May 11, 2017

Mr. Bartles lately + a little sentiment all senior pet moms can probably relate to

Some of you have probably been wondering about Mr. Bartles. 

Have I got a story for you. 

For one thing, Mr. B has been off of his Trilostane (for his Cushing's Disease) for a little over a month now. He's been doing well and his NHV herbal supplement, Supraglan, has been keeping his symptoms at bay. I originally took him off of it because he was having pains and then he lost his appetite (which made me get scared that maybe he was going into Addison's). Until he got better, I thought it would be a good idea to stop his medication. We will start him back on it once his Cushing's symptoms come back. So far so good. He isn't drinking and urinating excessively nor does he have a voracious appetite. 

Mr. Bartles' troubles all started late March when he began to suddenly moan out of nowhere. He would pace in the middle of the night and began to bed hop. Every time he got on top of a bed to lay down he would let out these mournful moans. Those eventually turned into howls. 

After a visit to the vet's office and taking a set of x-rays, it was revealed that there was a lot of degeneration on his back that was possibly causing pains in his spine all the way up to his neck (this was suspected because he was hanging his head low and standing in positions that looked so awkward - like in a playful downward pose but he wasn't in a playful mood at all and looked as though he was supporting himself this way to be in less pain). 

Around the same time as his x-rays (this was early April), Mr. B went to have another ACTH stimulation test done to see how his Cushing's levels were holding up. His post number posted low at 1.9 and our vet decided to lower his Trilostane dosage from 15 mg twice a day to 10 mg twice a day. This was because she thought Bartles could benefit from a higher post number - around 3 or 4 - to let the body produce more steroids which can act as an anti-inflammatory to ease his back pains. We were given muscle relaxants and he was put back on a regular dosage of Gabapentin, pain killers, (up to 1 whole pill - 200mg), which I had actually weaned him off of during the first few weeks when he came home to us in December. 

But even with his pain killers and muscle relaxant, his pains weren't getting any better. It was getting closer and closer to our travel dates to Korea and about a week before we were to leave I got ultra desperate and bought Chinese herbal tablets called Seven Forests. My friend's dog also had pains previously and was yelping out at what seemed like random moments. Her dog was prescribed Seven Forests Pueraria to help with his neck and shoulders because their holistic vet suspected his pain was coming from his upper body, more precisely his neck.

My friend gave me the bottle of Pueraria (her dog didn't need to be on it anymore) for Mr. Bartles and I also bought Seven Forests Liquidamber to help his back and spine. I also ordered VetriScience Vetri-Disc. Finally, we squeezed in an acupuncture session to help him deal with the pain just days before we were to leave, and a follow up literally on the day we were leaving for Korea (and his former foster mom also took him while he was staying with her during our trip).

Mr. Bartles doesn't talk a lot, but when he does it's because he has gotten himself in a pickle or he's in pain. His barks and howls during this time were so very sad and it just really broke my heart. Yangkyu and I even thought about canceling our trip because I just could not leave him in such pain and I felt bad asking his foster mom to care for him when he wasn't feeling so well.

I think it was three days before we were to leave for Korea that Bartles showed signs of improvement. He moans got less and less and the last night before our trip, he slept through the night entirely and got up only once to let out the softest of moans but quickly fell back to sleep when I helped him lay back down again. I felt so confident that he would continue to feel better while we were away and my mind and heart was at ease.

Unfortunately, Bartles didn't get better but his health turned for the worst. Eventually his foster mom had to take him to the vet and it was found that he had UTI. There was a lot of red and white blood cells and a significant amount of bacteria in his urine. It was all so perplexing because we had just completed a urine test a week before leaving for Korea as part of his ACTH stimulation test and blood work and his urine test came out all clear of infections and bacteria. Nonetheless, Mr. Bartles was put on a 14-day course of Clavamox and he began to feel immediately better from the first day of taking his antibiotic.

We went to pick up Mr. Bartles a few hours after we arrived back home on April 25th and right up until a couple of nights after finishing his Clavamox he was doing great. He was eating well, sleeping through the night and looking so very comfortable. Then just a few days of being off of Clavamox, his urine started to smell really bad, like rotten eggs, he began to pee every two hours and he became restless. He began to twitch his head again and had tremors around his neck (he had these the whole time he was moaning as well).

This past Saturday, we brought in a urine sample and it was revealed that Mr. B still has a lot of white and red blood cells, blood and bacteria in his urine. He was put on new antibiotics, Baytril this time, for 10 days. If the smell doesn't disappear by then, the vet let us know that we would have to bring him in so that they can draw a clean urine sample and culture it to see which antibiotic the UTI is sensitive to (which was perplexing yet again because he had a culture done when he went to the vet while we were in Korea and it seemed like Clavamox was the right antibiotic to do the job of clearing Bartles' UTI - oy vey). If the smell goes away and he is doing better, then we will just need to do a refill of Baytril for another 10 days and then afterwards send in another urine sample to see if he is finally free of UTI.

From the first day of taking his Baytril, the smell was almost completely gone. Today is day 2 and Mr. Bartles isn't peeing often, the smell is normal and he slept through the night last night peacefully as well. We will see though how he does after he is fully done with this round to see if his symptoms come back.

While we think (we hope!) his UTI is on the road to being cured, I have a new set of concerns which I hope are only concerns and nothing that is serious.

I have been noticing that his back leg stance is different. He seems to be putting more weight on his left leg than his right (he almost stands like a model with his right back leg straight off to the side while holding up more of his body weight on his slightly bent left back leg). He also wobbles more, falls down even more often and doesn't walk as nicely as he used to. I was going through all the videos I took of him in January and he walked so nicely then and didn't slip and slide on top of our kitchen and entryway tiles and our living room floors. I am not sure if we're not doing something right here or if his joints and paw paddings are just getting weaker as the months go on.

I also found a lump in his right back leg, something I've never noticed before. It's a bit hard and the size of a quarter. Mr. Bartles has a lot of lumps and growth all over his body and I am hoping that it isn't something scary. We do plan on going to the vet's office and getting it checked out.

Mr. B also does this thing where after lying down for a bit he'll sit up and use his front legs to twirl himself around, while still sitting. Sometimes he just waddles in that position because his hind legs won't twirl with the rest of his body. But when they do, and once he gets in the right position, he'll push his hind legs up to stand up. I have never seen him do this before and unfortunately it has also scratched the extra skin around his behind (he has a lot of loose black skin there) and he's been bleeding. I have been putting cream on it to help it heal, but sometimes while he twirls he re-opens the scabs.

I know Cushing's in general does make the back legs get weaker. I thought today that maybe one day Mr. B may need wheels to get around. I am also thinking of buying this harness for him since it has a handle that we can use to pick him up and help him move around when going on outings.

Right now Mr. Bartles is sleeping comfortably on his bed. We bought a pet cam and I now get to see him from the ipad from upstairs. Before we always had the jingle collar on him and every time I heard it, I would run downstairs to see what he was doing. Most of the time it was a false alarm as he was just repositioning himself on the bed. Now I can see him when he tries to get up or is about to do his business and Mr. B doesn't have to always wear his jingle collar. Only at night  as it helps me wake up when and if he starts to move around.

Looking at his videos from January and seeing him now got me worried. I guess it's only been a few months and seeing his mobility weakened makes me wonder if I'm doing something wrong. I often feel this way when Mr. Bartles' health turns.

Sometimes in my head, I see Bartles trotting, even running. I wish I can help him do that again. I wish I can take his Cushing's away. I wish I can make him see better and hear when I say, "Mr. Bartles!" It's hard seeing your companions grow old, and it's even harder seeing them grow old and get sicker and weaker. I'm sure all senior pet moms can relate (sending you all much hugs in light of Mother's Day this weekend).

We have a trip to NY planned in June. It's to commemorate Yangkyu's parents passing. We go up every year, although there were a couple of years when I didn't join him because Piri wasn't well enough to make the trip up. We hope to take Bartles this year, and I hope he will be well enough by then to go with us.


  1. Thinking of you and Sir Bartles. It's a tough one when our pets aren't feeling well, so I'm wishing him good health in the near future!

  2. Awwww Bartles! Sending big love to you guys, so many mysteries and hopefully some answers to go with them in the near future - the pet cam/ipad system sounds amazing!


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