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Dr. Emily
Dr. Emily, Veterinarian
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 735
Experience:  Associate veterinarian at a small animal clinic
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We have a Havanese purebred that is 14 years old. She

Customer Question

Hi, we have a Havanese purebred that is 14 years old. She has been having more periods (3 hours at a time) of whinning and stretching out on her stomach with her back legs laid out. She is in pain but vet prescribed pain killers don't help and visits to vet yield nothing with blood tests and x-rays. She is in distress right now again and we don't know how to help her. She is still like a puppy with no other medical conditions and in very good physical condition. Have you heard of a dog yelping, and stretching out with bum on floor and legs spread out? She moves around the house fine and will still chase a ball when in pain.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Dog
Expert:  Dr. Emily replied 1 year ago.
Hello! My name is***** I am here to answer your questions today to the best of my ability.
My primary concern with a dog seeming uncomfortable and showing this stretching out behavior is deciphering between internal and external pain. The two can mimic each other and we often need a physical exam or a blood test to determine which is occurring. It is always frustrating when these diagnostic tests do not provide the answers we desire though. The nerves that run from the lower spine travel into the abdominal cavity so a muscle sprain or a pinched nerve can mimic belly pain. In an older pet, I also worry about a ruptured abdominal tumor, such as from the spleen.
The two types of belly pain that are most common are simple gastroenteritis (upset stomach) and pancreatitis. The a chronic (long standing) history of these episodes though, simple GI upset is less likely. What a pancreatitis test completed? This is not a routine blood panel. It is a specific test called a cPL.
The pancreas is part of the endocrine and digestive system, which is integral for the digestion of foods, producing the enzymes that digest food, and producing insulin. When the pancreas becomes inflamed, the flow of enzymes into the digestive tract can become disrupted, forcing the enzymes out of the pancreas and into the abdominal area.
Many dogs start with not eating, lethargy, increased respiratory rate and vomiting or diarrhea. With pancreatitis, the digestive enzymes will begin to break down fat and proteins in the other organs, as well as in the pancreas. In effect, the body begins to digest itself. Because of their proximity to the pancreas, the kidney and liver can also be affected when this progression takes place, and the abdomen will become inflamed, and possibly infected as well. Diagnosing pancreatitis can be quickly with a rapid SNAP test called a cPL. Pancreatitis can either happen in an acute (sudden) episode or be chronic (long standing with fluctuating symptoms).
Does your havanese have any vomiting or diarrhea during these episodes? Or a change in appetite?
Do you have any of the bloodwork available at home?
The type of back pain I mentioned earlier can also be further elaborated on. This type of lameness involves pets not being able to place weight on their leg or legs due to nerve injury not due to actual pain.
Intervertebral disc disease is a term used to describe herniation or rupture of one or more of the discs that act as cushions between vertebral bodies. Rupture of one of these discs results in symptoms ranging from neck or back pain to paralysis. This condition is most common in breeds with short legs and long backs but can occur in almost any breed. Patients suffering from IVDD often appear to have a painful or tender abdomen. This is due to the compression of the nerve roots the reach the abdominal wall. In more severe cases, there is evidence of back pain. These pets often cry out in pain when picked up. They are also reluctant to move from a comfortable or sheltered place. With increasing severity, these patients will exhibit abnormal function of the hind legs. Some can walk, although they may drag their toes and swab from side to side. More severe cases result in paralysis of the hind legs. They will often sit with their legs tucked under them in an abnormal fashion. If the problems is in the mid to lower back, the front leg function will remain normal.
The diagnosis of IVDD is made based on history, clinical signs and a complete neurological exam. Each leg is assessed for pain sensation, reflexes and the ability to place the paw correctly on the floor. There are multiple ways to treat this problem. If patients are showing signs of pain alone or subtle weakness, conservative treatment may be adequate. Radiographs can be used to help diagnose this as a problem but further imaging such as a CT or MRI is the best way to detect small changes.
After reviewing this information, please let me know the further information so that we can continue to discuss your dog's condition.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Mitcee has been fighting these episodes for a couple of years with increasing apparent pain over time. Normally (not always), she vomits once towards the end of episode with a clear liquid (no food).

She has no back or leg issues and jumps around like a 9 month old puppy most of the time (even when she has an episode). Our vet's physical exam did not see anything other than a dark "staining" of the skin of the belly that he said was probably a birth mark. I can't tell you how long it's been there and it doesn't turn red or hurt her when she has the episodes as we tried to touch each part of her body to isolate an area. No luck with that except when we touch just above her tail she pushes her tail between her stretched out hind legs. But no other response.

My wife just walked out the door to take Mitcee to the vet again. Of course the dog is over today's episode but we are armed this time with a video of her stretching and yelping. She is going to ask about the cPL test.

Ok, so she just got back from the Vet. The only thing they can think of is to do a abdominal ultrasound and look for a blockage (that didn't show up x-ray 6 months ago) or a ulcer.

She eats well, (good dogfood from Vet's) and plays like she's a much younger dog. She didn't vomit today at all and had a normal bowel movement during the episode. Here is the video link to a little of today's episode.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fufZYFtbT30

Expert:  Dr. Emily replied 1 year ago.
The staining on skin sounds like hyperpigmentation. Very common color change that happens with age and sun exposure. Some dogs are also born with it, as you said. Please let me know how the vet visit goes and if anything new comes up.
Expert:  Dr. Emily replied 1 year ago.
If you are able to open this photo, it is an example of hyperpigmentation
Expert:  Dr. Emily replied 1 year ago.
It is a pretty extreme case but shows the darkening.
Expert:  Dr. Emily replied 1 year ago.
Hello, I haven't heard back from you but wanted to see if you have further questions as this post remains open.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Hello Doctor,

We did a quick drive from Edmonton Canada to Las Vegas on the May 3rd weekend. We had to do something so we drove her to a vet that she was seeing before when we were holidaying there before.

Again, the symptoms where whining and yelping while stretching out her back legs and looking forward with her neck stretched up into the air.

It wound up being gastritis which was probably brought on by a change in food. We had Easter Turkey left over and were feeding the dogs turkey all week. We have two other Havanese dogs same age.

She didn't want to eat so we tricked her into eating by telling her that the other two are going to eat her portion of turkey (which really didn't help). I like other dogs, I'm sure, she will eat her portion so the other dogs don't get it.

The other two dogs got sick while we were travelling down there (to Vegas) and they wound up with Giardia. So, all dogs were treated for that and female Havanese (above) was treated with an antibiotic and pain killer for the gastritis.

At the end of the day, it was our fault for changing there diets period. The turkey didn't help at all and may have caused the Giardia.

I don't need a response. I just want you to know so that you can help others.