You have described to me a 6 yr old Beagle-JRT dog who has not been herself for the last couple of days. She had some steak 3 days ago, and got into the trash 4 or 5 days ago. She ate this morning, but not her usual amount and has not had any vomiting or diarrhea. She seems painful in the belly, and winces when getting up onto the couch.
There are a lot of different possibilities for what may be going on with your dog. The ones that I would be considering if she came to see me are:
1. Like you, one of the things that I think of first is that she may have a Gastrointestinal Foreign Body. Dogs eat the strangest things - plastic bags, children's toys, bones, bits of towel, socks, rocks and other things. Often, these foreign bodies pass through the intestinal tract, but sometimes they do not. They may get caught in the stomach or the small intestines.
The symptoms of a GI foreign body are generally vomiting, loss of appetite, depression and dehydration. If your dog consumed an object that is caught in the stomach or small intestines, it might explain the symptoms that you are seeing, but it is odd that she is not vomiting.
In the case of an obstruction, surgery is often needed to remove the foreign object. I will include further information about GI foreign bodies:
If I examined your B-JRT and was concerned about a foreign body, I would probably recommend x-rays to see if a foreign object were visible. A rock would show up very well on x-rays. A plastic bag,unfortunately, would not show up on x-rays. It does, however, show up very well if the dog is given some barium (a type of milkshake like drink) by mouth. Then a determination can be made about how best to get this out of the dog, or whether it might move through on its own.
2. A bacterial infection: Dogs can be affected by overgrowths of bacteria in the intestines. In an adult dog these might not be more than a nuisance. The 3 most common are Campylobacter, Salmonella and E.Coli. Here is a link with more information:
3. Pancreatitis - This is an inflammation of the pancreas, often triggered by a high fat meal. Something she got out of the trash, or the steak could have triggered it. With "acute pancreatitis" dogs are very sick, with severe vomiting, painful belly and fever. However, with a low-grade, chronic fulminant pancreatitis it is basically a "slow burn" version of acute pancreatitis. The pancreas remains inflamed, with periods of pain and nausea, and vomiting intermittently.
Pancreatitis is a serious medical problem and is diagnosed by having bloodwork done and possibly x-rays. Dogs with pancreatitis may need to go on a course of antibiotics to treat the chronic pancreatitis and may need a prescription food to "put out the fire" of this chronic problem. Typically the diet is ultra-low fat. At first dogs may not want to eat it because of feeling nauseated and it does not tempt her. But with medications they soon feel *much* better and keep feeling well if they stays on an appropriate food.
For more information:
4. I am concerned that your girl may be showing symptoms of back pain due to Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD, herniated disc). This happens when the material in the discs between the boney vertebrae in the back ruptures out and presses on the spinal cord. There is a lot of internal swelling when this occurs, leading to pain and decreased nerve function. This can happen in conjunction with arthritis of the vertebrae, because that causes decreased flexibility between the vertebrae.
Basically, the vertebrae are bones that protect the spinal cord which runs through a hole in the vertebrae. Each vertebrae has a little "shock absorber" between it and the next vertebrae, called a disc. The disc it a lot like a jelly donut! It has a fibrous part (the bread of the donut) and then a squishy substance in the middle (the jelly). In SOME dogs, this jelly in the middle becomes chalky and hard as they age. Dachshunds and Beagles are particularly prone to this. So, when the back flexes and extends, instead of the jelly compressing and expanding, this chalky substance gets squeezed - and it does not compress, but instead it extrudes out and you thus get a herniated disc.
Symptoms of back pain are a reluctance to walk, pain on attempting to go up/down stairs, and a "hunched" appearance with the head held lower than usual and the tail held lower than usual.
In order to confirm this suspicion, your dog should go see her veterinarian promptly. If she has ruptured a disc, the sooner treatment is begun, the better the prognosis.
Treatment for IVDD often involves anti-inflammatories, pain killers and/or steroids. The goal is to decrease the swelling which in turn decreases the pain and improves nerve function. Sometimes, however, they are not enough and the dog may be come paralayzed. In these situations, surgery can be done to go in and remove the disc material that is pressing on the spine. This is called "decompression" surgery.
In order to determine what is appropriate treatment for your dog, a veterinarian needs to perform a very thorough neurological examination. The vet looks for neurological deficits such as a delay in turning the back foot over if it is turned so the top of the foot is on the ground instead of the pads, while the dog is in a standing position. The vet also looks for "purposeful movement" which is a stepping motion of the hind legs when the vet supports the dog's weight so the legs can swing freely. There are a number of other neurological tests the vet does to test reflexes. Also, the vet manipulates each vertebrae in a way to find where there may be pain.
Often, if a painful area is located, the vet will recommend x-rays to look for a compression between the vertebrae. This confirms the diagnosis.
The prognosis for each patient depends on the symptoms, the results of the neurological examination, how long the problem has been present, and how the dog responds to treatment.
I am concerned about your dog because it sounds like she is in pain. I would strongly recommend a visit to your veterinarian as soon as possible for examination and treatment. It would be helpful to take her on an empty stomach just in case they need to give a sedative/pain killer to take x-rays.
Here are some links with more information:
Until you can get her to the vet, please keep her as quiet as possible, with just short visits outside to do potty business. Carry her up and down the stairs, as this is when the back flexes and extends the most, and further damage is most likely.
Many people with back pain report that a warm compress is soothing, and your dog may appreciate that too. You can do this by making a wet towel compress. Place a small wet towel, folded into a zip-lok bag (unzipped!) and heat for about 2 minutes in the microwave. Remove and press all the air out. Make sure it is not too hot! You may want to put another towel around it, and then gently place over your dog's back.
The botXXXXX XXXXXne is that there are a number of possibilities for what may be going on. Your vet would need to do a physical exam and possibly some diagnostic tests to figure out what the underlying problem is.
I wish I could reach through the computer and examine her as it is so hard to be able to tell wihout putting my hands on her. I am leaning towards this being back pain more than belly pain because she has had no vomiting or diarrhea... but it could be that she is smart enough to just not eat when she feels nauseated!
If she is feeling unwell at the moment, there are some things you can do at home until you can get her in to the vet:
1. Offer her lots of clear fluids. So, water is fine, but also she can have pedialyte, Gatorade, apple juice diluted 50:50 with water, or chicken or beef broth diluted 50:50 with water. Give the fluids in small amounts frequently. For a dog this size that means about 1/2 cup an hour.
2. Offer a bland diet. For patients that I see, I recommend a mixture of 75% cooked white rice, and 25% low fat protein. For the protein you could use extra lean ground beef, boiled with the fat scooped off, or chicken breast boiled with fat scooped off or even scrambled egg cooked without fat in the microwave. Feed small frequent meals. For a dog this size, I would suggest 2-3 tablespoons every 3 to 4 hours.
3. After 1-2 days on the rice mix, you would gradually change your dog back to the normal dog food. So, on day 3, give the rice mixture, but bigger meals, spaced further apart. On day 4, mix a little tiny bit of the normal food in there, and decrease the frequency so it is down to 3 meals or so. And so on.
4. Keep your dog as quiet as possible - just out to relieve herself and back in.
If your dog starts to vomit, develops blood in the stool, is lethargic or is not improving by tomorrow morning, please contact a veterinarian promptly. I do think that it is time to find out what may be going on with her.
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