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Avatar universal

Sick dog

I am desperately searching for answers for my 5 year old female yellow lab.  Been to the vet 2x.  She has been vomiting for over a week, and eating next to nothing.  Now, maybe only a tablespoon of rice a day.  She is drinking.  X-Rays show nothing.  Some tenderness when he did a rectal exam, but he is puzzled as there are no organs in that area.  First on Baytrul, which didn't help, now trying clavseptin and an anti inflammatory. Blood work showed high liver enzyme numbers, like 10x what they should be, as well as elevated bilirubin, although that could be related to not eating.  Gums are very red, which is a new symptom.  She is peeing, dark urine, but has stopped pooping.  Doc is puzzled too, I really don't want to put her through explorative surgery, but maybe I should?
18 Responses
1916673 tn?1420236870
Hi. High bilirubin is often caused by the destruction or death of red blood cells. Whatever disease is causing the death of red blood cells (including auto immune issues, heavy metal accumulation, toxins, parasites or infectious disease) needs to be immediately diagnosed and treated. The type of liver enzymes may indicate a specific type of disease ... has your vet told you which enzymes are high (normally these may be represented by abbreviations AST, ALT, ALKP or ALP or GGT.

Liver problems can also be caused by poor or inappropriate nutrition. What do you feed your dog (please list all regular foods and treats)?

Red gums can be caused by several things, including a build up of plaque (which in fact could also be the root cause of disease further down the anatomical tract, affecting organs if it has been going on for some years). Do you regularly clean your dog's teeth? Are they yellow in colour? Is there evidence of plaque build up?

I would be more inclined to think the bright red colour of the gums is due to infection or disease, particularly if it has only recently occurred along with the other symptoms.

Has your vet done a complete blood panel test and a urinalysis? A bile acid test and coagulation test would be useful too. While xrays have been done, what about an ultrascan? Some things cannot be picked up by Xray alone. It would also be useful to do some specific blood tests for things like copper, which can affect the liver quite seriously. Other tests are indeed very invasive, so once all other things are checked off the list, you can think about that decision again.

Hope this helps.

612551 tn?1450025775
Sorry your dog is suffering.... exploratory surgery seems like "jumping the gun" to me.  Tony has given lots of specifics that go way beyond anything I can add there, but I write because of a recent experience with the use of ultra-sound (or scan, as Tony typed) in which our older Westie was found to have a tumor that ruptured his intestine.  This was done by a Critical Care Vet/hospital and the scan told us all we needed to know to make a decision about surgery.

Hope you dog is already doing much better - sending heart-felt support for a good outcome.  
Avatar universal
So, I don't remember exactly which enzymes were high, but a couple I think the ALP for one and maybe another of the A ones.  I feed her regular dog food in the morning, a lamb and rice one and in the evening she gets rice and hamburger or poultry at night.  She really doesn't get many snacks except a bit of Apple or a small bit of cheese.  When we got her she did a lot of scratching of her chin to the point of bleeding, which I think was food related, so I am very careful with what I feed her.  She had a tooth cleaning at the vets this fall, and her teeth are in good shape.  No, bile, urine tests have not been done.
Avatar universal
Thanks Jerry for your reply.  I don't think our small town vet has an ultrasound, and yes, I hate to jump the gun with surgery.  Not knowing is hard though!
1916673 tn?1420236870
Hi. Okay. Without knowing exactly which of the liver enzymes is high, it's impossible to make any conclusions. You could ask your vet about this (you could just ask for a copy of the results, after all, you paid for them). Please let me know the name of the dog food you are using/have used. Also, is the hamburger and poultry human food or is it bought specifically for dogs? Where do you buy this from? Is it pre-packed or fresh?

I tend to agree with you, the scratching could very well be food related, and it may well have been the start of a more severe reaction. This type of allergy is not unusual, if it is related to poor diet or poor food choices.

I think you should consider finding an alternative vet (maybe further afield) who can perform the tests I mentioned in my prior post. If this cannot be done, then unfortunately you and your vet will be second-guessing any kind of treatment, which may prove to be wholly inadequate if the actual cause is not the one being treated.

Hope this helps.

612551 tn?1450025775
We went through the dog food allergy... first and most common: grains, so common in Kibble/dry foods.  We have a Westie with the allergy curse.

We changed protein source in dog food, nothing really worked, but  when we had him on a prescription Hills Z/D with hydrolyzed chicken protein (masks the fact it is protein to the digestive system, I am told)... not sure that worked but he got better and I started mixing in Grain Free Salmon and Sweet Potato, and he did well for a few months, then he got worse.  Allergy  blood tests showed dust mite allergy very high.

My latest rescue/foster dog is in my lap, and so I have to stop typing...
9644933 tn?1407772490
Hi there,

Elevated liver enzymes are tough because they can indicate many things. I went through alot with my Aussie with high liver enzymes and have stabalized her. Please view the following post for our story...


I still cook a homemade diet for her and she is also on a few different supplements to support the liver. Her values were in the 10x range as well.

Please feel free to send me a message. I am really hoping to be able to help you and your dog.
Avatar universal
Has your dog had a liver sonogram?
1916673 tn?1420236870
Yes, food allergies are very commonly down to protein reactions, and despite all meat sources having protein, all of them have different proteins - and a dog is usually allergic to just one of them (but later can develop new allergies to other proteins). It is an extremely complex condition and not an easy one to resolve. Of course, protein is not the only possible allergen. It could be diary related, yeast related, etc., etc.

At this stage, I wouldn't go down the path of thinking it must be an allergy, because there are so many other possibilities. Try to get more of the tests done, and then you will have a much better idea about what the issue actually is.

675347 tn?1365464245
It's a bit of a shot in the dark, and your dog's symptoms don't completely fit the profile for mineral toxicity, but could your dog have eaten any vitamin tablets meant for humans etc?
1832268 tn?1326819610
I don't know where you live, but, if you live in an area where there are ticks and mosquitoes, you should have your dog checked for possible Heart worms and Tick diseases.  Both heart worms and tick diseases can cause elevated liver enzymes. Quick easy testing, and at least you can rule them out.

Also, is your dog taking any medications that might be causing the elevated enzymes...? For example NSAIDs, steroids...any medication...?   Is it possible he has gotten into any acetaminophen..? Is he exposed to any types of toxins you can think of..Molds, mushrooms, blue-green algae...?  

Systemically, there are a lot of things that could be causing liver disease...Diabetes, Hypothyroid, Liver shunts, Cushings disease, chronic pancreatitis...to name just a few.
Best wishes, I hope you find the answer soon. In the meantime, please ask your vet about supplements to help the liver, such as Sam-e, Milk Thistle, or Denamarin

Avatar universal
Thank you all for your suggestions.  I will certainly follow up on them.  She ate some yesterday, but not today.  We live in a rural, remote area, so not all of these tests are available to us, and I'm afraid I probably couldn't afford all of the them anyway!  I am encouraged that other dogs have had such high levels and have survived.  I am going to do more research on feeding her when I get her home!  I wonder why so many dogs have so many digestive problems, except for the fact that so many of the dog foods are garbage!  She hasn't been exposed to any vitamins or toxins and it is the dead of winter, so no tics or mosquitoes!
612551 tn?1450025775
Yep, owning a dog is getting expensive.  I'm an old guy and remember when one got a dog from the "pound" or a neighbor with an litter they had to dispose of.  Then you'd get the dog rabbis shots, free from the town/city if possible.  then some years later the idea of "heart worms" hit the market and we'd take our dog to the vet for a heart worm shot in the spring/early-summer.  That was it.  Allergies, heck we didn't even believe people really had those problems.  Besides we couldn't afford to go see the human doctor, vet?? you kidding me?  Health insurance?  I don't think it had been invented yet.

Then too the dogs were always mongrels, no too small a pool of breeding dogs producing inbreeding problems.  I say this ignoring on the other side of town people bought pure-breeds and had family and animal doctors they consulted regularly.

In any case we saw dogs live 15 years with few if any problems.... "those were the days my friends..."

Our current rescue dog, which right now is in foster status with us, seems to have limited health issues.  Of course we know nothing about its specific history or even its breed combination...but think that may be a strength.

We now have our dogs get annual physical exams, dental work, blood tests, shots, X-rays  ..... suppose we figure we got of easy if we spend less than $1,000 in a year.  Not sure how much is really needed, but as long as we can come up with the $$ we go the "extra" mile on dog care and consider it a family member.   Heck, we are even considering adopting two dogs, the foster plus another.  Time will tell.
1916673 tn?1420236870
Hi again. Yes, processed dog food is generally garbage, but there are some good manufactured foods out there for the truly conscientious. Try looking dog food up on DogFoodAdvsor. com

For me, I try to feed part high quality manufactured wet food (tinned) and all natural meats and fish that I cook for them each night (literally takes 12 minutes, so no one can say they don't have the time to do it). The tinned food gets all the necessary minerals and vitamins in them, together with essential fluids, and the all natural meats and fish gives the dogs variety and good health (there are no additives of any kind).

Food for dogs is a real issue these days, because some is very poor and some is even imported from countries that are not nearly as careful in their processing methods. I have done a few articles on this general subject, which you may find of interest:




Cheers, Tony
Avatar universal
This dog was given away, so she didn't cost us anything outright, so I'm chalking up the bills to what we would have payed for her anyway!  I will only take a dog that no one else wants, but starting to think that no more purebred a for me!  All of my other dogs live to a good age though.  The dogs of my childhood though...had no health issues and of course just ran the streets.  Who knows what they ate or got into, they got a lot more food scraps too!  
Avatar universal
Sad ending to the story.  She had exploratory surgery and found her liver was probably cancerous...not normal in texture, enlarged, suspicious lymph nodes and her kidneys were also very compromised.  Had to do the right thing and end her suffering.  She was a remarkable dog who was greatly loved.  Thanks all for your responses.
1916673 tn?1420236870
Hi. I'm so sorry. Losing a dog can be the toughest of events, but you did what you had to do in the end. It was the right decision, clearly, but I know those words don't always help us when we are feeling lost without our best friends at our side.

I hope you start to feel better, as the days and weeks go by. Feel free to come back and talk anytime you feel the need.

974371 tn?1424656729
I am just reading this and so very sorry you had to let her go but, agree, you did what you could and fell you made the right decision also.
Never easy and many of us understand your loss.
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