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Health and Behaviour

The link between stress and health. It can be HUGE!!

We all know and are told frequently that stress can really impact our health, but have we applied the same with dogs?

Popi came to TRF in an awful state at Christmas. She was admitted to the emergency vets as she could hardly catch her breath. Her skin so swollen and inflamed they couldn’t insert a line for an iv so all they could do was try and reduce the symptoms they could address.

Over the coming weeks she was with a lovely foster who nurtured her helping her overcome the breathing issues and her poor skin. With TLC her skin improved, her breathing issues became manageable and she lost a kg in weight (she was 8.2kg). She was referred for a CT scan was unremarkable as were any bloods. Her poor feet are still very swollen, making it very painful to walk. Her ear infections are clear now although the skin is somewhat blistered and sore inside her ears.

Popi struggled alongside the other dogs, and you know I fall for a sob story. My lot are very used to the ones with extra needs so I welcomed her with open arms, and an open heart.

She had all the markers for Cushings disease, a serious health condition in dogs that occurs when the adrenal glands overproduce cortisol (cortisone) in the animal's body. Excess cortisol can put a dog at risk of several serious conditions and illnesses, from kidney damage to diabetes, and can be llife-threatening. Initial urine tests confirmed excess cortisol and warranted further bloods to diagnose Cushings.

However, this is where it gets odd..... strangely, almost overnight her breathing suddenly improved to almost normal and the extremely excessive drinking also stopped....over night!

Before the tests, we speculated whether it was possible that her significant stress were the culprit exacerbating all these issues. But, admittedly I've never seen stress manifest as Cushings....even down to the raised cortisol levels in her urine. The referral vets want to follow a watch and wait process due to this turn around and have been fantastic as have my own vets, as usual.

Well, the cushings results came in this week.... She is negative for cushings! So we are reasonably confident that a lot of her issues are caused by stress. Currently the main issue appears to be severe Separation Anxiety, to the point of causing panic attacks.

She has started anti anxiety medication to aid her with her coping and will soon start a gradual process of systemstic desensitisation.....but not quite yet, her health must come first.

Separation anxiety is extremely isolating for the humans and debilitating for the dogs and Popi demonstrates just how badly stress can manifest.

Only time will tell if all her issues are related to her stress. But she raises an important issue we all need to consider

Left to fester any behavioural issue can and will affect their health, and similarly, any medical issue left unaddressed can affect behaviour. It is incredibly important that vets and behaviourists work as a team to the same goals.

There is no shame in asking for help. Like with humans there seems to be a bit of a mental block requesting anti anxiety medication. They shouldn't be used alone, but as part of a plan, and only a vet can advise which ones as they know your pets medical history. But in combination with a plan they can really help your dogs.... and in turn, you.

Here's Popi enjoying a few days out. Thankfully because of the generosity of Dedicated to Dachshunds she can still enjoy trips out and as she lovvvvveeeesss people she loves all the attention she gets in the stroller. She's also got a favourite, her own Spesh healer......oh....and 2 pairs of boots on the way to see if that helps her walk any easier.

Popi is on the mend hopefully but please remember her story, it may help others.

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