October 2, 2016 by The Dog Rules
Lulled into a false sense of hope because we had a diagnosis, a plan, and Drift had made some measurable progress, we all believed that it would just take a little time for Drift’s issues to sort themselves out.
The first sign that all was not going as wonderfully as we first thought was when I noticed Drift eating more slowly. Now, if you’ve been reading the previous posts you know that I was trying to find a way to slow him down. This slowing was not a normal thing. He held his head somewhat oddly and appeared to be having difficulty chewing his food. He did polish off his meal and licked the bowl clean as usual. I made a mental note to pay more attention next time.
Drift’s odd head position and chewing difficulty presented at the next meal and I noticed a faint pink tinge left in the bowl. He had previously destroyed a toy and I thought he might have injured his mouth doing that. Once finished his meal he didn’t show any signs of distress so I let it go.
The next meal was a nightmare. I put his bowl on the floor and turned my back for a few moments to put the tin of wet food back in the fridge. When I turned back to Drift he had his head up and back trying to swallow his food. It was obvious he was in pain. I froze. What the H was going on?! Drift put his head down toward the bowl for another mouthful. I followed the motion with my eyes and realized with horror that there were gobbets of blood on the floor around his bowl.
There was no way he was going to let me pick up that bowl. He wanted his food even though it caused him great pain to eat it. My mind was racing. I had to explain this to the vet. I grabbed my phone and took a photo. They say a picture is worth a thousand words. This picture was going to explain things far better than anything I could say.
Once Drift had left the bowl I called him over and took a good look inside his mouth. The back of his tongue was covered with what appeared to be bloody blisters. I realized the digestive enzyme was digesting his tongue. How was I going to get him to rinse any remaining enzyme out of his mouth? In desperation I gave him a bowl of milk. I hoped the milk would be interesting enough to encourage him to drink it. Thankfully it worked and I was again left with a pink tinged bowl. He didn’t appear distressed so I quickly cleaned up the floor before phoning the Animal Hospital.
After a good ten or fifteen minutes of explaining and re-explaining what had happened and what I thought was the cause I asked if they had email. Then I emailed this photo to the vet. (It’s out-of-focus because I was shaking as I took it.)
The vet said stop the enzyme. We needed to find another way to deliver it. I agree.
Now what were we to do?
We went to Drift’s appointment. The blisters were at the back of his tongue and as far down his throat as the veterinarian could see. They were likely also present on the roof of his mouth and not as obvious because he had dark pigmentation there. He was sent home with pain medication for the next several days, instructions to not give the enzyme for that time, and a syringe to irrigate his mouth after each enzyme containing meal to ensure that there were no remaining enzymes. The search was on for a better way to deliver the enzymes!
I went home with the sinking feeling that we were rapidly returning to the beginning of our journey. Without the enzymes, Drift’s body would not and could not get the benefit of any food he ate. He would again be starving. His cow pat poops, flatulence and horrible breath would return and continue. He could become one of the ones who did not make it.
I would not let this happen to my special boy! I sat down to review EVERYTHING I could find on EPI (Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency) in dogs.