Saturday, May 14, 2011
Anyone who knows me to any degree probably also knows that my Rat Terrier Mojo has had polydipsia (excessive thirst) and polyuria (excessive urination) for some time now. I've had Mojo tested for diabetes and Cushings disease in the last year and both tests have come up negative. I've been told by more than one vet that most likely the problem is either psychosomatic or a problem with his pituitary glad and that in either case, there is nothing I could do about it.
Over the course of the last two years the problem has gotten worse and worse. He used to be really thirsty after I had left him alone all day without water, but in the last year he has starting crying at the top of his little lungs when I get home and then standing over his water bowl shaking and drinking for minutes on end. Finally, one of my vets here referred me to a specialist. And after the news that I got on Monday, I feel horrible for not following up on the referral a long time ago. Mojo is a sick little dog.
On Friday, May 6, I took Mojo to a veterinarian just North of Charleston. Dr. Perry Jameson of Veterinary Medical Care in Mt. Pleasant, SC is an amazing vet! Even though the tech had been in to get Mojo's history, he went over nearly all of it again with me. Then together we decided on two tests. The first was an ultrasound. Even though the ultrasound was expensive, it allowed us to rule out multiple conditions that could be the cause of the polydipsia. Dr. Jameson said that Mojo's liver is small for a dog his size, which indicates that he either has liver disease, or a liver shunt - both of which Dr. Jameson had mentioned prior to the ultrasound as conditions that he was leaning towards given Mojo's history.
A liver shunt is a blood vessel that carries blood around the liver instead of through the liver. Toxins build up in the blood and kidneys in dogs with liver shunts because the liver isn't cleaning the toxins out of the blood properly. The only common symptom that Mojo has had his whole life is a quiet demeanor, which is pretty uncharacteristic of Rat Terriers. Excessive drinking and urination is also a symptom of a liver shunt, but it less common, as it turns out, which explains why my regular vet had trouble making the connection (you'd think the elevated liver values would have tipped them off though).
Mojo had not been fed since the previous day, so Dr. Jameson suggested that we preform a bile acid test. In a bile acid test blood is taken in a fasted state. The dog is fed a fatty meal and then blood is taken again 2 hours later. In a dog with a normally functioning liver, bile acids should return to the levels seen in the fasted state within 2 hours of a meal. Elevated bile acids 2 hours later indicate that the liver isn't removing bile acids from the blood as it should. This points to the possibility of liver disease or a problem with circulation, i.e. a possible shunt!
The next step is an exploratory surgery where they look for a shunt and biopsy his liver. I don't know when or how I will ever be able to afford it.