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Old June 10th, 2008, 06:57 AM
Brittany99 Brittany99 is offline
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Suddenly lethargic dog.

On about Thursday I noticed my 8 year old rat terrier became suddenly lethargic. After waking, I tried to get her up to go outside, but she didn't even want to move out of her bed. All I usually have to say is "want to go outside? " and she leaps right out of bed excited and ready to go, but not that day, or any day since.

She yelped when I lifted up her front paw to slip her harness on, and she would sometimes yelp if I touched her even slightly. I tried feeling her legs for any swelling, and moving the joints to see what caused her yelp, but she didn't respond to anything. She just seemed to yelp at random.

I took her to the vet saturday, they gave her a physical exam, she didn't respond to any stimuli, they took her temp, it was normal. The vet said nothing seemed to be physically wrong. So they took blood/urine for samples.

On sunday I took her to the park, and she was excited and eager to get out of the car, but nowhere near as usual, and she wanted to stay at the park much longer than usual, she kept playing tug of war with me as I tried to walk back to the car, shes never done this before. Usually after walking around the park once, shes content and walks back without hesitation. The vet calls Monday and says blood/urine looks fine, but to keep an eye on her and if she doesn't improve xrays may be needed.

Now this is what confuses me, she sometimes yelps if someone tries to pick her up, or touches one of her front paws. But when I take her out for a walk, all she wants to do is keep walking, and she tries to drag me further away from our typical walk route.

I decided to let her lead the way and she pretty much takes me all over the neighborhood. This doesn't sound like a dog with any sort of injury... but once we're back in the house, she goes back to laying down in her bed, being lethargic. And she acts like she has trouble getting up on the sofa or the bed.

Her activity just seems to go up and down, but nowhere near her old self. And she still continues to yelp occasionally if touched or picked up. Is she just depressed, or could there be something the vet didn't find in the blood/urine?

I wouldn't be worried if this change in her personality wasn't so drastic and overnight. It seems like when shes outside, she wants to stay out as long as possible, but once shes back inside, she turns into a geriatric dog.
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Old June 10th, 2008, 11:00 PM
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hazelrunpack hazelrunpack is offline
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That is strange...

Was there anything anomalous in the blood at all? Have you found any ticks on her recently? We've seen cases of Lyme's disease that caused mild, rotating lameness that came and went. Did they run a Lyme's titer or do a snap test for it? Anaplasmosis can also lead to lethargy and joint pain--a blood workup will show depressed white blood cell count and depressed platelet count. One of our dogs was showing symptoms, but the WBC and platelets weren't out of the normal range, just lower than normal.

Good luck with your girl, Brittany. I hope they find the cause soon!
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Old June 10th, 2008, 11:20 PM
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Dr Lee Dr Lee is offline
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Sounds like your vet started with the right steps of physical examination, blood and urine testing. With the history of recurrent, episodic pain leads me to several concerns. Some of the differentials that would be high might include: neurologic disease, immune mediated disease, infectious disease, high blood pressure and cancer.

Neurologic disease might include slipped intervertebral disc disease, inflammatory or infectious diseases, vertebral instabilities or tumors. Unfortunately, MRI and CSF analysis are going to be the means of identification. These, while very safe, are expensive.

Immune mediated diseases are autoimmune inflammatory diseases which can occur for various reasons. Inflammation of the nervous tissue or muscle tissue can lead to the signs you are describing.

Infectious causes may include things like a kidney infection. While urinalysis is a great way to start, sometimes culture of the urine may be indicated. Ask your vet, some urinalysis test results may make culture either beneficial or a waste of time. Infectious meningitis, myositis, or joint infections can cause recurrent episodic pain. So might tick borne or ricketssial diseases, as hazelpack run suggested with Lyme disease. Liver infections or even heart infections may cause this. You may want to ask your veterinarian about a therapeutic antibiotic trial.

High blood pressure can be very uncomfortable. This is a simple test - if your vet has the equipment. The machines for reading blood pressure are fairly expensive.

And unfortunately, for situations like this cancer does need to be considered. For this reason, among many, further diagnostics and investigation is an excellent idea. Remember that many 'cancers' can be affectively treated.

Best of luck, I hope this helps.
Christopher A. Lee, D.V.M., C.V.L.S.
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Old June 10th, 2008, 11:59 PM
Brittany99 Brittany99 is offline
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Thank you for the responses so far. When the vet called, he said everything in the blood checked out normal, except that something was a little high (I wish I could recall what he said exactly) but that it wasn't really high enough to be concerned about. I could call back and find out exactly what it was.

I think I've got a bead on whats going on with her, though. Prior to her activity she began biting at her back, near the base of her tail. She only did it once, and left it alone. I didn't think anything of it because she left it alone, but I think she may have pulled a muscle in her front legs while trying to contort herself into biting the itchy spot on her back, which explains why she stopped trying to relieve the irritation on her own and why she sometimes yelps when I lift either of her front paws to put her harness on.

I think this also accounts for why she only wants to rest when home, and doesn't spring up out of her bed like usual when it comes to going for walks. The skin irritation at the base seems worse when she moves, everytime she gets up she tries to shake her back end and kicks her hind legs the way a dog does when you scratch their back. The vet noted the same irritated spot on her back and she reacted to it when he moved his fingers across her back during the physical exam, but he didn't prescribe anything for the skin irritation.

So I started scratching at the base of her tail where the irritation was and she started kicking her legs and giving the impression that the scratching was relieving. She perked up considerably after that and kept following me around, wanting me to keep scratching her back.

So I gave her a shower using oatmeal shampoo to help relieve the skin allergy. And so far she seems to be fairly content, and more willing to move around the house. I think within the next couple weeks her front legs should start to get better on their own. I know it all seems pretty simple, but so far her activity or lack of, seems to be centered around how badly irritated her skin is.
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