On-line dog diagnosis for an 'off' dog

darenkaJune 20, 2009

Don't worry, I'm not trying to cheap out and avoid the vet; I'm just trying to get some ideas. Maybe have some suggestions for the vet. I'm new to my area so I'm still looking for a vet I can really trust--maybe the 3rd one will be the charm. Anyway, I have an 8-year old Golden Retriever who ages out as a 4-year old in the Dog Age test. 6 months ago, her blood work looked fine. She's not desperately ill, she's just off. 99% of the time she smiles and body wags at the same time. Lately, she's been looking gloomy. She is only her carefree spirit when we go on long walks. But even then, she seems to tire more quickly than usual. At times, she seems stiff or even limps when getting up. She has been crying quite a bit. It seems like she drinking more water than usual, but it's possible that I'm looking for signs. Her bowels are normal, her appetite is a bit off, but she's still eating regularly. In the past, she's had valley fever, but we are no longer in an area where it occurs. (I'm not sure if it can be retriggered without the fungus spores present.) No new lumps or bumps. I have pulled many ticks off of her so I immediately suspected a tick disease, but the last vet dismissed it and wouldn't even do a blood test. He said she didn't show any signs of tick diseases. I'll try to rule out the tick issue with the 3rd vet, but are there any other things you can think of that I should have the vet test for? It's really just my intuition that says something is wrong, but I'm quite sure I'm right. I have been so impressed with the depth and the breadth of knowledge here, that I thought it was worth asking. Thanks for any help.

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Goldens can develop hypo-thyroidism almost overnight;
if treated with thyroid hormone (cheap), it's manageable;
if not treated, it's fatal.

Get her thyroid tested.

If your vet is reluctant, go to another vet.

I wish you the best.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2009 at 6:13PM
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I'd rule out lyme disease and being a Golden the occasional limp would make me think osteosarcoma but then at 8 I would also consider arthritis


    Bookmark   June 20, 2009 at 6:30PM
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you have gotten alot of great information. It sounds as if the vet is not willing to work with you tho, what is up with that attitude??
Find a vet you feel comfortable with and good luck with your pup, please repost and let us know how th/ings are going?

    Bookmark   June 20, 2009 at 11:38PM
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The drinking a lot of water could indicate diabetes. My neighbour's lab showed all the sign you are telling. Daily insulin shots and he's like a puppy again.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2009 at 1:24AM
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Poor baby. You say that she cries, when does that occur?

Has a vet ran a complete blood panel on her?

Stiff and limping sounds like it could be arthritis. I am 48 and I have arthritis in my hip from an injury in my youth. I can't explain how painful that can be when it flares up - it brings me to the point of tears.

The frequent thirst could be a number of things - problems with the kidneys; diabetes; hormonal imbalances; urinary tract infection; liver disease; Cushings. That really needs to be discussed with the vet.

It's great that you've been researching as it prepares you to ask the vet lots of questions.

Best wishes to you both.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2009 at 10:18PM
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According to your profile, I think you live in Hawaii? If so, your dog could be exposed to things ticks carry in the tropics that we on the mainland have no clue about.

See if you can get meghan to respond to your post, she is very knowledgeable. And she might even be able to recommend a vet practice via her network.

Good luck, I hope you find a great vet and get help for your pup very soon.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2009 at 5:40PM
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Really, everyone, thanks again. I will be looking for vet #4, but as this is the last close vet, and I was able to beat him into some submission, I got a whole blood panel ordered on my pup. (I personally think it's a good thing to have a vet in close proximity that you can use in an emergency; I'll drive a long ways for one I love.)

I'm in Germany now. In hind sight, this seems incredibly naive, but I really didn't think I'd have a problem finding a great vet. Germans, as a whole, treat their dogs so well, making them a part of their daily life (only about 12% of the population are dog-owners). I have not seen a stray yet, or even the troublesome, ignored neighbor's dog. They also do such an admirable job breeding dogs. I had a fabulous vet in Portugal, and this is a county that often treats dogs in such a cavalier fashion--turning them loose on the street for August-September when the family goes on vacation. If Fido is still alive upon their return, they take him back in. (Disclaimer: I know not everyone does this, but it's SOOOOO common that it's considered acceptable.) So after an hour of arguing, we are doing a full blood panel, testing for Lyme's, and I walked out with 10 Xanax tablets--and a massive headache. He only touched my dog to draw blood (no heart, temperature, ear, body gropes, nothing...) and he's the best of the 3 I've seen because which much dramatics, at least he is doing the tests instead of saying no. I'm beginning to feel like you don't bother to go to the vet unless you want vaccinations or you have a sucking chest wound.

OK, I've gone off completely and started ranting. Thanks for letting me vent. And to 'danceswithwolves,' (I like your screen name) she often cries for what seems like no apparent reason--which worries me more. She'll shift in her sleep, and cries. She'll not even move and start crying. It's like she's telling me she just doesn't feel good. She'll liven up for the walk, but then she's lethargic and sad so much of the time now. It breaks a mama's heart to see my joyful puppy not happy. My other dog is always grumpy. I'd probably be just as worried if he turned into a ray of sunshine--of course, I'd suspect he got away with the steak that was out for dinner. Food is his favorite thing. I know it doesn't make any difference, but I wanted to share a picture of the puppy you folks are helping out. She's giving herself a massage on the tennis ball she just caught--the victory roll.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2009 at 9:51PM
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Call that vet & be *sure* that he/she does the thyroid test;
you're working against time.

Don't allow the vet to pooh-pooh your concerns;
I lost my beautiful Sunny because 2 different vets as well as a very knowledgeable person from a Golden Rescue thought it couldn't be thyroid since Sunny had been checked less than 6 months prior.

Goldens can develop hypo-thyroid almost overnight, & if untreated, it's fatal.

Lethargy & depression sound exactly like Sunny's symptoms & mood.

Do it now.

I wish you the best.

    Bookmark   June 23, 2009 at 11:56AM
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Hello Darenka,

I hope you have some news by now. If not... my dog has sciatica, you know the nerve thing that humans get. At first we thought it was one knee because she would stand on three legs and just use her left hind leg to help her balance, she'd not use it to go up or down stairs. This happens off and on and the sciatica was diagnosed by the excellent surgeon who did her ACL.

Yesterday she wouldn't/couldn't lift her head upright (Black Lab), and was very lethargic. I thought maybe she sprained her neck. The vet thinks the sciatica is effecting her up to her neck. She held a treat up to my dog and got her to move her head up and to each side --whimpers each direction. She (my dog!) also wants me to massage her neck and lower back, and keeps sidling up to me for rub downs.

I hope you find a considerate, competent vet soon. Perhaps you could try and find a local breeder who could steer you in the right direction??

We've been given pain killers and if they don't work the vet said steroids. I do want to avoid those so I'll try accupuncture first.

Good luck with you pup.


    Bookmark   June 24, 2009 at 4:38PM
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Well, the labs are back, and really... it's probably the best possible news. My golden is hypo thyroid and we started medication today. Hopefully, I'll see doggy smiles soon. Thanks everyone for the information and support. The vet at least had the decency to admit he was surprised as the values weren't off the charts. He complimented me for being such a keen observer of my dog. (I think he wanted to refer me to a psych. appointment before the labs were in.) Still, I'll look for another primary vet as I don't feel comfortable with one who doesn't even touch my dog. There is a reason for those puppy frisks, and he doesn't know that I do it all the time. I would hope his hands are more skilled than mine in picking up abnormalities. In any case, we are both grateful for your comments.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2009 at 6:21PM
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Oh, that's great! My collie/shepherd mix went hypo very quickly, and the meds made a huge difference. I am so happy that this is all it was, and know you will see some fabulous results!

    Bookmark   June 25, 2009 at 8:29PM
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Thank goodness!

    Bookmark   June 27, 2009 at 5:00PM
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