Now for the update on the health of the dogs. As I mentioned, I had a dual vet appointment for the dogs on Tuesday. For Bess, it was a final check up and chest x-ray to make sure that everything was gone. For Heffner, it was basically to talk about what the heck is going on with his GI tract. I would also like to mention that I had a freaking horrible dream on Sunday night that when I took Bess in for her x-ray they found a foreign object in her lungs and were going to have to go in laprascopically to remove it. While this was actually a far off chance that our vet had mentioned originally, it certainly wasn't terribly helpful of my unconscious my mind to mess with my waking mind like that!
Bess' x-rays came back completely clear and she is officially over the aspiration pneumonia! Talk about a relief! Not that I really had any doubts, but it's always reassuring to know for sure. And I could definitely use some good news.
Next up was Heffner. We went over the bouts of diarrhea since the original one that sort of started things off. Basically, every time he went off the medications, his colon would get ticked off again. After two rounds of sulfasalazine and two rounds of metranidazole over the course of a month, it obviously wasn't "just" acute colitis. The current options are chronic colitis or irritable bowel syndrome. Both cases can have flare ups for a number of reasons. One of the reasons can be an underlying food allergy. One of the many advantages to feeding raw is that most dogs are not allergic to the raw form of the most common protein sources that cause allergies. However, that doesn't necessarily mean that it can't happen. Several options were laid out for me, with the "easiest" being a food elimination trial based around protein sources. Since the dogs meals are based around primarily chicken and turkey with some beef products, we are eliminating all three of those sources. The alternate protein source that I decided to go with is pork. Primarily because it's a lot easier for me to find a variety of pork meat, bones, organs, and treats. It's also something that the dogs just don't get. With that being said, there were basically no pork products in our house as of Tuesday afternoon. That has most definitely changed.
We now have plenty of pork products that cover the span of Heffner's regular meal needs as well as pork products for training treats. You know what's made from pork? Bacon. Needless to say, Heffner is in hog heaven! Pun fully intended! While this is not the easiest thing in the world, at least this protein source is pretty readily available and I don't have to place a bunch of special orders.
Heffner is also currently back on the sulfasalazine while we're doing the diet switch so that we don't super anger his colon by completely changing his food around.
Of course, if this does "work" it doesn't necessarily mean that his flare up was food allergy related. That's the real kicker. There are a plethora of things that can trigger an IBS flare up, if that's what he has. Multiple things can also combine to cause it. So I find myself pondering just exactly what the heck to do depending on how this food trial goes. If it "works," I will obviously be incredibly happy. But I won't really know for sure that it was necessarily the food that did it. If the food trial doesn't work initially, I then have the dilemma of what to do next. Do I continue trying more and more exotic protein sources until I find the "right" one? Do I just decide that he may have to be on medication for the rest of his life? Or do I take the proactive route and just get him tested for food allergies? Honestly, the allergy testing is looking better and better right now. While it's not cheap (I know that Kennedy can attest to that!), neither is constantly having to go into the vet or picking up different prescriptions to put Heffner on. It's a little daunting not really knowing what's going on with my poor guy. On the up side, things are going really well so far and he's an otherwise completely happy and normal guy. He thankfully is at a better weight right now so I'm not worried about that, though I would still like for him to put on more muscle.
Anyhow, that's kind of where things are at right now. As always, I will be sure to include any information as it comes along. At the moment though, I'm pretty sure that if this doesn't work, Heffner's going to get some allergy testing done. In the mean time, I'm going to be looking in to getting him an acupuncture appointment. Although I have absolutely no idea where exactly that's going to fit in this month. I've got a pretty crazy out of work schedule, and my work schedule is going to be pretty obscene for the rest of the month. We'll see. And if anyone out there has previous experience with IBS or chronic colitis, PLEASE share with me what you went through and how things worked out for you!