Ritka in Trouble

Our young Vizsla, Ritka, went out for a run on Tuesday. Diane was near Sacramento, and stopped at a wildlife area, intending to take a half-hour walk with Ritka. Ritka, though, scented jackrabbits and was off. Because of the high grass, she effectively disappeared.

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Diane could not find her for a couple of hours. When she did, Ritka was laying down in the shade of a tree, apparently quite tired. She didn’t get up to greet Diane.

Diane started the drive home, but Ritka had diarrhea. Diane pulled over and found that Ritka had also thrown up in her crate. It was obvious that this was more than just modest fatigue. Diane called Greta, a friend of ours now in Portland, who looked up vet clinic numbers as Diane drove on. She ended up going straight to an emergency veterinary facility in Concord, where they started treating Ritka for heat stroke.

When they ran tests, the vets also found that Ritka had DIC — disseminated intravascular coagulation. Something had triggered system-wide blood coagulation.

Mostly, treatment followed symptoms. By Wednesday morning, Ritka seemed to be responding well, and was alert when Diane visited around 11 AM. We were hopeful that we might be taking Ritka home later in the day.

In mid-afternoon, we got a call from the vet: Ritka’s status had declined pretty drastically. She had a blood pressure of 270 systolic — and that means the same thing in both humans and dogs, that she was at high risk for stroke. Her kidneys were not functioning well, which drove up her blood pressure. Also, Ritka’s platelet count had dropped precipitously. The vet was suggesting a transfer to the clinic at UC Davis, and indicated that he would make the arrangements if we would transport Ritka. We hopped in the van to go to the clinic.

We were told that it turned out that UC Davis would not be in our travel plans. They were full up for critical care cases, and were not accepting any more. Also, they had no platelets on hand. We would stick with Ritka at her current facility. We realized that we might be called on to make a decision to put her down at any time, especially if she suffered a stroke. A clinic in Walnut Creek, though, did have a bag of platelets that they were willing to sell for \$300. I left Diane with Ritka and went off to fetch the platelets. One bag was half the dose that the vets would like to give, but much preferable to none at all.

When I got back, I met up with Diane next to Ritka’s bed. She had been started on a painkiller, which made Ritka much more relaxed. We hung around reassuring Ritka with our presence.

Somewhere in there, the vet told me that the same clinic I had just been to for platelets had located a second bag of them. I was somewhat annoyed, since I specifically asked them if there was another bag when I was there, but the general relief that I could get a second bag was the more weighty consideration. So off I went again as errand-runner.

We got shooed out of the clinic as they were preparing to start infusing the platelets. Our latest info is that Ritka seems stable, and the blood pressure was down to 188 — not great, but far better than earlier in the day.

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We’ll be calling the clinic before the 8 AM shift change.

Update: Ritka’s blood pressure improved over the night, to 128 systolic. Her kidney function slightly improved. The vet said that her kidney problem was polyurea, and was the most treatable of problems she might have. Her platelet count was still very low despite the platelet infusion of the night before. As the vet put it, she is still a very sick dog.

Wesley R. Elsberry

Falconer. Interdisciplinary researcher: biology and computer science. Photographer. Husband. Christian. Activist.

4 thoughts on “Ritka in Trouble

  • 2006/08/18 at 4:35 pm
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    Sounds horrible. I will be praying for her. Keep us updated, okay?

  • 2006/08/19 at 4:18 am
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    Sherlock and Watson (my pups) and I send good wishes to Ritka. Any updates?

  • 2006/08/19 at 5:10 am
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    Yes, I have another post up. Diane will be putting up some more detailed info, perhaps today. I will link to that when it goes up.

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