Happy Holidays For Real!

Well, the "little" glucosamine overdose wasn’t so little after all. By mid-morning on Sunday, while Opal was doing fine, Dixie was still unusually lethargic, so I decided to do what I should have done the night before. I called ASPCA Poison Control. I regret saying that I wasn’t all that surprised when they told me to rush both girls to the emergency room. Lo-and-behold, Dixie had suffered glucosamine toxicity, and her liver had taken quite a hit.

None of the vets at the emergency room had ever heard of a glucosamine overdose before, and our fabulous vet, Dr. Gervais at Pets Unlimited, began calling her closest colleagues and researching the phenomenon on her computer. It turns out that only poison control seemed to have encountered this before -- 22 out-of-the-blue cases this year, and one sad, unfortunate death.

When I called Pets the following morning to pick Dixie up I was distressed to learn that while all of her blood levels had stabilized, her ALT level – the liver enzyme – was at a dangerously high 3800, while the norm for dogs is 100. It was recommended that I bring her to an internist. Pets had already managed to squeeze me in to see Dr. Stewart at San Francisco Veterinary Specialists, so Opal and I ran off to Pets to pick Dixie up (much love and many kisses between Opal and Dixie, of course), and off we darted to SFVS, where she stayed overnight and spent 2 days under aggressive treatment and monitoring. Let me backtrack and tell you that by now, Opal had begun wandering from room to room whimpering. She didn’t want to go to the park. It was heartbreaking. There was huge, huge gaping hole in our home and an aching in our hearts. I was happy to have brought Opal along to pick her sister up because Opal seemed to be relieved that her sister was still alive, even if not entirely well.

Calling SFVS at the crack of dawn the next morning I was thrilled to find out that Dixie had had a great night – she was eating, drinking water, had slept well, and her thumping tail had returned. Her blood levels reflected a drop of 200 points, down to a still not-good, but better, 3600. A small drop, but a drop nevertheless; a good sign. An ultrasound also indicated no severe damage, and a sign that her liver was going to be a good candidate for rebuilding and recovery. Even better was being told that I could bring her home! I’d been worried sick and was pretty much a wreck throughout this ordeal, so learning that I could bring her home, well, I was ECSTATIC.

Dixie is on the mend. She's now undergoing both Eastern and Western treatment, taking drugs, vitamins, and stinky herbs. She will soon begin acupuncture, which she had once and clearly loved (who doesn’t?) Opal and Kitten are thrilled to have their sister back, and at last, there is peace in our kingdom! Dixie-cup will continue to be carefully monitored here at home and brought in for regular check-ups and blood work to ensure that that nasty liver enzyme level drops. These next couple of months will be the most crucial to her recovery, but all the vets have reassured me that her prognosis looks very, very good.