28 days later… Bronte update

Bronte got her last dose of doxycycline this morning, which means her Lyme/anaplasmosis treatment is over.

The good news: Her weight is totally back to normal and she’s starting to put muscle back on. Her underline is getting tighter too.  She never lost the tremendous muscling in her neck and rear end (she is a total brick house) but she had lost the fill between her front legs and around her rib cage. So it’s great to see that coming back in.

She’s completely cycling her topcoat, so she looks like a scary snake right now but what’s coming in is thick and glossy and black. She should get all her coat (which was gorgeous) back in the next few months.

She is moving sound again, with no obvious pain/limping.

She’s SUPER HAPPY. She’s confident and pushy and plays all day and barks at everything and has a permanent silly grin on her face.

The bad news: Her stifles are still a mess. She’s basically standing with her knees locked in the rear, so her butt looks super high. If I do heat and massage she moves them decently again but when she’s just getting up from sleeping she will move only from her hips and won’t flex the stifles at all. Her hocks don’t go beyond vertical before she takes another step forward. This is a bitch who used to have pretty good drive in the rear and the difference is VERY obvious.

You can also tell that they’re very stiff because she has to work and walk her way into a squat to pee. It’s been odd to watch her. I’ve always been taught that if a bitch basically falls into a complete sit to pee, you should watch for bad hips. She has the exact opposite problem – the hips are tight and well muscled but she doesn’t want to move what’s lower down. She has to walk her way into it and she shifts position several times as she urinates. (TMI, I know, but interesting in terms of how the joints work.)

She’s also very iffy in one wrist (front leg, paw and the structure above it) in particular – again, it seems like she feels weird and stiff and she re-steps and shifts her weight on it often. I can’t really tell on her elbows/shoulders – she looks odd to me but I can’t tell if that’s just lack of muscling.

Conclusion: I’m going to give her the summer to recuperate, keep up the joint supplements, and in the fall I’m going to get some films of her stifles and probably also her elbows/wrists. I strongly suspect that we’re going to see inflammation and arthritis, especially in the stifles. It may be that once we get back in the house and she can run around the yard all day long that she can break down some of the stiffness but we’ll see.

The goal is still to finish her, though pessimistically I think the days of her supported entry wins are over. All she needs are a few singles now, so we’ll work on picking those up once she gets some hair back. Otherwise we’ll just keep on trucking and see how she does. We can always look at Adequan injections in the future if she needs them.

And who knows – it could be that as the weeks go by she’ll continue to recover and next year I’ll look foolish because she is completely back to normal.

So there you go. Once I get a decent camera again I will try to get some pictures for you all.

By the way, lest anyone have a panic attack, this is BY FAR the worst case of Lyme damage I’ve ever seen or even heard of. I read somebody’s blog last year that said that their agility dog couldn’t compete anymore because of some tick-borne disease but I don’t know how bad that was. The vast, overwhelming majority of the time the dog barely shows symptoms in the first place and the antibiotics take care of it completely. My guess is that she had the perfect storm – Lyme bacteria in her joints, anaplasmosis lowering her platelet and white blood cell count so her body couldn’t respond well to the Lyme bacteria, low appetite because of the anaplasmosis, and she was nursing puppies.

However, while I’m on this train of thought, I read recently that Lyme infections are associated with hypothyroidism in humans. This really started my brain churning, because in Danes we were seeing a real epidemic of odd thyroid results in the Northeast. We’d been blaming a popular stud dog who had thyroid disease, but I wonder if the situation was substantially worsened by the fact that the affected kennels were also having a lot of dogs test positive for Lyme.

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