It's now just over 5 weeks since Kosbaar has come to live with us. But for the past 2 weeks or so, she's been bugged with loose stools, clearly a bacterial infection of her intestines. Since her diet has been stable since we've had her, we concluded that the antibiotic which she'd been on for the first two weeks (aimed specifically at her skin condition), had suppressed the activities of the pathogenic gut bacteria. Because soon after it was discontinued, it started changing, and getting progressively worse, as the bacteria "got their feet in the doorway" again. The vet who'd initially treated her, was on leave, and another vet prescribed probiotics for her, to support her gut. Two days later there was still no improvement, and we feared the possibility of having to get her back on a drip again, since she was slowly, but surely, dehydrating, although she was still eating well. Even giving her anti-diarrhoea medication twice a day, did not seem to help. On Monday we went back to the animal hospital, and the senior vet gave us antibiotics for her, specifically aimed at the pathogenic gut bacteria, along with other medication too.
For the sake of the bigger picture, I'd like to share a gracious miracle we experienced during this time. We have a massive pin oak tree, which was in desperate need of pruning, because if our winter storms start, it could cause lots of damage to our house and garage, should any branches break. Due to circumstances beyond our control, we could not have it done earlier, and the date was set for last Tuesday. We would have to put Kosbaar inside our house for the day, for her own safety while the tree was being trimmed. On Monday evening the team leader phoned and said he had accidentally made our appointment with an overlapping doctor's appointment, and said he'd only be able to come with his team on the Wednesday. On Tuesday our doggy still had several watery stools, and we were very glad that she could stay outside. We could not postpone the trimming of the tree, as the first storm could be one too many. We asked God for mercy in this scenario. Early Wednesday morning we put Kosbaar in our front room, and put a few boxes there to cordon off an area, so she'd not go everywhere, and she lay down quietly on her blanket. There she stayed all day, sometimes got up and stretched, then lay down again. Every now and then we'd talk to her, so she knew she was not alone. Twice we took her outside for a few minutes, but she did nothing. By 5 pm the workers left, and she could go outside on her own again. Her diarrhoea had stopped completely for that day, and only recommenced again that evening. We were very grateful that we'd been spared a mess in our house!
We had hoped that the antibiotic would have taken effect soon, but after four days her diarrhoea still persisted, without any notable improvement. A friend from our former home town came visiting, and brought us a sample of Slippery Elm powder, which his wife had sent along (she was a practicing vet for many years). We started giving it to Kosbaar, and by the second day we started seeing an improvement. We are still giving her probiotics, and have completed the course of antibiotics, and they possibly all work together, so we're just very thankful. It does look like the Slippery Elm was the one that helped tip the scale. Although there is some improvement, the problem has (unfortunately) not yet subsided. We're keeping a close watch ...
I mentioned earlier that her paws were becoming swollen. The treatment we gave her, along with soaking them in a solution of 1 tablespoon of vinegar in a cup of lukewarm water, seems to have done the trick, because they are looking much better.
She's had several ugly sores on her body, and they have improved quite a bit, but the best improvement is her overall skin condition (except for an area on her neck that is still not good). Initially (after several treatments) her skin started healing slowly – it was a bright pink, and still had several cracks and looked painful, possibly from all her licking. (Note the dates on the images.)
Then we decided to not leave her without a jacket at all, because it functioned as a barrier against her licking and scratching. We treated the sores and massaged milking cream into her skin regularly. This decision paid off, because there is now a marked improvement! The once bright and tender pink skin has now darkened and is looking good, and is soft to the touch. The areas that had hair on a month ago, are now almost bare. As the skin infection started clearing, her hair in those areas started falling out. They were probably already loose in the hair follicles, but because she couldn't lick there, and had no-one to bath and give her skin massages, they just sat there. Here are a few images, showing the improvement in her skin.
On Thursday we gave her a good bath again, and I sat with her in the sun, holding her so she does not run back to her kennel, until she was dry, and topped it off with another skin massage. The areas where there were no hair when we found her (face, feet, chest and belly) now have hair starting to grow back.
She had an infection in her left eye, but after treating it a few times with ophthalmic ointment which I happened to have, her eye is looking much better now.
We've come to realize that this dog has a very special character. She is thankful, quiet, and always comes to us when she hears and sees us outside. Then she wags her tail and her whole face smiles, and she often holds out her left paw for us to take. But she does not make a nuisance of herself. She also appears to have some type of "built-in decency", as we find that (after the first week or two here) she's been tending to make her toilet out of sight as far as possible, which makes the risk of stepping in / on a landmine, less, and cleaning up easier, because all the landmines are more or less in one area. :-)
She is definitely showing a greater zest for life, and sometimes she acts playful – something we have not seen with her before.