On January 29 I woke up to an immobile Jackie. Every time she tried to get up she just splayed on all fours. She just wanted to lay down and be left alone. Every time someone came close it was like she couldn’t bear the sight of them and would twist her head so far away. She wouldn’t eat anything and only drank small sips of water. It was completely heart wrenching to see my Jackie in such bad shape. We immediately called our vet Dr. Suzie.
Here are the events that could have lead do a different ending
Jackie goes to the Vet on Friday Morning
We met with Dr Suzie on early Friday morning. There was no change to Jackie and she was even worse than the day before. When Dr. Suzie saw her I could tell by the look on her face that things were not good. She asked if Jackie fell on the ice or on the snow. Did she twist or fall in the house? Nothing unusual that we noticed. She suggested some pain killers and said let’s wait a few days and see what happens. We could run more tests but what would these tests show?? Jackie is almost 14 years old.
I stayed back to talk to Dr. Suzie to provide me some guidance on what I should do. She suggested I look at Jackie and ask myself these questions. Is this still Jackie? Does she still do all the fun crazy things? Does she still respond the way she used to? Does her tail still wag? I began to write a post while I sat with Jackie for the next 72 hours. (Which I’m not ready to post yet. It will be posted when the time comes but today is a different day.)
We took Jackie home and things began to get worse. Her eyes began to flutter and her head was at a constant tilt. She wasn’t getting up. She wasn’t eating or drinking. I called Dr. Suzie and gave her the most recent update. Dr. Suzie suggested keep monitoring Jackie. The entire veterinary office was placed on alert for us in case the end was near. I thought the way Jackie looked appeared as if she had a stroke. Little did I realize that I wasn’t far off on my observation.
Sunday afternoon Jackie walks into the kitchen
Our family was milling about getting lunch ready when we looked over and it was Jackie standing in the door way. No one helped her over to the Kitchen (we had been using a sling to help her maneuver going outside). She was just standing with her new tilted look staring at us. Well you could imagine the joy that went through all of us. She collapsed at that point as she tried to turn around. So we helped her back to her favorite spot, and sat down completely mesmerized by what we just saw! Jackie actually got up. For the rest of the day, Jackie only got up once more. She still wasn’t eating but was drinking more and loved to eat the snow when she went outside. We were still holding her up as well.
The next 48 hours
Over the next couple of days, Jackie began to be interested in our daily regimen. Since she wasn’t eating her food I made her food. I made her chicken, rice, peas and green beans. I added the Salmon Oil and Hilary’s Blend. (I used to make Jackie’s food when she first was diagnosed with Cushing’s Disease) As soon as I put that in front of her, she ate it all up. WOW as my daughter said looking at Jackie. Look mom Jackie is eating your food. That was the ticket! Jackie was still far from being her usual self but things looked promising.
I told Dr. Suzie that Jackie looked like someone who has had a stroke. Dr. Suzie went over all the symptoms and Jackie’s actions at home. She suspected that I might not be far off. She said Jackie could have Vestibular Disease. She sent me an article (which I have linked here). It all started to hopefully make sense. She asked us to bring Jackie in for a follow-up the next morning.
Wednesday meeting with the Veterinarian
Dr. Suzie could not believe the change in Jackie. The office was completely in awe. Jackie walked in on her own accord! Wagging her tail and saying hello. She now had a distinguished tilt to her head. Her back legs were still quite wobbly or we say, she had spaghetti legs. That being said, it was still Jackie! Dr. Suzie confirmed that what had happened to Jackie, was a form of Vestibular Disease. This has been seen in many older dogs like Jackie. This was the best prognosis we could have gotten.
The weeks to come..
It’s going to take Jackie a few weeks of solid recuperation to get stronger and better. She will always have that new tilt to her head. It’s like she is checking us over. I don’t want to think how things could have ended if we didn’t give Jackie the time to see if anything had changed. If we had made a decision before those 72 hours, I wouldn’t have my Jacks with me today.
If you suspect your pet has the same or similar symptoms that our Jackie had, work with your Veterinarian and listen to your heart. This disease is very scary. We know we just lived through it. That said the disease will begin to correct itself in 72 hours. Our willingness to wait, watch, and hope, saved our Jackie.
Please read the linked article to understand this old dog vestibular syndrome! It could change your decision about your dog’s inherent outcome!
Give your pet the time to see if they will rally. In our case we had waited and now Jackie is with us and getting gourmet meals. We don’t know how much longer we have her for. However the most important thing is that we gave her the time and she is with us today.
If your senior dog has had this, we would truly like to hear from you. We are hoping to raise awareness of this senior dog syndrome.
I also want to thank everyone’s well wishes and hopefulness through this whole time!
Photo Credit: Unilateral Vestibular Signs - Copyright David Bainbridge