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George still wheezy and gurgly and lethargic; What blood tests etc should I ask the vet to do this afternoon??
Topic Started: 11 Feb 2013, 10:44 (454 Views)
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Hi all,

George has been generally off-colour, having laboured breathing when he's been lying down for a while and an occasional soft cough. The vets say his heart and lungs sound fine, but because he's a doberman and 11 in April, I was worried about heart problems so I took him for an echocardiogram last week, and his heart is fine. When I insisted that I was still really worried about his symptoms, they said they could x-ray his chest if I wanted.

But I'm still worried and want to get to the bottom of this, plus his arthritis has gone really bad and I think he might need knee surgery or at least heavy-duty painkillers, probably for the rest of his life. Before I start constant painkillers or think about putting him through a general anaesthetic at his age, I want to get everything checked out to see if there are any underlying health problems - cancer? thyroid problems? kidney or liver problems? allergies? gastrointestinal problems?

My vet hasn't been worried about his symptoms or suggested blood tests, so I wondered if you guys could tell me what exactly blood tests or other tests would be advised, so I can tell the vet exactly what I want.

Thanks so much in advance!

This is the list of symptoms I printed and gave to the cardiologist, but like I said they don't seem concerned at all and haven't recommended any further tests

George - black and tan Doberman, 11 years old in April.

Has had arthritis for years. No other health problems diagnosed. Many apparent lipomas, including some on the front of his chest that have come up and increased in size quickly.

An occasional non-productive retch/ cough
He drinks a lot of water
Exercise intolerance - sometimes stops on long walks and doesnít want to carry on, especially on hot days.

For the last few weeks:
His eyelid mucous membranes look very pale on some days, on other days they look normal.
Sometimes his gums are very cold to the touch, other days they are normal.
Reluctance to lie down - he will stand and stare at me or wander around after walks and at bedtime, rather than settling straight down.
He makes strange rumbling noises when getting up or lying down
Orthopnea? - Since Xmas, he sometimes has loud, laboured breathing when heís been lying still for a while. Itís worse when heís lying completely flat, and sounds chesty/ rattly. When I put my hand on his ribcage I can feel it rattling.
His hind legs have suddenly lost muscle really quickly, particularly his right one. His knees make clicking noises all the time, and lying down seems very painful to him.
Since the weekend, Iíve noticed an occasional non-productive soft cough. 1 - 2 coughs per day.
He burps a lot, his stomach gurgles a lot, he makes funny noises whilst eating and often seems nauseous after eating.
He seems quite slow, lethargic, and sad.
His appetite is very good, he runs around enthusiastically on walks but tires on long walks, he rarely pants except for when the weather is hot. No fainting. His breathing seems okay when heís running around on walks, and after walks.
No vomiting or diarrhoea.
Slight clear nasal discharge.
Retched up a little clear phlegm after eating a rawhide chew a couple of days ago.
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Crazy Dog Lady
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Some of it does sound arthritic - the exercise intolerance, running around to start with then stopping, reluctance to lie down straight away, all things I've seen in my arthritic dogs (running at the start then slowing down is something Remy does in particular, his arthritis is awful and I'm still working on finding something that works for him, next attempt is on its way).

If it was my dog (and it has been lol, you know how similar they are!) I'd want to do a full run of bloods first, full general check up and full thyroid panel as exercise/heat intolerance can be that too, and hypothyroidism does dent the immune response a bit too so sufferers are more prone to catching things. Problems like chronic sinusitis, IBS, reflux etc can also be caused by hypothyroidism (or vice versa, IBS/reflux type issues can cause it through deficiencies).

Drinking a lot could be a sign of something else hormonal like Cushings or diabetes or again, something reflux-y (rising acid makes the dog drink more, this is something I've seen in a friend's dog with it and I do it myself too); that could make him rattle and gurgle a bit too. My friend's dog has had reflux for years and she's very rattly if it's worse (it's triggered by certain foods as mine is).

Re. the arthritis - there are plenty of options these days for painkillers and supplements, it's usually just a case of finding what works - as I said I'm still in that process with Remy, but I've been through it with Saffi and she does really well on PLT tablets and coconut oil. My oldie was fantastic just on turmeric, and my last dobe only responded to trocoxil - no supplement or other painkiller touched her (this is what Remy's on next). Her joints were atrocious, her elbow looked like it had been splattered with paint on the x-ray and her knee was knackered as were most of her toes, but on that stuff, she was 100% pain-free. Chiropractic helped her and the oldie no end too, as it does all my arthritics now. Hydrotherapy is working nicely for Saffi and River (Saffi has a bad knee and hip, River has it in her front toes). It's just finding what works :)

My sympathies for the apparently blaze vets, I've had so many be that way since I first got Remy (he was my first dog), it's part of the reason why his thyroid went undiagnosed and then untreated for so long (6 years in all before he went on meds that worked). It's very frustrating :( Be firm with them!
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