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Dr.Fiona, Dog Veterinarian
Category: Dog Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 6273
Experience:  Small animal medicine and surgery - 16 years experience in BC, California and Ontario
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Rewording my question. My dog is shaking when he breathes in.

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Rewording my question. My dog is shaking when he breathes in. He yelped several times today he turned around. When he was taken outside for a walk, he laid down. He never does that. When he came in, he went into his carrier, without being told, and stayed there for 5 hours. He is normally a very active dog and very alert. This just started today when he tried to jump on the couch. He is a Lab Chiuaua mix. He weighs about 14-15 pounds and is 8 years old. This is the first time to ever be sick.
Submitted: 8 years ago.
Category: Dog Veterinary
Expert:  Dr.Fiona replied 8 years ago.
Hi there,

Welcome to Just Answer! I'm so sorry that you have had such a long wait to get a response to this urgent question.

I would be happy to try to help you with this question, but need a bit more information in order to better assist you.

Is he reluctant to go up/down stairs now?

Is he refusing to jump on the couch now?

When he stands, is his back arched (head and tail down)?

Customer: replied 8 years ago.
Thank you. I am a friend who is writing this for the owner. When I came home last night, about 12, he came out of his house to greet me. However, he didn't bark, like he always does, and he was lethargic. He was shaking. I sat down on the couch, and was able to get him to jump up with me. Again, it was slowly done, not bouncy like he usually does. He was still shaking. I went to bed and they stayed up with him. Finally everyone went to sleep. This morning he seems better,but still shaking a little when he takes a breath in. He's sleeping, so we haven't seen him up yet. Oh yes, if he got excited, he would shake; not normal for him. His owner just got up and he stayed in bed. He always gets up with her. He was reluctant to jump on the couch with me last night, but he did. No arching of the back,but tail is down.. She is trying to get him up now and he is just lying there. He is licking his mouth, which is new. He has not eaten or had water since yesterday at 5 pm.
Expert:  Dr.Fiona replied 8 years ago.
If you bring water TO him, and hold it up to him will he drink?

What about a little bit of bread or his regular food - will he eat if you hold it up to him?

Customer: replied 8 years ago.
Hi Dr Fiona. I am Barb, the owner. Thank you for responding. I tried offering him from his little water bowl or some of his food from my hand, but he refuses them. At around 3:30 am CST, he began to stop shaking when he was breathing in, and he began moving around on the couch to change position. Then his eyes began to appear brighter and he would move closer to me. I stayed up with him until around 5:30 am CST, when I felt more comfortable to fall asleep with him on the couch. I woke up at around 8:45 am CST, when my friend said you had sent back a reply. He woke up with me and was not shaking, but not wanting to move. I talked to him and loved on him, trying to get him to get up and move around for me. He would shake slightly as he took breaths in, when I talked to him or petted him, but would stop shaking when not being stimulated in any way. He finally stood up, turned around and laid back down. Then I offered the food and water. When I came to the computer, he jumped off the couch and walked behind me (no hunched back, tail wagging slightly) to where the computer is and laid down. He has moved around to change positions, and shakes periodically when he breaths in. We asked him if he needs to go out to potty. He walked slowly to my friend holding his leash, his tail wagging. My friend is taking him outside now. He is back. He urinated only (very consentrated dark urine). It is very warm here (84 degrees now). Tried to offer water bowl but turns his head away. I have noticed while petting him this morning that his skin appears dehydrated. He is lying at my feet and is breathing normally, but periodically shakes slightly while breathing in. He has never been sick before. He has never acted like this before. I am very worried.
Expert:  Dr.Fiona replied 8 years ago.
Hi Barb,

Hmm.... has your dog had anything different to eat from normal in the last few days, particularly anything high in fat?

Customer: replied 8 years ago.
I had to move out of my apartment and into an apartment with friends about 2 months ago. I have only given him dog food and periodically peanut butter dog treats prior to moving here. I have told the family I live with not to give him anything else, but they have a female dog who they give table food and Beggin Strips Bacon Flavor and Pupperoni as treats. I know he has been given table food and the other dog's treats, but can't be sure exactly what he has been given. Their floors are dirty and I have found medication pills (they are on psych and pain meds) on the floor a few times. Kitchen floor has spilled liquids and food on it. I try to clean up after them as much as I can, I am handicapped. Thank you again for responding.
Expert:  Dr.Fiona replied 8 years ago.
Hi there,

With what you have been telling me, I am concerned that your dog's shaking is due to pain. I have been trying to decide if it is most likely back pain or if it is abdominal pain. Most dogs with back pain will still eat if the food is brought to them. As your little guy will not, it makes me think he is experiencing abdominal pain.

With what you have described, the most likely cause of his symptoms and abdominal pain would be Pancreatitis.

Pancreatitis can be caused by a number of things, such as certain medications, infections (bacteria can climb up into the pancreas from the intestines), high fat meals (this is how eating chocolate causes this problem as it is high in fat), high amounts of calcium in the blood, trauma and shock (for example it can happen after a dog is hit by a car). Beggin' strips and Pupperoni would certainly do it as they are high fat. Some dogs are more prone to pancreatitis than other dogs with small dogs being more susceptible.

Typically, the symptoms of pancreatitis are one or more of the following:

abdominal pain, fever, vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy and a very painful belly.

Bloodwork that confirms pancreatitis shows very high levels of amylase and lipase. These are 2 enzymes that the pancreas makes and delivers to the intestines to help digest food. With high fat meals, the pancreas has to work extra-hard to make these, and this can cause it to actually start digesting itself. This is very painful!

Many times, we don't find the exact cause of pancreatitis. An ultrasound is useful to look for a mass in the pancreas (such as a tumor, which is RARE), and to see how severely the pancreas is affected. This can help with giving a prognosis, and estimating how long a recovery will take.

Generally, pancreatitis is treated aggressively with intravenous fluids, intravenous antibiotics, pain killers and resting the intestinal tract. This last means that NO food is given by mouth until symptoms start to resolve.

Then, once the pancreatitis is starting to resolve, we usually start the patient with just water and see if that stays down. If there is no vomiting or abdominal pain, we then start *very* small meals of an easy to digest, low fat food and monitor closely.

For long-term management, patients who are prone to pancreatitis are kept on a low fat diet to minimize chances of a flare-up. Antibiotics are continued for 1-2 weeks, as well as other medications as needed (such as anti-nausea medications).

I will give you some links to more information:

So, with your dog, you have done a great job of looking after him. However, it is *really* important to get fluids into him in SMALL, frequent amounts.

So, water is fine, but also he 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 1/4 cup every half an hour.

After 24h, if he has kept the fluids down, you can offer a bland diet.


For patients that I see, I recommend as a bland diet 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.

Also, for patients that I see, I usually have them on something to block stomach acid production. The drug I usually reach for in dogs is famotidine, which is Pepcid. You can buy it at your local pharmacy. Legally, I cannot prescribe medications for a dog that I have not seen!

However, the dose is listed here:

If your boy refuses the fluids, or drinks but vomits, then I do think you will need to see an emergency vet this weekend.

I understand you may have financial concerns. Nationally here are some groups that might help you afford the vet bills:

American Animal Hospital Association
" Through the AAHA Helping Pets Fund, veterinary care is possible for sick or injured pets even if they have been abandoned or if their owner is experiencing financial hardship."

Angels 4 Animals
"Our services range from financial aid to complete treatment
to those pets and pet owners in need."

Care Credit
A credit card company for health care, including veterinary care.
"With a comprehensive range of plan options, for
treatment or procedure fees from $1 to over $25,000, we offer a plan
and a low monthly payment to fit comfortably into almost every

God's Creatures Ministry
"This fund helps pay for veterinarian bills for those who need help."

"Our efforts focus on serving the elderly, the disabled, and the
working poor."

"We are dedicated to insure that no
companion animal has to be euthanized simply because their caretaker
is financially challenged."

The Pet Fund
"The Pet Fund is a registered 501(c)3 nonprofit association that
provides financial assistance to owners of domestic animals who need
urgent veterinary care."

United Animal Nations
"The m ission of LifeLine is to help homeless or recently rescued
animals suffering from life-threatening conditions that require
specific and immediate emergency veterinary care. We strive to serve
Good Samaritans and rescue groups who take in sick or injured
animals. In certain cases, LifeLine can also assist senior citizens
and low-income families pay for immediate emergency veterinary care."

They also keep a list of local and national help resources here

With these various resources, the one that is most reliable is Care Credit, and I have heard very positive things about them. The other organizations sometimes have funding and sometimes do not, but Care Credit always seems to come through.

Good luck with your little guy!

If this has been helpful, please hit the green "Accept" button and leave feedback.

If you need more information, just click on reply and I will still be here to provide it!

The above is given for information only. Although I am a licensed veterinarian, I cannot legally prescribe medicines or diagnose your pet's condition without performing a physical exam. If you have concerns about your pet I would strongly advise contacting your regular veterinarian.


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