Luna’s story has been kindly shared by her carers Jo and Karen. It is a tale of love, devotion, and how sometimes the road to recovery can be long.
“As a lover of Staffordshire Bull Terriers, and Tibetan Terriers, Luna was the perfect mix for us. Luna joined our family as a puppy, aged 9 weeks old. She was one of nine in the litter, but sadly only four survived. As a young pup, Luna was termed the “quieter” sibling, although this is not quite so accurate nowadays!
Luna is full of beans and loves to play. She’s incredibly friendly and wants to say “Hi” to everyone. She can be a bit bouncy, but knows when to calm it down, particularly when she visits Karen’s elderly parents who absolutely adore her. She brings great pleasure to Karen’s father, who has Alzheimer’s disease. Seeing the joy and love in his face when Luna visits is simply wonderful.
We started to notice Luna really wasn’t well in October 2019. Luna is a very high-energy girl, so when she returned home after a visit to her grandparent’s house and took herself off to bed we knew something wasn’t right. When she woke up, she started trembling and smacking her lips. She is well toilet trained, but kept needing to go to the toilet and when she did we could clearly see that she was experiencing tummy troubles. We visited our local vets on several occasions for tests and tried a series of antibiotics and probiotics, but the problem didn’t resolve. There was nothing obvious on the ultrasound or X-rays taken, so at that point we were referred to The Ralph.
When we arrived at The Ralph and met Magda, we were exhausted. For the past few weeks, we had been watching Luna get progressively worse and worse, and becoming less like our bouncy little girl. Her back became very tender, and she started to drag her back legs. She’s a very cuddly girl, but wouldn’t let us touch her back, and would tuck her bum underneath her. We were incredibly worried about what could be causing her to be like this. Luna was up a lot during the night, which also meant we did not get a lot of sleep.
During our initial consultation with Magda she asked us “what are your expectations?” I said, “I just want my dog back”. Magda reassured us, advising that based on what we had said it sounded like the cause of Luna’s symptoms was Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), but we had to do all the tests to eliminate everything else. Because of this we knew Luna was in good hands. Magda was wonderful.
Luna underwent lots of tests to rule out a number of causes. She had endoscopy which confirmed the presence of Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). This was a huge relief – we had a diagnosis! During our consultation with Magda, she asked us if Luna had a habit of eating grass and was a fussy eater? We replied with “yes”. Luna had always been a fussy eater; we had tried a number of different diets and food types, but she still didn’t seem interested. She’d walk up to her food, take a sniff, and then walk away. Luna also did have a habit of eating grass; this was again something we thought was relatively normal behaviour for dogs. Luna behaved like this even before she had any symptoms, so it was enlightening when Magda said that these behaviours can be indicative of a dog feeling sick.
To assess what was causing Luna’s back legs to drag we saw Sue for a neurological consultation. A physical assessment and MRI scan showed that Luna had discospondylitis (an infection in her backbone, specifically in the intervertebral disc and the adjacent vertebrae). The cause of discospondylitis can be bacterial or fungal. After conducting some tests, Luna’s infection was classified as bacterial. This was reassuring as it could be treated with antibiotics. It was likely that this infection was linked to the IBD and caused by the build-up of bacteria in Luna’s system. Whilst our girl was still not her usual self, we knew she was on the road to recovery. Luna was a series of medications (steroids, vitamin B12, and antibiotics) to treat both conditions. This meant trying to give her a lot of medication each day, which wasn’t an easy task as Luna was very clever at dodging the tablets! We also had to make sure Luna wasn’t too active during her recovery time, which meant she couldn’t do one of her favourite things – playing ball!
It’s now been 4 months since our first appointment, and Luna is doing great. She is much happier, and is back playing with her ball and chasing squirrels in the park.Treatment for Luna’s IBD is ongoing, and the aim is to reduce the dose of steroid she is currently taking. We have a follow-up MRI scan in April to confirm the discospondylitis infection has completely gone, which means we can stop the antibiotics. We are so grateful to have our fur-baby back. She’s a very important part of the family and brings a lot of joy to everyone. We couldn’t imagine our lives without her in it.
Although our journey with The Ralph isn’t over, we would like to take this opportunity to thank the whole of Team Ralph for their care, compassion and expertise. What an amazing place full of wonderful people. Thank you”.
Thank you for taking the time to read Luna’s story; keep an eye out for more patient stories and news from inside the hospital.