Dog Addison’s Diagnosis: Gracie Lou Clough’s Story

Canine Addison’s disease can be fatal if not diagnosed and treated.

Canine Addison’s disease doesn’t have a cure, but it can be managed with treatment. Thank you, Bobbi Borst Clough, for sharing Gracie Lou’s story.

Dog Addisons Diagnosis: Gracie Lou Clough's Story

Gracie Lou’s story

The background

Gracie was a 10-year-old 134 lb English Mastiff. Gracie was abused until she was six months old. She then went to a loving family. Unfortunately, that life ended all too soon with a tragic accident. The husband and the child of her family were killed in an automobile accident. Gracie comforted the mother for the next six months. The mother then had to move and could not take Gracie with her. This pained her so much. So she looked into a rescue group. 

Gracie’s foster mom promised her that she would wait for the perfect family to adopt Gracie. Gracie stayed in foster for much longer than normal. 

Gracie Lou’s adoption

I had a mastiff diagnosed with Addison’s at seven months old. 

She was the runt of her litter and was on death’s door when I rescued her. Once we found out she had Addison’s, she lived to 4 ½ years old. Her kidneys, which were never formed correctly, finally gave out on her. 

She was my first mastiff, and I fell in love with the breed. Despite the issues she had--I decided to rescue another one. 

I found Gracie on the rescue group’s website I had started helping with. 

Her story touched my heart. I talked to Gracie’s foster mom for hours about her. We both knew that she would come to her forever home with me. She was several hours away, so the foster mom and I met halfway. 

Right away, Gracie came up to my daughter and me, and she leaned on my leg and sat on my foot. The lean is everything for a mastiff. If they lean on you, they like you. So it was love at first sight for my kids and me

Gracie’s crash

Fast forward to 7 months later, Gracie crashed and could not get up my stairs. 

My son carried her up and into the car, and we rushed her to my wonderful vet. I will never forget that day. Gracie was on IVs and in a kennel with me sitting on the floor next to her. 

My vet walked in and sat on an empty kennel. 

He told me that he test Gracie for Addison’s or that she had some type of cancer. 

The diagnosis

The next day, all four of my vets came into the room and told me that she indeed had Addison’s disease. One of them said he stayed up half the night looking for mastiffs with AD and there just were not too many (at that time, he could find none). 

They told me they were sorry that I now had my second Addisonian Mastiff. 

I told them I was happy that it was indeed Addison’s. Addison’s is manageable, and a dog could live a full and normal life with it. I even had some meds left over from my first girl. 

Gracie’s treatment

My first girl took .8 mg of Florinef 2x’s a day. We started Gracie on that dose and kept playing with it over the next year. She finally ended up on 1.5 mg Florinef 2x’s per day. She remained on that dose.

No one can tell me that this girl was not meant to come to live with me. Her foster mom had turned down other potential adopters because of her promise to Gracie’s owner, former owner, to find the perfect family. 

Gracie’s accident

When Gracie was four, she somehow got out of my yard by going under the fence. I never thought a 134-pound dog could go under my fence, but she did. She got hit by a car, and Animal control had to get her by the pole neck chain because she was being aggressive. 

My neighbor saw animal control with her and told them that she lived with me. They knocked on my door. They had Gracie’s good side facing me, so I did not know she was hit. Then they turned her, and I saw a deep gash in her chest. My car was in the shop, and I had no way to get her to the ER vet. Animal control drove me. 

At the death’s door

I went running in the door, screaming that she had Addison’s. 

The vet on call was the husband of one of my vets that cared for Gracie. Gracie was on death’s doors; she went gray and limp. They dosed her with high amounts of prednisone and put in a chest tube. She had air around her lungs. Since the ER vet could talk to my vets that night, the plan was to take Gracie to my vet in the AM for surgery. 

The ER vet was not comfortable working on a dog with Addison’s. 

The next day my wonderful, amazing vets waited until their lunch hour to do her surgery so all four of them could be in there and monitor her. Unfortunately, her sternum was broken, and they could not do anything about that. But, they were able to close the wound and keep Gracie safe. She recovered from that. 

I fixed all of my fencing. However, Gracie was terrified of cars on the roads from that day forward.

Gracie’s weight gain

About a year after that, Gracie started to gain lots of weight. 

My wonderful vets (have I mentioned how much I love my vets) did a thyroid test, and sure enough, she had low thyroid. The weight came off as soon as Gracie was put on meds, and she was back to her happy, healthy self. 

Then tragedy struck my household. My children’s father was killed in a car accident. Gracie was the kind of dog who read people so well. She comforted my children and me the same way she did with her first owner. 

Gracie continued to be by our side whenever we were feeling down. Once again, no one can tell me that this girl was not meant to be in our lives. 

Gracie glaucoma

About a year ago, Gracie developed acute onset glaucoma and went blind in her left eye. 

My vets were able to shrink her eye so she would no longer be in pain. She could lose her other eye at any time, but the drops I put in her good eye were working. 

Other issues

Gracie also has chronic subcutaneous cysts all over her body. She has two that kept popping and becoming infected. She had to take antibiotics every 30 days for ten days, which worked.

Because of her age and her Addison’s, the vets and I have chosen not to remove the cysts. 

Gracie has always been a fighter and a champion through all of this. Nothing got her down. My vets continued to be amazed by her. 

Gracie lived to see her 10th birthday. No one thought she would live this long. However, she was still a happy girl, got around great, and was the love of my life. She was truly my heart dog. 

This is more than a story of a dog with Addison’s; this is a story of a dog that was put on this earth to comfort her family through the good and the very bad times. 

Addison’s is just one part of her story, but it also shows that a dog with AD can live life to its fullest and get through the tough times also.

*** 

Do you have a dog diagnosed with Addison’s? Is your dog unwell, and nobody can figure out why?

Addison dogs Facebook support group comprises individuals from around the world who are striving toward healthy, active lives for their canine friend(s) with Addison’s disease. They seek to improve wellness for the whole dog—including body, mind, and spirit.

Addison Dogs also works to educate and support the companion animal community about Addison’s disease in dogs. The goal is to foster open communication about the options available to the caregiver of a dog with Addison’s disease.

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Addison’s Disease Awareness: What’s Wrong With Hannah?

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Jana Rade

I am a graphic designer, dog health advocate, writer, and author. Jasmine, the Rottweiler of my life, was the largest female from her litter. We thought we were getting a healthy dog. Getting a puppy from a backyard breeder was our first mistake. Countless veterinary visits without a diagnosis or useful treatment later, I realized that I had to take Jasmine's health care in my own hands. I learned the hard way that merely seeing a vet is not always enough. There is more to finding a good vet than finding the closest clinic down the street. And, sadly, there is more to advocating for your dog's health than visiting a veterinarian. It should be enough, but it often is not. With Jasmine, it took five years to get a diagnosis. Unfortunately, other problems had snowballed for that in the meantime. Jasmine's health challenges became a crash course in understanding dog health issues and how to go about getting a proper diagnosis and treatment. I had to learn, and I had to learn fast. Helping others through my challenges and experience has become my mission and Jasmine's legacy. I now try to help people how to recognize and understand signs of illness in their dogs, how to work with their veterinarian, and when to seek a second opinion. My goal is to save others the steep curve of having to learn things the hard way as I did. That is the mission behind my blog and behind my writing. That is why I wrote Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog, which has turned out being an award-winning guide to dog owners. What I'm trying to share encompasses 20 years of experience.

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