**DISCLAIMER** Please note: I am not a veterinarian, and the purpose of this blog is solely to educate, provide resources, and share Reo's story. In this blog, I will present research and information on the theories of SARDS to which I subscribe, along with my own narrative. If you think your dog may have SARDS, or adrenal exhaustion/Plechner Syndrome, please seek veterinary care right away!

If you are just beginning your SARDS education, I suggest you start with the blog post from August 22, 2011 entitled "SARDS Resources". If you'd like to know our trials, tribulations, and joys from the beginning, start with "But first...Reo!" and click chronologically on from there.

If you would like to read my suggestions as to how I would approach treatment for a newly-diagnosed dog, check the November 16, 2011 post "If I had another SARDS dog" (and then read my blog more fully for appropriate context).

Though we have decided to suspend Reo's retinal protection supplements in September 2012 (see September 16, 2012 post "Decision for Reo") due to the fact that she had very little remaining vision, I am still strongly supportive of our treatment approach, and know that it changed Reo's health and longevity in a positive way. Feel free to comment and ask me any questions - I am happy to help if I can!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Still processing...

01/22/15 - I can't believe it's been 3 months since Reo has passed.  It feels like a lifetime, and my heart is still grieving.

I have been mulling over my informative blog post to discuss the factors I feel lead to Reo's decline (spoiler alert - the anesthesia from the dental procedure she had in July, together with a few other factors).  But, I can't quite bring myself to write it yet.  I will not abandon you, dear readers!  I know many of you read this blog with interest, and have cared and loved Reo from afar.  I just need a little more time to gather my thoughts, and to grieve a bit more.  It is amazing how such a tiny dog has left such a large void in my family's lives - human and dog.

Thank you for your collective patience...bear with this grieving mamma.  :)

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Reo is an angel now...

It's taken me weeks to write this post, and I do have more to say, looking back on the events that transpired over the past several weeks...but for now, just a tribute to her:

January 03, 2001 ~ October 21, 2014. Today, our beloved Reo earned her angel wings. Jagart's Thalo Vermilion Reo - sassy gal in the show ring, original squirrel patrol, loyal and loving companion all of her days, ghostface killah to her toys, most courageous dog I've ever met. She traveled with us to 28 states, making her more traveled than most Americans, I am sure! She overcame so many health obstacles in her life, never let her blindness stop her from her independence (or from bossing much bigger dogs around!), and in her last years was an inspiration to thousands of dogs and their owners around the world by raising awareness for SARDS (a legacy I will continue in her memory for the years to come). Full of fighting spirit her whole life, she was betrayed by her little old lady body in the end. Her kidneys just could not hold out while we tried to heal the infection and get her endocrine issues back on track.

Our home feels empty, we have holes in our hearts, and our Leigh is without her lifelong best friend. I miss her so much already - I cannot yet believe she's gone when I still feel her warmth on my chest. Thank you, sweet Reo, for teaching me to be a better person and dog owner. You gave our family so much joy and so many laughs over the years, not to mention valuable dog owner lessons. We are inspired by your strength and courage, and will keep your spirit alive in our hearts and in joyful memories for the rest of our days. I won't be able to sit in the afternoon sun without thinking of how much you loved it.

In the words of Duran Duran...which is forever "your" song...
"...You know you're something special and you look like you're the best...
Her name is Reo and she dances on the sand
Just like that river twisting through a dusty land
And when she shines she really shows you all she can
Oh Reo, Reo dance across the Rio Grande..."

Run free, sweet Reo! There are so many squirrels and chips waiting for you on the other side - maybe your sib Mikaela will help you hunt! Don't forget your loving family down here on earth - we'll be reunited again someday - but until then, we'll look for you to visit us in our dreams. All our love, always. Lynn, Sean, Leigh, Tula, and Capone. ♥ ♥ ♥

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Dental health!

07/06/14 - Reo had surgery last week!  Eeeek!  We had done everything we could to prevent her from undergoing anesthesia, due to her hormonal imbalances, age, and heart murmur.  But, she developed a pocket along her gumline that would accumulate food.  It bled like crazy when I tried to brush her teeth, and I know it was painful to her.  So, we made the decision to get her a thorough dental, to let her live out her days pain-free.

We are very fortunate to live in the city next door to VCA Alameda East - one of the best vet hospitals in the country.  Reo's surgery was detailed, and she had an anesthesiologist on hand to tailor her treatment plan, and monitor her surgery to make sure everything went well.  Fortunately for us, it did!  She did extremely well, considering the circumstances, and is nearly back to her normal self - what a relief!

I know that many of us struggle with our dogs' dental health, particularly those of us with little dogs.  Reo's oral surgery was done by a Diplomate in dentistry.  I told him we have tried just about every dental toothpaste, spray, gel, wipe, and food additive out there (even those prescribed by our general practice vet), but it didn't help or prevent Reo's periodontal disease.  I wanted to share a few things he told me, in hopes that it will help someone!

The first thing he told me is that there is NO substitute for brushing.  Our dogs' teeth really need the mechanical action to get plaque off teeth, so don't delude yourself that a miracle product is going to eliminate this need.

The second thing he said, is that there is only one brand of dental products on the market that is VOHC-approved (Veterinary Oral Health Council - didn't even know there was such a thing!).  That brand is Healthymouth:

He recommended the water additive, which I purchased (expensive!).  It is way too soon to tell if it is effective, but all of the dogs in my household are getting this product in their water, so we shall see if it helps.

Just wanted to share what I learned!  :)

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Renal panel - in the clear!

04/08/14 - Last week, we repeated the renal panel for Reo.  It took longer than I had anticipated because she kept having set-backs for a variety of reasons.  The big set-back was that our younger rescue puppy went after Reo over a crumb on the floor (hello dog-dog resource guarding issues - I was not expecting you!!).  Reo was fine - he just scared her very badly and knocked her over on the floor, poor sweet girl.  The stress of the incident brought on a pretty bad flare and she was miserable - lots of diarrhea, depression, inappetance.  We are back on track now, but we were very worried about her for a few weeks.

The good news is, Reo's renal panel looks great!  All the electrolytes have normalized, which makes me think that the initial changes we saw were a result of post-seizure activity, and not true kidney disease and/or her adrenal exhaustion/Atypical Addison's condition moving toward "true" Addison's.  The only thing slightly elevated was BUN, and we are not worried about that at this time.  Yay!  Very relieved that we don't have to make any other changes right now.

Reo seems quite stable for the moment.  :)

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Prednisolone vs. Medrol

03/24/14 - Today I started Reo on PediaPred (5 mg/5ml) prednisolone sodium phosphate, instead of Medrol.  The reason?  I could only get 4 mg Medrol tablets, and was cutting them into fourths for Reo's daily dose.  When she needs to get a little more (and hopefully in the future, a little less), it is hard to add more or less to her dose by using the tablets.  The liquid gives us more flexibility to titrate her dose down in the future, and increase during times of stress.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Definite improvement

03/03/14 - Well, Reo is doing just wonderfully at present!  There have been no more seizures, thankfully.

After only a couple of days on the reduced thyroid dosage, she was perkier, seemed happier and more active.  That trend is continuing, so I am very happy.  We will repeat her bloodwork in a couple of weeks and see how she is doing, but I am optimistic!

With respect to diet, I reduced her Stella & Chewy's portion, and have replaced that with ZiwiPeak tripe recipe canned food.  I rotate the canned food with sardines or canned salmon, just to give her some variety.  Will see how her kidney panel looks soon and see if she is improving.  I would like to get her to gain at least 8 ounces if possible, my skinny girl!

Saturday, February 15, 2014

New issues

02/15/14 - Reo has been having some new issues lately, so wanted to share with everyone.  :-/  This is the time of year when Reo always struggles with something.  We are about a month away from her SARDS-versary when she was diagnosed.  She has a presentation of estrogen spike in a new way each year, which is a little frustrating!  (You might remember Levin's assertion that spring is a natural increase in adrenal activity in mammals - us too!, and because many of our dogs can't make cortisol, this results in an estrogen spike, which can manifest in different ways in different dogs.)

About 2 weeks ago, Reo had a seizure, followed by another one 4 days later.  I wasn't home for either, but my husband was (and was terrified, poor guy!).  We suspect the stress of me traveling, coupled by -20 degree temperatures was enough stress to put her over the edge (her second seizure happened when she went out to go potty, poor girl!).

This week, we went in for a check up to the vet - she is neurologically great, whew!  Since her last blood chemistry done in January looked great on the liver enzyme side, but showed a little uptick in kidney values, I asked my vet to run a renal panel just to check.  Sure enough, she had further increases in kidney values and was now abnormal for BUN, creatinine, sodium, and potassium all elevated (but nothing off the charts).  We are not sure if this is "true" renal issues, or if it's changes from post-seizure activity.

So, we will monitor, and do another renal panel in a month.  I will also make a slight change to her diet, and phase out the very high protein Stella & Chewy's patties (45% min protein), and replace with a high-quality canned food (~8% protein) as a topper for the ZiwiPeak dehydrated raw (34% min protein), to see if slightly less protein will ease the load on her kidneys.  I refuse to put her on any sort of prescription diet!

We were also in the process of making some changes to her thyroid dosage (we think she is getting too much thyroid replacement, since her metabolism is super fast and I cannot keep weight on her, even with the high protein/fat food), so we'll have to see how she does with less.  Reo was close to 10 lbs when she was diagnosed with SARDS, so we have been treating her at the 10 lb dose for Medrol and thyroid, since it was most convenient.  But, she now weighs only 6.5 lbs, so it's possible she's getting more than she needs of both, and we need to find the best dose for her.

And, just for fun, she has also developed a heart murmur!  My vet put it at grade 1-2, so not incredibly serious.  When we took x-rays, we saw a slightly enlarged heart, and also a little bit of collapsing trachea.  It's hard to know what caused what, or what is just a normal part of aging (she is 13, after all!).  We are not doing anything for the heart at this time, and will just monitor.

I don't want to change too many things at once because we won't know what's made a difference.  But, I feel fortunate that my vet loves Reo, is open to new ideas and possibilities, and is willing to do whatever is recommended by Caroline.  So, I remain optimistic and grateful!  :)