Month: June 2016

Dog Gall Bladder Surgery – Maxx’s Story

Maxx on table in exam room

 Maxx is not Feeling Well

Our story begins on New Year’s Eve, when I returned home from work to find that Maxx had thrown up a couple times. Being the proud papa of 3 fur babies, a sick pup was nothing new. My partner and I initially thought he had just eaten something that upset his stomach. We made Maxx some rice but noticed that he wasn’t eating which is sort of a surprise because he eats just about anything. It wasn’t till the next day that we realized he only got sick after drinking water. So we gave him ice cubes which he would lick like a popsicle without getting sick. He still didn’t have an appetite nor was he his normal spunky self but he was moving around, keeping the ice down and was even going out on lead to potty. So we got online knowing that our vets office would be closed for the holiday.
Based on the symptoms and what we were able to mark off the list, we felt that something was making him nauseous. We opted to give him a small dose of over-the-counter anti-nausea medicine thinking this would settle his stomach. Which it did but after another day with no appetite, we were really worried. That evening, Maxx drank some water and ended up vomiting. This time it was full of bile, stunk and was very dark.

Visiting the Veterinarian

We immediately headed out to the nearest 24hr emergency vet. He was obviously dehydrated so they recommended fluids and several tests. They wanted to keep him overnight so we agreed and left them with nearly $3000 for the services they thought he would need based on initial exam. After the specialist came in the next day and reviewed the lab results, x-rays, ultrasound and I’m not sure what all else, they reported that fluid was building up in Maxx’s gall bladder. It had not ruptured, they didn’t know what had happened and couldn’t explain why but if we paid another $4000 his gall bladder could be removed.
Problem solved, I think not. Maxx responded well to the antibiotics, fluids and anti-nausea meds. We ended up bringing him home after 2 days as he was able to eat solid food – all be it moist. We continued our search while he was at the clinic. Checking the web based on the details we had and the test results. We also had them faxed to our local vet and checked with others in the area. The answer was the same everywhere.
All the vets agreed that the gall bladder should be removed but many did not perform this procedure. If they did, it was just as expensive if not more. Then we found Helping Hands and booked an appointment to come in that week. From our initial phone call, they made us feel at ease. They even provided information on a hotel which offer a special rate. Oh did I forget to mention, we live in Atlanta, GA and Helping Hands is over 8 hours away. The reviews and articles we had read about them were very positive and they offered the procedure at a price that we could afford. Even with travel expense, the cost was far less.

Incision Site After Gall Bladder Surgery for Maxx

Incision Site After Gall Bladder Surgery for Maxx

Removing Maxx’s Gall Bladder – Notes From Dr. Lori Pasternak:

Maxx was diagnosed by ultrasound as having a biliary mucocele. This is when the digestive fluids supplied by the gall bladder become thickened and cannot easily be passed into the intestines to aid in digestion. The thickened liquid forms a sticky ball within the gall bladder. The treatment is to simply remove the gall bladder which is why Maxx ended up at Helping Hands. Dogs can easily live without their gall bladder just like humans. Rarely do they need a special diet since their diet is consistent, unlike ours.


Maxx’s Recovery from Surgery

We picked Maxx up from surgery and brought him back to the hotel where we stayed another night so that he could have some additional time to rest before traveling home. I have fashioned him a sterile area by laying plastic sheeting over the floor. Then topping with clean towels & sheets (brought from home). Then I placed his cleaned crate with fresh linens on top. He was eating baby food, drinking water and going potty before the end of the night.
Though slow and mostly relaxed, he was able to walk but we kept activity to a minimum and crated him for sleeping that night. Maxx woke up with quite an appetite and was ready to go potty, we continued feeding him baby food and began mixing low fat moist dog food. Later that day, we made the journey home. He was a trooper and even got a bit of his usual spunk back when we met some travelers at the rest stop.
We brought him home and kept him separated from the other dogs in a similar set up as the hotel. Gradually weaned him off the baby food and onto just moist and then a combination of moist and dry. We are currently feeding him a mostly dry diet but have changed his food to a lower fat kibble with occasional moist food. Maxx was ready to walk every day.
We did follow up with our local vet for post-operative exams and lab work. He has continued to improve and is really back to his old self but better. So hard to believe that I was just spoon feeding him worried if he would make it through the night two months ago. We thank Dr Lori and the amazing staff at Helping Hands. Maxx is a part of our family and if it weren’t for them I’m not sure what we would have done.

Update – Three Months Post-Surgery

Maxx has bounced right back to leader of the pack. He is running, jumping, playing and seems so happy. He has a great appetite and all his #’s are back in line. We’re actually getting ready for the lake here and he’s ready to go for a swim.