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95 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
There just couldn't be a worse time for this. The state is under "stay home" orders, non-essential businesses are closed, and I have no income until it's over. It's a very scary time.

So naturally, my senior dog is having a problem. The local vet is closed, too, so he's only available for emergencies... and, of course, emergency rates apply.

** History of the dog **
He's an 11 (almost 12) year old male (neutered) beagle / heeler mix that I found as a puppy. He had terrible red mange, several types of worms and other parasites, and the vet said that he was "the sickest dog he had ever seen" and didn't think he would survive the night. But he did, and now he's my big baby.

I should note, though, that he has a near obsession with eating poop in the back yard ? I have a small Sheltie, and when she poops he'll track it down if I don't catch it first. Squirrels or rabbits poop in the back yard, he'll find it and eat it. I've tried everything and haven't been able to break him from it.

But he is absolutely terrified of other people, and as he's gotten older he has started to have panic seizures. When I take him to the vet I have to leave him in the car, and the vet knows to quickly come out to the car and give him shots very quickly. He can't really do an exam, the last time he tried my poor dog almost had a heart attack... no exaggeration, the vet was seriously concerned that he was going to have a heart attack. Nothing has been diagnosed, but based on the seizures I suspect a weak heart.

He has countless knots, cysts, and potential tumors all over his body, and always has. I know where most of them are and keep a regularly eye on them for sudden growth, but so far there haven't been any like that. I think they just came from all of his puppyhood problems. Honestly, though, even if one did become a problem, I don't know what I could do about it.

I've been incredibly worried about his last days... I know they're coming, but I can't take him to the vet for euthanasia and make his last moments be in terror. I have no clue how to handle it when the time comes, I just have to pray that he's not in pain and goes peacefully in his sleep or something.

And then... today.

** What's going on now, why I'm posting **
He slept just fine last night, as usual. This morning he got up normally, went outside like normal, and came back in to eat breakfast like normal. His breakfast was Chicken Soup for the Dog Lover's Soul, which I keep in a Tupperware-style container that's made for dog food. I'm about 2/3 through the container, so it's not a new bag, but not old either.

Then I made breakfast for myself. He came over to sniff it like usual, then hopped up on the foot stool that he usually lays on so that he could watch me eat and give me the puppy-dog-eyes. I didn't let him have any, though, in part because my Hollandaise sauce has onion powder in it. So he sniffed from a distance, but that's all.

After breakfast I was going to let him go outside, as usual. He hopped down from the foot stool, then I saw him limping very slowly towards the door, holding up his front left leg. I rushed over to see what's going on, and he was a little shaky. I checked his paw and joints and didn't feel anything, but he did whimper a bit. This is a dog that NEVER whimpers.

I petted him for a few minutes, very worried, but couldn't find anything wrong. Then I picked him up to put him back on the foot stool, being cautious of his leg, and he whined a bit harder. I lay him down on his right side (no pressure on the leg he was holding up) and massaged every joint and muscle I could find, but nothing felt swollen or anything. And he didn't really give me any markers to find where the pain was.

About 30 minutes later, he was asleep on the foot stool so I came upstairs to get the dirty laundry, hoping to do some chores today. After a few minutes he had followed me, though. So he came upstairs on his own without whining, but he was holding up his leg and breathing like he was in pain.

Instead of going back downstairs, I just sat at my desk so he would lay down under it (his usual spot). He lay there for about an hour, then being the beagle that he is, he woke up and decided to bark out the window for no reason at all (haha). But he went to the window slowly, still holding up his leg. When he got there he only barked for a few seconds, then sat down. This is an oddity in itself, when he starts barking like that it usually escalates and goes on for what feels like forever.

After that he lay down in that spot, and he's been asleep there for the last 30 minutes. He's on his stomach, but leaning towards his right side (keeping weight off of his left leg).

** Possible problems **
I've ruled out arthritis, he doesn't seem to have any of the symptoms. Pancreatitis also seems unlikely, since he ate breakfast and all was normal. It's possible that he ate something outside before breakfast, but rubbing his stomach doesn't seem to hurt, it's isolated (for now) to his front left leg.

He could have twisted his shoulder when he hopped off of the foot stool, unfortunately I wasn't watching so I don't know how he landed or exactly when the limp began. But now it's been about 2 1/2 hours and he still seems in pain, and there's no apparent swelling.

Going to the vet is the absolute last option right now... I can't afford treatments, I'm completely out of credit cards to use, and even if I did have the money the risk of him having a seizure and/or heart attack while under exam makes it unrealistic. I suspect that any future trip to the vet is more or less a death sentence for him.

Can you guys and gals suggest anything else? I have turmeric that I can make and give to him as a pain reliever, that's all I can really think of.

· Registered
7,415 Posts
Hi, sorry that you are facing this problem in such a difficult time. A vet is your best bet and I understand that this is especially hard given that a lot of people are out of work right now. But sudden pain is never normal and you should get it checked out, if possible.

I'm not qualified to give you vet advice but I want to share an anecdote with you. My old dog who has since passed was physically and behaviorally healthy through 11 years of age, like still doing backpacking trips with me. Suddenly he started experiencing pain in his front leg. An X-ray showed that it was bone cancer and we chose to keep him comfortable for a few months before the pain was so much that we euthanized him. I am NOT suggesting this is what your dog's problem is but I am just sharing that I've been in that position with an old dog and an unexplained pain issue in his leg. I cannot imagine letting it go for longer, as the strong pain medication is the only thing that gave us a few more comfortable months together. Regardless, best of luck with your situation. I truly hope that it is minor. It is a very hard time to have a senior dog and I hope you both have many happy days together.

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1,221 Posts
You have my sympathy too. I worry about my own 2 dogs in these hard times. In your situation, I'd hide that stool and keep him on ground level, see if the leg improves. Do you have any kind of anti-inflammatories available? Most dogs can tolerate aspirin for a couple of days (NOT ibuprofen or Tylenol). If he doesn't show improvement, you really do need to find a way for a vet visit. Bone cancer ran through my mind too when reading your post, but I have large dogs of a breed prone to it. I think it's less common in Beagle-sized dogs and the dogs I've known who had it didn't show sudden lameness, although I've heard of that.

Hope it turns out to be a sprain or something like that.

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95 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks for the input and sympathy!

Unfortunately, it's not just the money, although that's a big part of it. I spent close to $10,000 when my Chihuahua had congestive heart failure, and that started a downward credit spiral that just got worse when my fiance had appendicitis, then my cats had cancer, then my fiance had a breast cancer scare. I literally just do not have money right now.

But his seizures are the biggest obstacle. I could possibly get the vet to do a house call, but then I risk my dog having a major seizure and/or heart attack.

Cancer is an obvious concern, I lost both of my cats to cancer last year. Their symptoms weren't sudden like that, though. The one was peeing and throwing up blood for 2 or 3 years, and the other was probably doing the same but we didn't notice because of his kitty brother. After the first one passed, though, the symptoms were more obvious in the other, and he passed a month later.

But going out for breakfast and all is well, then 30 minutes later there's crippling pain? That throws me a bit. My experience with cancer is that it's progressive, not all of a sudden like that. But with cancer, it's really anybody's guess.

A few updates...

At dinner time, I got him to eat a little golden milk (turmeric, coconut oil, and black pepper; he licked the spoon). He went to his food bowl but wouldn't eat, he just sniffed it and lay down. But I gathered small handfuls and hand-fed him, and he would eat them just fine.

About 30 minutes later (about 2 1/2 hours ago), his sister (the Sheltie) went out and he wanted to go with her. She came back in quickly, but I let him take his time while keeping an eye on him from a distance (I didn't want to rush him or anything). He had 3 bowel movements within a few minutes, all solid, but remarkably large! No diarrhea and no blood, so that's good, but he was either lightly limping on both left legs or he was shaky, I couldn't tell which.

He came back on his own and didn't seem to be limping as bad, but then he went and lay in the floor and hasn't really moved since.

I'd hoped with the large BMs that maybe it was just a temporary intestinal blockage that was hurting him, but it's been 3 hours and there's no apparent improvement.

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95 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·

He's doing much better today! I've been giving him turmeric (golden milk) and ledum (which I'd originally bought for the Sheltie and forgot that I had)... he was still limping and lethargic yesterday, but not in as much pain, but then today he's been acting pretty close to normal!! So I guess it was just a bad sprain, after all, and maybe nothing serious.

This is a huge relief, because he was in so much pain on Sunday that I honestly thought he was going to die :-( I know it's coming soon, but I just wasn't prepared for him to be playing Frisbee on Saturday and then dying on Sunday! That's how one of my cats went, and that was hard.
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