Today we took our precious pooch to the NC State Veterinary Teaching Hospital. It's quite a place. It was pretty crowded when we got there and I thought we'd probably have to wait a while but we were only in the waiting room for a couple minutes before we were called back. The way things work there is first you see a 4th year student who does a physical exam on the animal and gets their medical history from you; it's very thorough and they ask lots of questions. Then the student goes away and consults with a resident/intern, then the two of them come back and the intern asks more questions and discusses a recommended course of action. In our case they wanted to start with a full blood work up and an abdominal ultrasound to check her kidneys and other organs, then go from there. They also wanted to keep her overnight, at least, and start her on an IV and catheter so she wouldn't have to drink and go so much and could get a break from all that. Since I had surgery recently and had an IV and catheter myself I can't quite imagine how they do that on a dog... but apparently they do!
So we left our dog in their care. This evening the student assigned to her case called to report on the tests they ran this afternoon, and in particular the ultrasound: She said there are definite abnormalities on her kidneys and at least one of them is enlarged, indicating a kidney infection. When she started having problems and I took her to our vet we thought then it might be a kidney infection but the blood and urinalysis tests came back negative so we ruled it out. Apparently kidney infections don't always show up in blood tests or even in cultures if you don't get a large enough sample to grow the culture. They're doing some further tests now but they're fairly certain it's a kidney infection that's causing her problems so now they just have to identify the bacteria so they can put her on the right antibiotic. Once she's on that she should start to improve. They're probably going to keep her there for another day (and night) so they can start the antibiotic intravenously, then she'll come home on Friday with oral meds. The student who called this evening did say they got her to eat some canned dog food mixed with some cat food; at one point I'd wondered if she might eat cat food if I gave it to her but I never tried it. I guess I should have!
The fact that they found something is definitely good news since now they can head toward treating it. Even when we left her I felt a sense of comfort that our precious pooch is in the best place she can be right now and we did the right thing in bringing her. Everyone we met was very nice and helpful, and she'll definitely be well-taken care of while she's there. They don't rest until they track down what's wrong with the animals that come there; an element of being a teaching hospital, I guess. I'm very thankful we were able to bring her there. Apparently we were luckier than I realized: When we were leaving and paying our deposit the person at the front desk said they're very selective about what animals they take, even with referrals. (You can only go there by referral, they don't do routine animal care.) Our vet only faxed the referral to them on Monday and we were able to get an appointment on Wednesday so thankfully it all happened very quickly for us. When I made the appointment the paperwork they sent me included a list of pet-friendly hotels in the area so I guess people from all over (surrounding states) bring animals to this hospital for specialty services. The person we talked to at the front desk said NC State is one of the best and they do get a lot of referrals from far away.
So that's the current story on our dog. Thank you so much for your prayers for her. There is one positive consequence of her staying at the hospital overnight: We'll be able to get a full night's sleep. We've been taking turns getting up to let her out in the middle of the night for nearly a month now so it's been quite a while since we've had an uninterrupted night of sleep. I miss our precious pooch (the house isn't the same without her!) but I know she's being taken care of, and I'm definitely looking forward to a good night's sleep!