For a dog like Viva with several chronic diseases every vet visit can be turned into a puzzle. Has any of her known conditions worsened, like spondylosis, allergies or Cushing's? Or are we looking for something else this time? To be prepared we keep a diary of Viva's general state of health to note the changes as they come slow and first when compared over time you can really notice a difference. We write down things like:
- Meals: how fast did she eat her meal?
- Walks: after how long did she tire?
- Play: did she play with Kenzo? And who initiated?
- Cuddle: did she exchanged her infamous ear-nibbles with Kenzo?
- Greets: did she wagged her tail so her back moved?
- And more...
This meant we were looking at something new, or the Cushing's medicine - which is very aggressive and can be compared to chemotherapy - was giving side-effects. Based on what we knew from the diary and the lack of other symptoms we decided together with the vet to lower the doses of Viva's Cushing's medication. The most reasonably assumption was the doses was affecting her health adversely despite it kept her cortisol in place.
It took only a week for the diary to show us the first positive effects, and when we re-ran the Cushing's test at the end of that month, her cortisol level was still within the limits while her blood-work showed a lot of improvement on all area's. Would the diary not have shown any improvement, we of course would have been right back at the vet's again, discussing other options.
Having a dog with chronic diseases requires a chronic attitude. At first, it stressed me out having to watch everything she does through symptom-glasses. But now that I accepted what a chronic disease requires, it doesn't stress me out anymore. I became even more connected with Viva than before, and know she is living her life to the fullest despite the odds. That's just a terrific bonus, being able to give that to Viva.