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Category Archives: Vaccinosis

A Beamer Update and Diagnosis of a Cancerous Tumor

Beamer at home

October 18, 2013

It has been almost two years since our Tibetan Terrier, Beamer, went through the trials and challenges of recovery from paralysis brought on by a rabies vaccine, Vaccinosis.  Beamer recovered well but was left with permanent nerve damage that shows up as a tremor in his muscles when he stands.  Beyond that, he is strong and happy.  He runs, leaps, and plays.  He is now almost twelve years old.

Two months ago (August, 2013) we noticed a sore in Beamer’s mouth on the lower gum line.    We had the sore aspirated by the veterinarian, but it was non-conclusive.  We went home with instructions to keep an eye on it to see if it changed.  A few weeks later, after returning from a two-week trip, we noticed that the sore was much larger.  We decided to take him to University of Georgia Veterinary Hospital for evaluation.  A biopsy confirmed that it was a Soft Tissue Sarcoma (Hemangiopericytoma), a cancer that is slow-growing and it did not appear to have metastasized to other organs or body parts based on further scans and tests.

We went back to the UGA Vet Hospital to discuss our options with the head of the soft tissue surgical department.  We were left with only two choices.  Leave it alone and let it grow, which would eventually lead to death in what would probably be a six to twelve month period (and very painful for Beamer as the tumor grew into the jaw bone) or we could remove it.  The decision to remove it meant that Beamer should live out his life without worrying about this tumor and cancer from the Sarcoma.  However, removing it meant taking a major part of the lower jaw bone, not just tissue.  It meant that Beamer would lose his lower front teeth to the canines.  This was not an easy decision.

The tumor was to the right side of his gum line

The tumor was to the right side of his gum line

We worked with several other vets to gain their perspective and advice.  It became clear that this surgery was the best decision, but we knew it was going to be very hard, on us as much as Beamer.

Prior to surgery, Beamer received a CT scan to verify how deep the tumor had grown.  They also x-rayed his organs.  He already had an ultrasound of his abdomen to ensure there were no other growths or problems that might compromise his recovery or future health.  He passed all tests and we were told that he is in really good shape for a twelve-year-old dog.

It was also confirmed that the tumor was in the soft tissue and not in the bone.  This was good news, but it didn’t change the need to remove the lower jaw to the canines in order to properly close the wound and assure that it wouldn’t return (clean margins).

The operation and tests prior to the surgery had him sedated for about 3 hours.  We didn’t get to see Beamer until the next day as they kept him quiet and medicated to keep him as comfortable as possible.  We hated to leave him overnight but we knew this was best.

The next day we went to visit Beamer and learned that he could go home with us that day, to our surprise and delight.  But, going home doesn’t mean that he is well as we have learned.

We will follow-up with another post after Beamer has been home with us for several days.

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Beamer’s Update – Week 5

Posted on

Happy St. Patrick's Day from Beamer!

In last week’s update we mentioned that Beamer had stop eating and drinking and had lost a lot of weight.  We made several trips back and forth to the University of Georgia Veterinary Hospital trying to understand why Beamer was refusing food.  We sought medications to stimulate his appetite because we knew that if Beamer didn’t start eating we would lose him as his strength was failing fast.

Last week we made a decision to try appetite stimulant drugs but they did nothing.  We were down to the Hail Mary pass and put Beamer on Prednisone.  Initially, we gave him 20 mg twice a day.  The second day we tapered it to 10 mg twice a day.  We were beginning to see results.  Beamer’s appetite came back and he was eating roasted chicken, seared bison and cooked salmon.  That brings us to this week’s update.

Read the rest of this entry

Week Three of Beamer’s Diagnosis of Vaccinosis (Coonhound Paralysis)

As many of you know, Beamer was diagnosed with Coonhound Paralysis (CHP) Vaccinosis almost three weeks ago (February 16, 2012) following a rabies booster from a raccoon attack.  The other term for this reaction is Vaccinosis, which is a bad reaction to a vaccination.  For those of you who are not familiar with our situation, you can read about what happened to Beamer and why he has come down with this paralysis by reading these two posts:

http://www.bunkycooks.com/2012/02/a-little-time-away-for-beamer/

http://www.bunkycooks.com/2012/02/beamers-update/

I started this blog as a way to updated those concerned about Beamer and his recovery process from this debilitating and frightening disease.  I plan to keep writing updates until Beamer has recovered from CHP.

Waiting on the vet at Georgia Veterinary Rehabilitation

Last week was an incredibly difficult time for us and for Beamer.  We started the week off with a visit on Monday to begin Beamer’s rehab.  We met with Dr. Evelyn Orenbuch.  Like most vets, Dr. Orenbuch was not very familiar with Coonhound Paralysis.  Since this condition is rare, it is difficult to find someone that has experience dealing with it beyond textbooks or case studies.

Beamer was examined for neurological and muscle reflexes which were found to be weak.  Many neurological disorders are treated with a combination of acupuncture and laser heat therapy in conjunction with hydrotherapy and physical therapy.  We came up with a plan to do this with Beamer over the course of the next several weeks and had Dr. Orenbuch perform acupuncture and the heat therapy procedure that day.

Acupuncture therapy with Dr. Orenbuch

She said that Beamer could be sleepier and may possibly be sore or stiff for 24 to 48 hours afterward.  Of course, Beamer was already sleepy and lethargic due to the paralysis, so we were not sure if this would be noticeable or not.  Beamer was fine during the procedure and looked rather cool in his shades.  He did not seem to mind the needles or the fuss.

We all had to wear these goggles for the laser heat treatment

Since the fist signs of paralysis, Beamer has not been eating well.   He turns away from food and is not interested in anything we try to feed him.  The treats and foods he used to love do not tempt him and it has been a real struggle to get him to eat.  Obviously, we need to force the issue to keep his strength up, but it has not been easy.

In addition, he has been depressed.  He cannot get up and do his usual activities.  He can’t run and play or come and sit beside us.  He is totally dependent on us to pick him up and get him where he needs to be.  Once standing, he can walk a short distance, but tires very easily.

By this past Wednesday, Beamer was in pretty rough shape.  I think it was the combination of the acupuncture treatment, lack of food and depression that set in and really had us worried.  He seemed to be giving up Wednesday night and we felt like we were going to lose our dog, so we called UGA Veterinary Hospital and drove 1 1/2 hours that night to Athens, Georgia.

Downtown Athens, GA

The Athens Double-Barrelled Cannon

Redbud trees in bloom

The emergency vet on duty immediately took Beamer to the back and returned to get more information from us.  While we were waiting, I heard Beamer crying and yelping and was certain I could not leave him that night.  I was fearful we would not have a dog to come back to in the morning.

They drew blood and ran a few tests.  The blood work came back normal.  I insisted that we take him with us for the rest of the night.  We were already scheduled for a follow-up visit with his neurologist, Dr. Simon Platt, the next morning.  We found a hotel that would take pets at 2 am in the morning and curled up with Beamer on the bed and slept as best as we could.

The daffodils greeted us at UGA

It was like spring in Athens in February

We went in early for our visit and left Beamer at UGA for the vets to take a look at him.  More blood work was run and he was examined by an orthopedic vet to be sure nothing had been missed initially.  In our prior visit to UGA Veterinary Hospital, Beamer was quarantined for rabies precautions, so it limited the vets in their ability to fully examine him.   After the vets conferred this visit, the diagnosis was the same, Coonhound Paralysis.  They had now completely ruled out rabies (due to the amount of time from onset of the symptoms) and Myasthenia Gravis (that blood test was negative).

Dr. Platt believed that Beamer was suffering from the stress of the whole situation and all of the doctor’s visits.  He told us that some dogs respond very well to acupuncture, but that it can cause others to get worse.  He told us the best medicine right now for him was to do nothing and rest at home.  No therapy and no more specialists.

Dr.Simon Platt and Jordan send Beamer back home with us until his check-up in 2 weeks

That is where we are right now.  Beamer is home with us and we are massaging his nerves and muscles every day and and getting him up to take shorts walks and drink water.  It is a challenge and a full-time job.  We have to carry him up and down the stairs whenever we change locations because he will cry out for us.

We are trying to feed him small bites of food and keep him at least somewhat interested in eating.  He seems to like bison chunks that we have prepared from a roast.  He will barely touch chicken and has totally turned against eggs and rice and veggies, all the things he used to love.  He is not even interested in any of his once loved treats.

We have tried various foods with him that others have suggested, like honey or honey and bread.  He spits it out.  He also seems to have a real aversion to the spoon, which was never a problem before.  I gave him baby food and that had less than stellar results.  He has never been a kibble or canned food eater, so finding food he will eat under the best of conditions is tough.  We would appreciate any suggestions you might have for foods to try with him.  We need to keep up his strength to aid in the recovery process.

The good news is that he is alert and he is still with us.  As you may know, CHP can last as little as 4-6 weeks and as long as 6 months.  Please keep us in you thoughts and prayers for a speedy recovery.

Beamer thanks everyone for all of their well wishes

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