KatCH

Super Boxer
I am sad to log back into the boxerworld community to share some sad news about Millie. We joined this forum 9 years ago when she and Ozzy were just babies and I have appreciate the tremendous support and information everyone has shared thus far. I am writing to share the sad news and her story and hope the community may have some advice or guidance to share to help us navigate this scary situation and also to help anyone else that may also encounter this in the future.

Millie is 9.5 years old and ever since she was a baby she has been a medical anomaly and success story. When she was just a pup we struggled with incontinence issues and she was soon diagnosed with kidney disease. The vets we saw said she would be lucky to survive 2 years, but it depended on how fast the kidney function would decline. Long story short, 9 years later and her kidney values are still elevated, but they have remained stable ever since.

Last August, Millie got very sick and we learned that she had dangerously low platelet counts (they got down to 5000 at one point when the low end of normal is 145,000). After many tests, the vets settled on an auto-immune disorder that triggered her body to attack and destroy its platelets. She was started on a very high dose of prednisone, but it wasn't long after that she started vomiting blood. The prednisone was discontinued, but by that point her red blood cell counts had dropped significantly as well. Once she stableized, we started her on Imuran and then cyclosporin. By March we had her platelets under control and back to normal and began to taper down the imuran and cyclosporin. She still seems to be doing well and her last platelet count from this week was 168,000.

So now to the current situation. This past Tuesday night Millie began having seizures. The first was a partial seizure on our walk, which I did not recognize as such at the time. At 3:30 in the morning I was woken up by a loud crash when she had fallen off of the bed. When I got to her she was in the middle of a full blown grand mal seizure. Needless to say, I panicked. I did not know if the fall off the bed had triggered the seizure or the seizure caused her to fall off the bed....later I determined it was the seizure that caused her fall.

I called the E-Vet at the time and as she was coming back around to normal, they suggested it would be ok to wait until we saw our vet that morning. We went to the vet as soon as they opened and they took blood work and sent us home to wait. We settled in for a little nap and during the nap she had another partial seizure. She started twitching, chomping, and foaming at the mouth. I snapped a pic for my vet and immediately took her back to the vets office (luckily only 5 mins down the road). She stayed there for observation where they gave her IV fluids. This was about 11 am at this point. I heard from the vet around 2 that the labs came back normal and she was doing ok, no more seizures, but they would keep her there for the rest of the afternoon. At 4pm I got another call that she had just had a grand mal seizure. They gave her valium and said she needed to go to the e-vet for overnight monitoring and to then get worked in to see the neurologist the next morning.

She did OK over night and I heard from the neurologist around 1pm. He suggested an MRI and suspected a brain tumor, but said it was possible it could be anything from a stroke, to encephalitis or infection, or best case scenario, late onset epilepsy. I was on the fence about the MRI due to its cost and that she would have to be under anesthesia, but ultimately decided to go forward with it. I called back and said OK and asked if I could come give her a kiss on the head before they put her under. I got to the e-vet about 30 mins later where I was met by the neurologist who told me she was already under and getting the MRI, he said she had 2 seizures since we had spoken and so they decided to proceed.

That afternoon I went back to review the scans and found out she had a 1.8 x 1.3 x 1.8 cm mass in her right temporal/piriform lobe and that this was the cause of her seizures. Without surgery or biopsy it's hard to know exactly what kind of tumor it is, but he suspects it is a low-grade glioma. He said it has likely been there for a few months. With her history and its location, she isn't a good candidate for surgery or any other more aggressive treatment, so we were given a prescription for prednisone to help the swelling and kepra to control the seizures. If we can control the seizures, at best he has given her 3-6 months.

Needless to say, I am heartbroken. I am sad to be losing my sweet girl and terrified as I don't know what to expect. I am scared it will be a traumatic decline for her, myself, and her lifetime companion Ozzy.

My thought is to take her to day boarding at our vets office while I am at work. Next week is a short week for us, so I will do this Monday and Tuesday and then see how she does for the rest of the week. I am worried and don't want to keep her away from Ozzy, but think this may also be a good way to help him ease into not having her around. When she was at the vet for 3 days this week, he did not eat for the entire 3 days nor did he bark at me once...which is unusual for him.

I don't realy know what else to do, but am hoping the community may be able to share some thoughts on how to manage this for however long we have left. I want her to be comfortable and pain free, but don't what signs to look for that may indicate it's close to that time. I don't know what symptoms will come next...I've heard everything from blindness, to behavioral changes, to lameness, and eventually more seizures that can't be controlled. Also, how do you deal with another dog as he is losing his companion. He is only 1 month younger than she is and aside from the 8 weeks with his liter mates, has not known a world without her.

I am not ready for this, but are we ever? I just lost my dad last June and don't know how much more heartbreak I can handle. I am so sad. I know this is a part of having fur babies, but it doesn't mean I am ready for it. I appreciate this community and how supportive everyone has been so far. I know many of you have had to go through losing a baby and am hoping you can share your thoughts and any guidance for navigating what's next.

Kat
 

joeys mom

Boxer Insane
In 2013 I lost my first boxer Joey to Cancer, he also had epilepsy. He started having seizures at the age of 2. Although we never did the mri to see if he had a brain tumor, we did take him to the University of Tn @ Knoxville where he was examined by 3 neurologists and 2 cardiologist who gave us their best educated opinion that there were no signs of a tumor. We felt that even if he had a tumor we would not put him through the surgery or recovery to only extend his life for a year at best with 6 months of that in recovery. We treated and managed the seizures pretty well for nearly 5 years with prednisone and 2 other meds ( I cant remember what they were now) ultimately losing him to Lymphoma :( We did exactly as you said and I took him to Doggy day car while at work if he had had a seizure in the morning hours just so he wasn't home alone. After a seizure he would be totally wiped out for the rest of the day (maybe even the next) and sleep more than usual. He was pretty regular and had a seizure about every 6 weeks for 5 years so I kept a log of when he had one and always new the time was getting close to expect another.... In the end I had to make the decision to let him go due to the cancer rather than the epilepsy. Losing Him completely broke out hearts. We battled so many health issues as you have. I was lost and didn't know what to do with out him. Our situations are different but also very similar .... If I can help with any questions please feel free to ask ... maybe I can offer some advice but for sure can always be here as a shoulder to cry on :(
 

Lisa H

Completely Boxer Crazy
I am so sorry for the terrible news. I am not of any help regarding the brain tumor but my 1st boxer also had immune mediated thrombocytopenia. She too was a hot mess of health issues. She had past MCT's, hypothyroidism and inflammatory bowel disease prior to being diagnosed with IMTP. We eventually lost her at 12.5 years old. It was the worst decision that I have ever had to make in my life. I knew it was time by just looking in her eyes. She was having more bad days then good days ( I marked them on the calendar) and eventually started throwing up blood also. Her gums and ears would bleed and she just looked so tired. Her platelets were so low that she was going to need blood transfusions and they still did not give her a high percentage of surviving. I knew I was just being selfish by wanting her undergo more procedures. Her quality of life was definitely suffering. I don't know how to explain but you will know when the time comes. I wish you and Ozzy peace!
 

Jan

Reasonable Moderator
Staff member
I am so sorry! It sounds like your poor girl has had a lot of heath issues. You will know when it is time to let her go.
I am sending lots of healing healthy vibes your way. -------->>>>>
 

gulfcoastguy

Super Boxer
I lost my first girl at 10 years 5 months from very similar circumstances. She started having seizures a couple of months after I had skin tumors and a breast tumor removed. We fought on for several months, special prescription dog food for bad kidneys which she hated, phenobarbital for the seizures which left her "drunk " and weaving all of the time. Finally she had a long and bad gran mal seizure at my parents house. When we left I told my parents to say good bye to her though I didn't really say why. The next morning she got up and slowly climbed onto the love seat. I looked her in the eye and saw that there was "No joy in Mudville". I took her to the vet and in the waiting room she ignored a litter of pit bull puppies while weaving on her feet. She perked up in the exam room because she loved the vet. I talked to the vet and all she could suggest was different anti seizure medicines. She admitted that Trudy probably had a brain tumor. I had to be the one to tell this vet who looked like she was 16 that Trudy wasn't going to get better, that she couldn't go for walks any more, that she was embarrassed that she had incontinent seizures while I was at work. I had to tell her that it was time. I sat with her head on my lap until the end. This is the burden that we take on is exchange for years of unswerving, often undeserved love and joy. Only you will know when there is "No joy in Mudville" .
 

KatCH

Super Boxer
Quick update on Millie. It's been a few weeks of medications, and for the most part things have been OK. I'll give a run down of the meds below. She's not quite the same as she was pre-seizure, but I'm not exactly sure if it's the seizures (I imagine 6 in 24 hrs is a bit rough on her little body and brain), or the medicine, or the tumor...or some awful combination of it all. She still wiggles when she is happy or excited or when I say her name...I think when the wiggles stop or I can't get a nub wag, that will be a clear sign. She wears bells now too on her collar to alert for seizures...it makes me giggle a little when she wiggles and jingles. She still has quite the appetite, but that may be more so due to the prednisone. This morning she ate 2.5 bowls of food for breakfast!

She is definitely slower and not as fond of our walks. She does this odd thing now where she just stops randomly and doesn't want to walk further. It's normally at a certain point on the street, so I don't know if it's vision related since that stretch is rather dark when we are walking, or if it's something else. Sometimes she takes a lot of encouragement, but will eventually continue walking. She likes it better when a friend comes along with his dog and I can't tell if it's just because she wants to show off or because she is having more fun or if it's just a good night.

One evening last week, I was a bit late on her evening medication dose and during our walk she had a partial seizure. It was the first and only time I had been late with the dose and the first seizure since the first cluster. I discussed medication changes with the neurologist, but he said for now, to keep it the same.

I had to go out of town this weekend for a wedding which made me feel anxious and sad to leave her, but I had my niece house/dog sit for me and gave her a thorough run down of what to do in case of emergency and seizure and was adamant about the timing of the medicine. Things went well, but last night, my first night back, Millie had a grand mal seizure. She looked over at me with a face I don't see often, so I know she felt it coming on. It starts with her nose twitching and then some chomping, and then progressed to full blown convulsions. I had to give her the rectal Valium which I hadn't considered the challenge of giving it to a dog that wears a diaper at night, but managed to figure it out. We got through it and even when she was OK afterwards, although her brother Ozzy was very upset and worried. This morning as we were leaving, I have been taking her to the vet for day boarding, she had another partial seizure. I gave the vet a detailed run down of the timeline of events and so they decided to give her an IV catheter for the day in case she had another seizure. She did fine for the rest of the day though.

I spoke with the neurologist and he recommended increasing her dose of Kepra for 24 hrs and then increasing the maintenance dose going forward. Hopefully this will control the seizures for now, but I am worried about a steady decline. We are about 1 month into the 3-6 months she was given and it makes me sad every time I think about it. I'm just focused on giving her as much love and snuggles as she will allow and hoping to keep her comfortable.

The meds she was taking (prior to the increase today) were

Kepra ER 500 mg, twice a day.
Prednisone 20mg, once a day (morning)
Gabapentin 100-200mg as needed (was giving mostly at night, but went to twice a day while I was out of town)
Cyclosporine 80mg, once a day (evening) - this is for the autoimmune platelet problem
Proin 50 mg, once a day (evening) - for her incontinence

We are now increasing the Kepra to 1000mg twice a day.

I am grateful to have a wonderful team of vets and tech's that love and care for Millie. When she goes for day boarding they keep her in their observation area so they can keep a close watch. I am confident they will help me through this and will give me the honest feedack if I don't seem to know when it's time to let go.

Thank you to this community for the support. Hopefully sharing my experience will help someone else who may have to face this in the future...although I don't wish it on anyone.
 

Jan

Reasonable Moderator
Staff member
I am really sorry for what you are going through. It sounds like you are doing everything that you can. I am sending lots of positive vibes your way. -------->>>>
 
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