We have not forgotten about R so I thought that I'd give you an update on him. Because we cannot seem to avoid veterinary mysteries, his saga of damaged red blood cells ("acanthocytes") and weird lymphocytes in his blood has continued. On the same day as Shyla had her xrays, R had blood drawn. His blood cells were slightly better but still not normal. On the good news side of the ledger, we've managed to put a few pounds back on his athletic frame so he's looking more healthy now. He loves getting a full-sized lunch every day!
We believe that a bad bag of Natural Balance kibble started the whole saga. Since then, we've had extended periods of feeding him home cooked meals and then two different kinds of high quality kibble. His best blood test happened while we were homecooking for him.
Because we know that a long-term homecooked diet has to be carefully balanced, we consulted a veterinarian who specializes in nutrition for help with R's diet. She says that there is a step in a dog's metabolism that can be damaged by toxins or other processes, resulting in an inability to metabolize certain nutrients - and also resulting in damage to the dog's red blood cells. Thus, in a dog with this problem, the wrong diet will cause acanthocytes to appear. This vet has designed a homecooked diet for R that we're in the process of starting. It is quite simple - beef, white potatoes, sweet potatoes, oil, and a supplement.
The new diet doesn't sound fancy or super-special to me. So, I asked the veterinarian if there was a kibble that would work for R. Her reply was that no kibble had the right balance of nutrients and ingredients to solve this problem. So, we're giving the homecooked diet a try for at least a month, and then we'll have R's blood tested again to see if it improves.
I must say that R has seemed energetic and happy at every point in this saga except for the beginning when he was quite sick. He and I had a wonderful mountain bike ride together today, and then we sat for a moment on Hug Hill. I love his eyes and how they reflect the world that he's looking at, including me!
I love her anyway and completely forgive her for eating my clothes.
Thanks to all of you for the supportive comments and emails. They make such a big difference when I am going through a crisis with one (or both) of our pups. I am very grateful.