Well for the second time in 3 months I have some bad news... Over the last 5 or so months or post-op Boston, Emerson, had been slowly deteriorating. Her diarrhea was back with a vengeance, she was underweight no matter what I fed her, losing hair, tripping and falling, she wasn't able to get back up after lying down, cognitively she didn't seem all there... I think it was liver disease ultimately causing the symptoms this time around based on what I've been reading but we were treating her for diarrhea thinking if we could fix that we could at least fix a few of her issues.
Not to be all doom and gloom, but I also want to use this opportunity to encourage everyone to think twice about major surgery for older dogs. At the time she was healthy and 12 and a half year old and I had less than an hour to make the decision, so I went for it. But, since then it's been almost nothing but trouble, stress, time, and money trying to get her back to some semblance of normal, and no matter how many medicines, herbs, or treatments that I threw at it, it's just been a steady decline for a year. She's had flagyl, diagel, panicure, tylen powder, proviable, extra fiber in her diet, 3 other probiotics EN, ID, weekly B-12 injections, steamed rice, her regular food, the grain free version of it, various herbs from TCVM vets... and that's probably only half of what we tried. The other problem is that whenever you mess with her regimen, you have to wait 3 or 4 weeks to see if it's going to work. We just pumped so much medicine through her and none of it made a difference.
So, all of that and she was never able to gain weight, she had chronic diarrhea for 3 or 4 months after, which returned after about 3 short, good months last fall and has been a non-stop fight since late December. Her spine developed a curvature, presumably from adjusting her posture because of the abdominal surgery, which led to more weight on her front feet, which led to arthritis and stiffness and tripping and falling. She has Short Bowl Syndrome from having a section of her intestine removed which led to poor digestion and then she developed Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth. The SIBO caused skin infections which led to bald spots and skin issues and may have contributed to her hearing loss. The malabsorption of nutrients associated with the diarrhea and stomach issues led to her losing strength and slowly getting weaker and less able to walk or get up once she's laid down. She stopped caring about anything other than food. I could go on, but you get the point. Post-surgery we poured so much time, effort, and money into getting her gut working properly and nothing did it. Until much more recently I'd been holding out hope that if I could just get her diarrhea fixed she'd absorb nutrients again and I could give her a normal senior life for a couple of years. I could handle the arthritis and the hearing loss, but when you add it all up it's just too much. So over the last few weeks we've been working through our last options and have finally decided that it was time to let her go.
So it's done. We drove back up to northern Wisconsin Saturday and buried her with our other one, and for the first time since our second year of college we don't have dogs. It's a weird and lonely feeling and I'm sure we'll get more eventually, but we're going to wait a little while. The last year has been the not-fun part of having dogs, so we're going to take a little break.