The Mystery Illness Returns


A few weeks ago, I noticed Heather was acting lethargic. Ordinarily, she isn't exactly the most energetic dog like Mr. K is but she is always in good spirits. I figured her lethargy had to do with the heat wave we were experiencing in Atlanta and so, left her plenty of extra water. That seemed to do the trick and so, I made a mental note to make sure she was staying hydrated in this heat.

Two days later, Heather began having accidents in the house. Like clock work, Heather peed every two hours and it wasn't a small mess to clean, by any means. She still had a great appetite, was drinking plenty of water and had regained most of her energy and good spirit so I figured she probably just had a bladder infection and made an appointment for her to visit her vet that day.

When the vet came back with the initial test results, I was more confused than ever. She had ruled out a bladder infection and told me about a substance that was found in her urine which only appears when the liver is not functioning properly. This could mean one of two things: 1) Heather had liver disease; or 2) Heather had injested something so toxic, it was affecting her organs. The vet couldn't say which was the cause. She recommended an overnight stay at the hospital.

A litany of tests and $2,000 later, the vet had no answer or any suggestions to prevent my baby girl from getting sick again. The Xrays and ultrasounds didn't show any tumors (but it is a possibility one is too small to be seen). What they did show was that her organs were enlarged and there was minimal internal bleeding. Heather came home after three days and two nights at an animal hospital with medications that had been part of the mix Mr. K had taken in March.

Which brings me to this - Heather's symptoms didn't present like Mr. K's but as time evolved and the vet consulted with Georgia Veterinary Specialists (the hospital I credit for saving Mr. K's life) to compare cases, the vet saw more similarities but couldn't say for sure if she was seeing the same thing since Mr. K was never actually given a diagnosis. Her discharge paperwork reads: "At this time, I do not have the exact reason for her liver disease and coagulation issues."

HeatherAs a Scottie Mom, this news is neither helpful nor comforting, given that I've recently experienced a similar horrifying medical emergency with Mr. K. I've reached out to the condo's management team to see if there were any possible chemical treatments used on the mulch-laiden dog walk area and to see what kind of cleaning products are used in the elevators. Literally, these are the only areas Heather and Mr. K go on a regular basis. It has been over a week and still no answer.

Here's what I do know: Both Heather and Mr. K had some kind of bruising of the tissue (Mr. K on his gums, Heather on her tummy), indicative that their platelet counts were off and that there were clotting issues. They also had internal bleeding in the abdomen - Mr. K much more so than Heather - and ridiculously high liver values (Heather's count was around 3,000 and the norm is approximately 100). They both had similar treatments including a plasma transfusion and three take home medications including DenamarinMetronidazole and Vitamin K supplements.

What doesn't match up is Mr. K's heart arrythmia, critically low blood pressure and fluid in the lungs. What is most frustrating as a mom is that Mr. and Heather had just had their annual checkups not more than three weeks beforehand, leaving me more suspicious of the unknown toxin. However, then you have to factor in the fact that Heather is nearly eight years old and it could be a very real possibility that she is experiencing the beginning stages of liver disease.

Heather's follow up appointment is on Monday and I'll be sure keep all her new Scottie friends updated. In the meantime, if any fellow Scottie Moms (or Dads!) have any insight to share, it would be most welcome. This Scottie Mom is looking for some answers!


  1. Has either one come in contact with toads?

  2. Hey Laurie - not that I've seen. I would think it is highly unlikely we would cross paths with too many of those around here.

  3. Dear Scottie Mom,
    I'm so disheartened to hear your lovely girl is experiencing these issues. Thank goodness the ultrasound came back negative. I lost my darling May 15th. She was 13, and had many of the symptoms you're describing. It pains me to share that with you....I know your heart must have dropped to the floor. Please check her pancreatic values. Sophie had pancreatitis in addition to liver disease and cancer (indicated by tumors). The cause was not determined, but I have several suspisions: Swiffer floor products, chemical spray on lawns where we walked regularly, and the My vet determined Cushings prior to that fateful USound. But i'm sure you've ruled that out by now. Keep a real close eye on that pancreas. That little organ, if clogged, can wreak havock. If the vet gave you the blood results, you can check them against normal values, then research possible causes of those out of norm. Google blood values in dogs. I will keep you and your little ones in my prayers. Your blog is so entertaining, and i hope you're all around--and healthy! for many moons.
    Very Best to you all,
    Kelly T (Sophie's Mom)

  4. I wish I had something to tell you to help. I am sending all my (and my 2 scotties) best wishes your way and hoping that both your little ones are ok and will be back to 100% health very soon.

  5. I have not had this problem with any of my 8 scotties. But elevated liver counts are what always indicated cancer in my babies. However, I am sure it can have other causes. Cushings is certainly a concern with the peeing. Wishing you the best. I use Clairemont Animal Hospital on Clairmont Rd. Been going there since 1989 or 90. I adore Dr Mike Smith who started the clinic but he has many vets there now and he only sees patients on 2 days a week- if not an emergency I hold out for him-a plus is they are open 7 days a week. 404-633-6163 He is pricy compared to some.

  6. Sophie's Mom - First and foremost, thank you for sharing your experience and I'm so terribly sorry for your loss. I cannot imagine what it must be like without her after 13 years. When you say you suspect Swiffer products, would it happen to be the hard wood cleaner for the Wet Jet? This is the only non-natural cleaning product the dogs could come in contact with every once in a while. Heather's vet said that based on her symptoms, it wasn't likely that cleaning products were the cause - UNLESS she drank directly from the container (she can't, it is always stored in a closet) OR if she licked it up directly after the cleaner was put on the floor. Still, with such similar incidents in both dogs, my gut tells me it ihas to be an unknown toxin. Chemical spray on grass is out - there simply isn't much grass around us to speak of BUT there is a mulch dog walk they could spray...As for food, the Scotties both eat Blue Basics because of Mr. K's allergies. The vet didn't seem to think that could do it, either.

    Thank you all for your support - as of her last visit, Heather was stabilizing with her liver values down to 700 but another value still hanging up in the 2000s. We'll know Monday if that one has gone down with the help of her medications.

  7. As soon as I started reading this I wondered if you give your dogs any special treats. Dog treats made in China have been causing some dogs to become sick and even die. Please check the packaging to see where they are made - even the dog food. It just seems to coincidental that both of your wonderful dogs would develope similar health problems. I hope they get better soon.

  8. Yes. Swiffer Wet Jet for hardwood floors. I always made sure the cleaner had dried before she walked on it because I recall many years ago a warning re harm to pets...including death. But surely they must have reformulated to a safer standard! ??? I recently learned how our incredibly absorptive(?) the pads on dogs feet are. That is how toxins enter. Frightful. But in all fairness, Sophie was a floor-licker. You know, left-over cat kibbles, a dropped cracker etc. LOL. I still have a swiffer style mop, but now mix my own pet-friendly solution.
    Thank you for your sentiments. The loss of Sophie was unbearable for days. I've since found a Scottie puppy, and will be picking her up in a few weeks. Love always wins. :)

  9. hi scottie mom,
    hope you do pinpoint the exact cause soon. Stay safe.
    p/s enjoy reading your updates. Mr K and Ms H are just gorgeous. =)