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Please help me, and my boy [long]

(13 Posts)
MyPoorGoldenBoy Tue 02-Sep-14 10:53:44

Please help me, I don’t know what to do. My husband I have a beautiful 2 year old male golden retriever. He has a number of long term incurable health conditions and we are at the point where we are considering what is best for him in terms of his quality of life and future sad. My heart is breaking as I write this.

Apologies in advance for this being so long, but I need to explain fully what is going on with his health so you get an idea of the full picture.


He started having seizures when he was just over a year old. They used to be quite severe, he was having 2-3 a week and a few times he had a cluster of seizures and had to be rushed to the vets in the middle of the night. He has had an MRI scan on his brain and idiopathic epilepsy was diagnosed.

He has been on quite strong medication ever since then, in an attempt to keep them under control. He still has a seizure every 4 weeks on average, but they are milder. He is blind and disorientated for several minutes afterwards. The medication he is on makes him drowsy. When he comes back from his walk in the morning he has medication with his breakfast (and before he goes to bed at night). He is drowsy and sleeps for the rest of the morning and afternoon. He becomes a little more active in the early evening. It is important for him to sleep as if he’s too active and excited during the day he is very likely to have a seizure that night. This means that he can’t do things that other dogs do – like go a friend’s house with us (for example), play with other dogs or come with us when we go for a short walk in the afternoon. Sometimes even if we have people over for a barbeque it’s too much for him and he has a seizure afterwards.

Skin condition

He has atopic dermatitis, and always has scabby and sore patches on his skin. We have tried lots of treatments and methods to deal with this, anti-fungal washes and shampoos, steroid creams, antibiotic creams. He has been tested and has an allergy to house dust mites, storage mites and two types of plants. Due to the house dust mites we ripped up all of the carpets in our house and replaced them with wooden floors. He had a six month course of immunotherapy injections to try and control the sore patches, but they didn’t make that much difference. Occasionally he’ll get a very sore patch that doesn’t heal and he will need a course of antibiotics. We have tried to control his skin through his diet, with no luck. The food he is on should, in theory, help with his skin but it doesn’t make much difference.


This is the major issue at the moment. Since he was 9 weeks old he has had runny stools. We tried him on lots of different foods, including prescription and hypoallergenic foods over a number of months, and he responded best to a vegetarian hypoallergenic food. He has been on this for around a year now but his bowels still aren’t brilliant. We have tried lots of different supplements and probiotics etc but he still frequently has the runs.

He has had constant diarrhoea for around 4 months now. He has had a number of blood tests and faecal samples at the vet. They have treated him for campylobacter in the past but that isn’t the root cause of his problems (most dogs have campylobacter show up in a faecal sample anyway). He has also had pancreatitis and giardia in the past too. For the last two days he has had blood in his stools, which he never had before. On Saturday he is booked in to have an abdominal scan and biopsy under general anaesthetic as the vets (and I) believe that he has inflammatory bowel disorder. If so, this cannot be cured but we can try and control it through diet, steroids and antibiotics.

He is a happy dog and nothing seems to get him down, but we are worried about his quality of life – we would be very naïve to think that he doesn’t suffer due to his three long term conditions. I am worried that by keeping him going we are doing so for selfish reasons, especially bearing in mind he could live another 10+ years in poor health. Please don’t judge us. We love him so much, but just don’t know what we can do (if anything) to help him. Money isn’t an issue, we have good insurance and my husband and I would pay anything to make him better. We have already paid around £10k on insurance, insurance excess and for things that weren’t covered by insurance.

Please give me your thoughts, and be kind thanks

You say he seems happy ... and he knows nothing else. He cant think abstractly or theorise; he can't look at other dogs without these problems and wish that was him ...
I think that you need to look at your dog and be really honest about how much he is enjoying life. If he is bouncy, keen to do things, wags his tail and looks bright, then maybe he's OK for now. It will probably change in the future, but live in the now ... he does!
Less kind people/opposing opinions will no doubt be along....

ffallada Tue 02-Sep-14 12:18:53

What lovely kind people you and your husband must be.
Two is such a young age to have such problems. I have had dogs with all of these issues - but not all at once and never so young - I really feel for you.

A very kind vet said to me once that your dog will tell you when they are ready to go, and from my experience, this is true. Personally, when they stop getting up, wagging their tail or when they stop recovering from the bad days, I reckon its time. So basically I agree with labelle.

mrslaughan Tue 02-Sep-14 13:50:30

Have you tried a raw diet - I have heard (of course anecdotally ) that this has helped dogs with skin and bowel issues. Also had someone tell me that once they changed there dogs diet to raw - his seizures dramatically reduced.

You have a lot to deal with, and I absolutely applaud you for what you have done already. If he is KC registered I hope you have notified the breeder and the KC about the epilepsy, as they really shouldn't be breeding from that line with the list of health concerns your dog has.

SpicyBear Tue 02-Sep-14 13:50:49

I'm so sorry to hear about his health problems. It must be an enormous strain and very distressing.

My advice would be to, as best as possible, separate out in your mind (or even on paper) the things that are quality of life issues for him and the things that are only upsetting to you. So, for example, going to a friend's house is something that of course you wish he could join you, but he doesn't have capacity to reflect upon or miss.

For the things you wish he could do but he can't, but that aren't really affecting his quality of life as he knows it, give yourself permission to grieve/be angry/frustrated/whatever that you don't don't have the life together you thought you would have. That is perfectly okay and you should deal with those feelings.

Then when it comes to keeping him going, as best as possible strip away that stuff and focus on his quality of life, how much pain and suffering, how content, how are his conditions impacting his mental and physical wellbeing. There is nothing wrong with keeping him alive whilst he is mostly enjoying life or letting him go when it's no longer in his best interests, whatever his age.

MyPoorGoldenBoy Tue 02-Sep-14 16:27:16

Thanks everyone. I have tried a raw diet, quite early on when he first developed his bowel problem. We tried pretty much every meat possible, one by one, and nothing helped. His stomach was awful around that time. Will consider trying again as I really enjoyed giving him the raw meat - he loved it too!

nuttymutttie Tue 02-Sep-14 16:36:13

I do know how hard it is to live with dogs with chronic conditions. What I would say is that two years is not long when finding the cause in skin conditions and stomach problems (if the usual culprits have been ruled out)

Certainly in my experience it did take time to find a solution but when we did the dog had a much better quality of life and being able to pick up poos became the norm. We found out what was causing the skin allergy and were able to work around it. - We did do desensitizing injections but I think avoiding the trigger was the best way forward for us.

Our dog did have some restrictions in comparison to the other dogs but he had a fantastic life and lived well into his teens.

Only you know what is right for your dog but do also consider that things may get better over time as you work out ways to manage the triggers.

I am a dedicated raw feeder and have been for years (I believe it is essential for good health!) however our one dog with stomach issues could not tolerate it at all and the only food that keep him alive was Purina HA. So I would tread very very carefully with introducing raw food to a dog with major chronic stomach issues.

A dog does not ask for much - if he has the exercise that he requires for his needs, be that less than many dogs, and has a comfortable place to sleep, has loving owners, some moderate stimulation with good food you will have a very happy contented goldie.

I guess you need to have a good relationship with your vet and ask that they are honest with you at all stages so that you can relax and enjoy the good times but manage the bad times.

MyPoorGoldenBoy Tue 02-Sep-14 16:46:14

Thanks nutty. He is on purine ha as his sole food as that's all he can tolerate.

Will tread carefully if we decide to try raw food again. Can I contact you for advice please?

LEMmingaround Tue 02-Sep-14 16:54:12

Hes a lucky boy to have you as his mum smile

The epilepsy may be the deciding factor with him i would say. The other things are minor (ish) obviously depending on what is revealed in the scan.

With the epilepsy all the while its controlled, fine. I had a dog with epilepsy diagnosed at a young age. He was 14 when we couldn't control the fits anymore and that was when we pts. It didn't affect his quality of life until the end where he went into almost constant fits. Poor thing. But he had a long and happy life.

I also had a dog with bowel problems l.constant diarrhoea. No matter what we fed him on. James well beloved we found to be the best. A walk would be 5 or 6 runny poos. Nightmare to pick up. We did all the tests (i was vet nurse so money no object) and found no cause. He also lived a long and happy (if not a bit stinky!) Life.

Skin problems are notoriously difficult to deal with. Have you seen a skin specialist?

As far as the fits go what do you do when he fits? You need to against your instinct and leave him alone. Stroking and stimulating him as he comes out of the fit will trigger further seizures. If the light is on switch it off as the flickering will also trigger the seizures. You may know this already.

It does sound like he has good quality of life so if he were my dog id be led very much by how he is in himself. Take one day/week/month at a time. He may well have a long happy life too. If its a shorter happy life then ok. But you have given him the best chance and happiest life he could have

nuttymutttie Tue 02-Sep-14 19:49:16

Feel free to pm

marne2 Tue 02-Sep-14 19:57:12

My pup had similar problems when we got him, we got him as a rescue pup and so many people ( including people on here ) told me to take him back to the rescue. He had a very poorly tummy, was passing blood for months before we found a food that worked, every time he got fed anything other than his food he would be poorly for a week, he had a seizure when he was around 5 months old ( luckily he hasn't had any since ), he is now 2 and his tummy has settled down, no more seizures though he can be a bit twitchy from time to time.

I think you need to give it more time, find a food that works and stick too it ( when you try a new food you need to give it 2 weeks before you know if it's ok ), skin problems could be related to food issues/allergies?

Ephedra Tue 02-Sep-14 20:41:41

I can't help with regards to your dogs health problems but I can tell you what we did with our dog with serious chronic health problems.

Yesterday we pts our 5 year old collie. When he was just a few months old when we first knew there was something seriously wrong with him we made a rule.

The happy, pain free times had to happen more than not.

That was it and we stuck to it. We saw every vet we could and tried every drug they offered and I asked everyone for advice. There was a lot my collie couldn't do, he hadn't been to the park in years but until last week he enjoyed life.

We also thought it was better that he died a day too soon than a day too late.

I really truly hope you find something that helps your dog but only you can decide if his quality of life is good enough.

Sorry my post is very negative but I really miss my dog.

ffallada Thu 04-Sep-14 11:55:31

oh Ephedra

I am sorry for your loss. You sound like a lovely dog-mum. Take good care of yourself at this sad time.

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