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Ask Dr. Michael Salkin Your Own Question
Dr. Michael Salkin
Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian
Category: Dog Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 25619
Experience:  University of California at Davis graduate veterinarian with 44 years of experience
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My 13 year old german shepard/rott mix has been acting

Customer Question

my 13 year old german shepard/rott mix has been acting strangely.... trying to hide under my bed, licking both of his front paws ( i checked under each one but couldn't find any foreign object or cut, he has been breathing and panting heavily ( even with a fan blowing on him ), over the past days he collapses on the floor as if he no longer has any muscle strength in his limbs. breathing heavy and has severe difficulty stand up.
JA: I'm sorry to hear that. Is the German shepherd bleeding a lot?
Customer: not that i can tell. it's been raining nonstop in southern ca so checking his stool has been difficult. his thirst has also greatly increased
JA: What is the German shepherd's name?
Customer: awe thank you... his name is ***** ***** i'm in tears and heartbroken that he is dying. i rescued him from the pound as a puppy in 2003.
JA: Is there anything else important you think the Veterinarian should know about Soldier?
Customer: he ( like my other older dog ) has been very fussy about eating wet dog food ( and i totally gave up on the dry a few years ago ), what i discovered is that both of my fussy dog eaters not will only eat wet cat food. so i've been feeding this to them for about a year. i have 2 sweet dogs ( soldier and mister sausage ), a precious cat named butch and a pot belly pig ( also rescued ) name humphrey. they are the reason my heart keeps beating and i would do anything in my power to give them the most incredible unconditionally loving home. sadly i was laid off from my job at a hospital and have been stressed to the max... or i would have rush soldier to the emergency vet. i am so deeply grateful for your kindness and honesty. hugs, tarita
Submitted: 1 month ago.
Category: Dog Veterinary
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 1 month ago.

You're speaking to Dr. Michael Salkin. Welcome to JustAnswer. I'm currently typing up my reply. Please be patient. This may take a few minutes.

Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 1 month ago.

I'm sorry that your question wasn't answered in a timely manner. Please let me know if you still need help. May I have an update on Soldier, please?

In the order of severity, I would place his problems as so:

1. Collapsing, breathing heavily, difficulty rising

2. Drinking excessively

3. Breathing and panting heavily

4. Hiding under the bed and licking his front paws

Collapsing can indicate profound weakness as would occur with severe anemia, the hypoxia (lack of oxygen to his tissues) from cardiopulmonary disorders, severe osteoarthritis, and any number of metabolic diseases.

Drinking more than usual (polydipsia) and urinating a higher volume of urine (polyuria) are danger signs for quite a few disorders. These include both hepatic and renal insufficiencies, urinary tract infection involving the kidneys, diabetes mellitus and Cushing's disease (both will also cause increased hunger (polyphagia)), hypercalcemia (increased serum calcium level), electrolyte (sodium, potassium, chloride) imbalances, and the rarer Addison's disease, diabetes insipidus, and brain tumor involving the hypothalamus. Soldier's vet will need to perform a thorough physical exam including diagnostics in the form of blood and urine tests in order to clarify what those symptoms are signifying.

Excessive panting can represent both medical and behavioral problems. It's often seen with elevated ambient temperature, exercise, anxiety, or perceived pain. To confound the diagnosis further, it's also seen with fever, narcotic administration, glucocorticosteroid (prednisone, e.g.) therapy, Cushing's disease, hyperthyroidism, hypocalcemia, pheocromocytoma (an adrenal gland tumor), cardiac disease, tachyarrhythmias (fast irregular heart rates), brain disease and obesity.

Hiding under the bed constitutes reclusive behavior indicative of a dog not feeling well. Licking of the paws may represent an allergic dermatitis.

I understand your financial constraints at this time. Regrettably, there's likely to be more than one thing going on with Soldier at his age and only his vet will be able to sort these out for you. Please respond with further questions or concerns if you wish.

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