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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hi All,

I'm new to the forum and am hoping to find some insights or advice.

Back in June our little 5-6 year old terrier mix Yoshi began to vomit frequently and was getting visibly skinnier. In retrospect, due to her mood, this had probably been going on in a less severe way for quite awhile beforehand but we didn't think anything was 'wrong' and just though she was in a bad mood/getting older, etc.

We brought her to the vet and they put her on a prescription Hills ID diet. This reduced the vomiting, but did not eliminate it -- it would go in cycles where she'd go almost a week and then we'd be told to try a treat or perhaps we'd change something slightly (or not) and she'd vomit again.

From a mood standpoint she has good days and bad days. She hasn't gained any weight (she's been as much as 12lbs, she's about 10.3 now and has been for a couple of months). We had a sonogram done in August which showed inflamed intestinal walls and slightly inflamed lymph-nodes. We did Flagyl for a few weeks, which seemed to help slightly but she vomited again when the vet told us we could try some regular snacks and we did.

At this point the vet tells us that the only way to really know what's happening is to perform an endoscopy. We can cover the costs if needed. We asked the vet to move forward, but he recommended that we start on Prednisone instead and treat this as if it's IBD.

At this point we mentioned to him that we planned to contact another vet/nutritionist, which we did. Yoshi met with her last Thursday. She recommended a "gently" cooked all natural turkey based diet and probiotics. We gave her a bit of this (which she loved), but she vomited the next two days.

At this point she's strictly back on the Hills ID prescription diet plus probiotics, and it's been almost a week since the last vomiting incident. That said, she doesn't look happy and is pretty obsessed with finding something else to eat. She's getting less and less interested in eating the ID stuff. During this time she hasn't had diarrhea but has had more frequent and smaller stools.

So a couple of questions for those who have dealt with this sort of thing:

- Did you go forward with the biopsy (endoscopy) or did you just assume it was IBD and treat it as such with steroids?

- How worried should I be that this is cancer or something more nefarious? The concern the second vet had with steroids is that if we start her on that and it doesn't help it can mess with other test results.

Advice is welcome if you have some! She's obviously not happy and we'd love to do whatever we can to get her back to her energetic self. Thanks!
 

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I had a dog who suffered from IBD the last two years of his life. If you can afford it I would go to a board certified internal medicine specialist just to make sure you are doing everything you can, but IBD is very challenging and we never did find anything that made Dylan significantly better.

There are a couple of bottom lines with IBD: 1) you can't definitively diagnose it without an endoscopy and 2) once it is diagnosed prednisone will be recommended to manage the inflammation. The unhappy truth is that IBD can only be managed as opposed to "cured" with diet and medication. Prednisone didn't help Dylan but it's possible we started him on it too late since I resisted it for a long time, thinking I would find a more "holistic" solution. I now regret that decision and if I had it to do over I would have taken him to a specialist within the first few months.

You can start your dog on a low dose of prednisone without an endoscopy and hope it helps. I'm sure your vet is trying to save you the expense of the test since the results will probably show he needs prednisone anyway. Prednisone is very inexpensive. You can get a Rx filled for the generic human version at any Walmart, Walgreen's, CVS, etc.

The problem is that a dog shouldn't be on prednisone indefinitely. It is hard on the system. Often dogs that improve on prednisone regress quickly when they are weaned off it. It is essential to find a food the dog wants to eat and can digest. Again, I would advise you not to be tempted by 'alternative" single protein diets formulated for "allergies." I would try the Rx foods first. ID is a highly digestible food but ZD is usually prescribed for IBD. The problem with the Hill's Rx foods is not the ingredients as "netspurts" will tell you. The problem is many pets don't like the taste. I have had better luck with the Purina Pro Plan and Royal Canin equivalents. You may need to experiment.

One advantage of finding an internal medicine specialist is the they will probably work with a veterinary nutritionist who can step you through your options, starting perhaps with Rx foods and evolving to a home made diet. Rebecca Remillard is very well thought of as a consultant (petdiets.com) and will formulate a customized diet working with your vet. But I think I would prefer to work with someone who can periodically see the dog's condition in person.

So to sum up: work with the best conventional vets you can find, do not waste time on alternative approaches. Be open to medications that have side effects because at least they have a track record of success. Take the diet very seriously. If you don't find a food he can keep down and digest "normally" the condition will worsen rapidly. It is very uncomfortable for the dog so time is of the essence.

Problems like this are why I've always had insurance but you can also use Care Credit to stretch out your payments with some vets who take it. Let me know how it goes and if I can help.
 

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Sorry I called your dog "he." This board has restrictions on editing posts.

Some additional thoughts:

To answer your questions: an endoscopy is not a "biopsy" per se and IBD is not cancer. The dog does have to undergo anesthesia but the procedure is like a human colonoscopy. Small tissue samples may be taken from the intestinal track depending on what the camera reveals.

It is very good you've found something already that has helped get the diarrhea under control. The diarrhea is *very* hard on the dog. For the last months of Dylan's life we had to give him B12 shots and fluids under his skin because he was so dehydrated. He was miserable.

You've already learned that you *cannot* give "normal" food to a dog with IBD. It will almost *always* result in an "episode." One of the biggest challenges of the illness is the discipline it takes on the part of the owner. All the pleasure is taken out of loving your dog with food surprises.

Also, depending how far along the IBD is, things like pro-biotics and "neutriceuticals" are nice but they are no magic bullet. Your best hope is that prednisone works and you find a diet you can all live with indefinitely. You need a internal medicine vet and a nutritionist, preferably also board certified, that will work together. Your vet's recommendation of prednisone is pretty text book. The "nutritionist's" reluctance to use it shows they're already not on the same page. you need them to be. A veterinary teaching hospital that takes in patients is your best bet.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Hi Philo,

Thanks for your response.

I realize that IBD and cancer are not one in the same. I think the concern comes from the fact that Lymphoma can present many of the same symptoms and can mask test results if we end up going to endoscopy route. I suppose my thought around that though is that if she had Lymphoma she would be degrading much faster. If anything she's been reasonably stable on the ID diet -- but I do want to figure out how to improve the situation since she's a relatively young dog.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I think you made the right decision.
Thanks. I'm hoping to find out that it's something with a decent prognosis. The person scheduled to do the endoscopy is an internal medicine specialist who works with the vet.

Thus far she's had an ultrasound and a bunch of blood work with nothing definitive found.

BTW -- she's actually not had diarrhea -- just the vomiting and weight loss.

I'll keep you posted. This is stressful to say the least.
 

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You are going through something very similar to what I have been going through with my dog. We are waiting to decide if we will go ahead with the endoscopy or not. I just wanted to tell you that I know how stressful this is, and wish you and your pup all the best and good results from the scope test.
 

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You are going through something very similar to what I have been going through with my dog. We are waiting to decide if we will go ahead with the endoscopy or not. I just wanted to tell you that I know how stressful this is, and wish you and your pup all the best and good results from the scope test.
Thanks Lisa. I hope things work out well for you and your dog as well and really appreciate the friendly message. It helps to know we're not the only ones dealing with this.
 

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My 6 year old jrt/beagle has fairly bad IBD. She was never given an endoscopy, it was fairly obvious what it was and the normal meds made a big difference.

With my dog, we just experimented with limited ingredient foods until we found a protein and brand that seemed to work best. She was on ZD for awhile but it wasn't helping at all. Unfortunately for her, being off steroids is not an option. We tried everything, and it's the only thing that really keeps her ok. The food made a big difference, but not big enough because the biggest trigger for her is molds/environmental allergens. During the winter she's able to be off prednisone, but spring through early fall she gets it twice a week.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
An update: Yoshi had her endoscopy and was diagnosed with IBD. She's started on prednisone and a number of antibiotics to get the "bad" bacteria under control.

She's been on her medication for about 5 days now. How long does it typically take to see improvement?
 

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An update: Yoshi had her endoscopy and was diagnosed with IBD. She's started on prednisone and a number of antibiotics to get the "bad" bacteria under control.

She's been on her medication for about 5 days now. How long does it typically take to see improvement?
Good luck! Please keep us posted since all of us will be encouraged if Yoshi improves.
 

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Did they have you replace the good bacteria with a probiotic? Kefir or yogurt would be a good choice. Antibiotics kills all bacteria even the stuff that we need in our stomachs.
 

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Discussion Starter #15 (Edited)
Just a quick update since it's been a couple of months. Yoshi had her endoscopy and it came back positive for IBD with some fibrosis of her intestines. She's now on 5mg/day of Prednisone and so far is much improved. She's starting to gain some weight and her mood is *much* better than what it has been over the past 4 or 5 months. Her vomiting is very minimal as we try new things to see what she can tolerate. If anything I wish we had started steroid treatment sooner as I think some of the damage to her intestines could have been prevented. She's now eating a homemade diet with beef, turkey or white fish with a grain and veggies plus RX supplements and pro/prebiotics. It's possible that we'll be able to reduce or eliminate the steroids but at this point I'm a bit hesitant to do so since she seems to be doing well. I almost forgot how active she used to be and it's great to have her back :).

Here's a picture: https://photos.google.com/share/AF1QipP3mqkj5U1E3m-XKAnAkoy9wlXz3Y8Z1Fu_i6LnOKvIkZpKO0upS-_fAnjQoPFEgQ?key=a2c1ZndVbk5aQWhyVUZSeW5NcVBfdWIwQ3JWenp3
 

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I'm so glad she's doing better! I know how awful it can be to watch them in so much pain. Before Chess got diagnosed, there were several months where she never ate, never ran, was never happy. She was skinny and dull and I was considering putting her down.

Once the meds really work their magic and their system recovers, the improvement is amazing. Chess has had no major flare ups in a couple years now, and it's been really great. I don't love using steroids all the time, but it's very worth it to see them happy! Hoping the same for your pup!
 

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I'm so glad she's doing better! I know how awful it can be to watch them in so much pain. Before Chess got diagnosed, there were several months where she never ate, never ran, was never happy. She was skinny and dull and I was considering putting her down.

Once the meds really work their magic and their system recovers, the improvement is amazing. Chess has had no major flare ups in a couple years now, and it's been really great. I don't love using steroids all the time, but it's very worth it to see them happy! Hoping the same for your pup!
Thanks! The difference over the last month has been amazing. I forgot to mention they found a cracked tooth during the endoscopy as well which they removed. I'm sure that wasn't helping matters.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
My 6 year old jrt/beagle has fairly bad IBD. She was never given an endoscopy, it was fairly obvious what it was and the normal meds made a big difference.

With my dog, we just experimented with limited ingredient foods until we found a protein and brand that seemed to work best. She was on ZD for awhile but it wasn't helping at all. Unfortunately for her, being off steroids is not an option. We tried everything, and it's the only thing that really keeps her ok. The food made a big difference, but not big enough because the biggest trigger for her is molds/environmental allergens. During the winter she's able to be off prednisone, but spring through early fall she gets it twice a week.
Hi ChessaQ,

Unfortunately we've taken a bit of a step back for the last couple of weeks with a bit more vomiting, some diarrhea and reduced energy level.

Do you have to deal with common flare ups? Can I ask what diet you are feeding? Right now we're just doing homemade turkey or white fish/quinoa plus supplements and the occasional sardine/fishoil. One last question -- if/when you do have a flare up, how often until you typically see improvement? Can I ask what your dog's dosage of prednisone is? Sorry for the 20 questions, but it seems that every vet we talk to provides conflicting information so I'm trying to see what works for others.

I'm also wondering if we should try a hydrolyzed diet.

Thanks for your help!

Mark
 

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I do still have to deal with flare ups, though on much smaller level than previously. For the most part it's just her gut rumbles and makes a ton of noise, and she's a little lethargic. She used to also stop eating and drinking, but I think she's gotten so used to it that her pain tolerance is very high sadly. She's not one to acknowledge when she's not feeling well.

She's currently on Nature's Recipe Pure Essentials Limited Ingredient Chicken & Sweet Potato. It is the only food she's done well on, which is a bit strange considering chicken is generally a common intolerance. I've tried other foods and proteins, but every time she gets significantly worse, so we've settled on this.

She's on 5mg of prednisone 2x a week. When she has a flare up, i do give her a prednisone as soon as I notice all the gut noises, and it stops within a couple hours. When she was at her worst she was on prednisone 2x a day, so twice a week and here and there as needed is still an improvement. She hasn't had a bad or long lasting flare up in a few years now.

Always glad to help if I can, I hope you find what works best for your dog quickly!
 

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I do still have to deal with flare ups, though on much smaller level than previously. For the most part it's just her gut rumbles and makes a ton of noise, and she's a little lethargic. She used to also stop eating and drinking, but I think she's gotten so used to it that her pain tolerance is very high sadly. She's not one to acknowledge when she's not feeling well.

She's currently on Nature's Recipe Pure Essentials Limited Ingredient Chicken & Sweet Potato. It is the only food she's done well on, which is a bit strange considering chicken is generally a common intolerance. I've tried other foods and proteins, but every time she gets significantly worse, so we've settled on this.

She's on 5mg of prednisone 2x a week. When she has a flare up, i do give her a prednisone as soon as I notice all the gut noises, and it stops within a couple hours. When she was at her worst she was on prednisone 2x a day, so twice a week and here and there as needed is still an improvement. She hasn't had a bad or long lasting flare up in a few years now.

Always glad to help if I can, I hope you find what works best for your dog quickly!
Thanks for the quick reply. The chicken surprises me as well, but if it works well then that's all that matters.

If there's one thing I've learned through this so far it's that everyone is guessing as to what works... it seems different for each dog. I thought we had it figured out, but that would have been too easy.
 
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