View Full Version : Dog isn't doing well

04-27-2006, 08:39 AM
This is going to be long, so bear with me.

Our little terrier mix, Penelope, isn't doing very well right now. I've had some blood work done, and I'm taking her to the vet again this afternoon. I'm not looking for a diagnosis or anything like that here. I'm just wondering if anyone has any suggestions for what to ask my vet or anything like that. The shelter is willing to help out with cost of diagnosis and treatment as long as there is a good chance of the dog getting through this. If anyone has any thoughts about this, let me know...

Dog: Penelope
19 lbs.
1-2 years old
Adopted March 3, 2006.
She was turned over to the rescue shelter for "destructive behavior" and "too much energy"
May have been neglected in her previous home, as she was unresponsive to the name that she had been given by her previous owner after 7 months of living with that owner.
Had Demodectic Mange approx. 10 months ago which responded to treatment with no relapses.
Had a mild yeast infection in right ear when adopted.
Was given clean bill of health around March 23, 2006.

Penelope quickly took to myself and my wife. She picked up her new name (different from her name with her original owner and different from the name given by the rescue shelter) within a day. She had a lot of energy, and loved running around in the back yard with our 60lbs mixed breed. Penelope was a little hesitant to eat her first few days, but that ended within a short time, and she was been a very good eater ever since. She was initially eating Purina One Lamb & Rice variety. Originally, Penelope spent the 5-6 hours that my wife and I were at work outside in the fenced yard with our older dog. She started digging quite a bit, and demonstrated a willingness and ability to jump the fence to chase squirrels, so we began crate training in mid to late March. She did not take to the crate very well at all. She would bark, howl, and whine throughout the entire time she was in the crate. We talked to a behaviorist who made multiple suggestions including changing her food to Natural Balance, making a recording of our voices and playing that while we were gone, etc. The behaviorist also suggested, during our last consultation, that we should shake the crate or flip it upside down if the dog starts barking in the crate. As we do not agree with that form of training, we have stopped working with that behaviorist. Switching food and the voices, as well as time, seem to have helped her adjust to the crate better. We have a video cam that we use to tape her during the day, and we see that she has good days and bad days.

Symptoms (beginning approximately 2-3 weeks ago):
:arrow: Loss of appetite. She is down to eating about 1/2-1/3 cups of food a day instead of the 1 1/4-1 1/2 she was eating. She will only eat that much with a lot of coaxing.
:arrow: Refusing treats (she even occasionally refuses the yummy little pieces of a Natural Ballance roll that I cut up)
:arrow: Lethargy
:arrow: Submissive
:arrow: Very little water intake, even after strenuous exercise (I've gotten her to run with me twice, though not very far and not very fast)
:arrow: Hair loss. I filled a 16 ounce plastic cup 2/3 full of hair using a
normal comb in less than 30 minutes. Her coat is definately thinning on her sides and chest. It is getting hotter here, but this seems excessive.
:arrow: Scratching head and neck, biting back and legs, rolling back and forth on ground, rubbing face on ground. She has even done the rolling and rubbing her face on our concrete porch.
:arrow: Licking and biting legs until there are sores
:arrow: Shivering. It was 59 degrees last night, and I had a very hard time getting her to urinate or defecate outside. I had to put her on her leash and walk her out into the middle of the yard to keep her from curling up in a little ball and shivering near the glass door. Even then, she stood there shivering for quite awhile before finally going.
:arrow: Getting "lost" while playing. By this I mean that we will be playing fetch with a ball, and she will run and get it and bring it back a few times. Then I throw it again, and she takes off gets about halfway, and then wanders around apparently looking for the ball right where she is. When she doesn't find it, she lays down in a submissive posture.
:arrow: Used to come when called at all times from all parts of the house. Now she rarely comes unless we are in visual range.
:arrow: Crate behavior fluctuates between playing with Kong or resting
peacefully, and barking/whining/howling destroying bed and ripping up
cover. The "bad days" are worse than they were in the beginning with louder barking etc, digging at the bottom of the crate, clawing at the wire, destroying items in the crate, etc.
:arrow: Trouble keeping eyes open. Looks like she is looking into a very bright light. This even happens when she is intently watching something. She had this a little when we first got her, and I thought it might be because she had some irritation in one of her eyes, but it is getting more noticable.
:arrow: Getting a little snappy. I tried to get her to come inside last night, and when she wouldn't get up, I went and picked her up. She snapped at my hand when I put it around her, and made a motion like she was going to snap at my face.


T4 and Endogenous TSH test: The T4 was borderline low, while the Endogenous TSH was a little below normal.

CBC: Neutrophils Differential was a little low, Lymphocutes differential was a little high, and hemoglobin and MCH were borderline high.

Chem Panel: Amylase and Chloride were a little low. Total Serum Protein, bilirubin, and globulins were borderline low.

My wife and I are both exhausted at this point from worrying about Penelope. We were considering asking the rescue shelter to take her back in the hopes that someone with more resources would adopt her, but the shelter has said that at this point she would likely be considered "unadoptable," espcially with the snapping and destructive behaviors. As you know, "unadoptable" is code for cadidate for euthenasia. Of course, if we can't find a cause and some treatment, then I'm concerned that it may become a quality of life issue that euthenasia might be a possibility.

Thanks for reading all of this, and thanks in advance for any replies.

04-27-2006, 11:04 AM
Carl...it sounds a lot like hypothyroidism or some form of bacterial disease/infection. I'm not a DVM, though I work for one...and wouldn't dare try to pinpoint something without seeing the dog. If it did turn out to be hypothyroidism, you want to make sure you want this dog for life...because the medication is for the life of the dog. However there's a long list of things it could be, and that popped into my head because we just had a case exactly like yours.

However I would have your vet explain certain terms...like T-4...and how that differs from T3, and Free T4. T4 is converted to T3 in tissue cells. Free T4 isn't carried by proteins. It's complex. Just make sure you understand. Cover all the acronyms...don't let him just throw them out at you like you actually know what's happening. Complete blood count (CBC), hemoglobin (HGB)...all that. There's a long list of things that are tested during blood work. A low CBC count could point to anemia - a symptom of several things, but important to know. You'll hear the term blood smear pop up I'm sure, which could indicate certain types of cancers along with a biopsy/fine needle aspiration.

If you aren't sure what he's talking about, ask. Vets are good at doing that, trust me. We'll have patients who finish speaking to the doc, and while I'm finishing up with them in the exam room...they'll ask questions regarding things they didn't understand. Your not being rude by asking, and if they have a problem with it...I'd switch vets. But let's not get into that.

Ask questions about your options. What is he testing for? Make sure your as thorough with the doc as you were with us regarding symptons. Take in the hair samples, take in any ticks or bugs you find on Penelope. Anything abnormal you find physically, point that out.

The point is...make sure you understand what he's talking about, what your options are, and what he's testing for.

Anymore questions...ask away. More than welcome to PM.

04-28-2006, 05:49 AM
I am crying writing this because your dog is so unhappy.

I believe that this is what happened - her immune system as a youngster was stressed (demodectic mange mites are always present on a dog's body but they only 'take over' when the immune system is compromised by stress, bacteria or viruses). Attention was paid to this growing pup, medications were given and she felt love and her immune system kicked in to beat the mange.

Sadly she went to people who did not understand the activity level of a happy puppy and soon her energy overwhelmed them.

Happily you adopted her and now she knew she was loved and she thrived.

As she became an adolescent she did some naughty things (digging and jumping the fence). But what she did was not 'bad', just normal for a dog that had no guidance during the day and noone there to play with to tire her out.

Instead of understanding this and perhaps 'enrolling' her in a day care she was 'punished' and put in a crate where previously she had freedom.

Please understand that I am not criticizing you and I do believe in crating but crating 'all of a sudden' and being left in that crate, again unattended, frightened her and made her feel 'unloved' - she doesn't understand why she is being 'punished' and no longer knows (seen by her 'submissive' behavior) where she stands in your 'pack'. She no longer has a clue as to what to do to make her life happier OR to make you reward her and once again her immune system is going down. At this point she may have Addison's disease - please ask your vet to check her corisol levels.

OR she may just be 'dying' of unhappiness.

You are right that the trainer was way off base - 'shaking' the crate would have totally terrified her and probably would have eliminated what was left of her self esteem.

I honestly believe that at this point drastic measures have to be taken to FIRST give her back her sense of worth and to let her know it is 'ok' to be a puppy. Little by little the dog you 'knew' before will start to emerge.

I also think that the reason she is 'rubbing' her face is that the demodectic mange has once again taken over and must be treated again. BUT if you cannot also restore her 'happiness' so that she has a reason to live I do not think anything will work.

Is it possible you could find a pet sitter that could take her out and play with her a couple of times a day while you are at work so that she doesn't have to be alone and crated?

Failing that she will not thrive and taking her back to the shelter will be a death sentence that she doesn't deserve. I have a huge knot in my stomach thinking that she will be killed when she only had a brief time of happiness.

I don't know where you are located but if we can help, if you really don't love her enough to make positive changes and if you don't feel as 'sick' about this as I do then if you have her tested and start the treatment for the demodex we will take her here.

04-28-2006, 06:45 PM
Carl, is there any update?
Please keep us posted, everyone is concerned.

05-04-2006, 06:16 PM
Carl, any word yet?

05-19-2006, 04:28 PM
Carl, i hope penelope will be feeling better soon, hang in there! let me know how she is doing?[/url][/list][/quote]