At the end of the summer Owen was drinking a lot of water. I let it go for a month, thinking it was hot out and he may just be thirsty, but I watched, and I worried.
I knew he was old, he has always been old. I knew increased water intake could be many things, and none of them were good. But I waited, hoping it would pass. It did not pass, and he soon started peeing large amounts, large dilute amounts. And he needed to pee more frequently. Then I started to find “leaks.” Little wet spots when he got up from his bed, or off the couch. I knew we needed to see the vet and planned to call, but was better about getting him out before bed and first thing in the morning, put some waterproof pads under his bed, and the leaks stopped. Then I came home one day and discovered his bed soaked through, and a very anxious Owen. My boy had wet the bed. I was worried, not because he had an accident, but because he had an accident while sleeping. We went in to see the vet with urine sample in hand.
The urine sample came back inconclusive, it was too dilute to get any information. So we did blood work, and waited, and then we had to go in for a follow-up appointment. That is when I got news I did not want to hear.
Owen had increased liver levels, and increased cholesterol – two indicators of Cushings. Now, I can pretend Owen had not been developing a pot belly, and I can pretend that his hair had not gotten a bit thinner, but, I cannot pretend the blood work was wrong. I will admit I panicked, I knew the medications for Cushings were expensive, and had many side-effects. And I knew the testing to confirm Cushings was not cheap. And I knew Owen could only handle so many conditions before I had to accept it was time to let go. I cried in the vet’s office, it was not the first time and it will not be the last.
I did not see my regular vet for this visit, he was out of town and a young, eager, and talented vet who I have a lot of respect for took care of me and Owen. She listed all the tests, and the possible treatments, and sent me home. She wanted to take it head on and was full of ideas. I was overwhelmed, and not sure what to do. In a move that never helps when one is overwhelmed, I went online and did a lot of research. I looked into dog walkers, and supplements. I checked my credit card balances and bank balances and tried to set limits on how much I could pursue. And I waited for the call from Owen’s vet.
I have only known my vet for two years, but he knows me, he knows me well. He knows I need answers, and I will do what needs to be done for my pets. He asked me what I was thinking and I said I was worried about the side-effects of the medications. And he told me he was to, and that he often left senior dogs untreated for Cushings. I then asked about testing, and he told me he was not going to let me do it. He did not think pursuing treatment for Owen was worthwhile, and that if we tested to confirm Cushings, it would not change our course of action. We would still continue working on pain management and supportive care for Owen. He knew it was not what I wanted to hear, I wanted to know the problem and fix it, but he also knew it was right for my dog.
So that is where we are. I put Owen on a food with a lower amount of protein (Nutrisource Large Breed Grain Free Lamb), I am giving him Milk Thistle for his liver, and I am giving him a lot of love, because, I have to accept that our time together is limited. His liver is still enlarged, but he is not peeing as much, or drinking as much water, so I will be grateful for small victories. I could put him on a low-protein food designed for liver health, but if he does not like it, what is the point? My vet told me that it would add a few days to our life together, and he would rather see Owen enjoy his meals. I love my vet, I love Owen.
I do not love watching my dog grow old, but I do love trying to make each day count.