Run Oskee, Run!

Run Oskee, Run!

Monday, July 10, 2017


Meet Orion!
How Handsome!!

In August of 2016 I was working at Prairiehaven Animal Clinic in Sherman, IL. I was 9 months pregnant and was scheduled to see a little, black, lab mix puppy first thing in the morning. A few of my colleagues had previously seen this puppy for routine visits and a urinary issue but most recently he had shown signs of juvenile diabetes. All of us were all a little concerned with this case, as Juvenile diabetes in puppies was rare! Very rare! When Orion entered I could immediately tell the owners were very worried. He had only been a part of their family for a few short weeks but they had fallen in love with him already!  
Look at that Puppy Face!!!
As I entered the room the puppy wiggled his butt and wagged his tail. He was full of kisses as I knelt down to pet him. I introduced myself as Dr. Erika and let them know the plan for the appointment. We first checked Orion’s blood glucose, which is the sugar level in his blood.  It was high. The owners had also been noticing that Orion panted all the time. They were concerned that something was wrong with his breathing and they did not think the insulin that was previously prescribed was working.  I quickly assessed his heart and lungs and found no abnormalities. I suspected it was the diabetes that had caused his body to enter a ketoacidotic state. This happens in diabetics. Because these animals cannot utilize the glucose consumed in their food, they start to break down protein and fat which causes their pH level to decrease, thus becoming acidotic. Their body has to work hard to try and correct itself, intern causing the panting. Orion was lucky to have such attentive Owners who brought him in for a check up. With some intravenous fluids and insulin we were able to return his body to a normal state. For the long term he was put on a higher dose of insulin, and with his family we formulated a plan to keep him healthy.

Over the next several months Orion continued to grow. With every growth spurt his insulin needed to be increased along with his food. His family worked closely with our doctors to make sure these changes were made smoothly. He was on a special diet and his owners were diligent about his feeding times and treat times. Our clinic saw Orion and his family several times in those first months and we could see just how sweet he really was and how dedicated his owners were. After a couple of months of treatment with insulin, Orion started developing cataracts. Almost all dogs diagnosed with diabetes will develop cataracts eventually but Orion was just a small puppy. By now I was back from maternity leave and Orion was 8 months old. It was sad to see his eyesight fading. He started having difficulty seeing objects and we knew he would eventually go blind.  

It was early one morning when my technician called to tell me Orion was already at the clinic. His owner had called the emergency line the night before because he would not stop scratching at his eye. His glucose was in the high 400’s and they would be waiting for me to get there. On exam Orion was a little scared. I could tell his eyesight had faded to the point where I suspected he could only see shadows.  He had lost 2 pounds since his previous visit and his right eye seemed to be bothering him the most! He took treats out of my hand as I performed my exam. His pressures were normal (no glaucoma). The lens was still in place and the other structures of the eye appeared normal. Luckily, his eye was a bad case of conjunctivitis and nothing more serious.  I immediately started Orion on eye drops, one an antibiotic and one to help with the irritation and pain. I kept him at the clinic with us for the day to monitor his eyes and his glucose. Once again he needed an increase in insulin.

I had contacted Dr. Katie Fleming, an assistant professor of ophthalmoly at the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine about Orion’s condition.  I was interested in cataract surgery for him and I thought it would allow him to see again and greatly improve his quality of life. Dr. Fleming was great. She went over the steps of cataract surgery and tests needed before surgery. That night, when Orion’s family came to pick I talked with them about the possibility of cataract surgery. I explained that surgery involved removed the damaged lens and replacing it with a manufactured lens, allowing him to see again. We went over the risks and benefits and how I thought it would greatly improve his quality of life. The down side was, surgery is between $5,000 and $6,000 without any complications.

Orion seen here with cataract. you can appreciate that the middle of his eye is white due to an almost mature cataract. 

Cone of Shame After Sx. :)
No more Cataracts!!
His family was nervous. They took some time to think about it and asked great questions. The ophthalmology technician from the college was also able to go over any questions they had regarding the surgery and after care. After much consideration and thought, Orion’s family decided to have the surgery done. One of our technicians set up a “go fund me” to help the owners with the expensive.

February 24th of 2017 Orion underwent Phacoemulsification (removal of lens) and Lens replaced at the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine. He did great during surgery and recovered well. Orion’s owners followed every instruction to a T and he continued to do well with each follow up visit. He was able to see again, his diabetes was stabilizing as he is now 1 year old. 

Recently Orion and his family came to the clinic for his wellness exam and vaccines. Along with them they brought a gift and a thank you card for our staff's care and compassion for Orion. the gift was a donation, Orion’s family donated $450 dollars to help other pet’s in need. With the gift from Orion’s family we were able to start the Orion Fund through the American Veterinary Medical Foundation. This fund, named after Orion, can now except donations and help other pet’s in need. Cases like Orion and the family that loves him is why most of us became veterinarians. It is so awesome to know that through Orion's success and hist dedicated family, we can now help others.

From all of the Doctors and Staff at Prairiehaven Animal Hospital 
Thank You!!! Orion, Emily (Orion’s mom), and Candy (Orion’s Grandma). Orion could not have a better family and thank you for paying it forward!

If anyone would like to donate to the "Orion Fund" to help pet's in need, please call Prairiehaven Animal Hospital in Sherman, IL or visit the American Veterinary Medical Foundation at, click on programs, then Veterinary Care Charitable Funds