Recently our little 22 pound Shih Tzu/Yorkie/Poodle mix Bella tested positive for Lyme. We live in Sturbridge, MA in a heavily forested area and deer ticks are a serious problem. Bella has always been treated with Advantix II when the ground isn't covered in snow. It is not uncommon for us to have to pull ticks off anyway. Often they are dead but every now and then one seems to survive. So it was not difficult to believe she may have been exposed to Lyme. Our vet explained the test and the pros and cons of treatment of an asymptomatic dog and together we decided to treat her with Doxycycline. I now regret that decision.
Within a few days of starting the Doxycycline she became very ill. She was lethargic, shaking a lot more than usual, and clearly depressed. She wasn't eating and her biology was off. She had severe nausea and diarrhea. We stopped the antibiotic and brought her 3 times to the vet. They prescribed Metronidazole. We had her on a bland diet of rice and boiled hamburg to get some food she was less likely to throw up in her.
I was so scared she was going to die. She seemed so fragile and delicate. After over a week on the Metronidazole her loose bowels had not improved and she couldn't control when she had to go. She made a real mess of our carpets. We knew this was not her fault and not due to any lack of understanding of the normal doggy potty rules. I was beginning to panic and I called the vet yet again. The vet who had been working on her was not available so I talked to one of her partners. I knew him well as over the years I have worked with all the vets at the clinic. I recounted the history to him, he got the chart. He suggested that perhaps we needed to add some fiber and probiotics to the rice/beef.
I immediately began researching this and found lots of good info online. I went and got 100% pumpkin puree. I went into Petco and researched the probiotics they had in stock. I know that not all probiotics are created equal. I ended up buying a recommended and well reviewed brand called Tomlyn Pre and Pro Biotic for Dogs. It comes in individual packets with powder inside. I used half a packet or so each meal with some pumpkin, rice and beef. Within two feedings she was better. I believe that the fiber and probiotics reversed some damage to her gut done by the rather toxic Doxycycline. It saved her life.
It's now been a couple of months and she's back on her regular food. The pumpkin, rice and beef are no longer being given. But I am still giving her a smaller dose of the probiotic. When I stop she starts to get looser bowels. With the probiotic she seems to feel much better. I am not sure how long she'll need the probiotics but they seem safe and effective in keeping her stomach healthy after her run in with Doxycycline.
I am posting about this for two reasons: one I believe that Doxycycline is more dangerous than many people realize and perhaps it is best not to automatically treat a dog just for testing positive to Lyme antibodies if the dog is not exhibiting symptoms. I'm not a vet but this point of view seems to be shared by many, if not most, vets. Secondly, the solution to Bella's problem was not yet more prescription drugs but simple bland diet along with added fiber and a good canine probiotic. I researched this heavily after the vet suggested it might be indicated and found many stories like mine where either fiber or probiotic or both solved major intestinal issues.
I am interested if anyone else has experienced something like this? The web seems filled with Doxycycline horror stories.