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Mysterious Fatal Illness

October 9th, 2005, 10:19 PM
Last Friday my 10-year-old lab-shepherd mix, Hogan, began showing signs of a cold -- a few sneezes and general low energy. A few hours later she refused her dinner, and soon thereafter began vomiting. By bedtime her lethargy and unsure gait began to worry us. Early the next morning, on my way to check on Hogan, I found my 15-year-old terrier mix, Phoebe -- who was fine when we went to bed -- now lying on her side at the water dish in the same sickly, immovable state as Hogan. To make matters worse -- and more mysterious -- Phoebe, who'd had Cushing's for a year and a small cherry eye in the corner of her left eye for the last six months, now had an enormous prolapsed duct in her good eye, almost covering the entire eye. And, Hogan was worse.

I rushed Hogan to the vet, where she was hospitalized in isolation. Then I took Phoebe in. It was obvious to the vet that Phoebe would not make it. She was euthanized. I went home and waited to hear about Hogan. Despite IV treatment, Hogan's condition worsened through the night and at 11:00 the following morning the vet called to say Hogan had acute pancreatitis -- renal failure, extreme hyperglycemia and liver failure. The only organ doing OK was her lungs. With Hogan's prognosis as bleak as Phoebe's, she was put down an hour later.

We (including the vet) are clueless as to what caused this. If it was poison, it certainly wasn't the standard warfarin rodenticide, judging by her clear lungs. I scoured the backyard for anything unusual and found nothing. The only other dog they come in contact with is our backdoor neighbor's collie (through a chain-link fence). They hadn't even been out for a walk in a month. The only thing remotely unusual I can think of is this: the evening before Hogan became symptomatic (Thursday), I had run out of their usual food -- half dry (Pedigree), half moist (Von's brand) -- so I split a can of moist food (Pedigree, not their usual Von's), with two-thirds going to Hogan and one-third to Phoebe -- no dry food. I remember Hogan left a little in her dish, but was acting fine. Incidentally, I had done this a number of times through the years.

Needless to say, we are heartsick from losing two wonderful members of our family and would very much like to know what took them from us. And, the fact that we have other mammals living in the same house (cats and us) makes this mystery even more troubling. If there is any light you might be able to shed on this, it would be deeply appreciated. Any similar story, any idea -- anything.

Thank you very much,

Russ Buchanan

October 9th, 2005, 10:44 PM
Rbuch I am so sorry to hear your sad story. I can't offer any insight into what it may have been, but I just wanted to offer support, as I know how difficult it is to lose a pet, let alone two. I do hope that someone here will be able to help. :grouphug:

Lucky Rescue
October 9th, 2005, 10:53 PM
I"m so sorry you lost your two old pals so suddenly and at the same time.:( My condolences.

Your dogs were 10 and 15 years old - elderly indeed, and it might be just coincidental that both went so close together.

Without a necropsy it's impossible to say what killed them, but could be nearly anything from heart failure to cancer or just a general failure of the system, particularly in the 15 year old's case.

I'm sure nothing you did, or did not do, is the cause and probably it was just their time to go.

I'm sure they would thank you for all the years of love and kindness they had.

October 10th, 2005, 07:00 AM
I'm so sorry that you lost your 2 companions so quickly and so horribly, my heart and thoughts are with you today. You said Hogan had the symptoms of a cold before falling extremely ill, there is a new canine flu spreading rapidly that is fatal in a short amount of time.

Again, my sincere condolences on you and your family's loss :(

October 10th, 2005, 08:19 AM

I'm so sorry for your loss. I would be just as worried and heartbroken.

It's very coincidental that both your dogs became sick simultaneously.
I found this link, hope it helps solve the mystery:

October 10th, 2005, 03:22 PM
The first thing that came to mind is the flu. We have been hearing about it more and more in the media of late. I know this often fatal illness was first diagnosed in the eastern U.S. but is moving north. It was originally spread from horses to greyhound racers.
There are a few articles here about it.

October 10th, 2005, 08:07 PM
Deadly new dog illness is a flu strain
Widespread respiratory infection affecting greyhounds and some pets
Updated: 1:53 p.m. ET Sept. 26, 2005

WASHINGTON - The mysterious respiratory disease that has swept greyhound racetracks across the country and also afflicted pet dogs is a type of flu - an influenza strain that jumped from horses to dogs, researchers reported Monday.

Such a rapid jump into a new species is rare; the flu usually evolves into new strains more gradually.
But genetic tests of sick dogs found their disease almost identical to the H3N8 influenza strain that afflicts horses, scientists at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and University of Florida discovered.

Moreover, they found evidence of widespread infection in racedogs around the country and in pets of various breeds in Florida and New York.

Since this is a new virus for dogs, they are unlikely to harbor a natural immunity to it.

There are no reports of people sickened by the new canine flu, which is genetically different from human flu strains - and from the bird flu that has killed more than 60 people in Asia.

The results were published online Monday by the journal Science.

How dangerous is it?
This new dog illness made headlines earlier this year as greyhound racetracks closed to control outbreaks. Veterinarians struggled to tell if the illness was a new variant of kennel cough or an entirely new disease.

The CDC researchers counted outbreaks at 14 greyhound tracks in six states from June to August 2004, and at 20 tracks in 11 states between January and May 2005.

It's not clear how dangerous the new canine flu is to dogs. Some die, others experience only a fever and cough, but a large number show no symptoms at all, the researchers report.

While most attention has focused on racing dogs, the researchers tested 70 dogs of various breeds with respiratory disease in Florida and New York pet shelters and veterinary clinics. Some 97 percent showed antibodies to the new canine flu strain.

Tests of blood stored by racetracks suggests the new flu strain began infecting dogs sometime between 1999 and 2003, well before the first outbreaks were recognized, the researchers conclude.
2005 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.[COLOR=DarkSlateBlue][B]

October 11th, 2005, 04:31 PM
To those of you who posted messages of condolence and possible causes of my dogs' deaths -- Thank you. The compassion and help you've offered me -- a complete stranger -- is the bright spot in this otherwise awful situation.

To answer one of your questions, I live in the hills of the San Fernando Valley (Woodland Hills / Calabassas) -- and yes, it is a virtual "Wild Kingdom" up here. Coyotes, racoons, possum, snakes, moles, black widow spiders and rodents galore.

The vet ruled out the new "dog flu" fairly early in Hogan's examination -- I suspect because her lungs were just about the only organ unaffected by her condition.

So the hunt goes on. Without necropsies, I may never find out what happened to them, but, armed with Hogan's lab results and a burning curiosity, I'm going to do my darndest in the meantime.

Again, thank you all for your kindness. If anyone needs his faith in his fellow man restored, this forum sure does the job nicely.

Russ Buchanan

October 11th, 2005, 05:09 PM
They don't do necropsies at all in your area? They're really expensive, as far as I know... I'm really sorry for your loss. I don't know what I would do if my two beasties died suddenly. :sad:

October 11th, 2005, 06:16 PM
I was so wrapped up trying to help you figure out what happened to your beloved companions that I forgot to extend to you my deepest sympathy. Losing one dog is hard enough but two must be unbearable.

I am probably pulling at straws but did your vet talk to you about Leptospiriosis? Another thing I thought of was the possibility of a snake bite or some other venomous animal.

I hope you find the answers you are looking for.