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Posts Tagged ‘active’

I must have been out of my mind the day I wished Rufus wasn’t so lazy. You’re probably saying, “Well, you know they say to be careful what you wish for…you just might get it.”  Yeah, yeah, yeah.  Like I said, outta my ever-loving mind.

The only reason I wished for Rufus to not be so lazy (mind you, I didn’t wish for him to be active, just to not be so lazy) was because I was getting tired of dragging him off the couch…and out of the car…and out of his kennel…and off of my bed.  My arms and back were threatening to mutiny if I kept using them to haul fat-boy Rufus around.

The one time I took him hiking with the other dogs, I had to help him climb up some of the boulders on the hike out. Before this, I had never had to help a dog climb up a moderately steep incline–usually they were the ones pulling me. Let me tell you…it was quite awkward, trying not to slip while pushing Rufus’ derriere in front of me. He basically would just put his front legs up on the boulders and look back at me, waiting for his push. I tried to see if he could do it on his own, but he just rested his head on the rock and looked at me like I was the cruellest person in the world for not helping him. Finally I gave in (because if I hadn’t, I would have been there all week) and hoisted him up the rest of the trail until the area levelled out and he could make it on his own. Needless to say, since all the attempts I have made to get Rufus to really exercise seemed to end up with my arms falling out of their sockets, I gave up.

Rufus Before...

Over the last few months, Rufus has battled ongoing skin issues.  It started as soon as I rescued him.  He had road rash from being run over and was on antibiotics to help his skin heal.  Even after his skin healed, though, he never seemed to grow new hair and was losing what he did have left and right.

I scraped him several times looking for mange mites.  I never found any under the microscope, but because he was a pit bull type dog (they are notorious for getting demodex mites) and because he was itchy (pruritic) and because sometimes you don’t find the mites, I treated him empirically with Ivermectin for three months.  The missing hair around his eyes (an area you can’t really scrape without sedation) grew back, but the rest of him stayed as bald as ever.

I changed his food to grain free and only fed him a fish based diet. I added fatty acid supplements to his food, antihistamines to his medication routine and bathed him with oatmeal-based shampoo. His pruritus continued to worsen and he started to stink really bad. He had horrible seborrhea (oiliness to his skin), developed comedones (fancy term for blackheads) and continued to lose hair. I performed skin cytologies and more antibiotics and anti-seborrhea/antipruritic/antimicrobial/antifungal shampoo were tried. He became less itchy, but the comedones were so bad that he looked like he was growing mold. Through it all, he continued to lose hair. I could either have his skin biopsied and/or start allergy testing or see the veterinary dermatologist.

Instead of putting him under anesthesia for the biopsy, I decided that I would see the dermatologist first. In preparation for that visit, I decided to go ahead and perform a complete blood profile on him. I remember joking with one of the veterinarians at work:

“Wouldn’t it be funny if he just had a low thyroid?”

“Well, it would be an easy fix, but juvenile hypothyroidism is just so rare. One can always hope,” she replied.

Then I really started to think about it. Maybe he DID have a low thyroid. Other than the fact that it is very rare for a dog to have juvenile hypothyroidism, he did fit the other criteria:

  • Poor hair coat with lack of growth and general alopecia–Yep.  With his patchy baldness, he was starting to look like a chupacabra mixed with a hippo.
  • Lethargy–Check. It he was any lazier, people were going to start assuming he was just a weird dog-shaped pillow.
  • Mental dullness–Uh oh. I was pretty sure his IQ was well below normal for a canine…or a rock.
  • Heat seeker–Yep!  Rufus hated the cold weather and I had to give him Charley’s old jacket to wear else he trembled uncontrollably, even in 68 degree weather.
  • Gain in body weight–This was the whole reason I was trying to get his lazy behind off the couch to begin with. He was definitely becoming more rotund.
  • Neuromuscular signs–Hmmm. Rufus had been observed to do some weird head bobbles and tremors at times. I thought maybe it was just because his head was too heavy.
  • Myxedema of the face–Also known as thickened or swollen skin, this leads to the tragic expression seen in dogs with severe hypothyroidism. Rufus definitely looked tragic, with thick eyebrow folds and drooping skin.  I thought he just looked sad because I made him get off the couch every once in a while.

Rufus’ bloodwork came back with a few discrepancies:  he was slightly anemic, his cholesterol was elevated and his free T4 and total T4 were both very, very low;  all of these tests displayed biochemical trends that are usually seen in true hypothyroid dogs. In fact, his free T4 value was so very low, it was reported as “less than” the lowest number they record. I had my solution to his skin issue (and his other issues, as well). All I had to do was supplement him with thyroid hormone, no need to see the dermatologist just yet.

Rufus After

Fast forward one month. Holy mother of dog! Rufus is a new canine.  His hair coat has almost completely grown back in, his oiliness has disappeared, he lost eight pounds without any change to his diet, his tragic expression has almost gone away completely and, in answer to my wish, he has become turbo-charged. Whereas before he would only play for a few minutes, now he wants to play ALL DAY LONG. Grimm is worn out, Zella is worn out, I’m worn out. And guess what? Rufus can actually run and gallop and jump up into the car on his own. He drags me out the door by his leash rather than the other way around. AND he can go outside in 60 degree weather (like today) and not shiver at all. Now, he still likes the couch, but these days he uses it more as a springboard to jump off of rather than a bed. At times I’ve almost been tempted to stop his supplementation, just to have lazy Rufus back for a bit. But…then his hair will fall out and he’ll stink again.

The only symptom that hasn’t gone away is the mental dullness. Thyroid hormones did not make him a genius overnight. He will probably always be a little slow mentally. Puppies who don’t have enough thyroid hormone during development can have impeded mental function and retardation of growth (they call this “cretinism”). They  can  still grow once supplementation is started, but they can not catch up mentally.

So there you have it. I got exactly what I wished for (a less lazy dog with better skin) but found out I was not yet prepared for all that entailed. Now I guess I need to wish for a magical way to exercise and entertain Rufus so Grimm and Zella don’t become worn out. Then again, if I wish that, there is no telling what cruel joke fate would play on me. I just might get it.

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