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cough and lethargy
02-09-2017, 02:54 PM,
#1
cough and lethargy
Hello, my name is Tom, I am new to the forum.
 
For a male Australian Shepherd mix breed approximately 10 – 11 years old - summary of symptoms: 1) Cough, sometimes a dry hacking followed with a gag like sound and sometimes just a puffing sound. The coughing, however has been of varying degrees of frequency and intensity and sometimes long periods of no coughing at all. 2) Periods of appetite loss and lethargy (moving around much more slowly, unable to jump up in back seat of car or onto his bed, looking almost inebriated) lasting one to two days followed by 5 -10 days of back to normal behavior. The symptoms have been somewhat cyclical for the past month and a half.
 
I am posting for insight as to the cause of the symptoms along with the inconsistencies I am observing in them and for comments of others who may have had similar experiences with their dogs. Any thoughts or directions to threads of similar concerns would be appreciated.
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02-09-2017, 03:18 PM,
#2
RE: cough and lethargy
Hello Tom, Welcome to the forum!
In older dogs it's always important having them assessed by the vet because the coughing can be due to underlying heart conditions. The coughing may start occasionally and then become more steady. Is your dog on heartworm prevention? There are certain parasites that may cause a cough. Do you live in the desert southwest? Fungal infections are possible in these areas.

A common cause for coughing in dogs is kennel cough, but this type of cough comes from contact with other dogs and the incubation period (time from exposure to seeing symptoms) is about 3 to 10 days. Has your dog been around other dogs in the past week or so? Generally though kennel cough symptom lasts for about 3 weeks and you would expect to see more persistent coughing. Coughing can also be seen when the dog is exposed to certain irritants, like smoke, dust etc. but it should not caused lethargic behavior.

With the lethargy and appetite loss on top of the cough, I would suggest seeing the vet sooner than later to determine the underlying cause. Recording the coughing episode may help the vet in diagnosis. As seen, there can be several causes!
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02-09-2017, 04:26 PM,
#3
RE: cough and lethargy
(02-09-2017, 02:54 PM)thomaskgrosvenor Wrote: Hello, my name is Tom, I am new to the forum.
 
For a male Australian Shepherd mix breed approximately 10 – 11 years old - summary of symptoms: 1) Cough, sometimes a dry hacking followed with a gag like sound and sometimes just a puffing sound. The coughing, however has been of varying degrees of frequency and intensity and sometimes long periods of no coughing at all. 2) Periods of appetite loss and lethargy (moving around much more slowly, unable to jump up in back seat of car or onto his bed, looking almost inebriated) lasting one to two days followed by 5 -10 days of back to normal behavior. The symptoms have been somewhat cyclical for the past month and a half.
 
I am posting for insight as to the cause of the symptoms along with the inconsistencies I am observing in them and for comments of others who may have had similar experiences with their dogs. Any thoughts or directions to threads of similar concerns would be appreciated.

You should get the dog to a Vet for a CBC/Chem panel.  Possibly an ultrasound.

Causes of the cough you describe vary from COPD, heart problems, parasitic or other infections, or cancer.  The problem is most of these causes would not be cyclical.  They would persist with continued appetite loss, and lethargy, possibly getting worse.  One exception might be hemangiosarcoma.  The dog has internal bleeding, which clots, and the blood is reabsorbed - "auto transfusion".  The dog then returns to normal in activity level.  The tell tale sign would be a low platelet, and possibly RBC count in a CBC/Chem panel.  Hopefully the Vet could eliminate this cancer, as the chronic cause of the symptoms you are seeing. 

In summary:  You need to get the dog to your Vet ASAP so as to determine the underlying cause.
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02-09-2017, 10:30 PM,
#4
RE: cough and lethargy
Thank you for insight. Dodger had coughed before, I just didn't realize it was a cough until I researched. When he had his first bout of lethargy and loss of appetite, I brought him to the emergency vet. We went through the whole discussion of x-rays and bloodwork and cost. I opted to stay optimistic and went with antibiotics, a naxcel injection and a round of clavamox. Later that week he became his normal self but was still intermittently experiencing coughing. Then I made an appointment with the vet referred to me at the emergency clinic. I brought Dodger there about 10 days after the initial emergency vet visit. Since his behaviors were back to normal, we just looked to tackle the cough with Hydrocodone. I proceeded to get Dodger his yearly vaccinations. But then about 20 days after his first bout of lethargy and loss of appetite, he had another but it only lasted for a day and the coughing continued from time to time. Please keep in mind, when I say loss of appetite I refer to his dental treat and dry food. Even when he has these bouts, he'll eat beef I cook up for him. Long story short among the two vet visits, I was hoping that the issue was on the minor side. It looks as though I will have to take him for x-rays and blood work. What gets me is that one minute he is his normal self but I awake from a nap and he is out of it for a while and then returns to normal after about a day.
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02-09-2017, 10:44 PM,
#5
RE: cough and lethargy
To Dragondawg:

I see, I went through the cancer thing with my black lab shepherd mix a couple of years ago. From what I gathered, when she experienced internal bleeding from the tumors, she would sprawl out on areas where the floors were cold and pant for a while, then get up and be back to normal for her age. But she declined rapidly and when she lost her appetite she wouldn't eat anything. Got to the point where she couldn't get herself up to go to the bathroom. Amidst my two vet visits thus far, I have tried to avoid the C word.
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02-10-2017, 10:26 AM,
#6
RE: cough and lethargy
(02-09-2017, 10:44 PM)thomaskgrosvenor Wrote: To Dragondawg:

I see, I went through the cancer thing with my black lab shepherd mix a couple of years ago. From what I gathered, when she experienced internal bleeding from the tumors, she would sprawl out on areas where the floors were cold and pant for a while, then get up and be back to normal for her age. But she declined rapidly and when she lost her appetite she wouldn't eat anything. Got to the point where she couldn't get herself up to go to the bathroom. Amidst my two vet visits thus far, I have tried to avoid the C word.

I know the "C" feeling.  My prior once in a lifetime dog was taken out by Lymphoma in 2003.  Presently have two 13-14 yr olds:  One with Leukemia (CLL) diagnosed Nov 2015, and the other with Nerve Sheath Cancer diagnosed last month.  Different cancers, different symptoms, different treatments, different time lines. It's a race to the finish line between the two. 

The cycling you are seeing just seems suspiciously like what one would expect from tumors bleeding internally.  Another outside possibility is a chronic rickettsia disease.  Undulating back, and forth.  Although that should be causing other symptoms, especially fever.  Best to get the blood work done.  If it's cancer, find out the type, and treat.
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02-11-2017, 12:47 PM,
#7
RE: cough and lethargy
Update 2/11: Have made appointments for blood work and x-rays. Dog seems to be doing well except for coughing. Eating and energy looks ok for his age. One additional thing that I notice is that one of his ears seems to be limp. He has floppy ears but as he alerts to something they both normally retract and rise a bit. Just today I am noticing that only his right ear is doing that while the other is not, it is staying floppy. Any additional thoughts would be appreciated.
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02-11-2017, 09:49 PM,
#8
RE: cough and lethargy
Hello Tom, I have been reading your posts. I hope your vet can get to the root of his coughing and that it gets better. Floppiness can be indicative of an ear problem. I would check the bottom flap to see if there is any swelling. Sometimes dogs shake their ears a lot and they get a collection of blood there and it makes the ear heavy. It could also be a sign that inflammation or an infection is brewing. Something worth mentioning when you see your vet for the x-rays and bloodwork if that appointment is not far out.
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02-12-2017, 10:56 PM,
#9
RE: cough and lethargy
(02-11-2017, 09:49 PM)Daisy Wrote: Hello Tom, I have been reading your posts. I hope your vet can get to the root of his coughing and that it gets better. Floppiness can be indicative of an ear problem. I would check the bottom flap to see if there is any swelling. Sometimes dogs shake their ears a lot and they get a collection of blood there and it makes the ear heavy. It could also be a sign that inflammation or an infection is brewing. Something worth mentioning when you see your vet for the x-rays and bloodwork if that appointment is not far out.

I see the vet tomorrow for bloodwork and next week for x-rays. My concern with the ear aroused because since the start of his issues, he has had a few days where he seemed out of it, just having the energy to get himself out into the yard for toiletry. During those days he would seem unsteady at times which made me think his new ear unevenness might be neurological. I am hoping that all of this turns out to be stuff that can be dealt with to get a few more years. He is 10-11, he was adopted so age isn't really known, I have had him for about 8 years. When he is not having the occasional bad day, he otherwise looks good while continuing to have coughing episodes that don't really seem to effect his morale.
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02-14-2017, 09:11 PM,
#10
RE: cough and lethargy
I hope your vet visit went well and that there's nothing major going on. Unsteadiness can be caused by many things ranging from orthopedic problems, to spinal issues, to internal bleeding (always good to check gums and see the vet ASAP if they are pale, grayish or white) to heart conditions and neurological problems. Many of these things can be sorted out with blood work and x-rays. Keep us posted on your vet's findings. Will be keeping your dog in my thoughts.
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