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A Final Diagnosis? Merlin has Pancreatitis

Discussion in 'Diseases & Illnesses' started by labgirl, Aug 13, 2017.

  1. labgirl

    labgirl Premium Member

    Feb 22, 2009
    Suffolk, UK
    Merlin gave me quite a scare this Thursday. I was attending the Kennel Club International Agility Festival, accompanied by my friend Andrea, and Merlin, Sparrow and Swift. Sparrow was competing in the Novice Cup, Merlin was booked to compete too, but I was not sure we would, even though he had been amazing at training.

    We left home at 4.50am and managed to arrive at KCI by 7.30am. All the dogs were fine and went for a wander in the exercise area. Then I went and walked Sparrow's two courses and came back for her to run the first. When we came back to the car Merlin seemed fine and eager to get out. A little later I ran Sparrow in her agility course. Between getting her out of the car, running my course and returning, Merlin had become unwell and had vomited bile.

    I was not sure what was wrong with him, but gave him water and thought he had maybe eaten grass. I took him for a walk in the exercise area and he perked up when he saw dogs he knew, but then he became really slow as he walked. We were headed back to the car when I suddenly felt his lead go taut. I turned around and he had brought up this dark brown vomit. I was worried now. I put him back in the car and started to make preparations to leave and take him home.

    I went back to the main part of the show to collect Sparrow's rosette and to say goodbye to my friends. By the time I was back at the car Merlin had been sick three more times and I was now certain that what he was bringing up was blood.

    I went into emergency mode. Sparrow shares the back crate with Merlin. I now transferred her to the back passenger seat in a car harness (I always have one lying around for emergencies) and made sure I had all my stuff ready to leave. I then rang my vets to arrange an appointment, so I could take Merlin there at once as soon as I was home. I managed to get the last appointment of the day.

    That 2 & 1/2 hour drive back to Suffolk was the longest of my life! I couldn't see Merlin because he was in the crate in the boot, I was just hoping he was ok. My friend Andrea was a life-saver, she kept me sane by talking about all sorts of things and distracting me from my panic. I am so, so glad I was not on my own.

    When I arrived at the vets, Merlin was flaked out and flopped on the floor. My vet took a look at him and was very concerned. He thought it might be a reaction to the steroids he is on, and that he had developed a stomach ulcer. He said we could treat it conservatively or speak to Dick White's, the specialists Merlin is under. Considering the situation, I thought it was best to speak to the specialists.

    My vet managed to get hold of the clinician dealing with Merlin's case and she wanted him to be brought to DW at once so he could be scanned for ulcers. Off we went on another 1hr 40m drive, ironically back in the direction I had just come.

    Merlin had thrown up more bile by the time we had arrived, he was only interested in lying on the floor and going to sleep - very unusual for my normally hyper-alert dog. He was admitted that night and put on fluids. The next day there was no real news, only that the scans showed nothing and that he was no longer vomiting. We could pick him up on Saturday afternoon.

    Saturday morning I had a phone call. DW had sent off more bloods and now they DID have news. Merlin had come back positive for pancreatitis - it was like a weight lifted off me. We had an answer! Not only for his current illness, but potentially for his other symptoms.

    It is very possible that the inflammation of his larynx, pharynx and tonsils was caused by acid reflux from the pancreatitis. The lung inflammation is less certain, but he might have breathed down stomach acid and that caused the reaction. In any case, we now know his stomach trouble from earlier in the year is due to chronic pancreatitis rather than IBD.

    Merlin is now on a low fat diet, with various stomach protectors as he is still being treated with steroids for his inflammation. He is looking brighter and happier.

    One interesting thing - recently I had noticed Merlin had really bad breath, sour smelling and horrible. I could not think why as his teeth are in great condition. Now I am wondering if this was being caused by acid reflux, which also would explain his retching and gagging. Since the diet change and stomach meds, the bad breath has improved.

    I am hopeful that we finally have a solution for Merlin and we can finally get him back to normal. I am relieved to have an answer and though it means long-term changes to his diet, I can handle that. I am hoping this is the end of this medical saga!
    JacqueZ, Piper's mom and Margi like this.
  2. Cara Sandler

    Cara Sandler Forums Enthusiast

    Jul 11, 2015
    How scary! Pancreatitis is a very big deal - so glad you got him diagnosed and treated quickly.

    And yes, all his other symptoms now make sense.
  3. Sharon7

    Sharon7 Premium Member

    Oct 31, 2009
    Southern California
    Wow Sophie, what a saga! Poor Merlin. Ally had chronic pancreatitis as well, so I know it can be scary and painful for them. I do hope that it is indeed the root cause of his other problems and will now be managed. Hugs to you and pats to Merlin.
  4. ghggp

    ghggp Premium Member

    Aug 28, 2011
    Grosse Pointe, Michigan
    FullSizeRender.jpg IMG_8237.JPG Sophie, how terrible for you both! I truly feel for you and how scared you must have been at the severity of Merlin's symptoms!

    Laddie had a severe attack and I had no idea what was going on when I rushed him into the emergency vet. He was in ICU for several days to stabilize him! The vet said had I waited one day we would have lost him!

    This is a terrible disease...
    So glad you have him on special food! No treats that are high fat now!

    Not sure if you know about this drug my vet recommended I have on hand at all times in case of a flare up! If I see Laddie has thrown up bile I immediately give him one of these pills and it helps to stop him from vomiting! It works wonders! Really expensive as four pills are $50.00! Well worth it to have on hand for any flair ups like on weekends and late nights when vet visits are not possible.

    I have him on Fromms Ocean fish which he tolerates very well!

    I know you are relieved at knowing what is wrong with him... hard to take the diagnosis however!

    Hang in there! Keep us updated on your progress!
    Cara Sandler likes this.
  5. Calliesmom

    Calliesmom Moderator

    Mar 29, 2008
    near Mobile, AL
    wow- glad that you were able to get him taken care of so quickly- hope that the meds and diet help poor Merlin be himself again..............
  6. Chris

    Chris Premium Member

    Feb 25, 2008
    Northern Virginia
    Fromm GOld Coat is our food of choice. Pancreatitis is scary. Beckon had it -- very mild case -- and I watch him closely. We almost lost Bear the Big Red Dog to it after he devoured deer intestines.
  7. Ann

    Ann Moderator

    Feb 25, 2008
    Western Connecticut
    I'm very glad to hear that you were able to get Merlin treated so quickly, Sophie, and that he's recovering. Did your vet also scan his gallbladder? Gallbladder mucoceles is very prevalent among Shelties and can also cause the symptoms you described. I hope the diagnosis is the end of Merlin's health issues and he's back to normal quickly. We feed Fromm here too; there are a variety of formulas with different proteins and fat levels that work for my group. Give Merlin a pat from us.
  8. Caro

    Caro Moderator

    Jan 14, 2009
    Canberra, Australia
    Wow, how did they miss pancreatitis?

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