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Ask Dr. Michael Salkin Your Own Question
Dr. Michael Salkin
Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian
Category: Dog Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 24423
Experience:  University of California at Davis graduate veterinarian with 44 years of experience
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Our weimaraner puppy started displaying mysterious symptoms

Customer Question

Hello,
Our weimaraner puppy started displaying mysterious symptoms 2 days after her spay, she was 6 months old. That day she received a spay as well as her parvo booster shot. Two days later, we thought maybe the site of her spay was starting to get infected because it was weeping clear liquid, and she was extremely lethargic and drooling thick drool. She wouldn't eat or drink. We took her back to the vet and they sent her home with a round of antibiotics the same day. (I was kind of surprised they handed her right back but..she seemed better with the medicine so we rolled with it.)
10 days later, when the antibiotics were finished her face swelled, she got extremely lethargic, she stopped eating and drinking and started drooling that thick drool again so we rushed her back to the vet. Blood work indicated, they said, a bacterial infection and they said they thought it was around her jaw because her face was so swollen (tongue hanging out) but they couldn't get her to open her mouth fully so they started her on antibiotics again, added steroids, started her on an IV, and then knocked her out so they could explore her mouth for foreign objects or broken teeth but found nothing. Two days into the antibiotics, fluids and steroids, all the swelling on her face was gone and she looked a thousand times better. I kept saying that if it wasn't something in or around her mouth it had to be from the spay because it started right after so they did an x-ray and didn't see anything wrong so they sent her home with more antibiotics and steroids.
Again, as soon as the antibiotics ran out the symptoms came back!! This time, because of my pleading, they did a swab of her vaginal area and said they found a ton of bacteria and they were going to open her up to see if something was wrong from the spay. Well...I just heard from the vet and they said they found nothing!!! I am at a loss, this poor puppy is suffering. ANY suggestions would be greatly appreciated!!!!
Submitted: 10 months ago.
Category: Dog Veterinary
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 10 months ago.

I'm sorry to hear of this with Candy. This is a difficult case in which to jump in the middle but Candy's swelling is strongly suggestive of a hypersensitivity reaction to vaccination. This isn't uncommon in the Weimaraner breed. Her hypersensitivity reaction appears to be quite severe and so a systemic inflammatory response syndrome (SIRS) should be considered to have developed as a sequela to the vaccine reaction.

"Blood work indicating a bacterial infection" suggests that her white blood cell count was elevated but that occurs secondary to inflammation and not necessarily the inflammation associated with bacterial infection. It can also occur secondary to immune-mediated disorders which I believe to exist at this time in Candy. It's unclear to me why such a heavy load of bacteria was found in her vagina. She should be administered an antibiotic if only because SIRS exposes my patient to secondary infections and I would initiate an immunosuppressive (high) dose of a glucocorticoid such as prednisone because I believe her immune system to be upregulated (overactive) at this time.

Feel free to share our conversation with Candy's vet. I'm necessarily constrained by not being able to examine her but I believe immune-mediated disease is present in Candy. Please respond with further questions or concerns if you wish.