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Lilly Recovery Update – Setbacks and Medications

I’d already planned and written last week’s 5-part series of posts on the adverse vaccine reaction financial settlement before Lilly suffered another setback, starting Friday, June 29. I’ve been posting updates on our Champion of My Heart Facebook Fan page, but here is a bigger recap.

Indeed, Lilly had been doing really, really well for many weeks when seemingly out of the blue she suffered a setback in late June. Luckily, we already had a regular neurology recheck appointment scheduled for that very day (June 29).  I knew our veterinary neurologist would likely begin weaning Lilly off the steroids. It’s our third try at it, and I’m glad that if she was going to have a setback that she did so BEFORE we went to every other day on her steroids so that we knew these new issues were NOT related to that particular med … or at least NOT to cutting back on that med.

Our neurologist wasn’t too concerned about Lilly’s renewed ataxia (wobbly walking), and he wasn’t overly worried with the few episodes of uncontrolled pooping we’d seen in May, but he suspected — and was right — that her potassium bromide levels were too high. That’s Lilly’s one remaining anti-seizure medicine, and it takes a while for it to build up in a dog’s system.

Normal levels for dogs taking the medicine is 1.0-1.1. In May Lilly was 1.6, so we dropped her dose from 0.8 ml to 0.6 ml twice a day. In June, that blood test came back showing she was still high at 1.4. So, we’ve again cut her dose to 0.45 ml twice a day. It’ll take a few weeks for her body to adjust to the new dose of potassium bromide and her new every-other-day schedule for the 0.375 mg of steroids.

Lilly and I went merrily on our way and figured she’d bounce back.

Over the weekend, though, Lilly seemed to lose the ability to poop … going more than 30 hours without going. So, I began trying to trigger the reflex, which worked OK, not great.

BUT, on Monday, July 2, Lilly suddenly became completely urine incontinent. So, I put another call into the neurology team, and late Tuesday, July 3, word came back that I should take her to our regular veterinary hospital for urine tests / cultures to see if she had an infection.

Because of the Independence Day holiday, however, I couldn’t get Lilly in for diagnostics until Thursday, July 5. By then Lilly was kind of a mess, not really going at all, even if triggered. That was very scary.

X-rays showed that Lilly was literally so full of poop (looping WAY back in her intestines) that her bladder was cut off. There was some urine in there, but not much. She’d also lost 2 pounds in a week and wasn’t feeling great. We also drew a complete blood panel to be sure that her vital organs were working OK.

We ended up leaving Lilly at the veterinary hospital for a few hours, while they worked on getting her to poop via enemas. It worked, and we figured things would be OK while we waited for the test results to come back. The going-home advice included increasing even more the amount of pumpkin puree we feed with each meal and really, really pushing fluids — like triple of normal.

The veterinary team gave Lilly a preemptive antibiotic shot and sent us home with pill antibiotics. They also sent home a few days of a dog laxative.

Things really went to pot after that. My hopes for a real holiday weekend were dashed as I spent the entire time under siege with a sick girl, who had as many as 20 potty accidents a day. It was a constant struggle to keep her, me, and the house clean. I even sat outside with her for nearly 3 days straight, but it didn’t help.

Lilly literally doesn’t feel it coming and goes wherever she is … despite me giving her opportunity and asking (begging) her to go.

I have renewed respect for mothers of newborn babies because it was brutal. I was tired, dirty, crabby, and worried.

Several days later (I’ve lost track of time) we heard back from our family veterinarian that Lilly’s blood tests were PERFECT and her urine cultures were negative. They did find some red blood cells in her urine, but no real signs of infection.  Good news.

So, she called and confabbed by phone with our veterinary neurologist early last week, and finally on Thursday (7/12) I heard back from our family veterinarian that our neurology team believes what we’re seeing — with these new, sudden, total incontinence issues — is purely caused by treatment / medications, not the disease itself. It’s likely a combination of both the potassium bromide and the steroid / dexamethasone causing this weird, new kind of setback.

Good news? Yes.

But, it was also tough to hear that I need to wait this out as Lilly’s body adjusts to the rebalanced meds. Because the neurologist just decreased her dosages 2 weeks ago, he is unwilling to risk going any lower right now.

This should resolve on it’s own. No new meds. No new diagnostics. No new worries.

So, the verdict for now?

  • Stay the course.
  • Hang in there.
  • Don’t worry so much.

Clearly, that’s easier said than done.

There are times when Lilly can and does go potty with control, but then we’ll still have 6-10 accidents a day. I’ve become wildly superstitious. Will this work? Maybe that will work? That worked once … maybe it’ll work again! Seriously, I’d wear a @#$@# tinfoil hat right now, if it would help.

Many times, Lilly “asks” to go out and truly looks like she wants to go potty, but then she aborts the process as if she has forgotten how to go. It’s heartbreaking to watch, and I fear I’ve “poisoned” our potty verbal cue by begging her to go all the time.

We have a 3-part strategy:

  1. Lilly can be naked if she is supervised outside.
  2. Lilly wears a modified “pullup” style diaper when she is loose in the house, as long as one of us can monitor her.
  3. Lilly sleeps on a washable pad like what they use in hospitals / nursing homes (no diaper) when she is in her crate.

We learned #2-#3 the hard way … because Lilly began trying to EAT the diapers, if left unsupervised. Darn steroids!

Because I no longer have to push fluids quite so hard, Lilly is indeed having fewer accidents, but she still has them.

Say it with me, kids … This will get better. This will get better.


Many of my friends are going through MUCH worse times with their dogs right now, and I know incontinence is relatively minor. I’m actually astounded how stressful I find this situation, but it is what it is. I feel what I feel. I do my best to remain hopeful.

My love and support goes to all of you who are facing life / death situations with your dogs. Thanks for your concern about us, amid your own struggles.

This week maybe silly work-wise, so don’t worry if we don’t post every day.






Roxanne Hawn

Trained as a traditional journalist and based in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, USA, I'm a full-time freelance writer for magazines, websites, and private clients. My areas of specialty include everything in the lifestyles arena, including health and home, personal finance and other consumer interests, relationships and trends, people and business profiles ... and, of course, all things pet related. I don't just love dogs. I need them in my life. Seriously.

KB - July 16, 2012

I am so sorry for what a rough time you and Lilly are having. I hope that the vets are right, and it’s a matter of the meds getting evened out. Take care of yourself… and give Lilly a hug from me.
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Jen - July 16, 2012

It WILL get better.

I’m so very sorry that you had this, but at least your medical team is on it and feels like they have the answer (this time).

Looking to that horizon, for when it IS better!
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Pamela - July 16, 2012

I saw a picture on facebook that indicated you might have had some good moments with Lilly this weekend.

Hope her digestive system straightens out soon so you can all get some rest.
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    Roxanne Hawn - July 16, 2012

    Yes, Pamela. I just didn’t have the time to format the photo for the blog. Lilly looks good and acts like she feels a lot better, but her incontinence / elimination issues remain. For example, so far today (Mon 7/16), she has had 6 potty accidents as of 3:30 pm.

Saoirse - July 16, 2012

I like the tin hat and chanting idea. More fun than doing a modified “rain” dance for Lilly. Some of this news really is good. Best to all …

Candy - July 16, 2012

Wearing my tinfoil hat, chanting “it WILL get better, it WILL get better, it WILL…

Living Large - July 16, 2012

Oh, I’m so hoping Lilly returns to normal soon. 🙁

Jodi - July 16, 2012

I think it’s perfectly normal for you to feel the way you feel. We all worry the way we do and what you are going through is certainly tough.

I’m hoping the adjustment in meds will catch up with you and you will be through this very soon.
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