Some of you may remember that a year and a half ago, I threw myself into a panic over Beloved Dog. Some routine bloodwork based on my paranoid suspicions revealed that he tested positive for pancreatitis, despite having none of the symptoms of it.
I put him on a low fat diet, rechecked him a month later, and he STILL tested positive. So I sent the blood to the lab for a more detailed answer. I wanted to know HOW positive.
Well, apparently a normal Spec CPL number is between 0 and 200. Over 200 is borderline. Over 400 is definitive. Beloved Dog was at 600.
Cue panic and tests.
Well, ultrasound showed pretty much nothing. Ditto when, a month later, Beloved Dog began urinating tea brown liquid. A little thickening of the bladder, some funny nodules on the spleen that, when tested, turned out to be nothing significant.
So, on the advice of the ultrasound vet, I dismissed it as nothing. He said that the spec CPL test is wrong sometimes.
Just to be sure, I put Beloved Dog on an extremely low fat diet. But his weight melted off and he got skinny as hell. And I’ve always kept him pretty lean to begin with, so we’re talking prominent ribs, sticky-outy spine, etc.
I changed his food to a more moderate level of fat and simply kept him away from fatty treats.
And he seems to have been doing fine.
It’s just the little things:
The fact that he has taken to having bowel movements in the house. Even if he pooped outside earlier that day. Several times.
He isn’t cuddly.
I mean, he was never a CUDDLY dog. Not the way a Lab or a Pug might treat you like their personal cushion. But he liked to lean up against you, It seems like over the last few years that has faded away. Now he wants to curl up in a corner and for you to leave him the f*** alone.
Then there’s the abdomen thing.
Whenever a dog comes in for an exam, vets always palpate the abdomen. Sometimes if there’s a cancer or something in there they can feel it, and how well the dog tolerates it can tell them if his stomach hurts or not.
That test doesn’t work on Beloved Dog, because he always grunts and hunches if you touch his belly. I dismissed it as a mannerism, until the pancreatitis test last year. Now I’m not sure. Humans with pancreatitis report it as excruciatingly painful, even in chronic form.
Anyway, I just left the matter to rest. After all, he SEEMS fine. Likes to run, loves to eat. Gets into mischief occasionally. Hell, compared to a lot of the fat, greying, stiff-limbed 9 year old dogs I see at my clinic, he seems remarkably youthful.
Then, on Sunday, I fed him a piece of lean steak leftover from Owl’s bowl. I was thinking “to hell with the pancreatitis thing. He’s been fine for a year. There’s no fat on this piece, anyway.”
My nose woke me up at 6 the next morning. We pulled back the closet door and nearly wept. Messy, stinky poop everywhere and judging from Beloved Dog’s hunched and guilty posture, he wasn’t done. I shoved him out in the yard for a good hour.
Then I brought him into work.
Physical exam was about the same – tense abdomen, grunts when palpated, otherwise nothing unusual noted. I did some repeat blood work, and his organ function looked the same as last year.
In fact, strangely similar. His cholesterol was up a bit last year, which often doesn’t mean much. Except a year later, despite having eaten nothing for 12 hours, his cholesterol was, if anything, higher than last year.
So I ran another Spec CPL, to see how his probably-false-positive for pancreatitis was coming along. Now it was 764, instead of 600. I asked the lab to add on a check of his amylase and lipase – two enzymes secreted by the pancreas as well as several other organs during gastronomic upset. They were elevated, too.