Autoimmune Disease in Dogs: Why GME Awareness is Vital

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Autoimmune Disease in Dogs Autoimmune disease in dogs may attack different parts of your dog’s body, however, when it strikes your dog’s central nervous system, this condition can be life-threatening and some symptoms of Granulomatous Meningoencephalitis (GME) often cause severe suffering like chronic migraines that require high doses of medication to help lower your dog’s threshold of pain.

This article gives you a heart wrenching account of a dog named Cricket Ditty and her challenges with GME told by her pet parent and our guest blogger, Margaret Ditty.  When Dog Health News read about Cricket’s condition, we decided that her story needs to be heard far and wide to spread awareness about this disease.

Autoimmune Disease in Dogs: Cricket Ditty – One Dog’s Fight Against GME & NME

Margaret Ditty has kindly shared Cricket’s story so you can understand all aspects of GME & NME.

Cricket was born in January 2009 and just turned 7 years old.   She’s a  fawn colored, female, Applehead Toy Chihuahua with papers.  One weekend I had wandered into a local pet store when I saw this precious little furbaby in her pet store cage.  She looked at me, wagged her tail and woofed at me.  She had me at “woof”. 

Pet store dogs aren’t cheap and her going price was $1,300.00.  I asked the pet store worker if I could visit with her in their visiting area and she brought her to me.  She was a mere 2-½ pounds of sheer cuteness.  She was loaded with personality and spunk and not shaky like most Chihuahuas.  So I called the hubby and begged him to let me purchase her.  She could be every present for the entire year that he would have to purchase for me.  Finally my husband caved in to my pleas, even though we already have a Miniature Pinscher with heart problems at home.  I never purchased pet insurance as I always put away funds in a special pet account for my dogs figuring that my monthly contribution would be enough to cover shots and annual exams myself. Big mistake.

Autoimmune Disease in DogsCricket’s first 7 years of life were wonderful.  No health issues whatsoever.  Then poof, in October of 2015 she started showing some unusual health symptoms that we were concerned about.  She seemed to be having some vision loss and she was walking a bit differently.  We took Cricket to our vet and he thought it might be a middle ear infection, prescribed ear drops and told us to use as needed.  Just two weeks later she received her annual shots, but no rabies vaccination due yet.  Another big mistake. 

From that moment on we saw a decline in Cricket’s health.  Reports say that GME, an autoimmune disease in dogs, is idiopathic in nature which means no known reason it occurs, but they are finding that toy breeds are more susceptible to this disease but not sure why.  In December, Cricket could still walk up and down the stairs, but by January she refused to go up or down the stairs.  She wasn’t as spunky and she was bumping into things that she normally would not bump into before. 

We thought Cricket might have diabetes as she wasn’t seeing very well.  This time I took her to the Animal Hospital that ran a CBC blood panel and specifically checked for diabetes.  They noted that Cricket could not walk very well, definitely could not see very well, and said she was almost blind.  After the blood work came back they found that Cricket had a severe bladder infection and put her on antibiotics and an anti-inflammatory medication.  She seemed to be getting better as apparently the anti-inflammatory medication was helping with the inflammation in her brain from the undiagnosed GME, an autoimmune disease in dogs.  Then a week later, after she had finished this medication, Cricket started getting worse. 

We took Cricket back to our local Animal Hospital who determined she indeed was having neurological problems and referred us to a canine neurologist located in Richmond, Virginia, the only one in our entire state.  We made the 2-½ hour trip one way as soon as they could fit us in. 

Cricket was in bad shape by the time we visited the neurologist at as she had been fighting this disease since October of 2015, unbeknownst to us and our educated vets!   Dr. Michael Higginbotham DVM DACVIM, with Bush Veterinary Neurology Service in Richmond, Virginia, examined her and determined she needed an MRI and possibly a spinal tap which cost us $3,200.00 .  After he completed the MRI he determined, due to the Chiari-like malformation in the back of her brain, she could not undergo a spinal tap as it would kill her. 

Autoimmune Disease in DogsThe MRI showed that Cricket had massive necrosis in the brain and Dr. Higginbotham determined she not only had GME but NME, which was due to her delayed diagnosis and treatment of this autoimmune disease in dogs.  Necrosis is when the white cells eat up parts of the brain, leave lesions and empty cavities in the brain that then are filled up with fluids, which in turn cause even more inflammation in the brain.  To save her life he had to hospitalize her overnight with Chemo Treatments via IV.  So that’s exactly what we did.  We hospitalized her to get her better and took her home the next day.

Cricket looked extremely weak and tired, not because of the Chemo as dogs react differently than humans when receiving this treatment, but due to the debilitating migraines which can be the most painful effects of this disease in the brain. 

We came home and gave Cricket the high dose of prednisone they told us to give her every 12 hours.   Although this drug helps bring down the inflammation in your dog’s brain, it has many side effects including weight gain, excessive thirst and a pot belly.  Then about a week later she was reduced to 2.5 mg twice a day and put on Cyclosporine, which is a drug used for humans to keep them from rejecting transplanted organs. Cyclosporine helps reduce your dog’s white blood cells from attacking your dog’s brain any further.  This med costs $156.00 per month! 

Autoimmune Disease in DogsA month later, Cricket did not seem to be getting any better so we had to drive up to Richmond for yet another $175.00 visit.  Dr. Higginbotham wanted to hospitalize Cricket for 4 days that would have run another $2,200.00 which we did not have.  After I broke down and cried in front of the neurologist, he cut us a break.  For an additional $156.00, he sent her home with a two day supply of Chemo that my local vet would have to give to Cricket. 

I just cried all the way home holding that Chemo in my hand like it was gold since it was apparently life saving for my precious Cricket.  My local vet administered the Chemo and Cricket seemed to start getting better.  In about 10 days, we had to bring her back for another CBC to check her white cells. 

Since Cricket was not stable on any type of wood or tile flooring throughout my home; we put down all kinds of throw rugs in the family room and put up gates to the entrance and exits.  My husband also made Cricket a doggy walker out of PVC pipe and I sewed the body support to her walker so she could walk on the kitchen tile floors without falling.  This worked and it gave her greater mobility and security on the floors. 

To help Cricket regain some strength, I bought a doggy life jacket and proceeded to do water therapy in our bathtub which seems to help control her weight gain from the prednisone and gives her more muscle strength.  Our vet thought it was an excellent idea, so I continue doing this to help rehabilitate her with hope that Cricket’s brain can re-channel the neurological damage she’s suffered from this autoimmune disease in dogs and learn to walk on floors without slipping. 

Unfortunately, Cricket didn’t seem like she was getting any better, meaning her old self, and we had to take her back to the neurologist. Dr. Higginbotham gave her 10 mg of Lomustine, a very strong Chemo Therapy in pill form.  This treatment was $456.00.  Needless to say we are hemorrhaging vet bills to save her precious little life!  This does not include the checkups with our local vet and all the additional blood work to check her white blood cell counts and to check for liver problems from the prednisone!    She seems to be doing better since this last treatment, however she still slips on floors and has good and bad days due to the neurological damage to her brain from the delayed diagnosis and treatment of this autoimmune disease in dogs.

During this whole journey I joined a support group on Facebook to learn more about GME, and then I created my own group.  I personally created a GME Awareness Pamphlet that I am passing out to every person I meet at drive-thru windows, inside local pet stores and veterinarian practices, at stores or to dog owners out walking their dog.  Members of my site are passing my GME Awareness Pamphlets out as well, and some members live outside of the US!  I also created a GME & NME Awareness Video that features many dogs on these sites that are going through this horrible disease, and the pet parents who are shelling out thousands and thousands of dollars to help treat and save their pets lives. We are sharing this video with every doggy website on Facebook. 

Autoimmune Disease in Dogs

It’s been an amazing but heart breaking journey.  I’ve learned a lot about autoimmune disease in dogs and made many precious friends on these sites who are going through the same health crisis with their beloved furbabys!  They’re amazing to know and truly an inspiration of commitment and courage towards the love of their precious furbabys. 

I want to spread awareness about GME and NME to other pet parents to help save them the pain that they and their dogs could go through if not treated early.  Some dogs can die within 24 to 48 hours of diagnosis because many vets are unfamiliar with this disease to the central nervous system.  Your dog may have some or all of these symptoms.

Symptoms of GME 

•Head Pressing: Dog will press their head against things

Autoimmune Disease in Dogs•Weakness in legs

•Behavior changes

•Circling

•Seizures

•Blindness

•Drowsiness

•Head tilting

•Unsteady walk or gait

I want to bring awareness about GME and NME to pet parents of toy breeds because your dogs are at greater risk of this autoimmune disease.  Annual vaccine shots given to toy breeds at the same dose for a 125 pound dog cause your toy breed’s autoimmune system to “melt down”. This high vaccine dose is like throwing fuel on embers of an already slow burning fire existing in toy breeds!  After your initial puppy shots in the first year of your dog’s life, I recommend you have your local vet administer a titer test prior to any additional annual shots!  A titer test will determine if your dog has sufficient antibodies against current dog diseases and if they do, you DO NOT have to perform an annual shot with the exception of Rabies, which is required every three years per state law.   If you currently have a GME or NME dog, remember that your dog must be healthy enough to receive further vaccinations, which they usually are not and are EXEMPT from further annual shots to include rabies.  Ask your vet to use a big red marker on your pets file that says “NO FURTHER SHOTS REQUIRED.”  A re-vaccination of a GME & NME dog would mean certain death!

My biggest advice to any pet parent today is, “If you own a pet, be sure to sign up for pet insurance immediately!”  You cannot possibly imagine how much you will pay when trying to help your dog with a life threatening autoimmune disease in dogs like GME or NME.  It’s horrific, and you feel like you are at your VET’s mercy because the other option of putting down your beloved furbaby is not an option if they are a member of your family.  Pets, to some people, are just as much a part of your family as your own biological children.  Some of us commit to them for life as they mean that much to us as they truly are man’s best friend, full of love and devotion for you.  Do they deserve any less than the best medical care that anybody else in your family would deserve?  I say “No they don’t” and for loves sake I will fight the fight and bring awareness with every ounce of my being and with all my heart!  Thank you for allowing me to share Cricket’s story and bring awareness! 

Autoimmune Disease in DogsWarmest Regards,

Margaret Ditty

Pet Parent to Cricket Ditty

Remember to always, “Educate, Encourage and Share”

You can find Margaret Ditty on Facebook and at Pet Parents Fighting NME & GME “Educate, Encourage, Share”.  You can also join her group to stay up to date with Cricket’s condition and learn more from other members of her group.  All photos in this article are of Cricket Ditty and were provided by Margaret Ditty.

This article gives you a full disclosure about Cricket Ditty’s fight against GME and NME, an autoimmune disease in dogs, so you can take better care of your dog. Dog Health News is honored to have Margaret Ditty’s trust to share Cricket’s story and acknowledges the incredible strength Cricket has while she deals with the effects of this disease.  Margaret Ditty’s passion to spread awareness about GME and NME is unstoppable.

Share Cricket Ditty’s story with your friends and family so they understand the symptoms and challenges of this potentially deadly disease with no known cause.  You can always depend on the best dog health strategies from Dog Health News.

By the way… claim your FREE “How NOT to Overpay to Keep Your Dog Well” video news.  Just go HERE now to get your Dog Health and Wellness Video News.

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Comments

  1. Margaret has undergone a huge amount of work creating a fantastic Facebook page for carers if these poor doggies with GME/NME. My own beautiful little dog Tashi aged 3 from this cruel disease and we need all the support we can to create awareness for this dreadful illness. Well done Margaret you are truly a star!!

    • Karen, Thank you so much for your comments and for acknowledging the hard work that Margaret is doing on behalf of dogs, dog health and dog parents. Hope to hear from you again on Dog Health News. Best of luck to you. Roberta

  2. Thank you Roberta for a lovely article and for sharing Cricket’s story! I am so happy to share Cricket”s story and bring awareness to this awful disease. If anyone in the dog lovers world would like to help me with my ongoing medical expenses I would so eternally grateful. Any amount will do and our family would be so blessed by your help with saving our precious fur baby. Her link to her go fund me page is: https://www.gofundme.com/kgr2q5n4

    Thank you,
    Margaret Ditty
    Pet Parent to Cricket Ditty
    Remember to: “Educate, Encourage & Share”

    • Hello Margaret…. I’m honored to help spread awareness and hope that your Cricket gets all the care she needs to stay well. Please keep us posted. Thank you. Roberta.

  3. Roisin Berber says:

    This article was factual, well written, informative and very helpful but also sweet and lovely to read. GME is a disease that attacks our furbabies in the most horrific way, its fast and the journey to recovery is long an heartbreaking. It is mentally, financially and emotionally crippling the need for awareness is essential. I personally never even heard of GME until diagnosis and my veterinary practice is open 20 years but Daisy is the first dog with GME they have treated. Margaret Ditty is fantastic in her campaign to spread awareness of this awful disease, her love and care for all our furbabbies is truly touching and if even one dog and their owners are spared the awfulness of the disease then this campaign is a success. Well done xx

    • Thank you so much, Roisin Berber, for your comments and acknowledgement of the work being done by Margaret Ditty related to GME. I hope you will stay connected with Dog Health News and reach out to Margaret as well. All the best to you, Roberta

  4. My Maltipoo Tucker was diagnosed with Focal GME in October of 2015 at the tender age of 18 months. Tucker presented with a sudden onset of behavioral changes. Within 48hrs my guy went from being a very energetic playful pup to cowering, low crawling, hiding, trembling, head hanging, and displaying signs of separation anxiety. Let me first say Tucker stole my heart from day one. He is actually my grandpuppy who was born under my bed on Easter Sunday 2014. I have had his mom “Honey” a toy poodle since she was 3 months old as she was a birthday/wedding present from my husband in 2010. Tuckers dad is a Maltese that belongs to my daughter..so you see this is a family affair! Tucker was the only pup Honey had and I have never fell so hard over a fur baby as I did the moment he was born! Hopefully this creates some understanding of how beside myself I was when Tucker suddenly changed for no apparent reason. I took him to our vet who kept Tucker overnight but his blood work came back fine and My vet thought maybe something had just scared my guy really bad, but as soon as we got home Tucker immediately low crawled under all the furniture, ran in the bathroom and was cowering and shaking in the corner! I called my vet and back we went. He kept Tucker for 4 days but still came up with nothing other than some sort of weird separation anxiety issue and sent us home with Prozac, however on instinct he had given Tucker 2 massive doses of long acting steroids little did my vet or I know but he had just saved Tuckers life. Once home there was some mild improvement but the head hanging, being tired, and not wanting to play worried me. I remember telling my husband Tucker acted like he had a really bad headache. I found a more specialized vet 2 hours away and went in search of a second opinion. Dr. John was great. He listened to everything and gave tucker a basic neurological exam, but my statement about Tucker behaving like he had a headache and hanging his head is what really got his attention. He told me he would be right back..of course I was thinking Tucker had a brain tumor or cancer and was scared. A few minutes later he comes in with a handout talking about GME. Can I say that handout terrified me. I mean dogs dying as soon as 24 hrs! Life expectancy 6 months to a year if lucky! I was not prepared nor had I ever heard of GME. Dr. John was great though. We were lucky as Tucker had focal GME and he did not exhibit the more severe neurological symptoms and according to him Tucker had a great chance of remission. Tucker was sent home on 10 mgs of prednisone a day and I left feeling hopeful. Once home I looked on every website and everything was bleak and my heart just broke. The thought of losing my little guy kept me in tears and a nervous wreck. Tucker responded well in the beginning but a month later he started head digging, developed a head tilt, and displayed ataxia. It was at that point I found a neurologist 3 hours away. Thankfully they were able to fit us in within 48 hours of me calling. It ended up being a $2400 visit! Blood work, a spinal tap, MRI, and basic neuro work up were done. Tuckers spinal came back negative and he had one small area on his brain that indicated old inflammation, however all the neurological signs were there, and due to him being on steroids so long that explained the negative spinal and vague MRI result. He was sent home on 15 mgs of prednisone a day. We did this for a month and then tried a reduction but he relapsed so we added cyclosporine. Unfortunately Tucker did not tolerate the new medicine at all. We decided to try chemo (cytarabine) and I’m elated to say after the second round of chemo the neurologist gave me the best news ever, Tucker is officially in remission! We are now back down to 10 mgs of prednisone daily and he gets his 3rd round of chemo tomorrow. If all continues to go well we will try a 2.5 mg reduction in his prednisone in about 10 days. Am I scared? Of course I am as this is a scary disease. Having said that the overwhelming support I get from our GME support group and the wonderful success stories people share keep me strong and optimistic. Our group shares the pain, joys, ups, and downs!! We are a family and I have made so many friends because of our common goal to bring education and awareness concerning GME to everyone possible. Yes, this disease is deadly more times than not, but through education and awareness we can increase the odds of early detection hence more fur babies survive and live healthy lives. Thank you for the opportunity to share Tuckers story and to all my fellow GME family stay strong and keep up the good fight!

    • Hello Lisa, Thank you so very much for taking the time to share your account of Tucker’s challenge with GME. There seems to be a definite pattern of a nonstop goal to find answers and get the word out to help other dogs and dog parents. Tucker’s story is quite powerful and he’s lucky to have you. Keep us posted on his health and thanks again for trusting your story on Dog Health News. Take care, Roberta

      • Lisa Smith says:

        Thank you for your kind words. Tuckerman and I will continue to fight. I hope our story inspires others to share their journey but to also provide hope!!

        • Lisa…. I’m certain that whoever reads your story will not only be moved emotionally by what you are doing, but they may tell a friend who tells another friend and on and on. Caring comes in many different shapes and forms… for you, right now, it’s caring for your sweet Tucker. Wishing you the best, Roberta.

  5. Sheila Bales says:

    Our Sophie was born November 2009, this past December 2015, Christmas Eve in fact. She got her little foot hurt and one thing led to another. Ended up being sedated to have the side claw or nail removed. She was put on antibiotics and Prednisone. She was not the same after that. Back and forth to the vet, they thought she had a urinary infection and gave her more medicine. Nothing helped and she was getting worse. Wouldn’t let you hold her, which was not normal, she always wanted to be held. Started staggering and going in circles.
    The vet did total blood work up and films. Everything seemed fine. Still no change and she wouldn’t eat. Finally sent us to a specialist and he basically told us first thing that it was GME.
    They hospitalized her for a few days and after we brought her home, had to kennel her with no activity for a few weeks.
    She is doing much better and is now on a low dose of Prednisone every other day now.
    It breaks my heart to hear about all the little furbabies suffering from this.

    • Hello Sheila, Sorry to hear that your Sophie was diagnosed with GME, however your story may very well help dog parents to better understand and recognize symptoms and have their vet check for GME sooner. I know that early diagnosis and treatment is critical through the account that Margaret Ditty has done in Cricket’s story. Thank you so much for sharing on Dog Health News. Do keep us posted on Sophie and best of luck to you!! Roberta

  6. Jennifer Schembri says:

    My papillon Domino was always a healthy dog never had any issues with anything. He is 9 year’s old full bred papillon and just the sweetest little guy you’ll ever lay your eyes upon. This past January I noticed Domino began having a little bit of a different attitude at night. He would always lay at my feet on the recliner, but one night he just seemed to be very annoyed. He jumped down and went and lied down in the corner. This was very unusual of him as he never, ever leaves my side. My husband and I said to one another, that was odd, but we thought nothing of it, at first. Well, he continued to do this nightly about the same time every night he got to the point where he just wanted to be left alone and would go lay in the same corner. The only thing we noticed health wise was that Domino had extremely bad breath. Since Domino continued to want to be left alone at night we made an appointment right away with our veterinarian for teeth cleaning, blood work and blood pressure check, as we felt his teeth were causing him some discomfort and that was why wanted to be left alone.

    We brought Domino in for what we thought would just be a routine teeth cleaning. Once he was cleared for surgery via blood work and blood pressure check. We received a call a few hours later stating that Domino had periodontal disease and would need 28 teeth extracted! I was in shock this poor guy needed so many teeth removed. My vet agreed this was probably the reason for his isolation and wanting to be left alone, since this had to be very painful for him. The first thing I thought of is he needs intravenous antibiotics, as I know this type of infection can cause heart problems in dogs and that he would need antibiotics at home to make sure we clear out the infection. At the same time I was extremely worried about the amount of time it would take for the surgery and if Domino would wake up! It was 3.5 hour’s under anesthesia! I waited and waited for the call that he was okay. I even drove down there to make sure everything was fine, because it was taking forever! Domino came out of the surgery like a champ!! They thought they’d have to keep him overnight, but were surprised how spunky he was. I went and picked up my tail wagging baby and brought him home with tears in my eye’s that he was fine! My vet said, we will most definitely see improvements in him after getting all those bad teeth out.

    We went home and he recovered nicely. He took two weeks of antibiotics and ate just like he did before the teeth were removed. He seemed great for the first few day’s. Then I noticed he was jumping off the couch again to go lay in the corner to be left alone again. I at this point I didn’t think anything of it at all as he just had a full work up and had his dental procedure done. I figured he was just healing. It was 3 week’s later I had just walked in the house from running errands, I noticed Domino’s back left paw slipped out to the side. It was so subtle that if I would’ve blinked I would’ve missed it. Then again about an hour later I saw the front left paw slip. I said to myself, did I really just see that? Okay, I know I saw it, and I’m taking him in just to be safe. I went to my veterinarian’s office and asked to see my regular vet, he was busy at the time and they gave me another doctor to see. The Doctor said, she thought he was walking a little stiff on the left hip and decide he needed an Xray. We did our Xray and off we went with anti-inflammatory meds to be given for two weeks, as she felt it was just arthritis. The next day I noticed his front legs slipping a little more along with the back one’s and I decide to bring him back into our vets office. We saw a different doctor who said, his Xray revealed that he had luxating patellas and that he was over compensating for the knee cap being pushed in and out and that is why the front leg is slipping. Okay, we go home again and crate rest him. The following day I notice he’s slipping all over the place on the hardwood floors. I’m thinking to myself is this really what happens with luxating patellas and arthritis? That night I’m watching TV and he is laying with me, I got this very bad feeling and called out his name, as I did this he had what I would call a spasm that left his whole side paralyzed for at least 5 to 10 mins. I immediately grabbed my phone and called my vet’s office and thankfully it was after hours and I was referred to the ER clinic. My husband suggested I was over reacting and we didn’t need to go. When we arrived they came in and took Domino in the back within seconds of arriving. The vet on call came in gave us all the possible scenarios 1) Cancerous brain tumor 2) Disc rupture (IVDD) and 3) It could be a spinal fracture! He suggested Domino stay over night and see the surgeon in the morning for surgery. My husband was irate at this doctor at this point, and said to me, how can he come in and tell us what’s going on with Domino when he only examined him for a few mins and did no testing? I was unsure as my whole world was just rocked! I made the doctor come back in and asked if he had heart problems from the dental procedure or if this could be a stroke? He said, it doesn’t present like Domino’s case. My husband was very adamant at this time he wanted to leave and not leave Domino in their care. I went out to the reception desk and made the appointment with the surgeon for the following morning, as I knew I needed to have someone higher up evaluate him and whatever we were dealing with was EXTREMELY SERIOUS!

    When we brought Domino home he seemed okay with a little bit of slippage in his hind legs and very tired from the pain meds. I had him sleep in his crate right next to me, because they wanted me to limit his movement. I watched him all night in fear something would happen to him. Around 4 am I noticed his left side was paralyzed again and I called down to the ER. They said bring him in we will have the surgeon look at him at 6 am when he does rounds. We got there and met with the surgeon. He helped me to understand that this was indeed neurological by doing a simple paw lift on the table exam. If you tap their paws on the table their paws should immediately lift up. Domino’s did not on the left side. This meant his brain did not recognize he had a left side. Something my veterinarian practice should’ve picked up. The surgeon explained that it could be a cancerous brain tumor, IVDD, or Meningitis. He said, hope for IVDD!! I said, they all sound terrible. He said, IVDD is treatable with surgery and not deadly. He then went on to explain the complications that could arise during the spinal tap and the contrast dye they needed to use on the CT so they could see better. I gave my weak baby the biggest kiss and hug I could and handed him off to the doctor.

    My heart sank at that moment with worry of what was to come. I cried hysterically the whole way home. All of it seemed impossible and too much to handle. My husband and I went home to wait the doctor’s call. He had taken the day off which was unheard of in our home. He was just as sick as I was with worry. We called almost every hour for an update and to see if there was any news. Finally 5 hour’s later the surgeon called and explained he had a difficult time seeing on the CT, because Domino has a smaller foreman magnum than normal dog’s. This would mean he has a chiari malformation. Because of this malformation he had a extremely hard time getting the CSF to come out for the tap. What he said should have taken him less than 30 seconds to get 10 drops, took him 10 mins!! I knew immediately what he meant, as I too have chiari malformation. I was flabbergasted at the news that we both have the same rare brain disorder, but it didn’t stop there. He said with the dye and shape of his head he was unable to see clear enough if there was a disc rupture. All we could do now is wait for the radiology report and the pathologist report to come back the next day while Domino was in the ICU. Early the next morning the surgeon called to say that Domino’s radiology report came back and that he indeed has a chiari malformation, 2 disc ruptures (1 in a very bad inoperable location and the other probably wasn’t causing any issues) He said, he still needed to wait on the final pathologist report, but initial findings is showing very high WBC which would mean he had GME meningitis. He said, that he had no time to waste and would be starting the prednisone right now. He explained to me the odds of him beating this is 70% and for 30% it would be fatal and they couldn’t tell me where Domino would lie in that statistic. They said, it’s very encouraging that I brought him in right away and that he is getting treatment so quickly and are hoping for the best.

    I went and visited him everyday for 5 to 6 hours a day until he was released. I would not leave his side until he needed another dose of medicine. I knew if anything he would fight his little tail off to be with me if he saw me. Each day he got a little stronger with the prednisone and cyclosporine that they added a day later, but he was still extremely weak. On the 5th day of being there the Neurologist said we could take him home and couldn’t really say if he would live or die. She said, it’s too soon to tell. I was just so sick to my stomach with anxiety and grief of all that was going on with him. I had my reservations of bringing him home, because he was still unable to walk on his own. What had initially effected the left side moved to the right, as well. We brought him home and had to use a sling to take him out to go to the bathroom. I thought how in the world would we do this forever? Me with my mind set and not a quitter attitude went inside and immediately started physical therapy on him. I did toe pinches, range of motions, massage and since his body was listing to the right, I made him circle to the left. The next morning my husband said Domino was able to stand and walk on his own to go to the bathroom. That was the ray of hope I needed. I knew what I was doing was working along with the immunosuppressants to suppress his immune system. I did PT on him at least 3 times a day. I always made him circle to the left or come to me on the left. I massaged his limbs so much I think I could be a certified masseuse at this point. lol He responded so quickly with the treatment and therapy that when we saw the neuro a week later she was excited and pleased by such a drastic improvements. He could walk normally with just some signs of hind leg weakness, his listing to the right had straighten out and all initial signs were not visible. She then drops a bomb that this could be a temporary improvement and that we won’t know until month’s down the road. At this point we are 3 month’s into treatment and we are doing well. There have been times where we tried to reduce prednisone and have had some relapsing. This is an on going debilitating disease not only for the patient, but for the entire family. I still sleep with one eye open and am in constant fear. Only time will tell what will happen.

    In closing, the reason I mention the subtle behavior problems from a month prior is I do not know if this was a first sign of GME. Behavior problems is a sign in many. The teeth extractions and the bad infection could play a role in the GME as GME can be caused from a bad infection. Also, the anesthesia used during the extractions and for how long he was under could also have brought this out. I just know that I took every precaution possible to try and prevent anything, and it still happened. I would also like to point out that he was seen by several vets that did not know the signs of a neurological problem! This is frightening and the reason I took my time to write all this out today. Our vet’s need more education and awareness on the this disease without it many of their patients will die! I do not want to see any animals lost to this disease. I encourage you to learn more about GME and please share with all your friends who have precious fur babies. Thank you for taking the time to read this.

    • Hello Jennifer, Your story is quite compelling and I can’t thank you enough for taking the time to write down all the details of your experience with Domino. I am currently looking into many of the points you’ve made to see what Dog Health News can do to spread awareness. Here’s hoping that GME and NME awareness helps to find help for all our dogs and saves them from the pain and suffering from this disease. I encourage you to stay in touch and feel free to let us know how Domino is doing. Thanks again to you and Margaret Ditty. Roberta

  7. Nancy Scardino says:

    My Pomeranian Pebbles was diagnosed Oct 2014 at 2 1/2 years old. Her diagnosis was like a brick hitting me! I have never heard of this disease and scared beyond belief. It all started when she started rubbing her head against the pillow and scratching behind her ears. I took to her to her regular vet , I thought it could be an ear infection but the dr diagnosed her with vestibular disease. Gave her medication and told me that it would take about 10 days to clear. Within 3 days , she declined rapidly. She was walking in circles and kept falling on her hind legs. She started whimpering, which she never did before By the 3rd day , I couldn’t touch her because she was in pain. During the 3 days , I kept calling the dr and begged her to take blood works because I knew something was wrong She told me to have patience. When she screamed from me touching her, I rushed her to the veterinary hospital. I was lucky that the neurologist was there that day and he took one look at her and I knew it was something bad. He did an MRI and saw what he needed to see and diagnosed her. I was in shock and disbelief when he explained the disease to me. He gave her 20% chance of survival. We prayed so hard for the treatments and meds to work. And slowly our prayers were answered and she started recuperating. She was doing well until she relapsed a few months ago but is back on track to remission. This is a horrible disease and our lives now revolve around her and wouldn’t have any other way! We need to be their voices! And we that have gone through this understand. I always had insurance for her but now the insurance company will only cover up to a certain amount for the year. These bills are expensive and many can’t afford it. We need to fight to find out how we stop this disease or the causes. The neurologist and I think it’s from over vaccination She received her bordatella a month before. Although she can no longer get vaccinated , just rabies , which I will not do either. All we can do is try to keep our babies as healthy as we can. I cook for her, bake her treats and give her supplements. I currently use traditional medicines and incorporate holistic practices. Thank you to Margaret who is so diligent on keeping the awareness alive ! And thank you for allowing us to share our story!

    • Nancy…. Thank you very much for writing this story about Pebbles fight against GME and the challenges you had with her diagnosis. I agree with you about the immediate need to spread awareness to dog parents. The most important message here is to ask more questions no matter what and I’ll be working with Margaret Ditty to get more information out. Pebbles is lucky to have you and I bet she thanks you every day. Keep us posted on her health. And, take care of your own health. My best, Roberta

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