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Dr. John
Dr. John, Texas Veterinarian
Category: Dog Veterinary
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Experience:  Over 14 years of clinical veterinary experience
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My dog stopped eating-vet said white blood cell count was high,

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My dog stopped eating-vet said white blood cell count was high, thought it was an infection. He did not see anything to indicate kidney problems or diabetes. She was not responding to antibiotics or eating so we hospitalized her. She seemed to perk up after that, came home, and started to eat more than she had before. she has been on antibiotics for 10 days. She stopped her antibiotics on Friday. We took her for some blood work on Saturday. On Monday, the vet called and said that her white blood cells were still high and she would need more antibiotics. On Monday, she started not wanting to eat again and would only eat a couple bites of food. Today she ate about 10 bites of chicken, some nutrical, and a bone. Alot of the time we have to rub the food on her teeth for her to get a taste. She is still drinking on her own. She is drinking more now than before since she started the antibiotics. She is not throwing up and will still move around. Could her problem be something else or is it just taking long for her to recover from the infection? She has been chewing weird, so we thought it could be her teeth but the vet doesn't know. We are thinking of taking her in to have them look at her teeth and take an x-ray.
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Dog Veterinary
Expert:  Dr. John replied 5 years ago.

Hello. Thanks for writing.


Do you know how high her white blood cell count was?


No other abnormalities on blood work at all?

Customer: replied 5 years ago.
No. He didn't tell us how high the count was, just that it was high and that it has not gone down after her 10 days of antibiotics. He did not day that there was anything else he was seeing in her bloodwork. His first thought was kidneys or diabetes but he didn't see any indication of that. We are just really baffled by it all and worried she could have cancer of something.
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
No, our vet did not say how high the count was, just that it hasn't gone down after her 10 days of antibiotics. He did not mention anything else beign wrong in her blood work or hasn't mentioned running more tests at this point. We are just concerned now and he seems to just want her to take more antibiotics.
Expert:  Dr. John replied 5 years ago.
Thanks for the information. Sorry about the wait. I forgot to ask, but did she have a fever during any of this time?
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
No. Not that I know of and they said that she was never dehydrated or anything. I should probably add a little more about her teeth- we originally took her in because we thought it was her teeth. She had really bad breath and was chewing weird. Vet thought the bad breath was because of diabetes or kidneys. When we tried to clean her teeth her gums looked weird. The vet looked at her teeth that first time and did say they needed to be cleaned since is she 12 and they are looking gross :) but he didnt see anything on her gums like we saw the previous day. He did say she tried to bite him when he looked at her teeth. We keep going back to maybe there is something there in the mouth? She chews over exaggerated. Sometimes she will take a bit of food, chew 5-6 times and then spit it out. She will leet me open her mouth to look at her gums. I think that her breath has improved since the antibiotics.
Expert:  Dr. John replied 5 years ago.
Thanks for the information. With just a high white blood cell (WBC) count that is abnormal on blood work, it can be very difficult to pinpoint the cause. An infection is not the only thing that can cause a high white blood cell count, and not all infections cause high white blood cell counts; so it is not altogether completely reliable for looking for an infection. In general, infections that don't really get into the blood stream don't cause high WBC counts. I have seen some very dirty, infected mouths; and very few of them have high WBC counts. If they do, then I get concerned about infection spreading to the heart, liver or kidneys. Any issue that creates enough inflammation, including a lot of immune mediated diseases (body's immune system attacks its own cells) can create high white blood cell counts. Even some cancers can cause high WBC counts. A lot depends on how high the WBC count is. Mild elevations may not be anything important and can be normal for that particular patient. Moderately elevated counts could be infection or inflammation. With very high counts, I tend to worry more about severe infections, immune mediated diseases and cancer. At this point, if teeth are suspected, make sure she is on either clindamycin (best choice) or Clavamox for antibiotics. I might not hurt to add Baytril or Zeniquin as well. I would definitely get chest x-rays and an abdominal u/s (can do abdominal x-rays, but you may not see everything you want to see). A heart ultrasound will let you know if there is infection on the heart valves, possibly from the teeth. An ANA or Coomb's test may diagnose an immune mediated issue (negative results don't rule them out). Joint taps, bone marrow evaluation, blood cultures, tick disease titers and fecal exams may be needed if the WBC count is persistently high and didn't respond to proper antibiotics and a teeth cleaning. Please let me know if you have any other questions. Hope this helps.
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