From everyone here at Bringing up Bella, we wish you the happiest of holidays
and all the best in the new year.
and all the best in the new year.
|I'm sorry, you want me to do what?|
|"I get to come! I get to come! Yay me!"|
|Hiking Mount Battie, Camden, Maine|
|Did someone say "Food"?|
Things Bella was still afraid ofAnd here's we are now:
- People (general)
- Dogs (general)
- The vacuum cleaner
- Bugs that buzz (flies, bees, etc)
- Storms (wind, heavy rain, thunder)
- The snow-blower
- Things that fall on the roof (acorns, stones, branches, snow...)
- Agility obstacles (in progress):
- Tippy boards
Things Bella is still afraid ofShe's still not fond of bugs - but only when they are harassing her and that's not fear, that's annoyance and rightly so.
- Other dogs
|Yikes! Look at those claws!|
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|This really is one seriously handsome hound.|
|But he gets so depressed...|
|Loves people and other dogs - he's an ideal pet sans stormy weather.|
|Me and my shadow, Beau.|
|Seriously people, I am so over this crate rest thing.|
|Tiptoeing through the tulips.|
I mentioned some time back that we have Bella on a new cocktail of drugs for her fear and anxiety and her penchant for reacting aggressively towards me and Jan when life gets to be too much for her. She remains on the Soloxine (for hypothyroidism) and Fluoxetine (for aggression) and in January we added Gabapentin (for nerve pain and possible seizures.) This has proven to be absolutely life-changing for her and for us. And I will definitely share stories soon about that.
She is also on a drug called Amantidine which was prescribed for an injury she suffered in January to her foot but may also be contributing to her improved behavior. It is used for what is called "ramp-up pain" - the kind of pain where it's tolerable in the morning but by the afternoon and evening is just unbearable.
The goal is to be able to wean her off the Fluoxetine in time (she is already at a lower-than-usually-prescribed dose) and probably ease her off the Amantidine in the next few weeks.
The left-front shoulder issue and the acute right front lameness that occurred in January have been largely resolved. Bella has been seeing an integrative vet for a couple of months now and we couldn't be more pleased with the whole practice and especially the results.
Bella sees a doctor who specializes in chiropractic treatment but has also been having weekly low-level laser treatments. A little over a week ago, Jan and I both remarked that we hadn't seen Bella limp from standing at all over the weekend. She still has the occasional skip in her step when she's been lying on the cold ground or has overdone it a bit but she is otherwise limp-free.
Bella has shown signs of a limp be it mild or severe since 2012 - it feels weird to see her not limp now.
We are stunned and grateful.
Back in 2012, Bella injured her left front shoulder. While we saw many different doctors trying to diagnosis and correct it, we were left with medication to help her manage the pain. Unfortunately, that medication was hard on her tummy and she was diagnosed with Colitis. A prescription diet was recommended but we continued to toggle between treating her limp and treating her tummy.
The last straw was when we called the vet who prescribed the medication and asked if we could try her on something else that was easier on her insides and he recommended another drug to help fight the problems she was facing due to the first. Enough was enough and we called in a holistic vet. We wanted to treat her injury once and for all and in a way that didn't create other issues.
Things didn't quite work out with that vet (too far away when Bella came up acutely lame in January) but she did put us on the path to home-cooking for Bella. We started cooking for her meals in January and, aside from what we now refer to as the "baby bird incident" (more on that in future installments), she has had a nearly perfect constitution ever since.
|Geez, mom, is nothing private?|
We have been easing her back into exercise after her extended crate-rest and she's been on a diet so now she's looking as good as she feels. And we don't even have to fight with her any more to get her to eat!
The most significant change has been in Bella's behavior. Sometimes we wonder what happened to our scared-y dog? Last Tuesday Bella slept through a (distant) thunderstorm. Her happy ear is up more often than ever and her eyes and face are soft and relaxed. She just looks so much more comfortable in her own skin.And that's all the news that's fit to print today.
It's hard to even describe how the changes in her feel. She is calm but not sedated, she seeks out play as well as (occasional) cuddles and she is just generally more relaxed about life all around.
We still have work to do - Bella hasn't been around other dogs since we have had to retire her from her agility for reactive dogs class. But we're feeling much more confident that we can teach her better options for her reaction to other dogs now that she has finally found some peace.
|She wants to do a what???|
|"Why no, Occifer, I'm not stotally toned. Wa hever would you ax?"|
|In case you think I live in fear of my dog...|
|Or she a life in fear of me.|
Action item #1: Switch her back to a low protein diet. Add fiber via pumpkin or Metamucil to achieve the higher fiber content which was the aim of the prescription dog food.
|I hear you talking about my food.|
Treatment option #1: Consider a different pain reliever. If Metacam upsets her stomach, find another and get her off this never-ending roller-coaster of ick.We then went on to talk about the possibility that Bella is suffering from PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) which could stem from her less-than-positive puppyhood on the streets of Puerto Rico or, rather surprisingly, could be associated with when I broke my arm and Bella was left alone for several hours afterwards.
Action item #2: Increase Bella's Fluoxetine dosage. We had never been successful in getting Bella up to the recommended dose of "Prozac" which Dr. Dodman prescribes specifically for aggression issues but is also used routinely to treat PTSD. He recommended now that she has been on it for a while, she may take to an increased dose better than she did when we tried previously.The conversation moved on to how Bella responds during these incidents which is to say, she doesn't. I mentioned in our intake sheet that Bella seems to "disappear" during these episodes and it takes some effort and an external force to stop her. We also noted that these bouts go on more than just a couple of seconds lasting upwards of 15 or 20 seconds.
Treatment option #2: Consider the anti-convulsant medication Zonisamide. While some of the symptoms Bella is displaying seem indicative of behavioral seizures, not everything aligns perfectly. Adding an anti-convulsant medication could help but it could be months before we'd really know whether or not that was the right diagnosis.Finally, almost as an aside, I mentioned Bella's quirky little episodes of apparent reaction to unknown pain that I've been telling everyone who will listen about for as long as I can remember. I was taken aback when Dr. Dodman, instead of trivializing my concerns, actually took note and questioned me further about this.
Treatment option #3: Consider adding Gabapentin (Neurontin) to Bella's current medication regimen. Gabapentin has both pain-relieving and anti-convulsant properties. This could potentially help manage both the shoulder pain as well as the possibility of partial seizures with a very notable side benefit being that it would also address any neurogenic pain she has that we have yet to identify.
|PTSD, you say?|
I can't imagine why.
|I'm not bad, I'm just photographed that way. ;)|