Note: Read my July 2016 update on Ace here.
How’s that for a title?
My Lab mix Ace has had a medical issue for the last 3.5 months.
It is a “puncture” type wound under his tail that just will not heal.
The wound sometimes drains a clear liquid and has a “drain tract” that leads all the way above the tail and into the right side of his lower back area.
The wound is near the anal gland area, but the gland is not affected.
We have tried many things.
We tried several rounds of different antibiotics over two months. We tried waiting. We tried surgery (more on that below).
Our vet does not know why this wound & draining won’t go away.
It’s frustrating, expensive and – because of the area affected – it’s a little embarrassing and gross. (I’m not going to post any pictures of the actual wound, but if anyone wants to see I will email a picture.) Above all, I’m worried about my dog.
I have held back on sharing this information because for so long we have not had answers and still don’t.
The vet originally suspected a foxtail had somehow traveled up into Ace’s butt/back, and Ace had surgery Dec. 7 to remove it. The vet never found a foxtail but removed what he descried as a lot of scar tissue equaling the size of a “small lemon” along this distinct “drain tract.”
We assumed whatever foxtail or “foreign body” was stuck in there would’ve likely been pulled out, hidden in all that scar tissue.
We thought that would be the end of it.
But now, here we are five weeks later. My dog’s incision has healed nicely. He has recovered from the surgery. And yet, this “puncture” that went away briefly came back and won’t go away.
I’m sharing this information to let others know they are not alone.
I doubt anyone is dealing with this exact issue, but I do know MANY dog owners are dealing with medical issues (often very expensive ones) without answers.
This is frustrating, stressful and sometimes we must make difficult decisions.
I am thankful Ace’s issue does not seem to be life threatening (yet) that we know of anyway, but he is pretty tired all the time.
He enjoys attention, massage, cuddles, riding in the car and visiting fun places (like Petco or various parks) so that is what I try to do.
We walk about a half-mile per day slowly and he sniffs everything so it takes us a good half-hour to go that distance and it really tests my patience.
I don’t know if his lower energy is related to him being an almost 10-year-old dog (and always pretty lazy anyway) vs. what could be related to this drain tract.
What we’re doing now
We are currently making decisions about whether to move forward with an ultrasound or other type of imaging to find out if there is still something stuck in there or if there is perhaps a strange-acting tumor or a lesion of some sort.
We are also hoping it will just randomly go away.
For now, we are taking the next two weeks to just re-group, and to wait and see if anything changes. Sometimes we think Ace is looking better. Sometimes it’s hard to tell.
Because my dog has also had so many symptoms of allergies over the last six months – ongoing hot spots, ongoing itchy eyes and skin, ear infections – we just want to take a step back and make some adjustments to his environment. We’ve gotten him a new bed and changed his food.
Maybe this issue will finally just go away, although our vet doesn’t think so.
Costly vet care
I’m thankful we’ve been able to “afford” the treatments so far by mostly Care Credit. We do not have pet insurance and there are limits on what I can realistically spend. I will go into some amount of debt for my dog, but there are limits.
If I knew $5,000 would save or fix my dog, I’d probably spend it. But it becomes very difficult over time to keep spending $700 here, $500 there without making any real progress or getting any answers. It’s harder to spend the money when I don’t know if it will even help.
I’ve been lucky my dog’s issue is not necessarily “urgent” or life threatening so we’ve been able to take our time with our decisions. But really we don’t really know what’s going on.
For now, Ace is OK. I’m thankful for that. There are much worse things we could be going through.
In reality, my dog is nearing the end of his life, but I’m hoping we have a couple more years together.
We will appreciate every minute.
Hug your dogs and cats.
-Lindsay & Ace
Are any of you dealing with any confusing medical issues with your dogs?
Feel free to share or vent in the comments.