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marinelife's avatar

Can anyone offer help with my dog's illness?

Asked by marinelife (62244points) July 11th, 2009

Early this a.m. our dog woke us. My husband took him out. He peed and had a normal bowel movement. My husband fed him.

Later in the morning, he began to show signs of gastric distress. Lying down in odd places and positions, moving his back feet and legs restlessly, changing position, groaning and whining.

He is ½ Dalmatian and eats anything and everything including things he finds on the ground.

When we got some small relief (his abdomen got less tight) after giving him Gas-X, we thought we could just ride it out.

When he was still in distress after several hours, we took him to the emergency vet. The vet said it does not look like bloat, his abdomen can be palpated, x-rays did not show anything, but some gas and maybe liquid in his stomach. He has no diarrhea or vomiting.

He sent us home after giving him a pain shot and pills. That gave him no relief.

It is horrible watching him suffer. I have given him Pepto Bismol, and we have given him some activated charcoal capsules.

(All in proper dosages and time frames.)

He is not getting worse, but he is not getting any better either. He is so uncomfortable he has not been able to sleep all day.

I am a wreck, wishing I could take on his pain, feeling helpless to help him.

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22 Answers

Dog's avatar

I would take him to a different emergency vet asap. Sometimes blockages by fabric are hard to see on xray. (This comes from watching a friends Dachshund pass away from a missed diagnosis of blockage on x-ray) I realize this is horribly expensive but with no definitive diagnosis I would err on the side of a second opinion.

YAY! Suz is composing!

babymakedamnsure's avatar

I am a veterinary technician, and I am damn good at it. Dalmations re known to be very sensitive dogs, my suggestion is to oput him on a strict diet because it could just be digestion issues. royal cannin dry dog food is a good brand to start, Banfield hospitals sell them ask them fro a prescription they will give it to happily if you explain yourself.

syz's avatar

He should be improving by this time – I’d plan to either take him back to the emergency vet (or at least give them a call) or somewhere for a second opinion.

Repeat radiographs may be helpful – they can compare the gas pattern from his earlier visit and make sure that things are moving as they should – an obstruction would be more obvious if gas and any fecal matter haven’t moved at all over several hours.

The fact that he has no vomiting or diarrhea to this point is encouraging. Did they do any bloodwork? Things like pancreatitus, gall bladder issues, septicemia – all of this would have indicators on a chemistry panel and CBC.

Be aware that just because he had no torsion at the time of the radiograph is no guarantee that he won’t bloat (GDV). Keep a close eye on him and if he seems to get worse, looks distended through the abdomen, or begins non-productive wretching, get him in right away.

Dog's avatar

@Marina- Please keep us updated.

Lovey_Howell's avatar

Like syz, I would suggest calling back to the Emergency Veterinarian you took him to originally let them know that he is still not doing well, since they have already seen him they may have some further advice for you. Taking him somewhere else (while never a bad idea to get a second opinion) may just cost you more money to get the same advice. Let the ER vet know what you gave him at home as well. By the way giving him activated charcoal will possibly bind up any other medications you are giving him to assist in his recovery rendering them useless, and also I would recommend against giving a dog with gastric distress any Pepto Bismol as it contains aspirin which has been shown to cause gastric ulcers immediately when given to dogs, even when given with food. Your ER vet can also give you advice on what OTC medications you can give your dog to help him feel better based on his weight and physical exam.

You paid good money for that trip to the ER Vet, don’t forget to keep them updated otherwise they can’t help you.

What “shot” and “pills” did you get from your ER Vet?

casheroo's avatar

We had to take my dog to multiple emergency vets until something was done.
Sometimes they need to do ultrasounds and xrays, and exploratory surgery. I would take him to another vet and ask for an ultrasound and xray to rule obstruction out.
I hope he’s okay, please keep us updated if you can. ((((hugs))))

marinelife's avatar

Thank you so much for the support, everyone. For a while he seemed to worsen so we headed back to the Emergency Vet.

Almost immediately after we got there and the tech took him back for the vet to look at, two very critical dogs came in. They put Mackie in a cage to observe him while they did triage on those two cases.

After 30 minutes or so, I went to the desk and said that I knew they had had two emergencies, but could they at least tell me if Mackie seemed to still be in a lot of pain. They told me he was sitting in the cage wagging his tail.

After another 30 minutes, the vet broke free to talk to us. She said she could see absolutely no symptoms. His heart rate was 80. I said, “But he was writhing and crying constantly.” She said, “Not now.”

She said we could wait there with him and if he showed symptoms, we could call her, but she could not get back with us for probably two hours. We resolved to wait so the tech went to get Mackie.

Mackie came prancing in, ears forward, tail wagging. Unlike the afternoon, when he had immediately dropped to the floor and groaned when brought into the room, he wandered around, and then he went over to the counter and began staring ears forward, sniffing, tail wagging at the open sample bags of canine and feline pill holder treats.

We shrugged, looked at each other, and headed for the desk to tell them we were heading home. When the vet stopped by to check in, I said, “Well, either you are a miracle worker or you have returned a pod dog to us.” She laughed and said, “Oh yeah, we keep a few of those in the back. No, I just waved my hand and said, ‘Be healed’.”

Our Mackie is back. Apparently, whatever it was passed.

We feel very lucky. One of the critical cases that came in was a Dalmatian who did have bloat. He had to be carried in on a stretcher. They called in a surgeon, and the operation was going to be between $3–5,000. They also told the poor folks that the dog could die on the table. It was heartbreaking. The other critical case was going to have to euthanized.

Dog's avatar


Thanks for letting us know. I was thinking about her all through dinner.
Isn’t it awful when our pets are in pain? I think it is the worst feeling other than your kid in pain.

evelyns_pet_zebra's avatar

@Dog usually a kid can tell you what is wrong, a pet, not so much. It breaks my heart to see an animal suffer needlessly.

Dog's avatar

@evelyns_pet_zebra I totally agree on the pets tugging even more on our heartstrings. It just sounds so awful to say I am more upset when my dog is sick than when one of the kids is sick.

rooeytoo's avatar

That’s great news, I was so afraid you were going to say bloat. It seems to be so much more common these days. I am on a relatively small akita list and it seems as if someone’s dog is bloating almost every day.

I wonder if it is the type of dog foods that are used these days or dogs’ stress levels are rising along with their human counterparts???

marinelife's avatar

@rooeytoo I wish I could convince all dog owners to stop buying into the myth of grain-based dog food. Dogs are not supposed to eat grain. That I think is a known contributor to bloat. By the way, I love Akitas!

All, thanks I was so punchy with fatigue and emotional burnout by the time we got home late last night, I forgot to mention what I think really happened. The shot they gave him was a combination of anti-nausea and antibiotic. I suspect he had eaten something rotten filled with bacteria. Once the antibiotic went to work killing the bacteria, no more gas was produced and his discomfort stopped.

He is fine this morning, but tired. Yesterday, he was in so much pain he was unable to sleep at all.

Thanks again for all the support.

casheroo's avatar

@Marina I’m so glad to hear he’s okay! Maybe he ate something he shouldn’t have outside, and it gave him an upset stomach. btw I didn’t know we could give pepto to a dog! When my dog took many visits to be diagnosed with Colitis, I had to witness so many heartbreaking cases, and it was so awful to watch someone bring in a pet to be euthanized. I don’t even like to think about it.

marinelife's avatar

@casheroo The jury seems to be out on that. @Lovey_Howell said above it was not a good idea. I was originally told it was OK by a vet. So, I don’t feel comfortable recommending it.

Lovey_Howell's avatar

I don’t recommend (Pepto Bismol) except in specific cases (like Parvovirus). There are other OTC products to give to dogs with upset stomachs. Some Vets will still offer it as an alternative when owners can not get in to see them, and I can understand using it in some cases. In general however, when a dog has an upset stomach to begin with, aspirin (salicylic acid) may just exacerbate it.

I used to work at the Animal Poison Control Center run by the Humane Society of the United States and they generally don’t recommend it, except in specific circumstances.

marinelife's avatar

@Lovey_Howell Thanks for the clarification and the additional information.

marinelife's avatar

I thought everyone might care to hear the final outcome on Mackie’s illness:

He was then fine all day Sunday and all day Monday until around 9 P.M. when it started again, and he got worse than ever.

Back to the emergency vet at 11 P.M. (why don’t these things every happen during the day on weekdays?). They said he needed to be hospitalized while they did blood work, and then an ultrasound the next day. That was going to be $1,400!

So, in the wee hours of the morning, they took him out and he pooped out what they described as a 3 inch section of corn cob, a pile of sticks and about a pound of grass. He then tottered back to the cage, heaved a great sigh, and went to sleep. (That saved us $460 of the $1400.)

He was still not himself when I brought him home Tuesday afternoon, poor thing. He is now on antibiotics and canine probiotics. We were glad to have him home, but very sleep deprived and kind of limp from anxiety.

Next hurdle, he went 72 hours without pooping. They told us to cut back on the pro biotics, which apparently can have that effect. Last night succes. A normal functioning digestive system!

How weird to be dancing around cheering over a poop. What would observing aliens think?

casheroo's avatar

@Marina Oh poor guy! Glad he got out what was clogging him up!

rooeytoo's avatar

I had a friend who always used to say that a good poop is without a doubt one of life’s most under rated pleasures.

Any creature would a digestive system similar to the creatures of those on earth, would probably concur.

Now when you have to follow the dog around with a pie plate to gather a urine sample, that might make them wonder!!!

marinelife's avatar

@rooeytoo Yes, especially if it was a tin pie plate!

Dog's avatar

OH Marina- poor Mackie. So it was an obstruction!
I am so glad that you averted tragedy and that Mackie is good again.

marinelife's avatar

@Dog Thanks. We finally feel like we are getting over it one week later!

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