Like any other pet owner, when there is a medical issue or looks like a medical problem, we all look back to see when it happened, how it happened or did we miss anything.
So today I thought I'd post what I looked at yesterday, trying to double check and see if I had missed a sign or something that led us to being concerned enough for a couple of different vet trips and different tests for Stella.
Not until I went through my photo file in Stella's folder did I see that my memory was not as sharp as I thought. I was inaccurate in thinking Stella had not ran for months, or when was the last time her tail was upright and curled and most importantly ... when she started looking and feeling skinny.
For easy searching like this, I have a lot of different folders for my picture library on my computer. Within those folders I add a title to the first picture of the day in the form of yyyy mmm date. I keep the pictures within each folder sorted with newest on top. Consequently it was easy to scroll through thousands of pictures looking for the certain points I was looking for.
Those points were running, playing, tail up and curled, how she looked, the leash, and when both her and Sadie were side by side on the prowl.
My search lead me back all the way to October 14, 2016 where these first four pictures took place. It was the looked like a good starting picture to show her rib cage and how she looked. They showed her running at full speed and the first time my pictures picked up her scratching ... that she is still doing this morning.
All through November, December to January 2nd I found pictures of her running full speed. Honestly I had forgotten she had ran this much and this recently.
I started to see a slimmer waistline for her but I always thought when she was looking a little thinner it was because of the two and sometimes three walks per day for about 30 minutes each she was getting, along with the running.
Nothing is ever regular in her running, it might not happen every walk but when she does run it is usually at full speed.
Not quite 4 months later she is still scratching but I have yet to find any fleas, raw skin, etc ... even as of this morning. At the time of this picture January 2, 2017 she is still eating the same food she has ate the majority of the time since arriving in August 2015.
Again my memory the other day failed me when I had forgot she had played, wrestled, with Sadie out in the snow in January 5th. I did not see any of this inside the house this winter like I did in 2016.
I am not seeing any issues with her looks here. Maybe a little thin but she looks active and I think with her tail upright and curled that is a good sign. It is the first time that I saw any kind of ribs showing every so slightly ... it's January 11th.
I started increasing her portions of kibble, thinking with her recent activity she is burning more calories than she is taking in. She was slightly overweight when she arrived in August 2015 but she was free fed. I feed her twice per day as per her request but it's weird feeding times.
She wants food first thing in the day and then starts howling at lunch usually around 11:30am but doesn't anytime after that until the next morning.
Through the month of January all activity looks to be normal. I don't really have any concerns and figure the added kibble will put some weight back on her.
By February 4th I don't see anything that would make me think that anything is wrong with her. Even this morning there may not be anything wrong with her and I believe the two visits to the vet prove that. Yet I can't forget how different she looked one year ago yesterday, April 21 2016 in the picture I posted yesterday on this blog. The picture below was taken February 4th of this year.
I know it sounds weird but I did not rule out the possibility that when I put a 6' standard leash on her to keep her from running off during our walks, February 10th, that just maybe that had something to do with her lack of activity and seeing her tail in a lowered position more and more as we walked. Then again that could be over-analysis.
Then about the time I think something might be wrong with her, looking a little sick, hard to tell with a bloodhound expression .... she takes off running at full speed to come from way behind us to catch us on the start of our walk on February 23rd.
Even though the temps are warmer plus she has had one bath with a shampoo that is geared to relieve itching, she sits in the sun on March 4th and scratches away.
We week later I am starting to see more ribs. but at the same time I have switched to a rated 4-star food with more protein and fat. I know it will take up to 4 months before I could see a change but Heidi was showing a lot of improvement with weeks of eating the new food.
I had forgot all about her trip to the neighbor's drainage ditch. I am not sure how long she was there as Sadie and I were walking and I had left Stella behind early in the walk to let her do what she wanted. I also have never smelled anything foul from this ditch so it is NOT like an open sewer or septic tank type of runoff.
Still ... it is a drainage ditch and their has to be something coming out of those pipes that can't be too healthy. This took place on March 14.
Now I am getting concerned when I see this picture and at the time when I pet her I have been feeling more bones than I want. Her hips, shoulders and her ribs are too boney. On March 18th we go to the vet for a checkup and a blood test to see if there is anything internally going on.
If you think she is sick and something going on .... the afternoon walk on the same day as the vet trip .... she is running full speed like nothing is out of the ordinary.
Her and Sadie spend the next week running all over the field on our walks. With a clean blood test result and a vet that is not that concerned, I keep the added kibble going and wait for some signs of her gaining weight.
On March 29, a little over a month since the change to kibble that is higher protein and fat ... I think I am seeing some weight gain. She looks to be back to her old self, active, curious but I forget that she was running full speed just a week or so before and tell myself I can't remember the last time she ran really hard in the field.
I still wonder if something is wrong with her. After doing searches on the internet, and reading information on PetMD website I am not finding any kind of symptoms listed, that Stella is showing. Once I thought it was possible thyroid problem or maybe she was getting diabetic ... yet everything was looking normal from her daily routines.
On April 20th, just a few days ago I thought she was looking better, maybe a little heavier ... still I could not remember the last time she had ran at full speed. She had loved to run in the field before and recently when she had the same situations to run, she stood and looked. Plus she had been walking slowly more and more on our walks.
So, after talking to the vet owner about my concerns, we went back in yesterday for a different test than we did in March with their other vet. He wanted to see her in person just to make sure.
After some squeezing, probing and checking her heart rate he did not see any reason for x-rays. With a strong heart rate, a normal appetite, normal stools and a tick/heartworm test coming back negative he felt she might not have been processing the protein in food in the past.
Like I stated on last night's update, he suggested changing food and source of protein plus monitor her weight using their scales for free. When I told him we were on week 9 since we last changed food to a higher protein and higher fat, he said to stick with that food for another couple of months.
He said they can loose weight fast but it takes much longer to add that lost weight back on.
As you can see Sadie was happy to have her friend back. With Heidi taking her big chair to sleep in, she moved to the couch with Stella. As far as Stella is concerned, she is fine and there is nothing going on ... except that crazy scratching.
With all the two tests showing all things are good and a 7-8 weeks of more added kibble to her meals, I am expecting to see some improvements on her weight where the ribs don't show and she does some sprinting in the field.
Someone asked what supplements I was giving her for possible joint and hip pain ... I am giving her four chews per day of this Hypoallergenic Hip & Joint Supplements. (not an affiliate link)
Let me know if you think I have missed anything that I should have noticed or if you have any ideas. In the meantime I will keep you posted.