Lyme Disease – often hard to diagnose (when the symptoms could be down to other things) and consequently underdiagnosed. This is Daisy’s harrowing but hopeful story as documented by her owner, Lee Hogg, who will do anything for her as long as her tail keeps wagging and she has a quality of life….
If this saves one dog…..
Daisy the 10 year old Cockapoo has had difficulties and illness since Feb 2012 when she was only 22 months old… I have been asked to document her story on the chance that it can help other dogs and their owners avoid this happening to them. As you can imagine, it is a long and complicated tale with visits to the vets almost weekly or monthly for the first two years – probably about 100 vet visits, two surgeries, multiple tests and procedures, 15-20 massage therapy and physio sessions and thousands of pounds. I will try to bullet point the major events…
Daisy hurt her shoulder jumping on the beach – the vet diagnosed a strained muscle and we went home to rest and recuperate, but unfortunately, it didn’t heal as expected.
I noticed Daisy’s front ankles looked lower than they were supposed to – off to the vets who diagnosed her with Polyarthropothy (arthritis and inflammation in her joints) and Carpal Hyperextension – cause unknown so we started doing blood and fluid tests. She was started on steroids to try to slow down the progression until the cause was known. Bandages also had to be worn on a daily basis for the next eight weeks, and NO exercise at all.
Daisy was diagnosed with Lyme Disease – thankfully my vet recognised the symptoms and did this test where so many other vets might not have. She was put on antibiotics for a month to hopefully put the Lyme’s into remission as it can never fully be cured. Her legs are now so badly damaged that surgery is the only option (arthrodesis and bone grafts from her shoulders to implant in the joints being fused), but she needs to be infection-free to be able to get that done. (I should say we didn’t find a tick on her in the months before – probably due to her thick fur. The vet thinks she might have been infected late 2011, but didn’t show symptoms for the first month or so).
The antibiotics didn’t completely work so she had to go back on them for a further month which has delayed the surgery again.
June 7th 2012
All clear – Lyme Disease in remission. The vet is going to operate on both legs at the same time and recovery time should be six to eight weeks. She will stay at the vet’s overnight (with a lovely nurse sleeping with her). They have also told me that it’s not 100% guaranteed that this will work as it is a more difficult procedure for a bone graft to be done following an inflammatory disease than with a simple trauma.
The vet was very pleased following her operation. She woke up nicely and came home with huge bandages on her legs. We moved downstairs to sleep in the living room for the next month to avoid using the stairs. Bandages came off after a week and she is now on painkillers, antibiotics and metacam to help her through. Absolutely no exercise at all – thank god we bought the pram…
July 3rd 2012
She is doing really well, recovering quickly and the wounds have healed completely. With her hair now growing back you would almost never know that anything had been done!! She’s now allowed three or four walks of up to five minutes a day for three weeks, then we can increase it to 10 minutes per walk.
July 18th 2012
Daisy was doing very well – but she now has a very pronounced limp so she had a follow up X-Ray and went back to see the orthopaedic vet. She also had a lymph node test done as her lymph nodes were found to be enlarged on her last check-up. The test came back as inconclusive so a biopsy was done.
July 30th 2012
Back to the vets for X-Rays to check if any screws have come loose. She is also having another needle aspiration to try and find out what is causing her enlarged lymph nodes. She’s also spiked a fever so is now back on antibiotics for her Lyme’s, just in case, whilst waiting for the test results to come back to confirm.
Waiting on test results again. Half the month she was happy and playful, then towards end of the month she had another relapse and refused to walk or play. She was very lethargic and was diagnosed as depressed. She is licking her legs constantly and won’t sit upright as it seems to cause her pain. She is now also vomiting back up her antibiotics so back to the vets again.
August 25th 2012
The tests came back and it turns out she has had two illnesses running in parallel. The Lyme’s Disease and an Immune Mediated illness which has been counteracting the Lyme Disease antibiotics and causing the lymph node swellings, fever and lethargy!! So, now both need to be treated in order for her to recover. She is on antibiotics again for the Lyme’s and steroids for the Immune. She also has to take Antepsid, which lines the stomach and stops vomiting which can often occur due to the strength of the tablets she is taking…
August 28th 2012
YAY – Daisy given the all clear by the vet!! Now for two weeks of building up her exercise and letting her walk for longer distances. She is also allowed to start doing stairs again. After the two weeks, I can start letting her off the lead and encourage her to run and play for short periods!!
October 2012 – April 2013
These months were spent with ups and downs. No new illnesses, but a lot of time spent juggling how much exercise she could do – and then massage and physio treatment for when she overdid it. She was on Metacam everyday which seemed to help.
Daisy developed a lump on her leg which was found to have been caused by one of the screws coming loose from the plate – a small procedure where the vet removed them under sedation. However, the stitches kept popping open and wouldn’t heal due to an unusual allergic reaction to internal sutures. This took over a month to heal and Daisy was back to wearing bandages all the time.
Wound still not healing – vet diagnosed that she was rejecting the metal plate in one leg. They have now decided to operate to remove the plate – just need the course of antibiotics to finish first.
Plate removed, all infection cleaned out of leg – recovery time only two to three weeks. They will use staples and not stitches to avoid any further issues. Very limited exercise again – back in the pram.
Next few months were great – with no issues at all. She was happy, getting fitter and stronger every day.
Daisy had a relapse – I noticed that her back left leg hock was lower than should be. The vet confirmed she now had carpal hyperextension in this leg too. We started her on a three week course of Lyme’s antibiotics just in case. Blood and fluid taps were also done and sent for analysis. No exercise allowed…
A couple of weeks later they confirmed NO Lyme’s – but a re-occurrence of her Immune Mediated illness. The antibiotics were stopped and she went back on very high dose steroids – five tablets per day for four weeks, then three tablets per day for a fortnight, then we will gradually decrease the dose.
She now has to wear a support when out and about as her leg is still dropping. Still very limited exercise. Due to the high steroid doses she is very lethargic and depressed…….
Unfortunately it has been a very long, arduous worrying couple of years, Daisy is an absolute joy though and doesn’t let much get her down and always greets me with a waggy tail – no matter what I do to her. She will never be the happy, carefree, energetic mischievous puppy that I used to complain about, but as long as she is happy we will continue trying to make each day happy for her (and her big sister)…
Look out for Part 2 of Daisy’s story where Lee meets a holistic vet and other CAM practitioners who help her secure a better future for her dog.
For information on checking your dog for ticks and how to prevent them, check out our tick related blogs.
Lee Hogg is a CAM4animals supporter:
Daisy – born 17 April 2010. Came to me at eight weeks old to join her big sister (Honey a year old Labradoodle). She lived a perfectly healthy life until her first symptoms started in January 2012 and we have been on a very long journey to keep her healthy throughout her many illnesses. The first few years were due to the Lyme and Autoimmune conditions, but then we moved onto the illnesses and conditions caused by the cure – the high dose and continued use of steroids which are ongoing to this day.
Daisy got her first stroller in May 2012, thinking it would be a temporary aid to help her on long walks, but unfortunately, we are now on our 4th one as she needs help on each and every walk.
She has undergone virtually every treatment available – both conventional and alternative as I am happy and willing to try anything to help her live a full and happy life. We have been very fortunate to have some amazing vets, therapists and practitioners assist us in giving her the best of care. I am appreciative to each and every one of them and will never be able to thank them enough for their support, compassion and help.
I will continue to fight for Daisy as long as she needs me – and while her tail is wagging and she wants to keep going then I will ensure she has the best of everything. My gorgeous girl
Disclaimer – This blog was created by a guest author. CAM4Animals has reproduced this in good faith but cannot be held responsible for any inaccuracies of information in it or any use you make of this information.
The veterinary Surgeon’s Act 1966 restricts the treatment of animals (usually other than your own*) by anyone other than a qualified vet. Always consult a veterinary surgeon if you are concerned about your animal’s health.*Full details can be found on the RCVS website.