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Breathing issues and vomiting/diarrhea

Posted: Wed Oct 12, 2016 12:27 pm
by Canned Ice
Long time, no post and I wish I was returning for a happier reason. Hang with me because this is going to be a long one. Since Buckley and I moved to MS, he's been a relatively healthy and happy dog until last spring. We took him in for severe hip pain (he has arthritis in that hip due to dysplasia) after he fell in the back yard (circles in the mud, because you gotta turn right). That resolved with pain meds but he also developed nonstop bloody vomiting and diarrhea. The vets tried everything but he lost nearly 6 lbs and we went in to have the euthanasia talk when he started responding to a combination of sucrafulate and Panacur given as a last ditch effort to stabilize him enough to take him home for a few days thinking we'd still have to put him down. Miraculously, he just kept getting better and he slowly began to regain his weight. We never got a definite diagnosis from this episode but we started treating him as if he had some sort of inflammatory small bowel condition. Frankly we felt he was on borrowed time so we didn't want to put him through a trip to Baton Rouge to go to he LSU vet school to get a diagnosis that wouldn't really change our treatment. He was still dealing with reflux so we started him on omeprazole and moved him to a rx food(I/d then Royal Canin l/f) because Orijen caused the vomiting and diarrhea to return.

All was well for a while until Buckley started dealing with episodes of wheezing and stridor. He had a particularly severe episode while we were out of town and he was at the boarding kennel at the vet but he responded to oxygen and a bronchiodialator. The vet heard some increased chest sounds once his breathing calmed down, did some chest X-rays, and started him on an antibiotic to treat pneumonia. The likely cause was due to aspiration from his reflux.

He's had a couple more wheezing episodes but they all correlated with increased reflux so we treated the reflux in hopes that it would control the breathing issues and that seemed to work. Fast forward to late summer and we had to pack up from Mississippi to move back to VA while hubby goes back to school for a year for his PhD. This meant temporarily moving to an apartment and taking on a lengthy commute. So instead of moving Buckley from his house and yard to a third floor apartment, we decided to move him in with my semi retired parents. He's been getting spoiled and enjoying life even without free access to the yard since they don't have a fence.

Well, Saturday his breathing problem started again. The new vet (who has all his records and history) gave him a round of steroids and a bronchodilator and let him go home after a chest X-ray that showed clear lungs but some sort of bend or constriction at his trachea and the start of an enlarged heart. Today, the vomiting started again. They took him back in and are waiting on blood work. The vet from Saturday is off today but he is scheduled for another follow up Friday and I hope to talk with her then via phone. They did mention he might need an evaluation at the Virginia Tech vet school which I don't want to commit to until I talk to the original vet myself Friday (I will see if I can swing a quick trip to their house Friday which is doubtful due to work meetings)

Anyway, I cannot believe these issues are separate since they correlate so well. But what could cause both digestive issues and breathing issues? And how far down the diagnostic road am I willing to go with this? Buckley is about 13. We almost lost him once this year so we've seen these last relatively healthy months as a blessing. After talking with the MS vet who is still keeping up with his condition (love Dr Potter by the way!) she thinks he may have GOLPP and/or IBD both of which are progressive and incurable. Diagnosis won't really change anything since the treatment for both is really about treating the symptoms. How do you deal with a dog this sick but who isn't acting sick at all?? He is still chowing down what has to be pretty bland food, begging for walks, demanding pets, etc. Ugh! That's a lot but I guess I'm just looking for any encouraging words or advice or stories.

Re: Breathing issues and vomiting/diarrhea

Posted: Wed Oct 12, 2016 3:58 pm
by gagesbarb
sounds complicated (an obvious statement)...I just recently started posting but have been lurking for a long time and remember all the experiences you shared about Buckley, and all the emotional/behavioral things you coped with...I remember thinking how lucky he was to have you taking care of him and what is going on now certainly confirms that...

our Sam, a brittany/beagle mix (we are guessing) was diagnosed with laryngeal paralysis and mega-esophagus when he was around 12/13 yrs (we adopted each other when he was an adult, so we never really knew his age)....he always had a sensitive stomach, but didn't have the diarrhea you talked about...he coughed and had loud breathing...vague symptoms...the vet suspected LP, but when she did the test (sedate and look at his vocal chords), she didn't see it...apparently can be difficult to detect early on...he also didn't do a lot of the regurgitation that is associated with mega-esophagus so didn't suspect that...eating fine...he was always a high strung dog, afraid of lots of noises, the toaster oven, the beep on my son's watch and reacted in a quirky way, but we all learned to one point, he had an episode where he was having a hard time catching his breath so off to the doggy ER...on x-rays, they found the mega-esophagus and confirmed the LP...because he had both, they wouldn't recommend surgery for LP because of the aspiration risk...we took him home with ACE to give him to relax muscles if there was a breathing episode, pepcid and instructions to feed him in upright position...They said it was probably all part of a degenerative neurological condition like myasthenia gravis...we didn't do the test for that bc they didn't think there would be treatment that would be different than what we were doing...they said things would continue to get worse but that he probably had had this for a while and with some up's and down's, had done OK...we were able to keep him going for 4-5 months...he kept going on short walks, loved his "meatballs" several times a day, loved petting, watching the bird feeders and being with us...when the breathing problem episodes became worse and more frequent, we let him go...I still miss him, of course...

don't know if our experience has any real relevance to what you are dealing with, but I related to the LP, confusing symptoms, and up and down course...
it is so hard, but again, he is obviously soooo lucky to have you...not many other people would have been able or willing to give him the support you have for all his issues over the years!

hopefully others will have helpful observations and advice...

Re: Breathing issues and vomiting/diarrhea

Posted: Wed Oct 12, 2016 4:05 pm
by Cindy
OMG Candice - I can't tell you how many times I've thought about you and Buckley and wondered how you were doing. I wish the news on Buckley was better :cry: and I really don't have any words of wisdom and certainly no experience with these issues. It's so hard when your dog gets to "that age" where you don't want him to struggle but you don't want to lose him either. My vet once gave me some good food for thought when trying to make a difficult decision. She said "Think about the 3 things your dog loves the most. When he can't enjoy 2 of the 3, then it's time." From what you describe, Buckley sounds like he's doing what he always does. I'm amazed at what dogs seem to be able to deal with and just keep on going. I am often of the mindset that this kind of decision is easier to make if you have a diagnosis. Of course this never seems to come easily or cheaply but, in the end, I have a better idea about what I'm up against. I remember meeting you and Buckley years ago at one of the first ABR picnics. You have been a very dedicated owner as you helped Buckley work through his various issues and I'm sure you will make the best decision for him in the end. I wish you guys the best and please keep us posted.

PS Can you post a recent picture of Buckley? He was such a handsome boy when he was young. :)

Re: Breathing issues and vomiting/diarrhea

Posted: Fri Oct 14, 2016 1:54 pm
by Canned Ice
Thanks for the responses! Thank goodness, Buckaroo is doing much better. They got his vomiting treated and have decided to double his antacids to 2X a day to try to resolve his reflux and nausea. The VA vets agree the breathing issues are likely a result of the reflux but they are not certain if the issue is laryngeal or nasal because once they got the wheezing and stridor treated, they said his lungs and heart sounded good. Right now we are going to aggressively treat his nausea since the diarrhea seems to have been a one time thing, maybe caused by the stress from the breathing issues (I'd be freaked out and anxious if I was having trouble breathing!). If this reoccurs though they want to send him to Virginia Tech to get scoped to find out if he's dealing with something like Sam had, gagesbarb. Right now we will continue to treat the symptoms because neither his MS or VA vets think a diagnosis would alter the treatment much at all. Unfortunately we are dealing with old dog issues and since he's otherwise happy and healthy, we will carry on. It's just hard to be dealing with this remotely.

Here are a couple of recent photos. The first one is from the spring after he got back from the vet as he enjoys the sun and keeps me company while I'm weeding and the second is from August when I dropped him off with my parents. It took him approximately 10 minutes to feel totally at home. He likes to park himself in front of the door so he can keep watch outside and so nobody can come or go without his knowledge. I hope this works. I recently moved everything to Google Photos and haven't shared an album yet.

Re: Breathing issues and vomiting/diarrhea

Posted: Fri Oct 14, 2016 2:08 pm
by Cindy
Your report sounds promising and at least you seem to have a path forward. Loved seeing pictures of Buckley - just as handsome as ever :)

Re: Breathing issues and vomiting/diarrhea

Posted: Fri Oct 14, 2016 9:43 pm
by gagesbarb
does sound like good news :D :D :D
I know several people who developed a cough and bronchitis like symptoms that turned out to be based in reflux that irritated everything...
zantac or some anti-acid helped a hopefully that will take care of it for you guys...
He looks great...I love how dogs are so resilient and enjoy the moment :lol: