The Plight Of A Schnauzer – Episode 2: Defeat


Is your Schnauzer in peak health?

Last week I posted ‘Episode 1 – Turmoil‘ of one of the most remarkable cases I have ever had to deal with.

Episode 2: Defeat

I kept myself up-to-date on Winston’s daily progress at the specialist center. He was hospitalised for a few more days after the surgery. He developed some expected complications, the main one being jaundice. On the bright side, I was informed that he had also started to eat which was a very good sign after such a massive surgery. On his final day at Advanced Vetcare, his liver histopathology results came through.

His owners were informed that his liver was suffering from chronic long term changes and these changes were irreversible.  They were given a very guarded prognosis and sent him home loaded with a ton of medications and a special low fat food (Hill’s w/d).

He needed five different types of medications grouped below:

1. Cortisone (prednisolone) to hasten down any inflammation that can further damage his liver.

2. Broad spectrum antibiotics. Two types were used: Amoxyclav and Enrofloxacin.

3. Ursodeoxycholic and S-adenosylmethionine (SAM-e) to support his liver and reverse the jaundice.

Surprisingly, Winston improved more and more each day. He came to me for weekly revisits and appeared livelier each time.

He was eating well and his owners were feeling very happy with his progress. I just always knew Winston would power through and defeat all the odds. We closely monitored his liver enzymes via blood tests which showed very subtle improvements each week.

I must say, each time Winston came to see me; I was really moved with the powerful bond shared between him and his lovely owners. They were supporting each other so much during this whole ordeal. His owners were doing everything in their power to keep him comfortable and help him recover and Winston in return, was making more progress each day and filling them with so much hope.


In the picture above, Winston is giving me the funniest look; the one that says, please take me back to my parents.

Two weeks passed and out of nowhere, Winston had a really bad turn.

He was vomiting and couldn’t even keep any water down. He looked pretty flat when he was brought in. Overnight intravenous fluid therapy at our clinic had not really made any difference to him.

After consulting with the specialist, the concern was that Winston was either suffering from a bout of pancreatitis or terminal liver failure. We needed to do more tests to determine which of the two situations were occurring. If it was the latter, it was simply the end of the road. Both possibilities posed very grim outcomes. However, pancreatitis was treatable. He would require several days of intensive hospitalisation and supportive care.

Winston & his teddy

Soon after I spoke to the specialist, Winston’s owners came in to visit him. He managed get himself up and greeted him with a tiny tail wag. I conveyed our concerns and discussed his options and then gave them time to digest the news. They all sat huddled together and Winston was looking ever so frail.

For the first time ever, Winston looked like a very sick dog to me.I just couldn’t believe how quickly he went downhill. After much deliberation, one of his owners looked at me and said:

‘We have got to stop now. We have put him through so much and we simply can’t do that to him anymore’.

He couldn’t utter the unspoken words. The other owner was in complete denial, he searched my eyes for hope or a refusal to put Winston down. I asked them both if they were 100% sure of their decision and if they had any more questions. By that stage, we all knew what had to happen. I helped my Winston to his pain-free destination. Nothing I said or did could contain the anguish my clients felt at the terrible loss of their little boy Winston. This was definitely not the ending we had all worked very hard for…

It has been one and half month since I mourned the loss of Winston and I still cry whenever I think about him.

It has been quite hard reliving this whole case but I had to share it with you all.

I want Winston’s tragic loss to spread awareness about this lethal liver condition that Schnauzers can get. If you own one yourself or know somebody that does, it is imperative that you read this or share it to relevant parties and learn from it.

If you own a Schnauzer, please make sure to do the following:

1. Even if your dog appears bright and healthy, make sure to get him/her regularly (say every 6 to 12 months) blood tested to check their liver. For all you know, he/she may be battling with this undercover liver condition.

2. Maintain your dog on balanced low fat diet as prevention. Consider adding silymarin supplement to their diet to help support their liver.

3. If your dog appears to be suffering from intermittent episodes of vomiting, once to twice a year, it warrants further investigation of his/her liver.

Winston’s resilience masked his inner workings beyond belief. Would you ever suspect Winston was very sick based on his picture below?

Winston displeased with lack of liver treats

My dear Winston, you taught me so much and I will forever be grateful to you. I promise you that I will never again be fooled by any of my patient’s outwardly healthy appearance.

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Source: http://rayyathevet.com/2012/08/26/the-plight-of-a-schnauzer-..



Rayya The Vet

I was born overseas and grew up in Lebanon. About 9 years ago, I left my family and friends behind to pursue my dream of becoming a veterinarian in Australia.

I have now been out in practice for the past 5 years. I absolutely love being involved with all types of animals and consider it my "calling". Whilst my job can be quite an emotional rollercoaster ride, I cannot fathom doing anything else for as long as I am living. I simply feel blessed every day that I am practicing what I truly love.

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