Last summer my dog Ryah, a 4-year-old lab mix, fell ill. Her symptoms were very subtle; 2 days of vomiting and lethargy. Neither of these was normal for her. On physical exam she was bright, alert, and responsive; however, her bloodwork showed high white blood cells and liver enzymes. One of the readings was off the scale. The next step was to do emergency x-rays; they showed nothing wrong. We hospitalized her on intravenous fluids, plus injectable antibiotics, anti-nausea, and antacid medications. The next morning, she was jaundiced which means she had yellow gums, whites of the eyes and ear flaps. For that reason, she was scheduled for an emergency ultrasound which showed a slightly enlarged gallbladder with decreased bile flow which could obstruct the bile duct. It is called Cholangiohepatitis; inflammation of the gallbladder and liver. It can happen because of bacterial overgrowth, or for no reason at all. It is common in cats, but not dogs.
Ryah was discharged from the hospital after 3 days of rigorous intravenous fluids and meds. She was to receive 6 weeks of antibiotics and liver supplements at home, plus numerous doctor rechecks and repeat lab work to keep an eye on things. Today, she is doing great and enjoying life with her 2 canine brothers and feline sisters.
This write up is not to educate you on the condition she had, but to stress the importance of regular veterinary visits and to bring your pet in if you have any concerns at all, no matter how big or small the concern is. Had I waited to bring Ryah in to see her veterinarian the outcome may have been very different. It is easier to treat/manage ailments/diseases when caught early.
Written by: Colleen, VA