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My dog is very tired, labored breathing and pale gums - she…

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My dog is very tired...
My dog is very tired, labored breathing and pale gums - she is about 15 years old and seems a little bloated. She eats very little if anything. Came on suddenly. ??
Submitted: 8 years ago.Category: Dog Veterinary
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Answered in 1 minute by:
8/7/2009
Dog Veterinarian: Dr.Fiona, Dog Veterinarian replied 8 years ago
Dr.Fiona
Dr.Fiona, Dog Veterinarian
Category: Dog Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 6,273
Experience: Small animal medicine and surgery - 16 years experience in BC, California and Ontario
Verified
Hi there,

Welcome to Just Answer! I would like to help you and your dog, but need a bit more information in order to better assist you.

What breed of dog is she?

Did this come on suddenly as in over a few minutes to hours, or over a few days?

Is she on any medications at all?

Fiona
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Customer reply replied 8 years ago
She is an Australian Cattle Dog, also known as a Blue Heeler.
She has been panting a lot for the past few weeks, but suddenly - within a few minutes- she became weak. Her gums are very pale and she is a little bloated just below her ribs. This happened two days ago.
She is taking Phenylpropanolamine 50 mg for incontinence.
Thank you.
Dog Veterinarian: Dr.Fiona, Dog Veterinarian replied 8 years ago
Oh, dear...

and in the last 2 days, has she become more bloated and pale?

Has she been drinking a lot in the last 2 days?

Is she wobbly and/or lethargic?

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Customer reply replied 8 years ago
She is wobbly and very lethargic. She drinks water, but not really a lot. She doesn't seem to becoming more bloated - at least I don't think so. She will eat a small amount of food and then stop eating...
Dog Veterinarian: Dr.Fiona, Dog Veterinarian replied 8 years ago

Hi again,



What you are describing with pale gums, lethargy and collapse, and lack of coordination sounds like anemia.



Anemia refers to a low red blood cell count.



Here is more about anemia:

http://www.petplace.com/dogs/anemia-in-dogs/page1.aspx


The big question is WHY she would be anemic! To have low red blood cells, your dog is either:

1. Not making them

2. Losing them, or

3. Destroying them.


I will explain the concerns and possible causes of these, one at a time.


1. Firstly, there are a number of problems which could lead to decreased production of red blood cells.




The most common of these would be chronic renal failure (kidney disease) which we see quite often in older dogs. The kidneys make a hormone called erythropoietin which tells the bone marrow to make red blood cells. With kidney disease, less erythropoietin is made, and so the dog becomes anemic. It responds really well to treatment, though we cannot cure it. Also, dogs can become anemic because of a long term problem like cancer, though I must assure you that this is NOT a common reason! In dogs, lack of iron in the diet is virtually unheard of as a reason for anemia (quite different from humans) as dog foods have plenty of iron in them.


Here is more about chronic renal disease in dogs:

http://www.petplace.com/dogs/chronic-renal-kidney-failure-in-dogs/page1.aspx

http://www.veterinarypartner.com/Content.plx?P=A&S=0&C=0&A=572


2. Secondly, a dog could be anemic from loss of blood.



With this, the bleeding can be INTERNAL which is difficult to notice. If she were bleeding due to a gastric ulcer (stomach ulcer) you might have noticed black, sticky stools if she was bleeding into her intestines.


Here is more about gastric ulcers which could be a source of blood loss:

http://www.petplace.com/dogs/gastrointestinal-ulcerations-in-dogs/page1.aspx


Another way there could be internal blood loss is with a Hemangiosarcoma (HSA).



!!!!THIS IS WHAT I AM MOST CONCERNED ABOUT IN YOUR DOG!!!!



HSA tends to grow on the spleen and/or on the heart. When it grows on the spleen, it can cause internal bleeding into the belly if it ruptures. So, you can't see the bleeding, but they are still losing blood. If there is a sudden, profound blood loss the symptoms are lethargy and thirst, pale gums, sudden collapse and fluid in the belly. If it is more gradual, you might see just weakness and wobbliness, with an increase in drinking.




Here is more about splenic masses:

http://www.petplace.com/dogs/structure-and-function-of-the-spleen-in-dogs/page1.aspx

http://www.petplace.com/dogs/splenic-hemorrhage-in-dogs/page1.aspx

http://www.veterinarypartner.com/Content.plx?P=A&S=0&C=0&A=1394


3. Lastly, we have to consider that her body could be destroying her red blood cells.




Sometimes dogs will develop an immune-mediated problem in which the body suddenly decides that the red blood cells are foreign invaders and must be destroyed. With this problem, the immune system destroys the red blood cells as they float around in the blood stream. This can be fatal if not treated! Treatment involves suppressing this over-reaction of the immune system by using corticosteroids.



Here is more about this problem:

http://www.petplace.com/dogs/hemolytic-anemia-in-dogs/page1.aspx

http://www.petplace.com/dogs/immune-mediated-hemolytic-anemia-in-dogs-imha/page1.aspx


So, in summary, it sounds like your dog is anemic. There are a number of reasons that this could be happening, but from what you have described, it certainly sounds like she is losing blood into her belly. This is a life-threatening problem - just as it would be if she were bleeding onto the floor. It is still blood loss!


Your vet will be able to determine which is the cause, and what can be done to help your girl by giving her a thorough physical exam and doing a blood test. Given her age and symptoms, I am very concerned about her and feel her prognosis is guarded.



I strongly urge you to take her in IMMEDIATELY so that diagnosis and treatment can be started as soon as possible!


If this has been helpful, please accept my answer and leave feedback.


If you need more information, 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.


Fiona



Dr.Fiona
Dr.Fiona, Dog Veterinarian
Category: Dog Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 6,273
Experience: Small animal medicine and surgery - 16 years experience in BC, California and Ontario
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