Reiley’s Story

Where to begin with Reiley’s story?  I got her as a 9 week old puppy and was by her side as she passed away at 9 years old.  She was my devoted companion before my husband and daughter came along and she was my “furry” baby.  I could not have asked for a more loving and special companion and I was devastated when she died in late October.  I miss her and think about her every day and am so thankful that she was in my life.

In March of 2008, I took Reiley into the vet because her appetite had decreased and she wasn’t eating as much as she previously had.  The vet found she had a high temperature (103.5) and put her on antibiotics.  After 10 days of high fever and even further appetite reduction & vomiting due to the antibiotics, I made the choice to take her off of the antibiotics to see how she responded.  Her fever went away and her appetite returned so…. I thought she had recovered.

Throughout the summer of ’08 there were days when Reiley didn’t eat all of her food, but didn’t have a fever or any other signs of illness.  Needless to say we were shocked when she was diagnosed with cirrhosis of the liver in mid-October.

We received the diagnosis of liver disease during some routine bloodwork for a dental procedure.  Reiley’s appetite had decreased somewhat and she was being a pickier eater than normal, but she was still eating and otherwise acting normal.  When the vet ran her pre-op bloodwork, she had 4 times the normal level of ALT and ALKP and her bile acids were about 3 times the normal levels.

After an ultrasound which definitively name cirrhosis as the offender, we took Reiley to a internal specialist for a consult.  By the time we saw the specialist, Reiley wasn’t eating at all and she had to be hospitalized due to a serious liver infection.  Despite our best intentions and the hard work of the hospital staff, Reiley passed away 2 days after her hospitalization with my husband and I petting her and talking to her, letting her know we loved her and would miss her.

The hardest thing about Reiley’s liver disease is how subtly it worked and how quickly she became ill.  There we only minor symptoms displayed to us; symptoms that could have been attributed to several other things and not something as serious as liver disease.  This is the primary reason I created this website and foundation – to spread the word about this disease and how it affects our beloved pets.  If just one family can save their pet based on the information I have compiled, then it will help me begin to heal from the sadness I feel at losing my best furry friend.

Please feel free to email me at: to include your success story, tribute, memorial or other story about your dog and liver disease.

Thank you for reading,

Lisa Smith

Founder of The Canine Liver Disease Foundation

In Memory of my Reiley Monster

October 21, 1999 – October 30, 2008

January 12, 2009 by Lisa  
Filed under Blog


2 Comments on "Reiley’s Story"

  1. T. M. Preminger on Tue, 13th Jan 2009 3:14 am 

    Friday I took my diabetic 8 year old pooch and was given a diagnosis of Gastritis. Today, Monday, he’s dying from liver failure. I’m in shock.

    I wanted him to die at home and expected him to sink into a diabetic coma and cross the rainbow bridge. Instead, he’s throwing up every 90 minutes, hasn’t eated in 4 days and can’t keep anything down.

    I’ve scoured the Internet trying to find out how and why with little success.

    I’m very angry that the vet didn’t prepare me for how difficult his dying would be.

  2. Lori Ross on Sat, 23rd Jul 2011 12:36 am 

    My 11-1/2 year-old Yorkie, Sassy, is now suspected of having liver disease. A few years ago a vet who cleaned her teeth stated her BUN was 35 (27 is the upper limit for a dog) and, therefore, she had kidney disease and had to be on Science Diet renal diet for the rest of her life. He was “sure.” She has been on this but hated the canned (don’t blame her – looks like PASTE!) so I added 1/4 little can of Little Caesars and she would eat it. She has had intermittent bouts of bloody diarrhea for several years now where I could sense it was coming on and it’d last 3-4 days. In March of this year I had her teeth cleaned as I alwsys do and the vet said this would be the last time he dared to put her under anesthesia (same vet that had been caring for her since she was 6 weeks old when I got her). They had promised me that they would talk with the Hills Science Diet people and get alternatives I could give her to keep her eating but after 3 promises to do that and failing us, I gave up on them. A month ago Sassy ended up in the Animal ER with apparently a clot that hit her right leg – it was scary. They showed me the imaging and her heart was twice the size it should be! She was put on Lasix, etc. but a few weeks after that she stopped eating and was having tarry black diarrhea that was sticky and mucousy. She vomited just clear liquid a few times as well. On the 3rd day I took her to the vet here who I started to use after I’d moved to this town. He had seen her a few times for the lack of eating/diarrhea episodes and seems very good. He admitted her and flushed out her system with IV fluids for 4 days, took a lot of lab work, and this vet’s bottom line is he doesn’t think it’s her enlarged heart OR her kidneys – he thinks she has liver disease that is affecting her kidneys, etc. I brought her home today and those 4 days she wasn’t home were VERY HARD – I’ve had her since she was 6 weeks old and I love her to the bottom of my soul. He feels her labs got her under control from 4 days of IV drips but kept stressing her liver enzymes were elevated. After reading all these stories, I am very afraid as to whether or not she will “really” get better. I’ve noticed she is jerky as she lays here by me on the loveseat (NEVER SAW BODY JERKS IN HER BEFORE!!!) PLEASE, someone with more knowledge tell me if I maybe he caught it in time. I sit here watching this precious little baby wondering how much time she has left with me. These last four days have been emotionally draining for me – she has been my lifeline for 11-1/2 years – she is the absolute sweetest dog – anyone who sees her adores her. Please someone tell me if I’m having false hope because I don’t want to be caught off-guard. The vet put her on a vegetarian diet and he didn’t give me a warm fuzzy that she could recover from this. PLEASE – I just want the truth. Thanks.

    Lori and “Sassy”

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