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Mysterious Chronic Illness in Cavalier

2698 Views 11 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  DaySleepers
Anyone have any ideas for us?

We have been struggling with our Cavalier's health for months now. He is 1yr, intact male. From a breeder who health tests all their dogs, and raises naturally (raw, minimal vac's, minimal chemicals for flea/tick etc.) I am at a complete loss, and so is our vet. Finn has had a cough for over 6 months now, and it persists despite LOTS of different avenues explored.

Background: he started coughing at about 5 months old (dec '19)...at first I assumed kennel cough since he had been around other dogs at work with me. So I kept him home, and he seemed to get better (almost) then his cough worsened very slowly, went from him only coughing when he woke up in the AM, to him coughing sporadically throughout the day. I took him to the vet (April '20), their exam found nothing out of the ordinary (checked heart, lung sounds, heartworm test, fecal etc.) Just the cough. Through all of this he had been acting completely normal (very active) and eating well.

It continued to get worse until he started acting sick this June '20 (lethargic and lost appetite) so I rushed him to the vet that day. They did chest x-rays that showed pneumonia, so he was treated with Doxycycline and his cough went away completely. About 3 weeks later the cough was back. I called the vet and they gave me another course of Doxycycline which did nothing this time. We went back to the vet 2 weeks ago because now his eyes are goopy and irritated, and still coughing. They thought it could be allergies, so tried him on an allergy med (can't remember the name), which did nothing. Went back to the vet this week, they started him on an anti-nausea and stomach protectant, thinking that maybe he's having motility/reflux issues. We've been giving that since Tuesday, with no improvement. This most recent visit they also x-rayed his lungs again to rule out another pneumonia infection (none seen), and also did a full blood panel. The blood panel was normal, except slightly high white blood cells-indicating infection somewhere. They offered to try a different antibiotic, or refer us to an internal medicine specialist.

I'm torn as to what we should do...the internal specialist will be $$$, and we are willing to do anything we need to. BUT, at the same time, other than his cough and runny eyes, he acts like a completely healthy dog.

Through all of this, he has also had a couple bouts of giardia and one bout of coccidia. So he has just been unhealthy for awhile now. We have tried a few immune supplements (starting a new one today), he is also on a probiotic/enzyme powder that helps his gut a lot. He has been fed raw since we got him (a variety of meat proteins, supplements and small amount of veggies/fruits), but now I'm second guessing that and wondering if maybe he's missing something in his diet.

We have 2 other dogs who have not picked up any of these illnesses (thankfully!). We are just totally frustrated and sad for our sick little guy. If anyone has ANY suggestions, they would be greatly appreciated.

Dog Mammal Vertebrate Canidae Dog breed
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The heart issues were the first avenue the vet explored...based on listening (no murmur) and x-ray (no-enlargement) and based on his lack of other symptoms...our vet ruled out heart failure being the cause of his cough. Although if we do go to a specialist, I鈥檓 sure an echo will be part of that.

As for the grain free aspect, he does eat mostly a meat-based diet, but I also use grain-inclusive (and lentil free) premix from sojos and honest kitchen (various flavors). I do think I am going to put him on a commercial diet at least temporarily though. Great advice 馃榾

I guess I didn鈥檛 really think of a food allergy causing respiratory symptoms. I just assumed if it was an allergy, it was environmental. I definitely will look into limited ingredient diets.
He has not had an X-ray of the upper airway, my vet said he would have to be sedated to do that. Good info though, I dont think there鈥檚 a generic problem with his eyes, because when he has been healthy, his eyes were normal. The eye gunk is definitely related to whatever is going on, be it a virus or an allergy.
I do have an appointment with a holistic vet on the 23rd. Hopefully she鈥檒l be able to help! I鈥檓 just super bummed because I still can鈥檛 go in with him, and it鈥檚 a new clinic we are going to 馃槙 stupid COVID.
Well, we are going to the U of M vet specialists in a couple weeks (soonest appt they had)...Finn got really sick on Sunday and was super lethargic and not himself at all. We were so worried that we took him to the emergency vet, but their wait was hours long. He perked up some after I gave him pedialyte, so we waited til Monday to take him to our normal vet. They referred us to the internal medicine specialists at the U because they are stumped...he needs more diagnostic tests that they don't have the equipment for. Meanwhile he's on more antibiotics to hopefully prevent it turning into pneumonia again. He's been acting completely normal since Monday afternoon, other than almost constant coughing 馃槴 poor little man. We are so stressed over Finn and really hope they can figure this out.

Sick on Sunday with his teddy 馃槏
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