  • DO remove as many sensory stimuli as possible such as turning the television off and turning down the lights
  • DO try and make sure that your dog is not in a position to injure themselves. Keep them away from stairs, cushion their head if needed (Be sure to keep hands away from the dog’s mouth), and move furniture or dangerous objects, etc. away from the dog
  • DO monitor your pet closely so he doesn’t injure himself; he will be disoriented and unsure of what is happening.

Don’ts:

  • DON’T put your hand near your dog’s mouth while it is having a seizure. Do not put your hands near your dog’s mouth or put their tongue back in their mouth. Your dog is unconscious during this time and has no control. You could be badly bitten.
  • DON’T give your dog additional medication without speaking to your vet first, unless this protocol was already set in place as an action plan by your dog’s medical team
  • DON’T try to move the dog unless the dog’s safety is in danger (going to fall down stairs, etc)
  • DON’T try to restrain the dog
  • DON’T try to give the dog food or water until they are fully alert

Seizure Phases

Seizures consist of three components:

1)  The pre-ictal phase (aura), is a period of altered behavior in which the dog may hide, appear nervous, or seek out the owner. It may be restless, nervous, whining, shaking, or salivating. This may last a few seconds to a few hours. This period precedes the seizure activity, as if the dog senses that something is about to occur.

2)  The ictal phase can last from a few seconds to several minutes, and can vary in appearance. The ictal phase can range from mild changes in mental awareness, such as a dazed look, mild shaking, staring aimlessly, licking lips, to a complete loss of consciousness and body function. If the dog experiences a grand mal, or full-blown seizure with loss of consciousness, all of the muscles of the body move spastically and erratically. The dog usually falls over on its side and paddles its legs while seeming to be otherwise paralyzed. The head will often be drawn backward. Urination, defecation, and salivation may occur. If the seizure has not stopped within five minutes, the dog is said to be in status epilepticus or prolonged seizure (see below).

3)  During the post-ictal phase or the period immediately after the end of the seizure, there is confusion, disorientation, salivation, pacing, restlessness, or even temporary blindness. There is no direct correlation between the severity of the seizure and the duration of the post-ictal phase.

Information reposted from: https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/seizures-general-for-dogs

Porter’s Epilepsy Episodes

This is a log of Porter’s Seizure activity to provide a summary of how often his seizures occur, what types of seizures he has, and how long it has been since the last seizure.

Every dog’s seizures may look different, especially depending on what kind of seizure your dog has. Porter has had Grand Mal, clustering Grand Mal, Focal, and clustering Focal seizures. During Porter’s Grand Mal seizures, he has violent convulsions, and often foams at the mouth, clenches his jaw down on an object, urinates, defecates, or vomits. He is unaware during his this type of seizure. During Porter’s Focal seizures, he is very much aware, and looks to us for comfort. Porter’s Focal seizures cause him to have facial and ear twitching, full body twitching, and balance issues during or immediately following the Focal seizure.

I highly recommend using a camera that offers movement/sound notifications and constant record/play-back to monitor your dog while you are not home. There are many brands of cameras out there. However, after researching, we chose to use Google Nest cameras in our home and on our camper. This will allow you to get notified that your dog may be in danger, and also will enable you to save clips of your dog’s seizures to share with your dog’s medical team. I also encourage others to video the seizure when safely possible if the seizure happens while you are home so that you have actual footage to share with your dog’s doctors.

Seizure Log:

  • 1/2/2019
    • 3 am / Grand Mal
    • 1st observed seizure
    • CBC
    • Full Chem
    • Urinalysis
    • fecal
  • 2/26/2019 (55 days from last seizure)
    • 1:50 am / Grand Mal / 30 seconds
    • 5:10 am / Grand Mal /50 seconds
      • 3 hours, 20 minutes from last seizure
    • Hospitalization required
    • started medication: Levetiracetam (Keppra)
  • 5/8/2019 (71 days from last seizure)
    • 1:48 am / Grand Mal / 5 minutes
    • 1:57am / Grand Mal / 1 minute, 45 seconds
    • Hospitalization required
    • Porter was prescribed Midazolam injections for us to have on-hand for emergencies when Porter cannot come out of seizures on his own
  • 5/26/2019 (18 days from last seizure)
    • 2:30 am / Grand Mal / 30 seconds
    • Midazolam injection required
    • Medicine Change: Added Zonisamide
  • 6/15/2019 (20 days from last seizure)
    • 9:55 am / Grand Mal / 40 seconds
    • Midazolam injection required
  • 7/9/2019 (24 days from last seizure)
    • 2:15am / Grand Mal / 45 seconds
    • 2:16 am / 30 seconds
    • 2:17 am / 45 seconds
    • Medication change: Weaned off of Keppra / Started Phenobarbital
  • 7/28/2019 (19 days from last seizure)
    • 6 am / Grand Mal / 50 seconds
    • Medication Adjustment: Increased Phenobarbital
    • Started Melatonin at night
  • 8/11/2019 (14 days from last seizure)
    • 9:44 pm / Grand Mal / 32 seconds
  • 8/13/2019 (30 hours since last seizure)
    • 4:11 am / Grand Mal / 32 seconds
    • Medicine Change: Added Potassium Bromide
  • 8/28/2019 (15 days since last seizure)
    • 7:46 am / Grand Mal / 30 seconds
  • 9/17/2019 (20 days since last seizure)
    • 8:15 am / Grand Mal / 31 seconds
    • 8:17 am / Grand Mal / 46 seconds
    • 8:18 am / Grand Mal / 40 seconds
    • 8:19 am / Grand Mal / 1 minute, 4 seconds
    • Midazolam injection required
    • 8: 22 am / Grand Mal
    • 8:23 am / Grand Mal
    • Hospitalization required
    • Medicine adjustment: Reduced Potassium Bromide
  • 10/1/19
    • MRI
      • no abnormalities found
  • 10/11/19 Medicine change: Added Gabapentin in evening
    • used as anti convulsant and also to help Porter sleep since he was not sleeping much through the night
  • 10/14/2019 (27 days since last seizure)
    • 1:04 pm / Grand Mal / 40 seconds
    • 1:06 pm / Grand Mal / 49 seconds
    • 1:20 pm / Grand Mal / 41 seconds
    • Midazolam injection required
  • 11/1/2019 (18 days since last seizure)
    • 11:14 pm / Grand Mal / 30 seconds
      • Medicine Change: Weaned-off Potassium Bromide and Phenobarbital. Reintroduced Keppra
        • Porter’s neurologist expressed that despite the medication changes, Porter is still having the same or similar cycles of seizures. However, due to the increased and severe anxiety that we observed, he feels it is best if we backed him off of both the phenobarbital and potassium bromide. He also feels that re-introducing Keppra again may be the best alternative since the anxiety and behaviors were not noted while he was on this medication.
  • 11/11/2019 (10 days since last seizure)
    • 8:49am / Grand Mal / 30 seconds
    • 8:51 am / Grand Mal / 40 seconds
    • Medicine Change: stopped Gabapentin at night and started Trazadone
  • 11/23/19
    • began CBD oil (Charlotte’s Web brand)
  • 12/5/19 (24 days since last seizure)
    • 10:51 am / Grand Mal / 30 seconds
    • 10: 52 am / Grand Mal / 30 seconds
  • 12/30/19 (25 days since last seizure)
    • 9:58 am / Grand Mal / 38 seconds
    • 9:59 am / Grand Mal / 10 seconds
    • 10:00 am / Grand Mal / 51 seconds
  • 1/28/20 (29 days since last seizure)
    • 1:15 am / Grand Mal / 20 seconds
    • 1:17 am / Grand Mal / 30 seconds
    • 1:18 am First observation of what we thought was Focal seizures
  • 1/29/20 (43 hours, 25 minutes since last seizure)
    • 8:40pm clustering focal seizures / Clustering until 10pm
    • Midazolam injection required
  • 2/1/20 (3 days since last seizure)
    • 3:15 pm / Focal / 3 minutes
    • Midazolam injection required
    • Medication Change: Increased Keppra dosage
  • 2/27/20 (30 days since last seizure)
    • 4:49am / Grand Mal / 50 seconds
    • 4:50 am / Grand Mal / 45 seconds
    • 4:51 am / Grand Mal / 30 seconds
    • Midazolam injection required
    • 4:52 am / Focal / 3 minutes
  • 3/23/20 (25 days since last seizure)
    • 12:04am / Grand Mal / 30 seconds
    • 12:05 / Focal / 30 seconds
  • 4/8/20 (16 days since last seizure)
    • 11:30 pm / Grand Mal / 30 seconds
    • 11:31 pm / Grand Mal / 30 seconds
    • 11:32 pm / Focal / 3 minutes
    • Midazolam injection required
  • 5/3/20 (25 days since last seizure)
    • 12:21 am / Grand Mal / 55 seconds
    • 12:22 am / Grand Mal / 50 seconds
    • 12:23 am / Focal / 3 minutes
    • Midazolam injection required
  • 5/20/20
    • Veterinary Specialty Hospital of the Carolinas Nutrition Consult
  • 5/23/20 (20 days since last seizure)
    • 12:40am / Grand Mal / 30 seconds
    • 12:41 am / Focal / 1 minute
    • 3:22 pm / Grand Mal / 1 minute
    • 3:23 pm / Focal / 2 minutes
  • 5/24/20
    • clustering Focal seizures throughout the day
  • 5/25/20
    • clustering Focal seizures throughout the day
    • Midazolam injection required
  • 5/26/20
    • clustering Focal seizures throughout the day
    • Midazolam injection required
  • 5/27/20
    • clustering Focal seizures throughout the day
    • Midazolam injection required
    • Medicine change: Increased Keppra and Zonisamide
  • 5/28/20
    • clustering Focal seizures throughout the day
    • Midazolam injection required
  • 5/29/20
    • clustering Focal seizures throughout the day
  • 5/30/20
    • clustering Focal seizures throughout the day
  • 5/31/20
    • clustering Focal seizures throughout the day
  • 6/1/20
    • clustering Focal seizures throughout the day
  • 6/2/20
    • clustering Focal seizures throughout the day
    • Hospitalization required
    • bloodwork
    • urinalysis
    • Medication change: Reduced Keppra and Zonisamide, and added Lyrica (Pregabalin)
  • 6/8/20
    • Medication change: Poor reaction to Pregabalin – tapering off by 6/10
  • 6/9/20
    • Began transition to new diet suggested by VSH of the Carolinas
  • 6/10/20 (18 days since seizure)
    • 11:06 pm / Grand Mal / 36 seconds
    • 11:07 pm / Clustering Focal Seizures / 2 minutes
      • (8 days since last Focal)
    • Midazolam injection required
  • 6/22/20 (12 Days since last sezure)
    • 6:55am / Clustering Grand Mal / 2 minutes
    • 6:57 / Clustering Focal / 2 minutes

Tests That Porter Had Done

Porter has had extensive testing throughout his battle with epilepsy.

  • CBC
    • blood test that provides information about the different cell types in blood
    • there are several abnormalities on a CBC that might explain seizures
    • Porter’s CBC was normal
  • full chem profile
    • Analyzing various substances (such as proteins, enzymes, fats, sugars, hormones, electrolytes, etc.) provides information about the health of the body’s organs and tissues such as the liver, kidney, and pancreas and aids in detecting diabetes and other metabolic diseases
    • Porter’s chem profile was normal
  • urinalysis
    • evaluates the chemical and physical properties of urine.
    • necessary for the proper interpretation of the biochemistry profile, especially in a dog that might have seizures due to kidney disease, diabetes, or other metabolic disorders.
    • Porter’s urinalysis was normal
  • MRI
    • to rule out a brain tumor or prior head trauma
    • Porter’s MRI was normal

Nutritional Consultation with Veterinary Specialty Hospital of the Carolinas

VSH of the Carolinas offer nutritional services that may benefit dogs with epilepsy. We decided to try a dietary change in hopes that this would reduce the severity and frequency of Porter’s seizures. VSH provided us with a diet and nutrition support plan that was recommended based on Porter’s medical records, diagnostic results, and dietary history. Consultations can be done online or by making an in-person visit.

We are not sharing the dietary suggestions that we received for Porter, as we truly believe that every dog’s dietary needs are unique and should be discussed with your dog’s medical team.

Nutrition Services Offered by VSH of the Carolinas:

  • Courtesy pDVM/ colleague commercial recommendations: Based on patients’ clinical problems and diagnostic results, a list of appropriate commercial options is provided via phone or email.
  • Voluntary commercial consultations: A list of appropriate commercial options are provided to the client with specific feeding guidelines and monitoring parameters. Anticipated turnaround time 5-7 business days once all information (medical records, dietary history questionnaire) is collected.
  • Weight loss consultation: Individualized weight loss plan provided to the client. Includes bi-monthly weights and check-ins to monitor progress, in addition to addressing any nutrition-related concerns or questions. Anticipated turnaround time 7-10 business days.
  • Assisted feeding consultation (any type of feeding tube/ port): Based on patients’ disease processes, appropriate liquid diets/ liquid diet blends (for nasoenteric or jejunostomy tubes) or slurried diet blends (esophagostomy or gastrostomy tubes), feeding guidelines, and monitoring parameters are provided. Additionally, commercial options for volitional intake will also be provided (if applicable). If/ when the patient goes home, at-home guidelines will be provided to the client. Direct follow up with the client for any nutrition-related concerns or questions it available. (Anticipated turnaround time same day if before 2 pm, otherwise within 24 hours).
  • Homemade diet consultation: Two patient-specific homemade diet recipes are formulated and provided to the client based on the patient’s individual disease states. Additional recipes can be requested ($80/ recipe). Specific cooking directions, feeding guidelines, and monitoring parameters are provided. Use of human supplements (+ $40). Anticipated turnaround time 10-14 business days.
  • Combination Homemade diet + commercial: Please see option 2+5.
  • Homemade diet analysis: Technical analysis of client’s homemade diet using recipe/ information supplied by the client. Often needed to demonstrate nutritional deficiencies/ excesses in online recipes. Does not include “fixing” the diet to make it appropriate.
  • Combination homemade diet analysis and reformulation of up to 2 recipes: See option 5+7.
  • Homemade diet reformulation: FOR ESTABLISHED CLIENTS -In the event that an existing patient with a VSH homemade diet develops new medical problems and a reformulation is required. Ex. Renal disease and then develops pancreatitis; use of human supplements. Within 2 years of initial consultation. If outside of2-yearr window, new homemade diet consultation fee applies.
  • Supplement/ nutraceutical evaluation: depending on the number of supplements – Using existing medical records and product information, recommendations are made regarding dosing, continuation, and/or discontinuation of supplements.
  • Commercial diet evaluation: Based on the patient’s medical problems and diagnostic results, evaluation of the appropriateness of current / potential diet is provided. Does not include feeding recommendations. If feeding guidelines are desired, voluntary/ commercial consultation fee applies.
  • In person appointment: Discussion of client concerns and goals, nutritional physical exam, etc. Written consultation not included.

VSH of the Carolina’s Nutrition Services email: nutrition@vshcarolinas.com 

VSH of the Carolina’s Nutrition Department phone: 919-233-4911

Download Forms Here:

VSH-Nutrition-Referral-form_-2018

Porter’s Medications and Supplements

***Please consult your dog’s primary veterinarian and/or neurologist about choosing the best medication(s) and/or supplements for your dog’s unique needs. Never give your dog a drug or supplement without first speaking to your dog’s medical team***

Not every medication is for every dog with epilepsy which is why it is very important that you carefully consult your dog’s medical team prior to starting any drug or supplement. Every dog can react differently to medicinal and supplemental changes. Porter was on Phenobarbital , Gabapentin, and Potassium Bromide in the past with no success. These drugs did not change his seizure patterns or frequency. In addition, Porter had severe negative medical and behavioral changes in response to these medications. These included:

  • ataxia
  • accidents in his crate that he was completely unaware of
  • constantly falling
  • weight gain
  • overall decrease in quality of life

Current Medications

Current Supplements

  • Fish Oil
    • brand: Nature’s Bounty
    • Provides systemic anti-inflammatory effects
  • LiquiCarn
    • L-Carnitine Supplementation is an amino acid that helps to shuttle triglycerides (fat) into the cells mitochondria to be used for energy.
    • has some antioxidant properties known to optimize neurologic health
  • Denosyl
    • SAMe is a potent antioxidant which has been shown to support not only neurologic, but also systemic health
  • Melatonin
    • brand: K9 Choice
    • dogs who typically have seizures at night or in the early morning can benefit from a small snack and some melatonin before bedtime. The food helps to keep blood sugar stabilized and the melatonin assists in maintaining a regular sleep pattern.
  • ElleVet CBD oil
    • We had tried Charlotte’s Web brand in the past and did not see a decrease in seizure severity or frequency

Porter’s Seizure Protocol

***This protocol is what we follow for Porter. Please do not follow this protocol without first consulting your dog’s primary veterinarian and/or neurologist.***

******If questioning at all – go to an emergency veterinary service.

  • Single seizure in a day with no differences or complications
    • just contact doctors to let them know

Contact Dr. C & Dr. E immediately and go to ER if the following occurs with Porter:

  • 2 seizures within a day 
    • Dogs that have more than one seizure in a 24-hour period are experiencing “cluster” seizures. This requires immediate veterinary attention, and you should take your dog to a veterinary hospital right away for examination
  • a seizure lasting 3 mins or more
  • not coming out of seizure at all or having difficulty coming out of it
  • comes out of one seizure and immediately goes into another

Postictal Phase

  • If Porter is no longer seizing, we still bring him to the ER if the following circumstances are occurring:
    • The postictal stage can last up to 24 hours in some dogs. However, if we still see postictal symptoms after 12 hours but no seizures – this warrants a visit to the ER
    • If Porter comes out of the postictal phase, and then seems to go back into the postictal phase
    • If Porter is out of the postictal phase and has another seizure

VERY important things to report to a doctor:

  • clustering
  • More than one seizure in a day
  • More than 1 seizure per month 

***This protocol is what we follow for Porter. Please do not follow this protocol without first consulting your dog’s primary veterinarian and/or neurologist.***

Seizure Descriptions

This information is reposted from: https://canna-pet.com/cluster-seizures-dogs/

As a pet owner, seeing your dog have a seizure can be one of the most frightening experiences you’ll have. Seizures are often sudden, seemingly occur without reason and leave you feeling helpless as the owner.

There are a variety of different types of seizures found in dogs. However, one very important type of dog seizure to be aware of is cluster seizures.

What are the types of seizures in dogs?

Unfortunately, there are actually several different types of seizures found in dogs, and they can vary greatly in severity. It’s valuable to be able to differentiate the different types of dog seizures so you can have an idea of what type of treatment and outcome to expect.

Epilepsy in Dogs

Believe it or not, epilepsy itself is actually NOT a type of seizure, rather a condition that often causes repeated bouts of seizures. The term “epilepsy” refers to recurrent seizures that originate in the brain. There are different forms of canine epilepsy as well, but again, these are not types of seizures themselves.

Grand Mal Seizures

In a generalized seizure, the dog will fall, lose consciousness, and extend his limbs out rigidly. The dog may also have sudden apnea, meaning he will briefly stop breathing. This will generally last for around 10 to 30 seconds. Afterwards, the dog will begin paddling his limbs or start chewing. He may also have dilated pupils, salivate, urinate or defecate.

Mild Seizure

A mild seizure begins the same way as a grand mal seizure but will typically not involve the extension of the limbs or paddling. The dog usually will not lose consciousness. Mild and grand mal seizures are most often associated with epilepsy.

Petit Mal Seizure

Also known as an absence seizure, petit mal seizures are very rarely recognized in dogs. These seizures are very brief, lasting just seconds, and can manifest as a brief period of unconsciousness, loss of muscle tone, blank stare, or possibly even an upward rotation of the eyes.

Partial Seizure

During a partial seizure, the associated movements will only be seen in one area of the body. This can be the movement of one limb, a muscle jerking, a turning of the head or bending the trunk to one side or even facial twitches. Partial seizures can progress to generalized seizures and are associated with secondary epilepsy.

Complex Partial Seizures

These seizures are notable for the strange or complex behaviors that they repeatedly cause. In humans, complex partial seizures cause us to distort our thought perception, and certain emotions, like fear.

When they happen to dogs, they might be displayed as lip-smacking, chewing, fly biting, aggression, vocalization, frightened running, covering or hiding. Dogs may also experience vomiting, diarrhea, salivation, blindness, unusual thirst or appetite or biting.

These can last minutes or even hours, and can be followed by or progress to a generalized seizure. Like partial seizures, complex partial seizures are also closely associated with secondary epilepsy.

Status Epilepticus

Colloquially known as simply “status,” this type of dog seizure can occur either as a series of multiple seizures within a short timeframe with no periods of normal consciousness in between, or as one continuous seizure that can last up to 30 minutes.

Although closely related to primary and secondary epilepsy, status can sometimes occur suddenly in dogs that have no history of seizures or brain injury. Status can often be difficult to differentiate from cluster seizures. These seizures are considered life-threatening emergencies.

Cluster Seizures

Cluster seizures in dogs occur when a dog experiences multiple seizures within a short period of time, generally considered within a 24-hour window. Like status epilepticus, cluster seizures should be considered life threatening. These seizures are typically brief and isolated, but can also be more serious. Large breed dogs tend to be the most susceptible to cluster seizures.

When a dog experiences cluster seizures, he will usually have one, seem to recover, and then have another a few hours later. However, the dog never fully recovers from the first seizure before the second strikes. This can continue on and on until the dog is in critical condition. With the aforementioned status epilepticus, these seizures won’t be spread out, but will be one long seizure that doesn’t stop. Both are true emergencies.

Cluster seizures can be managed with medication, but the cause of the seizures must first be established before any medication can be prescribed.

What causes cluster seizures in dogs?

Cluster seizures in dogs are often caused by a problem in the dog’s brain, such as a tumor that interferes with the communication between parts of the brain. They can also stem from a lack of oxygen in the brain, low glucose level in the blood, known as hypoglycemia, or hypothyroidism, which is a deficit of thyroid hormone production.

If the seizures seem to happen for no apparent reason, then idiopathic epilepsy may be the cause. This type of epilepsy is difficult to detect because it leaves no lesions or lasting damage on the brain. Genetics can also be a factor in dogs having seizures, but this is not yet absolutely proven.

What dogs have cluster seizures?

Any dog of any age and breed can experience cluster seizures, but they are most often seen in middle-aged dogs. Breeds like Border Collies, Cocker Spaniels, Dachshunds, German Shepherds, and Boxers are known to be susceptible. Research has actually shown that male dogs are more prone to cluster seizures than females.

What are the symptoms of seizures in dogs?

It’s important to note that most seizures are brief, and that your dog can live a normal life when given the proper dog seizure treatment. However, cluster seizures are much more serious, and can cause serious brain damage, or worse.

A dog experiencing a seizure will most often suddenly collapse, exhibit abnormal movement in its limbs, excessive drooling and uncontrollable jaw movement, as well as incontinence. The dog will usually be unconscious and unresponsive, and have no control over its spasms.

In cluster seizures, the dog will seem to recover between seizures, although he will be very tired and lethargic, potentially even staggering, as seizures are exhausting events.

Though their demeanor will otherwise seem fine, they do not fully recover in between seizures and can get progressively worse. If they don’t regain consciousness at all, or seem to have a prolonged seizure lasting up to 30 minutes, this is not a cluster seizure, but status epilepticus, which is extremely dangerous to your dog and can be life threatening.

How are cluster seizures diagnosed?

Dogs that have encountered cluster seizures should be brought into the veterinarian immediately. Once there, your vet will give your dog a glucose test. Often, your vet will also test to see if your dog has ingested poison.

A lot of the diagnosis will come down to what you are able to report to your vet when you bring your dog in. Pay attention to the symptoms your dog displayed during, before, and after a seizure. If you suspect cluster seizures, tell your veterinarian why and that will help them make a proper diagnosis.

Your vet may also conduct a CT scan or an MRI to see if there are any brain tumors or lesions. Since cluster seizures are so serious, you can expect a full round of testing.

How to Treat Cluster Seizures in Dogs

Medication will be prescribed by your veterinarian in order to treat a dog that is experiencing cluster seizures, but there are also a few things you can do at home to help care for your pet.

If you happen to notice your dog having a seizure, you can spring into action if necessary. Make sure your dog isn’t near anything sharp or close to stairs. Note your dog’s behavior during the seizure and, if possible, try to pinpoint the trigger. Comfort your dog after the seizure and see your vet immediately, especially if another seizure occurs.

If your dog has had cluster seizures, you should also be sure to monitor his other bodily functions. Things you’ll want to monitor include:

  • Mental status and level of consciousness
  • Breathing irregularities
  • Heart rate and blood pressure
  • Body temperature
  • Salivation and fluid intake
  • Muscle damage

Sources:

  1. Yin, Sophia, “Vet Advice: Seizures in Dogs and Canine Epilepsy.” The Bark, 3 Feb. 2015, Accessed 1 April 2017. thebark.com/content/vet-advice-seizures-dogs-and-canine-epilepsy.
  2. “Cluster Seizures in Dogs.” VetInfo, Accessed 1 April 2017. www.vetinfo.com/cluster-seizures-dogs.html.
  3. “Epilepsy in Dogs.” The Kennel Club, Accessed 1 April 2017. www.thekennelclub.org.uk/health/for-owners/epilepsy/.
  4. Packer, R, “Risk Factors for Cluster Seizures in Canine Idiopathic Epilepsy.” Current Neurology and Neuroscience Reports, Apr. 2016, Accessed 1 April 2017. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27033922.
  5. “Seizures and Convulsions in Dogs.” PetMD, Accessed 1 April 2017. www.petmd.com/dog/conditions/neurological/c_dg_seizures_convulsions.

***This information is reposted from: https://canna-pet.com/cluster-seizures-dogs/

14 Months in Remission Recap

May’s update is short and sweet!

Monthly Wellness Check with Primary Veterinarian

Margarita’s mammary mass has been changing increasing and decreasing in size, and also producing a clear discharge. This has been watched closely both daily by me, and monthly at her primary veterinarian and oncology visits. Due to the continued changes, our primary veterinarian, Dr. Campbell wanted to check Rita’s estrogen levels. An estrogen level blood test would indicate if perhaps during her spay, something was missed, causing her to have partial cycles. On May 4th we received the results. Rita’s estrogen level was 64.3, which is within the normal range for a female with no cycling. Although this provided a sigh of relief, it also does not provide an answer to why that mammary mass is acting the way it is. We do not want to put Margarita through any other stressful procedures, so we will be monitoring the mass and its changes along with continued communication with Dr. Campbell. Rita had blood work done as well. Dr. Campbell reported that the results showed that Margarita’s liver values continue to improve.

Monthly Activities

This month Rita continued to increase her activity and has been more vibrant than ever!

Agility

Rita enjoyed the homemade Agility course in our yard:

5K Races

Coronavirus Relief 5k

Those of you that have known Rita from the start know that she used to run 5k races prior to her Lymphoma diagnosis. For the first time since her diagnosis, Margarita completed a 5k! Rita participated in the Coronavirus Relief virtual race hosted by Virtual Strides . We walked this 5k, but it was just as fun as all the others we’ve completed together!

Run of the Pets

Margarita participated in “Run of the Pets” which was hosted by Virtual Strides .



A portion of the entry fee was donated to Best Friends Animal Society. The mission of Best Friends Animal Society is to bring about a time when there are No More Homeless Pets. They do this by helping end the killing in America’s animal shelters through building community programs and partnerships all across the nation. 

Monthly Treat

This month we had to once again skip our monthly-treat dues to Covid-19. Although some restaurants are now offering take-out, Brian and I have decided to not do anything outside our home to be extra safe.

Run of the Pets 5k

Margarita participated in “Run of the Pets” which was hosted by Virtual Strides.


A portion of the entry fee was donated to Best Friends Animal Society. The mission of Best Friends Animal Society is to bring about a time when there are No More Homeless Pets. They do this by helping end the killing in America’s animal shelters through building community programs and partnerships all across the nation. ✌🏼❤️🐾.



Virtual Strides hosted this event is in memory of Cooper, Virtual Strides’ very first shipping assistant, and an all around good boy. ❤️🌈🐾.

Cooper

Coronavirus Relief 5K

Those of you that have known Rita from the start know that she used to run 5k races prior to her Lymphoma diagnosis. For the first time since her diagnosis, Margarita completed a 5k! Rita participated in the Coronavirus Relief virtual race hosted by Virtual Strides . We walked this 5k, but it was just as fun as all the others we’ve completed together!

Rita earned herself a 3D coronavirus molecule medal, featuring a toilet paper patterned ribbon

And I get to use the attached hand sanitizer keychain and a forehead thermometer !

A portion of the race entry fee was donated to Direct Relief – a charity that is responding to the coronavirus pandemic by providing PPE to health workers, bolstering critical care capacity, and strengthening general medical support.

Stomach Upset and Diarrhea

 

doggie

We are on the road often, with exposure to many things that could cause sudden stomach-upset in our dogs.  Therefore, we keep the following supplement on-hand in case of an onset of diarrhea:

NWY-17100-4

Slippery Elm: Capsule form:  Give a ¼ capsule twice daily to small dogs, a ½ capsule twice daily to medium dogs, and one capsule once or twice daily for large dogs. Mix contents of capsule into your dog’s kibble, or mix with plain live-cultured yogurt, or pure pumpkin (NOT pumpkin pie filling)

Slippery elm is recommended for acute cases of diarrhea, as well as for conditions like colitis, stomach irritations, constipation, and coughing.

  • Diarrhea
    • Helps by reducing inflammation and lubricating the digestive tract with the help of the mucilage, or oily secretions that make up slippery elm
    • To read about other natural remedies to help with diarrhea, see information at bottom of post.
  • Constipation
    • It might seem strange that slippery elm can help two seemingly opposite conditions like diarrhea and constipation… but, because of this wonder-herb’s soothing, lubricating properties, Slippery Elm can help to relieve and even prevent constipation
  • Coughing
    • Kennel cough is always a concern since we are around hundreds of dogs from all over the country at dock diving events.  Much in the same way slippery elm reduces inflammation and lubricates the digestive tract, it works to help the upper respiratory system, making it of great benefit in easing discomforts from painful coughing associated with conditions like kennel cough.  (***Note: this is not a remedy for kennel cough.  Kennel cough is highly contagious and can be very aggressive.  If you feel as though your dog has been exposed to kennel cough, isolate your dog immediately, contact your veterinarian, and notify other people your dog may have had contact with.)
    • ALSO NOTE: In rare cases, a dog may be allergic to slippery elm and it shouldn’t be used in pregnant animals, otherwise the herb is generally safe

More natural remedies for diarrhea:

When this happens to our pups, and anything serious (like an obstruction) is a ruled out, we first pull their food for 12-24 hours. It allows their system to “reset” and have a break. It also lessens the chance that they will vomit/have more diarrhea. We make sure they are still drinking water (dehydration is a big concern with stomach issues) and check frequently to make sure their gums are still nice and pink (pale gums can be a sign of dehydration). Finally, we make up some sort of bland food to give them until they’ve recovered from their stomach upset.  ***PLEASE NOTE:  If at any time your dog is extremely lethargic, feverish, bloated, there is a large amount of blood in the stool or vomit, or you are concerned about him, seek veterinary care as soon as possible. But for those dogs who are experiencing simple diarrhea and vomiting, here are some steps you can take to help:

  • Fasting
    • Most animals will fast themselves when they have digestive disease and it’s a good idea to stop feeding your dog if he doesn’t fast himself. You can start with 6 to 12 hours of no food or water with most dogs. If your dog is very small and prone to hypoglycemia, you should give him tiny licks of honey or karo syrup each hour, or as needed, if he appears weak and trembly. After the fast, if the diarrhea has stopped or slowed, offer small sips of water (a few teaspoons in very small dogs and up to ½ to 1 cup in large dogs) every few hours. Be certain to use filtered or spring water. After six hours of water only, you may start some small amounts of food. Gradually increase the amounts of food over the next four to five days. In terms of amount, adjust based on your dog’s size and normal eating habits …all dogs are different.  The amount of ingredients in the recipes shared really are general – meaning it will completely depend on the size of your dog. Stick to the general ratios your dog normally eats (or trust your eye). When done feeding bland meals, also be sure to slowly re-introduce your dogs normal kibble by using the following as a guide:
      • Start by mixing 25% kibble with 75% bland mix. Slowly change the proportions over the next five to seven days by gradually increasing the amount of kibble, and decreasing the amount of bland mix. At the end of this transitioning process, you should be feeding 100% kibble.
  • Bland Food
    • Once your dog is reintroduced to food, a bland diet will help prevent a recurrence of diarrhea
      • There are a number of different combinations you can try, but the ingredients are the same
        • 100% canned pumpkin (NOT pumpkin pie filling!!): Only pureed canned pumpkin here, nothing else added. It can help with diarrhea and will firm up soft/loose stool thanks to its high fiber content.
        • White rice: White rice is as bland as it gets, and it is also a source of soluble fiber. It absorbs water as it passes through the GI track, which will help harden stool and add bulk.
        • Plain live-cultured yogurt: Make sure that you have non-fat/low-fat PLAIN (not vanilla) live culture yogurt. Thanks to its natural probiotics, it can help restore the balance to your dog’s gut, and get all the good bacteria thriving.
        • Plain low-fat meat: Boiled chicken, with no salt or anything added, can add a little substance to your dog’s diet if they are ready for it. It’s a good protein source, and very bland.  If your dog has a chicken allergy, you can substitute boiled chicken with boiled lean ground beef, or boiled lamb.
      • The recipes:
        1. Plain Mash: This is a good basic mash for dogs that turn up their nose at canned pumpkin or yogurt. Make sure the chicken is plain and that you just boil it. The added water makes this easy to eat and has the added bonus of getting some much needed fluid into your pups system.
          • Ingredients:
            • boiled chicken, shredded
            • white rice
            • 1/2 cup or so of warm water
          • Directions: Boil chicken and cook white rice. Shred the chicken into the cooked white rice, and add roughly ½ cup of warm water. Mix thoroughly, and feed to your dog in place of its usual meals. You can also feed this in smaller quantities throughout the day which can be easier for their gut to handle.
        2. Sweet Mash:  For milder cases of soft stool, this tasty mash can help solidify things thanks to the pumpkin, while ensuring the balance of bacteria gets back on track with the yogurt.
          • Ingredients:
            • 2 tablespoons plain live cultured yogurt
            • 1/4 can canned pureed pure pumpkin
          • Directions: Mix up 2 tablespoons of plain live cultured yogurt with ¼ can pureed pumpkin, , and feed to your dog in place of its usual meals. You can also feed this in smaller quantities throughout the day which can be easier for their gut to handle.
        3. Mish-Mash Mash: This is pretty much all the ingredients mashed into one.
          • Ingredients: 
            • ¼-1/2 cup 100% Canned Pumpkin
            • ½ cup white rice
            • 1-2 tablespoons unflavored plain live culture yogurt
            • Plain boiled chicken, or other low-fat meat (no salt added)
            • ¼ cup warm water
          • Directions: Boil a chicken and cook ½ cup of white rice.  Thoroughly mix ¼ cup of canned pumpkin and 2 tablespoons of plain yogurt into the rice, and then add about ¼ -1/2 cup low fat boiled meat, torn into bits. Feed in place of regular meals
dog-food-bowl_1366613947_img

Information taken from the following:

Financial Support for Veterinary Care

If you have a fur-kid there may come a time when you will need to pay for a pretty hefty veterinary medical bill. If you have insurance for your 4-legged child, it can help cover some of the costs. But there may come a time when a a fur-child’s medical emergency or illness will exceed your financial resources. When this type of situation arises, often PAWrents are faced with a difficult choice. If you find yourself in a tough financial predicament, here are some resources you can reach out to for help.

  1. Boo tiki fund : Aims to keep animals in their forever homes by providing  crisis medical care when owners are unable to pay
  2. Credit Cards for Veterinary Care: Many veterinary hospitals do not take payment plans. One of these cards may be a solution if you are not able to afford the whole cost of treatment. Please note that your veterinarian must offer the service of accepting this type of payment.
  3. RedRover.org : provides support to help care for animals in life-threatening situations . They also provide assistance to victims of domestic violence to help them escape abusive environments with their pets. Additionally, they have a program that helps with disaster relief, criminal seizures, and hoarding cases.
  4. The Pet Fund : a national nonprofit dedicated to funding veterinary care for those who could not afford it.
  5. Harley’s Hope Foundation : Financial assistance is offered to assist with major or emergency veterinary care and behavioral or specialty training.
  6. Brown Dog Foundation : This organization is dedicated to helping families who find themselves in a temporary financial crisis at the same time their pet requires life-saving treatment or life-sustaining medications. They work with the clinic and the family to find the best, most affordable path to saving the animal and help bridge the gap of the veterinary bill.
  7. Shakespeare Animal Fund : helps elderly, disabled and those whose total income does not exceed the current poverty guidelines to obtain emergency pet care.
  8. The Onyx & Breezy Foundation : privately run nonprofit that started in memory of the founder’s dogs.  This foundation helps to provide emergency medical care to animals whose owners have fallen on hard times.
  9. Handicapped Pets Foundation : a 501(c)3 non-profit corporation dedicated to the health and well-being of elderly, disabled, and injured pets. They also donate mobility equipment to pets in need.
  10. Dog-Breed Specific Support : There are many associations that support specific dog breeds. Reach out to your local breed clubs for information on local, state and national groups involved in dog breed-specific veterinary care assistance programs. Below are a couple of examples:
  11. Disease Specific Support : There are groups that help with specific canine diseases. Below are just a few examples:
  12. Working Dogs / Service Dog Support : Some programs and organizations provide veterinary care assistance for service animals, such as:

Keep in mind the groups listed in this post are just suggested starting points to help PAWrents who find themselves in an emergency medical situation. There are many other local and national groups or organizations that may be able to assist, or who may be able to point you in the right direction. Even if the group or organization you contact cannot help, they may know of a low-cost vet clinic and/or possible solutions for financial assistance.

If you are looking for low-cost general veterinary care, Veterinary associations, veterinary schools, rescue organizations, and local animal shelters may be able to help you locate facilities and groups who offer low cost-spay/neuter and vaccinations.

Mother’s Day 2020

🐶The Snuggle is Real! 🐶

Being a mother doesn’t mean being related to someone by blood. It means loving someone unconditionally and with all of your heart.
🐾💛💚❤️💖💜💙🐾
To all the dog moms out there who traded beauty sleep for dark circles, salon cuts for ponytails, long showers for quick clean-ups, late night parties for late night potty walks, sleeping-in for early morning face-licking-wake-ups, pedicures for PAWdicures, and designer bags for poop bags …

Happy Mother’s Day!

Happy Mothers Day to all the Mamas out there!

13 Months In Remission Recap

Margarita has been doing wonderfully, and added another month of remission to her journey!

This month during the Covid-19 Quarantine, Margarita has been increasing her activity level to help boost her immune system and further increase her quality of life. We have also made sure her schedule allows time for relaxing activities out on the lake.

Rita loves agility!
Enjoying a canoe ride
Margarita loves taking in all the smells and scenery on her canoe rides.
Enjoying the warm sun and soft grass!
Enjoying a relaxing day out on the dock
Rita goes on a daily walk

Easter 2020

Easter… the only time of of the year when it’s perfectly safe to put all of your eggs in one basket. ~Margarita

Monthly Oncology Check-Up

Rita’s monthly check up with her oncologist, Dr. Baez, at C.A.RE.S has been postponed to May due to the Covid-19 outbreak. Both Dr. Baez and Dr. Campbell, our veterinarian, agreed this would be safe and appropriate since Margarita is showing no clinical signs of Lymphoma.

Monthly Veterinarian Check-Up

Margarita saw Dr. Campbell at Old York Veterinary Hospital for her monthly check-up. Dr. Campbell was thrilled with Rita’s progress. Rita’s mammary masses were reported to have little-to-no changes. Margarita’s heart murmur also sounded to have no change. Her liver values were re-checked through blood work, and all of her values continue to improve! Margarita will stay on her current regimen of medications and supplements:

  • Pimobendan for her heart disease caused by the chemotherapy
  • Prednisone for her liver disease (hepatitis)
  • CAS Options – an antioxidant and immune support supplement
  • Denamarin to support her liver

Monthly Treat

Our monthly treats and/or activities outside of our home will resume once it is deemed safe by the CDC to lift the Covid-19 stay-at-home-quarantine.

Easter 2020

Happy Easter to all our peeps!

I tried to give up my siblings for Lent…but no one would take them! ~Limoncello
You can keep the eggs… I’m here for the chicks. ~ Hooch
What do you call a rabbit with fleas? Bugs Bunny! ~ Hooch
You must be an Easter egg because I’m “dyeing” to know you.” ~ Lager
Easter… the only time of of the year when it’s perfectly safe to put all of your eggs in one basket. ~Margarita
Some spread rumors that I’m a bad egg… but I don’t carrot what they say. 🥕
You must be the Easter Bunny because you’ve been hoppin’ around my mind all day. ~Porter
What do you call a mischievous egg? … A practical yolker. ~Porter

Rita’s Barkroom

As students and staff in my school district deal with the effects of COVID-19 and social distancing, those who have enjoyed seeing Rita around school in the past now can “visit” with Rita via her very own Google Classroom, called Rita’s Barkroom.  During this time it can be helpful to keep established connections (or make new ones) for those who don’t have access to this type of “therapy” at home.  


Rita’s Barkroom has photos and videos of Rita posted daily, keeping a positive and upbeat tone.  Rita’s Barkroom will hopefully help students and staff stay connected with Rita, bring a smile to others’ faces, and offer the benefits of therapy dog visits to the greatest extent possible right now. 

Rita’s Barkroom is private and only able to be viewed by staff and students of my school district.

reMISSION Accomplished: 1 Year in Remission

First and foremost I hope that everyone is staying healthy during this uncertain time with the Covid-19 outbreak. All schools in the state of New Jersey have been shut down at this point and I am teaching remotely from home. Due to the statewide quarantine measures that are in place, I did not take Margarita to any special stores or restaurants to celebrate this day. Once it is deemed safe to do so, I definitely plan to make it up to her!

1 Year in Remission

Margarita reached a major milestone: Officially a SURVIVOR at 1 Year in Remission as of March 19, 2020!

When Margarita began chemotherapy one year ago today, the oncologist told us that without treatment, Lymphoma patients such as Rita usually have a survival time of less than 2 months. The doctor also told us that with chemotherapy treatment, the survival times for patients with Margarita’s type and stage of Lymphoma is 1 year to 18 months, with many patients not surviving the 16 weeks of chemo. I am overjoyed and overwhelmed with tears at the same time as I type this post. Margarita’s bravery, strength, resilience, and demeanor through her Journey has been extremely inspirational and astounding. She is a SURVIVOR!

Remission

What does “remission” really mean? In Rita’s case, it means that tests, physical exams, and scans show there is no evidence of cancer. However, this does not mean she’s cured. What it does mean is that the chemotherapy knocked down the cancer cells to a level undetectable by tests or microscopes. Margarita’s next milestone will be in October 2020 (the 18-Month Mark). I would be lying if I said I wasn’t worried about recurrence, and the unknowns that lie ahead. However, I am choosing to focus on Rita’s accomplishments and the positive choices and mindset that helped carry her through the last year with hope-filled days. Moving forward I will do my best to have optimistic thoughts only – there’s no time to waste worrying about the things I cannot control… so onward we go on this Journey together.

Lessons from Lymphoma

  1. Rita is a SURVIVOR – there are far too many who weren’t fortunate enough to celebrate this – so CELEBRATE!
    • In my opinion, one year ago today when Margarita was fully diagnosed, she became a cancer survivor. She conquered each day with such grace.
    • Each day with her is a gift, so I made sure to do fun, meaningful, and memorable things with her such as her Adventure List. I made sure we celebrated in some way each and every day so that I didn’t remain focussed on the past, or on the disease itself, as I knew my negativity would effect Margarita.
    • Don’t be afraid to share your pup’s Journey – and your feelings about their story! Cancer is a part their history, but don’t let it define their future, or your emotional state. Have faith that God has a plan, and will guide you and your pup through this. I truly believe His plan was for Margarita’s Journey to help others.
    • Keep a journal or start a blog about your pup’s journey. Each post that was written after Rita’s weekly chemo treatment included uplifting things that happened to Rita including nice gestures from others and special food treats she had that week. Doing happy activities and sharing those moments helped me celebrate all things big and small with Margarita.
  2. Embrace help from others and pay it forward when you can.
    • It takes a great deal of strength, positivity, and resilience to support your fur-kid through cancer and not have a daily major melt-down. Let others help you when they offer – accepting assistance or gifts is not a sign of weakness. People who care about you and your pup are upset about the diagnosis and may find it healing to offer their help, or to give meaningful gifts.
    • At the same time, don’t be angry with those who can’t be there for you. Not everyone is capable of sharing their emotions, and not everyone feels the way you do about your 4-legged child.
    • Use your knowledge and experiences to help others who are on a similar Journey by sharing your story. If you hear of others on the same Journey as you and your pup – reach out and let them know you are there for them.
  3. Be grateful!
    • By no means am I grateful that Margarita has Lymphoma. I am, however, beyond appreciative for the people and pups that were brought into my life as a result. Both my life and Margarita’s have been enhanced by these amazing people in our extended family.
    • Be thankful for EVERY day and for EVERY moment you have with your pup. Feelings are contagious and dogs are sensitive to your emotions. A positive attitude and a happy heart transfers to your fur-kid. Choose to be happy for every second your pup is alive!
  4. Let your faith win over your fear.
    • Some days were very difficult – both for Rita and for me. Having faith instead of worrying about what was out of my control helped me get through the toughest of days.
    • I needed something to keep me occupied and focussed and that made me feel like Rita and I were helping others who were on the same journey, so I started this blog! Each chemo treatment post referenced a powerful and meaningful quote or mantra. These words gave me the strength to help Rita through that week.
  5. You can’t take care of your pup if you don’t take care of yourself !
    • Mental and physical health is important on this journey for both you and your pup. A healthy canine body has a better chance of taking a bite out of cancer. A healthy human body has more strength to carry a canine cancer patient on their Journey. Good nutrition and healthy exercise (to whatever level is appropriate for you and your fur-kid) helps keep the mind and body alert and strong. Stay optimistic and keep moving!
  6. Never, EVER give up!
    • Research and explore all doable options
    • Educate yourself
    • Stay focussed
    • Stay positive

Monthly Primary Veterinarian Visit

On March 3 Margarita had her liver values tested again – and we are thrilled to report that all values are continuing to decrease and get closer to normal levels! Margarita will have her liver enzyme levels tested again on May 4, 2020. Because her liver is doing well, Rita’s current doses of Prednisone and Denamarin will remain the same for now.

I am currently exploring changing Rita’s probiotics from Fortiflora to Visbiome, as our primary Veterinarian, Dr. Campbell suggested Visbiome may be a better choice for Margarita’s Irritable Bowl Disorder. In addition, I am actively researching a Holistic Doctor and Nutritionist in hopes when all calms down from the Covid-19 virus, we can explore those further options with intentions to support Margarita in the most well-rounded methods possible.

Things of Note This Month

  • March 4
    • Double Digit Birthday!
    • Click HERE to see the post of her birthday activities
  • March 13
    • One year since the detailed results came back that told us:
      1. the type of Lymphoma Rita had (Diffuse Large B Cell Lymphoma)
      2. Rita’s liver showed inflammation patterns that represented chronic hepatitis
      3. Rita had a severe degree of inflammatory bowel disease, causing loss of proteins
  • March 17
    • St. Patrick’s Day
  • March 19
    • One year since we were told the details of Rita’s Diffuse Large B Cell Lymphoma
      1. Stage 4
      2. Substage A
    • First Chemo treatment 1 year ago
    • One YEAR IN REMISSION!!!!!!
  • New collar bling!

St. Patrick’s Day 2020

“May your troubles be less, your blessings be more, and nothing but happiness come through your door” ~Irish Blessing

When I count my blessings I count you twice. ~Margarita and Lager
There are good ships and wood ships, ships that sail the sea, but the best ships are friendships…may they always be. ~Whiskey and Hooch
A good friend is like a four leaf clover…hard to find and lucky to have.
~Limoncello and Porter
What do you get when you cross poison ivy with a four leaf clover? A rash of good luck. ~Porter
Erin Go Bark. ~Whiskey
Get your Irish on! ~Margarita
Never iron a four leaf clover… you never want to press your luck. ~Limoncello
Warning! May be prone to shenanigans, hooliganism, and malarky! ~Hooch
Who needs luck… I have charm. ~Lager

9 Years Old

Limoncello turns 9 years old today, March 14, 2020!

Birthday Breakfast: Eggs Benedict, blueberries, and raspberries

Birthday Dinner: New York strip steak topped with crab meat, mixed veggies, and roasted potatoes

Birthday Dessert: Lemon tart

Cello enjoyed a hike at Camp Ockanickon as one of her birthday activities.

Limoncello also visited the iconic Maple Shade Custard Stand for a yummy vanilla custard cone!

Happy 9th Birthday, Limoncello…We love you!

YMCA Camp Ockanickon, Medford, NJ

For Limoncello’s 9th birthday, she took a hike through Camp Ockanikon!

We are lucky enough to have a YMCA Camp Ockanickon in our “back yard.”  This 800 acres csmp is located in the heart of the South Jersey Pinelands.

This is alsp were I took Lager for first hike on March 31, 2016, where he was accompanied by his 2-legged cousin, James.

lager hike

 

Rita’s first hike was also at Camp Ockanickon on July 11, 2016. We took the same route as we did on Lager’s first hike!

File Jul 11, 8 30 17 AM

2 Years Since DCM Diagnosis

Two years after her original Dilated Cardiomyopathy diagnosis, Limoncello had her routine cardiology check up at VSEC with Dr. Bossbaly. I reported to Dr. Bossbaly that Cello is doing well and back to normal activity with no complications. Although Limoncello was never put on medication for her DCM, she is still on the following supplements:

  • L-Carnetine
    • 1 gram twice daily
  • Taurine
    • 1000 mg twice daily
  • Coenzyme Q10
    • 30 mg tablet once daily

Dr. Bossbaly informed me that Limoncello’s heart disease is stable on the current supplements. There as been a slight increase in Cello’s heart size from July 2019 and a trivial amount of mitral valve insufficiency as noted previously. During her cardiovascular examination, it was noted that her heart murmur remains a 2/6 left apical blowing quality murmur wit ha high pitch component. Her heart rate is 100-120 bpm and regular with occasional respiratory variation. Her lungs are clear.

Dr. Bossbaly was pleased with Cello’s condition overall. Her recommendation is to continue the current supplements with no changes and to continue tracking Cello’s sleeping respiratory rate (SRR).

Limoncello will see Dr. Bossbaly again in August of 2020.

10 Years Old: Double Digits!!

March 4, 2020

We are so very excited for this birthday because Rita was lucky enough to hit double digits!

Margarita’s Pop helped this English Pointer celebrate by cooking her customary English meals for her birthday!

Traditional English Breakfast

Bacon, fried egg, buttered toast, bangers (sausage), and raspberries.

English Birthday Dinner: Traditional Sunday Roast

Roasted beef, roast potatoes, peas, carrots, and Yorkshire pudding.

English Birthday Dessert: Bread Pudding

Margarita went on a birthday hike with brother Porter and Cousin Clyde at Historic Smithville Park.

Birthday gifts were chosen by Rita as she shopped for the first time at Tractor Supply Company!

Margarita also helped pick out her birthday balloons at Binkley’s 5 & 10 !

We have a lot to be thankful for and celebrate this month!

💖Happy 10th Birthday to our Sweet Reet!💖

Historic Smithville Park, Mount Holly, NJ

For Margarita’s 10th birthday, she hiked at Historic Smithville Park with brother Porter and Cousin Clyde!

Limoncello hiked here on January 2013:

3.8 mile hike in Historic Smithville Park

photo 3 (5)

photo 1 (4)

photo 2 (5)

Tractor Supply Company: Southampton Township, NJ

For Margarita’s 10th birthday she visited Tractor Supply Company for the first time!

Margarita checking out the Chick specials 😂

Picking out her birthday gifts:

Waiting patiently for her treat from the nice cashier:

👯‍♀️🐽🐽Twinning with one of her birthday toys bought at Tractor Supply Company!

11 Months in Remission

11 Months in Remission

Margarita had a fantastic month!

Rita received another box of amazing goodies from Chewy.com from a friend of ours!

Margarita’s Aunt Jen brought her a treat from McDonalds when she came to visit

Broom Challenge accepted! Rita joined in on the magic of February 10th… and voilà!

Armageddon Brewery opened its doors, and Margarita was their first 4-legged visitor!

We had the most special Valentine’s Day ever when the Medford Lakes Police Department came to the house to help Sweet Reet check off another Adventure List item (take a ride in a police car)!

February 21st was one year since Rita’s splenectomy. While it may seem silly to celebrate having an organ removed, had her spleen remained, Rita wouldn’t be here with us today.