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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Hi everyone,

I have a beautiful 14 y/o golden called Skye. She is full of spirit and life, but sadly her body is giving up long before her mind is willing to. She's struggled with a little arthritis and ear infections for a while, and is a little stiff getting up in the mornings - but as soon as you say 'walkies!' she's a puppy again and her joints are no issue.

Sadly this morning she had, what the emergency vet called, a stroke. We awoke to find her head swaying back and forth uncontrollably and her eyes wide and unable to focus. She was whining, clearly unsettled and panicking. She was also unable to walk. The symptoms were exactly that of vestibular disease. After a while of reassuring her, the worst of the symptoms subsided.
Having taken her to the vet this morning, he worries that because her eyes twitch up and down, instead of side to side as in vestibular, it could be something worse. For a while now, she occasionally has sort of tremors or shivers through her face and body lasting only a matter of seconds.
He has taken blood work and I am waiting to hear back.

I am posting because my parents are away on holiday for 2 weeks so it is only myself, a 20 year old girl, looking after her. I love her endlessly and am completely distraught at these latest developments and the trauma of seeing her so upset this morning. She is sound asleep at my feet now and not in any discomfort or upset.

Perhaps the results will come back with something simple and she will recover. My worry, of course, is that it is some form of cancer. If this is the case, I am unsure of the process after diagnosis... Is it simply a matter of treating it (probably not for the best in such an old dog...) or euthanising soon? Or are they usually able to last a little while before pain or stress kicks in? I've no concept of the speed of decline or when I might have to face this decision. As I said, she is still so responsive to affection and wants desperately to be part of everything. The only thing beginning to hold her back is her body. I would feel awful having to euthanise when there is still so much life in her... but also don't know I could put her through severe treatment.

Any advice or stories of similar situations, please let me know as I am entirely lost and alone in handling this at the moment.

Thanks so much in advance.
 

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Hi, welcome, I am so sorry it is under such sad circumstances.
I know this is a lot to go through by yourself. Do you have any means of contacting your parents and updating them with the info that your vet will give you? If they are within reach, they should be able to help you with whatever decision you will have to make for Skye.
I am sure the veterinary team will provide you with a detailed report of what is going on with Skye and what options you have.

I wish you and Skye all the best and that you will be able (hopefully with your parents' help) to make the right decision for your girl.

I think it is great that she is home with you and seemingly sound asleep right now. I think that is a positive sign. Unless she suddenly takes a severe turn for the worse, you hopefully won't have to make any drastic decisions before your parents return.
Good luck!
 

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Faux Wanda
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I am so sorry that you are going through this alone. Is there any way to get in touch with your parents? This is a difficult decision to make under any circumstances. I hope that the tests come back in your favor and that the decision doesn't even have to be made, however, when I was going through this, I didn't think I would ever be able to make the decision. I kept asking, "how do you know when"? I found that the answer for me was, when it hurts more to watch their pain than it would to let them go, it was time to let them go.
Prayer for you and your lovely girl.
 

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I'm so sorry for you and Skye. I agree with cgriffin, this is difficult for anyone but at your age I can imagine what's going through your head. If possible I would get a hold of your parents. Hear what the test results say then let your parents help with the decisions.
This is a horrible thing to go through alone, I hope you can reach your parents soon.
Sending hugs to you and Skye! ♥
 

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Hard being alone and have things happen, I do feel for your circumstance. Vestibular syndrome is not a death sentence, many members here have had that happen and their dogs come out of it ok from what I have read. One thing that I have not gone through with mine so no first hand advice. Skye is a beautiful gal and I sincerely wish you strength in this time.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thank you so much, all of you.
I have emailed my parents and am hoping they get back to me soon. I hate to ruin their holiday, but at the same time don't feel able to deal with this alone.
The sincerity of concern and understanding with which all of you reply is so touching and brings me to tears every time, it's appreciated more thank you know.
I haven't received results of the blood test yet and since it is passed closing hours, I can only hope for more information tomorrow.
Thank you again.
 

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If it is vestibular syndrome, they can recover. Our old girl, Apache, was stricken and while it took several weeks of helping her out to potty and being on prednisone, she eventually did recover and live several more quality years. The important thing with VS is to get them on meds. Apache had a head tilt for several weeks and had a very hard time walking. We used a rolled up towel under her hips to help her go out to potty.

Many healing thoughts and prayers coming your way.
 

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New Mommy
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I am so sorry you are having to deal with this all by yourself. VS is very different than a stroke and many cases of VS are misdiagnosed as a stroke. Ear infections are a big cause of VS and I am guessing this is what's going on with your sweet girl. I have dealt with many cases in old dogs and in old cats. I just lost an 18 year old cat who lived 18 GOOD months after his case of VS. The first 10 days can be rough, but if you can get through them, you may have some more good time with your girl. There are lots of tips for helping them through this, let me know if you want them and I will post. Good luck and stay strong. I am very impressed already with how you are handling things.
 
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I haven't any experience to share with you other than the information that there are quite a few owners of chronically ill dogs on here whose dogs are living very well using palliative care as they approach the end of their days. Vet medicine can do quite a bit nowadays. I hope your lovely girl turns out to be OK. But in any case she needn't suffer and should be able to have more time with your family.
 

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I am so very sorry you and Skye are having to go throught this alone.
I must say, she is a lovely girl.

My senior copper had VS about 1 year before he died. He was on antibiotics and prednisone to help him recover and he recovered well with just a head tilt. It did take a couple of weeks.

He also had a stroke a couple of months before I lost him and he recovered pretty well from that too. He was very much like skye in that he enjoyed life right up to the last minute, but his body was giving out.

I hope your girl rallies and you have more good time together. With both VS and the stroke, I seemed to have a harder time dealing with it than Copper did. He just kept smiling and trying. Give your girl lots of love and hugs from me please. I'll keep you in my thoughts and prayers.
 

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What a scary thing to go through by yourself. It sounds like you are doing everything right though, and you clearly love your girl.

I also think it sounds very much like VS, and there can be great recovery from that. How is she today? Have you heard back from your vet yet?
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Hi all,

I called the vet today to check up on the results - they're still awaiting thyroid results but could give me a run down of the rest. It was a different vet to the one that actually examined Skye, so she could only go from what was in front of her.

And the good news is, nothing appears too dire!

Her cholesterol is a little high, and her glucose a little low - so the vet did mention possible hypoglycemia. Having done a quick google and research of this, it does mention the facial tremors and shivers that I've seen her have sometimes. Though on further research, the most common cause of hypoglycemia in older dogs is pancreatic cancer... So it's a mixed bag really! She's given me a vague idea of what's going on, but nothing certain or diagnosed, so I think I'll take Skye in again later this week if she doesn't return to her perky self and ask the vet to pursue the hypoglycemia angle and do further tests.

Does anyone else have an older dog that's suffered this? I've read it's most common in toy dogs and hunting dogs, because they don't always have enough sugar for the activity they've been doing. Skye did have a very big weekend of walks, and although she didn't show tiredness or exhaustion at the time, maybe it was just a little too much and depleted her energy sources just a step too low?

Other than throwing the word out there, the vet didn't really give me any indication of how to go forward with it or if I should be trying to adapt her diet or anything... I suppose another trip in will be necessary to get some conclusive information on how to handle this. Hate to visit the vet - Skye gets so distressed!

Any advice or personal stories would be grand. :)

So far I'm taking it that she had an episode of idiopathic vestibular syndrome, and is possibly hypoglycemic, worst case scenario caused by pancreatic cancer.

Either way, she is chasing after things in her dreams at my feet and doing her usual sleep running! So warming to see :) Thank you to all of you for your support through this.
 

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I am glad that the news is not bad on Skye. It may very well be that she overdid it with the walking and not eating enough on the weekend. Don't think of the 'what ifs' right now. If she is doing good, enjoy it.
I would also wait and see what the vet who originally treated her has to say about it, he has more inside knowledge. I am sure he will give you recommendations on how to procede if needed.
She is an older gal, so she will start having issues, just like an aging human.
You are doing everything right for her and she loves you for it. Don't overthink right now, just enjoy your oldie but goodie.
 

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My old girl (almost 14) has had "mini strokes" for years now. They're kind of an involuntary head twitch and every once in a while she'll have one where she goes kinda stiff and stares off for a minute. Other than that (and her hearing) she's as happy as can be. Today I thought she didn't feel good because she didn't bother to get up when I got home....but as soon as I got the ball out she started hopping up and down and barking. For me, I'll know when it's her time when she stops hopping for the ball. Goldens have a way of speaking to their loved ones, so I'm sure you'll know when she needs to go. For now, it sounds like she's still enjoying life!
 

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I am sorry you have to go through this alone. You are amazingly strong, I was a lot older than you when old girl was having issues.

She had vestibular disease when she was 14.5 years. Our breeders vet did not put her on any of the meds the others are talking about. She simply said gravol 4 times a day, and make sure she ate and drank. She started to show improvement in about 3 days. Three weeks later she took 3rd in her Veteran's class at the Canadian Golden Retriever Specialty. And lived almost 2 years after.

As suggested, by a friend with a very old, I switched from feeding her twice a day to dividing her food up and feeding her 4 meals a day. She did much better with the smaller meals and she was thrilled to eat more often. I also switched her to a higher protein food.

Old goldens are the best.
 
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