Darcy’s Story – How she survived Septic Shock (endotoxemia)

by Kay (Darcy’s mom)
Feb. 6, 2018

Our lucky family adopted Darcy when she was 12 weeks old in 2016 and she is now 17 months old. Darcy is our first Brittany and have been just thrilled to have such a special, loving, bright pup. Annie Oakley (a BRIT rescue) was her mom and she had 8 brothers and sisters.
Darcy is a loving, well-behaved, social, squirrel-chasing typical Brittany. She loves to play with her friend Olive, a Goldendoodle, and has many friends she meets on our daily walks in Texas as well as in Santa Fe where we have a second home. She has been trained on an e-collar and also trained to come, heel, sit, stay, among other commands. She is a cuddler, and loves to sleep at the base of our bed as we are her pack.

Last week I took her on our usual two mile walk on a trail not far from our home which is a semi-wild semi-developed area. There are lots of deer, ducks, geese and room for Darcy to feel like she is free although I am watching her with my e-collar remote in hand.

We came home, she played, chased squirrels, slept – you know the usual Brittany activities. My husband came home early and took her on another walk at a different location but also rural and she was thrilled to get to walk again. About an hour after they returned home, I went to the kitchen door to call her for dinner and there she was, throwing up. She came inside and seemed ok but would not eat. That was a concern as all she thinks about besides squirrels is eating. She slept half the night on her bed then came to our bed.
The next morning she was calmer than normal but still ate her dry food which I cut in half and added a bit of broth. She was very calm but I did not walk her as I thought her tummy was a bit upset. By mid-Friday afternoon she started throwing up clear liquids but was still drinking. I gave her a little broth and she ate it for dinner. I called the Vet when she started having diarrhea. They suggested I bring her in first thing Saturday  morning and to not feed her anything but water.

She became very ill throughout the night and was lethargic, dazed, very quiet and cool to the touch. She would just stand up and stare into space. I could tell she was very ill and trying to tell me something. It scared me to death. I was up every hour letting her go pee outside and my husband took over around 4am so I could get some sleep. She threw up a yellow liquid substance twice. I took her to our Vet as soon as they opened at 7:30 am. 

The vet took blood samples and recognized the signs of dehydration immediately. Then they told us she was in acute liver failure and to prepare ourselves for the worst but hope for the best. 

​She’d had blood work done in December and her liver reading was a normal 49 at that time. On Saturday it was off the charts at 1275. I cried all day. Three days later after IV fluids, medications such as penicillin, antibiotics, liver meds, etc she is home and her liver reading is half what it was. She is still on medications and will have her blood work redone in two weeks with the hope it is normal. She is on the mend but not totally out of the woods. Time will tell but we are taking it day by day. The incubation time for this toxic bacteria is 12 to 24 hours. Her systems started showing up late Thursday and soared on Friday. We got her in to see the Vet just in time. 
There are many things that can cause this to happen to dogs. I have no idea what Darcy licked, ate or ingested and I am home with her all day. We have scoured the yard to see if there was a sign of something she could have gotten into but found nothing. She is on the same brand dog food although for adult dogs as Brittany Rescue Texas used when they were puppies. These are active dogs and I do not want to discourage her from romping in the wild, sniffing at all the fun smells and pointing at every bird or deer we pass by. We have purchased a basket muzzle which we both hate but she can still roam with her e-collar and not eat anything hazardous to her health. They can drink water with it on and my Vet said it is probably a good compromise for her.  Hunting dogs have their noses to the ground all the time and can pick up deer poop, mushrooms or any deadly plant in the wild, along with a dead animal or even chemicals you put on your lawn. It only takes a lick to infect them with endotoxemia which can kill in a short time. Knowing the signs of dehydration can make a difference .
Update on Darcy from April 2018: she is back to her weight of 42 pounds and her liver number is back to normal at 48.
I hope my story can help even one person about these hidden dangers for Brittany’s or any dog and recognize the warning signs that come with this deadly bacteria . Thanks for letting me share my story.