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Lethargy bad posture and panting

Species: dog | Category: medical-surgical | Submitted: 1 December 2010 02:50PM | viewed 80245 times
Q Will asks about Ben (dog - Collie Lab X , M) :

In February ‘10 Ben (11 year old Collie Labrador X), had a check up. I was concerned about him not correcting himself when his legs slid to the side, the vet said it was old age. Bloods were run, and it came back normal, except for slightly high potassium levels. In June, the problem had worsened (lethargy, not holding posture correctly when standing), and he was diagnosed with CDRM, after failing the flip test with his paws. He had a slow heart rate (50 bmp). The vet gave Acktivait as he said that it could be helpful with CDRM. More bloods were done, and his potassium was still slightly high. The vet said to ignore the high potassium levels, and said that Ben probably had hypothyroidism, which would cause the slow heart rate. I took Ben in to test his thyroid levels, and after reading around myself, asked for an Addison’s test to be run. The Addison’s test came back negative. The thyroid levels in the blood came back slightly low. I asked if a free T4 test had been run. It hadn’t, so I asked for one - it came back slightly low. The pituitary gland was not tested. The heart rate continued to be about 50 bpm. Before I put him on Soloxine, I changed his food from a supermarket brand (dried) to home cooked food (boiled sausages, white rice and peas). This was an emergency measure to see if the high potassium, which worried me, was diet related. Within two days, the lethargy had gone, he was passing the flip test, and his heart rate was 67 bpm. We had more bloods run and his potassium levels came back normal. I didn’t want to give him sausages forever, so I switched him to Burns dried food (brown rice and chicken). This was in early July. Since then, he has slowly deteriorated once more. The heart rate is quiet, and a little slow, although steady. He dislikes doing much exercise, and has weight loss in the neck. He was constantly foraging. I put him back on home cooked food again, and there was an instant improvement for 2-3 days, then he worsened again (except that he stopped foraging). The thyroid continues to deteriorate and medication is being upped gradually. Recently he has developed a plantigrade stance. The potassium levels remain normal, and he has passed the flip test ever since they normalised. He also pants heavily whenever needing to urinate, and whenever the room is even a bit warm. His weight is stable and easy to maintain, despite his low thyroid. Please help.

Q Our vet says: I am sorry to hear about Ben's problems- you must be really concerned.

I expect your vet will monitor Ben's hypothyroidism and will adjust the dose of Soloxine accordingly. Soloxine dosages need to be adjusted on an individual basis according to clinical response and blood test results for the patient. Over time they may need to be adjusted as the condition progresses.

The improvement which you noticed on the home cooked diet is interesting and it is fine to continue on a home prepared diet provided it is balanced. A balanced diet for a dog means using a variety of protein sources (many people feed their dogs chicken pieces and carbohydrate such as rice for months or years at a time which will not provide all the nutrients they need.) You could consider buying the books about raw foods for dogs and home prepared meals which are available.

If you feel concerned about providing a balanced diet for your dog- or like many of us, just do not have the time to prepare meals, then I personally like Arden Grange and Natures Menu foods. As an holistic vet I have found that many of my patients do well on these diets.

Regarding the slightly raised potassium levels found in your dog's blood sample it is difficult to know if this may have been an erroneous result or not. Sometimes a blood sample may have a falsely raised potassium level due to red blood cells breaking down and "leaking" potassium into the plasma- this is a result of the blood being in an artificial environment and not necessarily an indication of what is going on in the body. It happens in a proportion of all blood samples and in the absence of other signs your vet was correct to tell you not to be overly concerned about the potassium levels.

You may like to try massage or physiotherapy for Ben to help him with his mobility. Many dogs enjoy massage and it can be rewarding for their people too.

I hope this helps.

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