After just under a week of having him we noticed a developing cough, so of course we rushed him straight to the Vets. Theo had an X-Ray on his chest and lungs, but they said that they could not see anything causing his cough. The veterinary clinic underlined it as kennel cough and put him on a 2 week cycle of antibiotics. It drastically got worse, we were up all night with him every night as he coughed and hacked endlessly. I am in grade 11 of high school and at the time I hoped this cough was just temporary for Theo's sake and for mine so that I could get to school on time (after getting around 3 hours of broken up sleep every night). We waited until the cycle of antibiotics were over, even though we knew there was no improvement in his extremely horrible cough. The day his pills ran out I took him straight back to the Vets. They assumed that maybe the cycle was not long enough to get rid of the "Kennel cough" so they put him on a second set of Antibiotics straight away. A week into that cycle, I complained and said I was extremely worried because there was not a moment in the day when Theo was comfortable enough to relax or sleep, and that clearly the medication wasn't helping because it was still getting worse. So they prescribed us a general de-wormer and a lung de-wormer, whilst he was on his second cycle of antibiotics. The Vet prescribed him a second dose of lung de-wormer, to ensure that this was not the cause of his cough. This was now around a month that we had been taking poor Theo to the Vets.
They decided the best option was to do another X-Ray and send it off to a specialist. So we paid again and waited for the results to come back. After 4 days of waiting to hear back I called and inquired about the X-Rays, it turns out that they had arrived two days prior and the Vets had forgotten to call me. I was so upset because my poor little boy was suffering 24 hours a day, in severe pain, and they had forgotten to call me to let me know what was going on. I stayed calm but persisted to the Vet Tech that I needed one of the Doctors to call me as soon as possible so we could hopefully end this nightmare. I got the call but the specialist had noted that all they could see was a bad amount of swelling in Theo's lungs. The Doctor then chose to put him on a human anti-acid as he could possibly have acid reflux, and a third set of Antibiotics because at this point they believed he had an immune system deficiency. Acid reflux was ruled out because the Anti-Acids did not work or even soothe the cough. At this point I decided to take him to a different Veterinary Clinic to get a second opinion because his cough seemed never ending and I was loosing hope. It was getting more and more worrying because not only was Theo's cough still on going as bad as ever, but he was nearly 3 months behind on his puppy shots which caused serious risks to him going outside. They proceeded with more tests on him, and on one of the throat panels, he tested positive for 3 different viral upper respiratory infections. So this time he was put on a fourth set of antibiotics and a steroid medication. We were so devastated at the idea of him being on a steroid medication because being on any medication that strong, so young, is very risky and definitely not a 'positive' option for a puppy. They also put him on a cough medication with Codeine in it. The cough medication made him throw up multiple times a day and the steroid medication did not cure his cough either. After months of searching for an answer we were finally sent to Toronto to have a Consultation with a Specialist. At this time we had already spent way over $6000 in vet bills and X-Rays. I had spent all of my savings I had saved up for university and used any money I made from my part time job. The specialist was amazing, she looked into his whole case and finally came up with a diagnostic for Theo. The viral infections were actually dormant, meaning yes they are in his body but they aren't active (causing the cough). It took 4 months of sleepless nights, 9 different medications that he shouldn't have been on and many tests for us to finally get some kind of answer.
Theo's Esophagus does not close properly like it is supposed to. His stomach acid rises and it burns the inside of his Esophagus. The burning sets off sensory nerves around the tube, causing him to severely cough. The X-Rays show that the stomach fluid has also been inhaled into his lungs, which means his lungs are swollen due to his constant harsh coughing and the fact that there is stomach fluid in them. Theo was also diagnosed with Brachycephalic airway obstructive syndrome, which means he has an elongated soft palette that blocks the entrance to his Trachea at the back of his throat. His nostrils are also extremely tight making it harder for him to breathe. Separate from his Cough, Theo has Cryptorchidism, which is a condition that occurs when a Testicle fails to descend. He has to have this surgically removed as soon as possible otherwise the testicle can twist in his stomach and burst.
He is Currently on 3 different medications for his cough. One of them is a Narcotic that relieves chronic coughing. For a 2 week dose it costs just over $380. The second medication helps to close his Esophagus, as it can't by itself, and the third is a strong anti-acid that helps to control the rising stomach fluid. It costs around $490 bi weekly for his medications. They really do help so much, however the Specialist said it is very bad for Theo to be on these kind of medications for too long due to how young he is and the fact that they could begin to cause other issues. We have been told by the specialists that he needs to have the surgery as soon as possible. In the surgery the are going to perform an upper gastrointestinal endoscopy which allows them to see how they are going to correct Theo's Esophagus during his surgery. They will also complete his palate surgery which essentially means they have to "Trim" his throat and take skin from his nostrils. The surgeons at the same time will also remove his undescended Testicle from his stomach, so that he does not have to go under anaesthetics multiple times as it can be very dangerous for French Bulldogs.
We have spent over $6000 trying to diagnose Theo's cough but I now cannot afford to pay for his surgery, they gave us an estimate of $7000 and the surgery needs to be done as soon as possible. It would mean the world to my family and I if we could finally get Theo off of harsh medications and watch him act and live like a normal puppy. We were not able to toilet train him as early on as we would have liked because for 3 months we were told that he had an immune system disease, so we were not allowed to take Theo outside. It is not fair on any kind of puppy to be kept inside all day and night. Theo was let outside for the first time at 5 months old. He has not even been socialised properly yet. He is scared to be on a leash and go out of the house. He absolutely loves people and other dogs and it is truly heartbreaking to see him so anxious outside of the house. We have started full time training him and slowly taking him out into the world, he just needs his surgery to be able to progress properly. My family and I want nothing more than to see him happy and healthy and doing the things that other puppies get to do. I have missed an immense amount of school looking after Theo and taking him to the vets multiple times a week. And I hope after his surgery I can get back to school full-time and watch Theo play and grow with out the anxiety of not knowing if we have to put him down. Since starting Theo on his new medications that control his cough amazingly, I have watched his puppy personality begin to come out. It is the most precious thing watching a puppy that has been bed ridden and in pain everyday, start to play and come alive. He has the most hilarious and loving soul and I am desperate for him to have his surgery so he can carry on being himself. Theo means everything to my family and I and I could not explain how grateful I would be if we could raise the money for his surgery to change his life for good. It would definitely be the best Christmas and New years present thatI could ever ask for.
I appreciate every single person that donates and shares Theo's gofundme.
Thank you so much, from the bottom of my heart :)