Patient Success Story: Maya

Written by: Yvonne Brandenburg, RVT, VTS (Small Animal Internal Medicine) 

Meet Maya! She’s a sweet, year and a half old, German Shorthaired Pointer.

Maya came to SAGE Dublin’s Internal Medicine service in October 2020 after being referred by her primary care veterinarian.  

The owners, Steve and Linda, noticed Maya’s abdomen started to look bloated during the summer. Maya was acting normal and eating well, but her belly just kept getting bigger. They took Maya to her veterinarian and found a vital protein called albumin was dangerously low and she was started on treatments. Despite starting medications, her albumin continued to stay low, that’s when her vet recommended a consult with an internal medicine specialist. 

Maya saw Dr. Brandy Ensley, a boarded internal medicine specialist,  here at SAGE Dublin for a consultation. Maya was worked up to find out what was causing her low protein levels. She had an abdominal ultrasound, blood work to check her liver and intestinal functions, and even had a heart exam by the cardiologist to make sure the fluid in her belly wasn’t from her heart.  

After making sure Maya’s liver, kidneys, and heart were okay, she had a procedure called an upper gastrointestinal endoscopy. This minimally invasive procedure allowed Dr. Ensley to see inside Maya’s intestines and stomach and get biopsies for a diagnosis. 

Maya’s biopsy results confirmed she has a rare gastrointestinal disease called Protein Losing Enteropathy. This disease causes an excessive loss of protein into the guts. Protein is essential for homeostasis in the body, especially for keeping fluid within the bloodstream. When a pet’s blood protein levels drop, this can cause fluid to leave the blood vessels and accumulate around the body.  

The most common place for this fluid to accumulate is in the abdominal cavity. This causes the dog to look extremely bloated.  

That’s exactly what was happening to Maya. Her abdomen was full of a large amount of fluid. In fact, she had so much fluid she looked like a pregnant goat!  With her confirmed diagnosis, we were able to work on a treatment plan to help her body reabsorb her fluid and keep it in her blood vessels where it belonged. Her treatment plan included medications and a UC Davis nutritionist specially formulated diet, as well as weekly visits to closely monitor her albumin levels and her response to treatments. Luckily, Maya’s sweet personality and her appetite were never affected by the amount of fluid in her belly.  

Finally, in February after months of adjustments to her treatment plan, she had a normal level of albumin and her body started to absorb the fluid back into her bloodstream.  She looked dramatically different. Each week, she would come in and her belly was shrinking. Maya now looks like a normal pup! Check out some of her before and after photos below! Just look at that difference! 

Maya’s amazing personality and her tough battle makes her one of our most memorable patients. Sometimes it’s hard to understand it can take time before we see success, but Maya proves persistence, perseverance, and regular follow-ups can lead to a happy and healthy pet! 








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