Just yesterday, you may recall, I again thought Cassie was pounding at Death’s door. She went in the closet and tried to hide in a corner (again). There wasn’t much I could do about it today: getting into the vet proved to be impossible around a two-hour choir rehearsal followed by a lengthy special religious hoe-down.
During today’s long-distance sing-a-thon, I got an elaborate earful about Valley Fever from a friend on the choir who has lost three dogs to it. Spent the afternoon in a Holy Blue Funk, singing to God and His Archangels whilst contemplating the demise of my little doggie. Probably tomorrow at 8:30 a.m. sharp, when I’m supposed to show up at the vet’s doorstep.
But…then…on the way home, them thar Angels began to speak. Nay, even to break out into a little song of their own. And the verses went like this:
- When you called the vet about her cough, dear Estupida, the first reaction there was that she had a contagious bronchitis that’s been going around. They did not say whether they thought it was bacterial or viral, nor did they put a name to it. They only said they’d been seeing a lot of it, and then said “come get these blue pills.”
- The handy-dandy blue pills DID make it better. But when the cough hadn’t completely gone away after 10 days or so, Estupida, you called back expecting to cadge another bottle of blue pills. Instead they invited you and the dawg to make a trip across town to the veterinary.
- The vet opined that what ailed the dog was Valley fever, based on an X-ray that proves nothing. That X-ray could also image pneumonia or a bad case of bronchitis; it could also image a heart inflammation caused by heartworm, endocarditis, or congestive heart failure. Any of these would cause a severe cough. The blood panel came back negative for Valley fever but showing elevated values for a couple of measures that can be elevated by any kindof inflammation or infection. Yes, often VF tests do come back negative even in the presence of coccidiomycosis. BUT it is not unreasonable to suspect that such a test could come up negative because of the absence of coccidiodes. A second veterinarian at a different veterinary clinic suggested this and stated that she felt the test results were ambiguous and should be repeated after three or four weeks. So: we have no empirical proof that the dog really has Valley fever.
- Nevertheless, assuming the dog probably had VF, MarvelVet put her on a fearsome anti-fungal drug called fluconazole, which is nasty stuff with superbly nasty side effects. Within a few days of beginning this drug, the dog began to grow weaker and exhibit signs of failing health:
Total loss of appetite
Incontinence of Biblical proportions
Loss of interest in everything around her
Inability or unwillingness to move around.
ALL THESE SYMPTOMS are listed by the UofA Medical School as side effects of that drug in dogs: https://vfce.arizona.edu/valley-fever-dogs/treatment
And wouldn’t you know: she kept on coughing. By now she’d reached a point where every time she tried to drink water, she would choke on it and then start wheezing!
The blue pills are Temaril-P, which contains an antihistamine and some prednisone and whose purpose is to suppress coughing and reduce inflammation. When we took her off the Temaril, the coughing got worse. When we put her on the fluconazole, she got really, really sick.
Sooooo….this leads us to, goddammit,…
- What if the problem is NOT Valley fever? What if it isn’t any other fearful disease, either? What if the initial cause of the cough actually was the bug that was going around? She’s the same age I am in doggy years…and the last time I caught a chest cold, it took SIX MONTHS to shake the cough. Maybe the vet’s first guess was right, and it’s simply taking her a long time to get rid of the cough because she’s 12 years old.
Just now my money is on Numero 5.
Tomorrow I’m going to ask him to prescribe more of the Temaril and propose that we keep her on a low dosage for about ten days or two weeks. THEN wean her off and see what happens.
Whaddaya bet the pooch is still alive in ten days or two weeks? And still kickin’…or rather, kickin’ again?