Sunday was a lovely day. The weather was perfect – not too hot – a nice breeze blowing – just right for an evening walk with the dogs. It was 7:45pm and we took the dogs around the block for our normal walk, which is about 1/4 mile. Both dogs happily trotted along, leaving their pee-mail in the usual areas.
When we got home, I removed the dogs’ harnesses and we went outside to the deck to take down our pop-up canopy for the night. As my husband fiddled with something, I caught sight of Lu jumping off the deck into the yard. She was rushing to Wally, who was laying on the grass. At first, I thought she was playing, but then I noticed she was licking Wally’s face and seemed concerned. I called Wally and noticed he was completely out of it, so I ran over to him. I tried to get him to stand, but he couldn’t.
I carried him onto the deck and did a once-over. I was concerned that maybe he’d injured his back, since he wasn’t able to stand, but then I noticed that his tongue and gums were stark white and he was drooling. I yelled to my husband to call the emergency vet and tell them we were coming. We ran inside and Wally vomited once in the kitchen. His gums and tongue were still white and he was heaving and panting.
We got in the car and started driving to the emergency clinic. Wally was panting and listless. He vomited twice in the car and appeared to be trying to poop, but nothing was coming out. This made me wonder if he had an obstruction. He does get into things, so it would not have surprised me in the least.
By the time we arrived at the emergency clinic half an hour later, Wally’s tongue and gums had pinked up again and he became alert and aware of his surroundings. Since he was stable, we were no longer an “emergency” case and we waited over an hour and a half to be seen. It was 10pm by the time we were escorted to an exam room.
Once we were in the exam room, the vet suggested that it sounded like an episode of vasovagal syncope (a loss of consciousness caused by a sudden drop in heart rate and blood pressure, which reduces blood flow to the brain) or possibly even a seizure, but she would do x-rays to rule out an obstruction. She also did an ECG to rule out heart problems and bloodwork to test for infection or inflammation.
The results of the x-rays came back normal, but Wally’s liver enzymes were extremely elevated. His ALT was 1680 u/l (normal is less than 100) and his AST was 1720 u/l (normal is less than 50). She said it could be indicative of any number of things – liver failure, pancreatitis, leptosporosis, Cushings disease and a whole list of other problems.
She felt he should stay overnight and said she was “very concerned” about him. By the time we received the results, it was already 1:00 am and we felt it was better to take him home and have him see our regular vet a few hours later. They gave him subcutaneous fluids and told us that for the next couple of days we should feed Wally a bland diet of boiled rice with boiled chicken or boiled ground beef. She also sent us home with two antibiotics and a liver protectant medication. We finally made it home at 2:30 am, exhausted and worried that our boy was still in serious trouble.
That morning, I called our vet and made an appointment for 11:10. Wally was already behaving fairly normally – he was understandably tired, but not acting ill.
Our vet went over the results of the emergency clinic tests and was able to rule out 99% of the possibilities that the emergency vet suggested. He seemed to think vasovagal syncope made the most sense and said it may never happen again. He said that since only those two particular enzymes were elevated, it may not be anything to worry about and that we should retest in 3 weeks to see if they’ve come down. He said the enzyme elevation may be completely unrelated to the “episode” and it may have just been a coincidence that it showed up in the bloodwork. He did want him to stay on the antibiotics just to calm any sort of infection/inflammation.
I’m happy to say that Wally seems to be feeling and acting completely normally now, which is to say he’s back to being a little monster… but wish I had some actual concrete answers. To be honest, I’m not sure I feel entirely comfortable with either vet’s diagnosis, but we will continue keep a close eye on him and hope that this was just a one-time occurrence!
I have a few more gray hairs and a few more hours taken off of my life after that night! This boy will be the death of me, I swear!