Raisin’s Close Call

Raisin’s Close Call

It is only because of the generosity of  Chester Foundation’s donors that we can help dogs like Raisin.  Please consider making a life-saving donation – any amount is appreciated!

Raisin, a 7 year old male Shihtzu, was found barely responsive by his family. His family mentioned that he had a prolonged play session in the pool earlier in the day. His play sessions included fetching his toys in the water.  It was determined that while trying to get his toys, he would also take in water. He seemed normal when he came back in the house. About an hour later, they found him barely responsive and rushed him to the vet.

Raisin3Raisin was non-responsive (comatose), his gums and tongue were cyanotic (blue – from lack of oxygen), he was not breathing, and had a very slow heart beat – he was dying right in front of us! His mouth was not wide enough to place an endotracheal tube to help him breath so an oxygen mask was placed over his mouth and nose to push oxygen into his lungs.  He started breathing on his own and his heart rate began to increase.

Then Raisin started displaying signs of seizure type activity – nystagmus (eyes twitching back and forth) and his family described symptoms of torticollis (curved around to one side) on the way.  He was given Valium and then Mannitol (Mannitol is a very concentrated sugar that is used in emergency settings primarily to “draw” fluid out of the brain). He became more relaxed, and his mouth could be opened wider.

After receiving a more thorough history from Raisin’s family, many reasons for his symptoms were ruled out. A full work up was next – full bloodwork, blood pressure, clotting times, radiographs and he was kept in the hospital on oxygen with supportive care while the veterinarians tried to figure out the cause with hopes that he could be saved.

The initial estimate was very expensive – over $2,000 with no guarantee that Raisin could be saved. The owners had severe monetary constraints and Care credit was not an option. Everything possible was done to adjust the estimate to at least give Raisin a chance.  At this point, he looked a bit improved in the oxygen cage – was breathing on his own and was somewhat responsive. Given his symptons, with his history of a prolonged playtime in the water, as well as his electrolyte abnormalities (very low sodium was the primary concern), the veteriarian felt it was appropriate to at least try treating him for Water Intoxication.

Water Intoxication occurs when animals (including people) ingest too much water, which basically dilutes the blood’s sodium content and results in fluid moving into the brain and causing brain swelling. The final result of water intoxication, if not treated, is brain herniation and death. The brain literally becomes so swollen that it herniates out of the skull. The clinical signs (symptoms) seen are neurologic in nature due to the brain edema. This is an extremely simplistic explanation of water intoxication and the end stage. The body normally has regulators that stop animals from ingesting too much water. These regulators also tell the body when they need water. However, when an animal becomes fixated on something else and doesn’t pay attention to these regulators they can, and do, ingest too much water. We see it in dogs that are playing in the hose – trying to catch the water as it is sprayed, in dogs who are chasing a ball in the river for any length of time as they grab the ball, they also ingest water. Water drinking contests in people have resulted in death.

With support from the Chester Fund, the goal for Raisin was to get him to excrete all the excessive water he may have ingested. Throughout the night, he became more alert, could stand on his own and was able to come out of oxygen. The treatment consisted of giving him a diuretic, called Furosemide that is commonly used in patients with heart failure. This diuretic, along with the Mannitol, completely normalized Raisin’s electrolytes. While Raisin wasn’t completely normal by the time he went home in the morning, he could walk, was much more interactive and did not require oxygen. We considered this an amazing recovery. He had been seconds away from death and potentially herniating his brain.

“Dear Chester Foundation,

Thank you for providing assistance for my dog’s emergency medical expenses. God bless and your help is greatly appreciated.”

The Garrido Family and Raisin