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Another Finn Update

Posted: 05 Aug 2018, 15:08
by worriedparents
Before the new forum change I'd posted an update about our St. Bernard, Finn. His back end weakness had returned in late June. This time last year we first saw a similar back end weakness appear briefly and then quickly disappear and that lead us to discover his B12 deficiency. From there we went into the world of EPI (which he doesn't have) and SIBO (which he does have).

The neurologist who diagnosed him low B12 (because of his digestive issues) had a hunch, and she was right again. An abdominal ultrasound has revealed a large aortic blood clot. Ugh. He no longer has signs of hind end weakness so if we had opted not to do the ultrasound, thinking he had just spontaneously improved again, we wouldn't have known he had a clot. He's on anti-cogulant (Xarelto) and anti-platelet medication (Plavix). He seems more tired but also more hungry than usual on these meds. Thankfully not seeing side effects like GI upset or vomiting.

We haven't gotten his heart ultrasound results back yet. Because DCM is common in giant breeds, I opted to do a taurine test. It came back normal. We are nervous to see what the results are going to show, and rechecking him in a couple weeks hoping the meds are working to break down the clot.

Re: Another Finn Update

Posted: 05 Aug 2018, 15:15
by jilbert57
Hi Finn's parents. So glad the ultrasound was done to find the clot. How scary. Please let us know the results from his next tests.

Re: Another Finn Update

Posted: 05 Aug 2018, 16:07
by Olesia711
OMG!!! Thank you so much for the update on Finn... Thank goodness you have a fantastic neurologist who suspected a possible blood clot and you had the ultrasound done....

Glad to hear that he is doing better although tired.... once his body acclimates to Xarelto did they say that the tiredness might subside?

I am so glad you shared this with us.... as it may help others in the future here on Epi4Dogs...too often we get tunnel vision and think everything could be EPI.... when that is not always the case.

Also.... i have a question... you mentioned you did the taurine test... if you don't mind my asking, is it expensive?

PLEASE do keep us posted on Finn !

Re: Another Finn Update

Posted: 05 Aug 2018, 17:21
by Barb
Your neurologist is a keeper.....which you already know. I'm so glad you have received the correct diagnosis, although I am sure you have not relaxed yet. Please keep us updated on Finn's progress and the results of any tests you have done.

Hang in there.


Re: Another Finn Update

Posted: 05 Aug 2018, 18:27
by Madelon
So glad you have an excellent vet and thank you so much for sharing as it may help someone in the future. My thoughts and prayers are with you - please keep us posted! Love the name - my sisters dog is Finn MCool ❤️

Re: Another Finn Update

Posted: 05 Aug 2018, 18:34
by worriedparents

The Neurologist and the Internist he sees are wonderful and they work so well together bouncing ideas off each other. We wondered about degenerative myelopathy but Finn’s symptoms would subside, rather than progressively worsen. The Neurologist watched video we took while he was having an episode and didn’t think it was neurological in nature. It worsened with exertion, particularly after he tucked his hind end up to defecate. She couldn’t find a pulse, or much of one, on his left rear leg, but wanted the Internist's opinion and both suggested the ultrasound.

I suggested Taurine testing because we had to wait for the ultrasound and I thought maybe it would give us some answers ahead of time. Explore every avenue. If he was B12 deficient maybe taurine deficient as well because his Cardiopet blood work would often be elevated and then lower again since we got him.

He’s still on his primarily cooked chicken diet with 2-1 ratio of kibble and if we increase the (grain-free) kibble he’s less interested in food. He's not a fan of kibble. (*Olesia I just read your other post about grain free and DCM. Edited to add: he eats Farmina N&D chicken and pomegranate with added taurine (and potato and peas). I'd not heard anything about the grain free stuff before testing him. I just thought heart-giant dog-maybe test taurine because we had a cat become paralyzed suddenly of clot).

The cost of the Taurine testing was expensive, but not in comparison to the other testing and meds. This has been and will be a very costly adventure.

The taurine test was over 300.00 (CDN). It had to be run separately, I think on the grain free thread someone mentioned testing whole blood and I believe that was it. 2 ultrasounds were 800.00 and they want to recheck them in a couple months.

We had a couple options for anti-coagulants Warfarin or Xarelto. Warfarin is cheap but would require frequent blood tests (initially weekly at 100/each) to get the dosage right, with a high risk of bleeding. Xarelto is a newer medication, so no generic versions. It’s over 800.00/month. We are trying 2 weeks worth. And a week into treatment a Anti-Xa blood test has to be sent to the US for about 300.00. Xarelto runs the risk of intestinal bleeding. We are not seeing that yet. Fingers crossed. I opted for that one to begin with go from there. He may need life-long treatment.

The Internist is concerned if this doesn’t get turned around soon the clot is large enough to damage blood supply to his kidneys. (I think she said …)She thinks new blood vessels formed or enlarged to provide blood to the legs and that’s why his hind end weakness improved although the clot continued to grow.

He just got up and grabbed his toy to play. Still eager to go for walks so is not so tired he doesn’t want to move etc. About as lethargic as when his B12 was low. They didn’t say anything about it making him tired. We can't take credit for naming him. The rescue named him but we liked it :)

I’ll keep you posted. This forum helped us a lot this past year and if anything we are going through can help someone else, that’s great. Also if you have any thoughts ideas as we go along, I’d love to hear them.

Re: Another Finn Update

Posted: 05 Aug 2018, 18:59
by Olesia711
Sounds like Finn IS doing good, especially if he still wants to play :) .. but knowing what you know as Finn's "parents" there sure is still a lot to worry about.

I wish i had some great insight to share with your about this ) , but i have no experience at all with canine blood clots, except (if this is ANY consolation) ... one of the vet researchers that i know has blood clot issues and also opted for Xarelto... so jsut based on this guess is that you probably selected the best possible option for Finn.... BUT heavens, that sure is expensive, as is the taurine blood test... YIKES!

That sounds about right, can't really fault Finn for not liking his food so much if you increase the kibble ratio...none of my dogs would be happy if i did that either... i give just enough kibble (needed with Izzy because of her Diabetes) to keep the weight on, other than that they get home made and love it...........

Please continue to keep us posted on Finn's progress, even thou not EPI.... he is part of our family.... and once part of our family always part of our family :)

Re: Another Finn Update

Posted: 05 Aug 2018, 19:13
by worriedparents
We got the meds at a (human) pharmacy and I'm not thrilled with the woman at the counter on my best day, when I drop off my own prescriptions. She just about fell over when she saw the price. Luckily I'd already had a few hours to deal with the sticker shock myself. She says, This is for a DOG? with sort of a look of disgust. I said, He's not just a DOG, he's FAMILY!

Yes, Xarelto is very new and appears safe for dogs. The Internist said the vets on the forums she subscribes to are having good results with it. I hope so.

Re: Another Finn Update

Posted: 06 Aug 2018, 17:16
by Olesia711
i am so sorry for you that it is so expensive...... maybe in time (hopefully short time) they will come up with an alternative that is just not so expensive.......................

Or.......... have you checked around to see if there are any canine Xarelto studies going on that you can enroll Finn in????? to save on the meds???

Re: Another Finn Update

Posted: 06 Aug 2018, 18:55
by Madelon
I actually had a similar experience at my pharmacy. Doc gets a ointment for fistulas in his paws and it’s very expensive. When I got it filled the lady told me the price and I handed her my card - she said do you still want it? It’s for your dog right? I smiled and said yes I want it but it’s for my baby - she smiled back.