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Mysterious Chronic Illness in Cavalier

2695 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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I'm a fan of specialists the minute a general practitioner vet can't get a handle on something. So I'd go with the internist referral, or if you have a vet school near you, I'd check out the specialists there. Of course you have to decide if you can afford it and if you want to expend resources that way, but it sounds like when you leave him untreated for a while, things get worse.
Parus has a point about letting things calm down for a week or two before proceeding, and the heart thing in Cavs crossed my mind too. To check that out, I wouldn't be asking my regular vet, I'd be seeing a vet cardiologist. I know vet bills can be horrendous, but actually finding out what's wrong instead of paying for a shotgun approach that never hits the actual problem can be better in the long run.
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