Our Addisons Dog, ShaktiPosted: July 16, 2009
We welcomed our wonderful dog, Shakti into our family in January 2007. She was very young–about a year old–and had been left for dead at a veterinarian by her previous owners. One day, a year and a half after she came to live with us, Shakti started acting lethargic. One day later, she was in shock, with multiple organs failing.
We adopted our Border collie, Shakti from a Border collie rescue about an hour’s drive away from our home in Jacksonville, Florida. Holly (as she was called then) was very young, about a year old, and had been left for dead at a veterinarian by her previous owners.A few months previously, Holly had become severely ill after her owners had brought her home from the dog pound.
Shakti’s liver was shutting down and the veterinarian treating her thought she had been poisoned. The vet told Shakti’s owners that it would probably cost several hundred dollars to treat her — that’s if she survived.
Go ahead and put her to sleep, they said, walking out of the door. We can get another one at the pound for eighty dollars.”
Instead of euthanizing Shakti, the vet started her on IV fluids and nursed her back to health. After only a few days, Shakti was back to good health, fully recovered from the mysterious poisoning. The vet called a local Border collie rescue, who took her in.
Enter my family and I a few weeks later.
“I have just the girl for you!” the rescue’s owner, Jerry said, when we met her at her kennels.
I think we all imagined taking home an energetic, agile herding dog, like I’d seen at sheepdog trials, mercilessly forcing 50 sheep into a pen.
The pathetic bundle of bones that slinked toward us with ears and tail tightly held down in a submissive pose wasn’t quite what I’d had in mind. Holly (as she was called then) had a thin coat and a spindly tail: Holly’s hair had fallen out due to the previous liver failure, Jerry told us. “Don’t worry,” she said. “It’ll grow back.”
Holly looked like she wouldn’t say boo to a goose, let alone bark at strangers. Despite Jerry’s reassurances that there was a real dog under the sheep’s clothing, we weren’t sure.
We looked at several other dogs, but Holly kept tugging at our heart strings.
We took her home in January, 2007. It took several months of back rubs, daily trips to the park and cuddles on the couch to build up her confidence but she was soon “protecting” her herd (us) from the mailman and UPS guy. We started to call her Shakti-Holly so that she would get used to her new name. Her tail and coat grew long and fluffy and people would stop us out on walks to comment on what a beautiful dog she was. She never stopped wagging her tail.
That all changed in September 2008. I couldn’t put my finger on what was wrong, but Shakti was acting strangely depressed She vomited and refused to eat. My vet thought it was probably viral and took some blood just to make sure, instructing me to call back in 48 hours for the lab results. However, the day afterward, Shakti’s health began to deteriorate rapidly. By the afternoon she was starting to wobble and looked ready to keel over.
I scooped her into the car and drove to an emergency vet. An hour later, the vet informed us that the in-house lab results indicated Addison’s disease, and that he wanted to do an ACTH test.
“What’s that?” I asked.
Apparently, JFK had Addison’s and hid it well, but it wasn’t a disease I was familiar with.
Addison’s disease, we were told, is a disease where the adrenal glands stop producing the hormones that regulate, amongst a whole host of other things, electrolytes in the blood. Shakti was experiencing bradycardia (a slow heart rate), and if she didn’t receive emergency medical care immediately, the high potassium levels and low sodium in the blood would cause her heart to stop.
Shakti was immediately put on fluids. After an ACTH test confirmed the diagnosis of Addison’s disease, the fix was relatively easy: fluids, hormones, and a brief afternoon rest at the vets. Three hundred dollars later, Shakti left the veterinarians office wagging her tail with a standing prescription for replacement hormones, which she receives once a month.
Shakti has been in relatively good health since that time, although we have to follow a few guidelines: we have to keep a close eye on her mood an adjust the medication if necessary, she can’t be allowed to get stressed, and of course, she’s at the vet for a quick checkup every month–and will be for the rest of her life.
I created this site, Addison’s in Dogs, to provide up to date information for fellow owners of Addison’s dogs. If you are looking for information on treatment, causes, or research articles, this site is for you!