Bingo is a mixed terrier, I suspect mainly Maltese Shih tzu, with possibly something else.
In about October 2011, I started to become a bit concerned about Bingo as he seemed to have slowed down a lot in the last month or so. He was supposedly 7 years old at the time, but as he’d been a rescue, I began to wonder if he may have been older. He started to have difficulty climbing stairs, couldn’t jump up on the couch or bed and just seemed slower all around.
I took him to my local vets and tests eventually revealed he was hypothyroid – “A simple problem to correct” they said and I was very relieved. We started him on Thyroxine however, he seemed to get worse. Further problems started, he was gagging a lot, and it was thought possible megaoesophagus, later he became quite lame and would refuse to walk. This included several trips to the vet over a period of about 3 weeks. One particular morning, he wouldn’t walk at all and seemed quite ill. Back to the vets again and he had a fever. They kept him in to do a series of x-rays, ultra sounds and more blood tests, but nothing conclusive was found and it was suggested that I take him to an internal specialist.
Bingo ended up staying at the specialist hospital for 10 days. He was diagnosed with immune mediated disease – thyroid polyarthropathy – a multiple joint arthritis. I went home with a very quiet, lethargic Bingo, with a list of instructions and so many medications I was terrified. I was to bring him back in for check-ups 3 times a week over the first few weeks. His discharge summary showed a PCV of 22% at this time. On the second-check up his PCV had dropped to 15% and the diagnosis was now polyarthropathy and likely immune mediated anaemia (bone marrow failure). A further drug was added, Cyclosporine.
I began to research polyarthritis and AIHA but all I was really able to find was doom and gloom that made me think this was a hopeless cause. That Bingo would most likely not recover.
With the addition of the Cyclosporine, his next blood PCV showed improvement to 27% and then up to 30% where it stayed for about 3 weeks.
Whilst his bloods still weren’t normal, he was showing a lot of the side effects of prednisolone – being severe muscle atrophy, particularly his head and back legs, and a very bloated belly. He was a walking skeleton with a huge belly. It was heart-breaking to watch the effect of the drugs. One of his knees had previously had pins put in to fix a luxating patella. Having lost so much muscle around his legs, the pins were obviously out and his knee was always popping out of the joint when he walked. He would fall over all the time. He had the usual panting, tiredness, excessive hunger, thirst and urination that goes with prednisolone.
In reducing the prednisolone, two relapses occurred with his polyarthritis and with drops in his PCV, going from 40% down to 31%, which meant we had to revert to higher dose prednisolone again and do the weaning of the drug all over again, but much slower the second and third time.
I came across a forum of people (Vetnet) where there were others who had dogs diagnosed with AIHA. Whatever Bingo’s symptoms and issues were, someone else had gone through it. I met a bunch of caring people who knew all about the ups and downs. We laughed with each other, cried with each other, celebrated and worried with each other. On the closing of the old Forum, Patrice has worked tirelessly to start up this new one, so that people like me, who knew nothing about this disease or the drugs, can come and ask anything.
Two years later, Bingo is doing fabulously well. He may not be able to ever come off the prednisolone totally, but currently he’s on only a small dose a day and hopefully that will reduce a further smidgen. After that we’ll see and evaluate.
Today he is fabulously naughty, loud, rude and hungry. He still can’t jump up on the couch or the bed, but he has a slave that picks him up whenever he wants up. He goes for walks each day, loves to roll in the grass, he’ll chase his ball if he feels like it, bury it if he doesn’t, chase off the lawnmowers and garbage men, shred magazines, hump his blanket, and has no fear of storms!
He’s enjoying life!