Friday, December 16, 2016

My dear, dear Tashi - have I found the solution?

Tashi has had a rough couple of years. Shortly before we left the farm, she developed small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), which went undetected for months. Her weight dropped from 63 to 44. I complained, took her to the vet, but answer was she needed to lose weight anyway. But I hadn't changed her food, she had no physical symptoms such as diarrhea or vomiting and still ate with gusto. She was down to about 55 when we moved from the farm. So I did attribute the continued weight loss to her depression. She HATED city living. Her depression was obvious, nearly palpable.

Weight continued to drop. I finally asked to see the head vet at the clinic I went to, and he was alarmed. A 15% loss of weight is cause for concern, and she had reached 30%. Dr. Hoeffert is a great diagnostician, and he immediately thought of SIBO. Tests confirmed it was most likely the problem. Meds didn't help much. I started feeding her kefir. I think that helped as much as anything. It helped to get good bacteria into her system to combat the bad guys. I started making her food so that she got a low carb diet, since SIBO loves carbs. And since she had become a very picky eater, she ate better if the meal was chicken gizzards, liver and turkey that mom made just for her.

Little by little, she gained weight. Then I went on vacation. The person whom I hired to watch her had specific instructions on how to feed her - it took a lot of coaxing. Against my specific instructions, he put food on the floor and left the house for his sister's most days, leaving her alone. She had finally gotten up to 48 pounds when I left her, but in two weeks was back down to 44. Poor thing.

Feeding her was a big deal. Spoon feeding the first few bites was helpful, but then I had to stand beside her. If I left, she left the bowl. If I stayed there, I could watch her, and if she quit eating I would spoon feed a couple more bites. Gradually we got her weight back up to 54, which is the maximum optimum weight for her. I was delighted.

Eating? Well, it had to be home cooked. That worked for a bit, and it did help her to gain weight. But her BUN numbers weren't looking good because I didn't have enough carbs in it, so Dr. Rock suggested adding sweet potatoes and rice or oatmeal, which I did. He also thought she might be having stomach aches, so she got Pepcid twice a day. Nothing really helped.

Through all of this, her behavior was becoming what can only be described as aberrant. In the midst of all this, she lost her lifelong companion, Ayn Chee, to cancer. We got another dog, and while they got along okay, it was not the same for her, and I knew she missed Ayn Chee even more than I did. The behavior got worse. There was much clawing at me, pushing my hands off the computer keys, and nights were hell. The vet prescribed Xanax for her, and it seemed to help for a bit, but then it made no difference at all. She would circle around in the bed, panting pitifully. She would scratch at me, sometimes right across my face. There was no locking her out of the room; she would claw at the door to get back with me. I seriously considered putting her down. I was also sure she was suffering from dementia. based on all of the crazy behavior. Many trips to the vet, many tests run, nothing apparently physically wrong with her led me to that conclusion. It was time to suck it up and accept my old dog was in her final days, and they weren't going to be pretty.

There would be a good day or two now and then. Cooking for her was time consuming, and didn't seem to be all that effective anyway. I started buying grain free soft food, salmon and sweet potatoes being her favorite. I also bought grain free dry dog food with freeze dried wild game bits in it, and mixed the two with the last of her homemade food. She would eat a little of both with coaxing. Gradually all of the homemade dog food was eaten up.

She seemed to be doing better. In fact, we went six days without the crazy behavior, and mealtimes, while a little slow, were better. She would even occasionally eat some of the dry dog food with nothing on it. It was good to hear her crunching away.

Last Saturday, I had some leftover sweet rolls from the market. She loves, loves, LOVES bread! I gave her some ends, which of course she scarfed right down. That night, we had another very bad night. In the morning she was trying to crawl in my lap as I sat at the computer, and she clawed at my arms to get my hands off the computer keys.

Duh! My dog is allergic to grain. In the ensuing week, I have not given her so much as a bite of bread. I am checking her treats for grain - no grain for Tashi. Life is good.

What kind of distress has she been going through? I kept saying to her, "Tashi, I wish you could tell me what is wrong, what hurts, what you are feeling." She is asleep at my feet right now. No more trying to pull my hands off the computer keys. No more panting and circling in the bed. No more lying on top of my body or scratching at my face at night. My dog is just fine, thank you! Dementia? I don't think so. Tashi and I are both at peace again.

Tashi enjoying her food - without coaxing.


  1. I am thrilled that you figured this out! What a gift to Tashi! May her remaining time be joyful and grain free!!

  2. Me, too, Catherine. All remains well. :)