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Dr. G.
Dr. G., Veterinarian
Category: Dog
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Experience:  Private Practice Veterinarian
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Dr. G ~ After such a happy morning and afternoon, yesterday,

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Dr. G ~ After such a happy morning and afternoon, yesterday, Morgan had a frightening episode yesterday evening. Paul (my fiancé) and I were each running errands in separate cars. Paul got home first and, since the air had cooled, he sat on our front steps with Morgan, waiting for me to come home. After about 10 minutes, I pulled into the driveway and drove around the corner and into our garage. Paul kept Morgan on the steps until he knew I was safely pulled into the garage, then released her to "get" me. Paul says she ran "full out" to the garage. When she reached me, she collapsed and began gagging and had what I would describe as a seizure. Her whole body spasmed, forcing her head up and back and losing all strength in her legs. She didn't vomit. She didn't pee or anything. And the seizure lasted for seconds -- like maybe 5 or 6 seconds. Afterwards, she was struggling for breath ... we carried her indoors and got her cooled and kept her airway open and she recovered in about 15 minutes. She ate dinner yesterday night and slept well. Does my description of a seizure sound like something you would expect from a short, but intense run? Or is there some other possible cause?

I know that's a big question to ask.

It seems to me that Morgan's stomach has been rumbly since the seizure, although she has kept down everything she's eaten. One thing I've loved about the Prilosec is how it keeps that rumbling from happening and decreases the amount of "gulping" that Morgan does ... but there was more of that last night after the seizure and also this morning, although that was before she had today's Prilosec. I don't want to leap into adding an anti-emetic to her diet if it's not really necessary, but we do have some Cerenia the hospital gave us, if it seems wise to give her that. (And we could get more medication from our local vet, tomorrow.)

Sigh. Thank you, XXXXX XXXXX Cary

Dr. G :

Hello Cary. I am sorry to hear about Morgan's episode. Did she seem aware when this was all going on, or did she seem out of it (like the lights were on but nobody's home)?


Hi Dr. G. ~ Her eyes were open and she was struggling to get her legs back, but her head was ... all I can think to say is "seized" so that she was bent up and back -- not bent over, but bent back -- for a few seconds. After that, she seemed frightened and struggling for breath, but not in a seizure. Through it all, I felt she knew who I was.

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I see. It sounds more like a collapsing episode and not necessarily a seizure. I would give the cerenia a shot today. I would recommend recording a video next time this happens, if it happens at all, so we can determine whether or not it is indeed a seizure and what would be the next steps.
Hi Cary,

I'm just following up on our conversation about Morgan. How is everything going?

Dr. G
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Hi Dr. G.! Thank you so much for your concern about Morgan! I am out of town at the moment. My fiance loves Morgan and is caring for her. He gave her a Cerenia on Tuesday and she vomited that afternoon ... We really think she did so in large part because she is so quietly emotional ~ she can become anxious and depressed from being alone, especially since the surgery, and I was gone and Paul gave her the Cerenia and then went to work. That evening he fed her again and gave her another Cerenia before they went to bed and she kept that down ... Which is, of course, the whole idea of Cerenia, isn't it. I gather Morgan was better today. The weather is better for her now ~ much cooler ~ and she can be outside, and Paul was home today. I almost wrote to you when she vomited the first Cerenia but Paul told me to give you a break ... He knows how much I have been relying on your input! He will call our local vet tomorrow to get more Cerenia and to talk further about tying back M's loose neck skin, which we still haven't accomplished. But I think today was a good day. She won't eat for Paul as she does for me, and that disturbs him ~ but he is being pretty darned patient about it. Again, thank you so much for asking. I will write with another update at least by the time I have a break ~ on Sunday night ~ and can get home to see her myself. Best ~ Cary
I am glad to hear she is stable. It sounds like she misses her mommy a bit. I am glad the cerenia is helping a bit. I think you are going to need to get a larger supply of that for the future, so I would pick up a few boxes from the vet. Hopefully Morgan will warm up a little bit more to Paul. Have a safe trip and have a great day!
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Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Dear Dr. G. ~ What a hard few days we've had. Morgan died on Friday morning. She was fine all day Thursday and throughout Thursday evening. She and Paul went to bed on Thursday night (I was working out of town) and she woke at 2:30AM, gagging and retching. This continued off and on until about 6AM -- Paul, of course, was up with her but there wasn't much specific that he could do beyond trying to comfort her.


At about 6AM he carried her downstairs and they went outside. After awhile, she seemed to suddenly feel better. She started walking and, when they went back inside, she drank water and was happy to eat breakfast and to take her pills. She was so stable that Paul felt it was OK to go to work, at 10AM. When he arrived back home at 2:30 that afternoon, Morgan was lying in the shower stall of our downstairs bathroom, and she was gone. There was blood on the tiles, which had come from her mouth.


We're pretty shattered. But I want to thank you, XXXXX XXXXX your kindness and support during the final days of Morgan's life. It meant so much to me to be able to consult with you.


Again, thank you.


Best -


I am so very sorry to hear that.
Morgan was a very special dog. I know you have been through a lot with her recently and I am sure this is very hard. She was lucky to have had you there to help her so much.
I am so very sorry for your loss.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Dr. G ~ May I ask you one last question? I'm trying so hard to understand what happened ... what ultimately killed her. It's not a matter of looking for "blame" -- it's just that I worked so hard trying to understand what the trach meant for her life and how to care for her, and it -- and now it matters to me to know, if possible, what went wrong.


In the list of possible circumstances leading to her death, does it make sense to you that she might have had an ulcer that perforated? Is there also a possibility that something about the creation of the trach itself -- the actual surgery -- could have caused a particular vulnerability? Also, Paul said a woman working at an animal shelter came in to his (Paul's) store the other day and said the shelter was dealing with some kind of gastrointestinal virus that was proving fatal to some of their dogs -- does that sound at all accurate?


I realize you may have no further information for me on this, but I just wanted to consult with you in case you can help me understand.


Thank you, again.



It is very difficult to say what exactly caused her death. One way to find out for sure would be a necropsy (animal autopsy). That may not be a possibility at this point unfortunately. The shelter was most likely dealing with parvovirus, which affects young unvaccinated dogs and is fatal. I would not expect that to cause a problem with morgan given her age and being vaccinated. Typically with dogs that have any respiratory issue, infections along the respiratory tract and subsequent pneumonia is often a major cause of mortality. This is because the normal respiratory tract's defense mechanisms are not working properly. There could always have been something else that caused an acute problem, such as a GDV/bloat or a ruptured splenic tumor (not uncommon in older retrievers).
I wish I could give you a better and more definitive answer.
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