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Dr. Jo
Dr. Jo, Dog Veterinarian
Category: Dog Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 2818
Experience:  DVM from Iowa State University in 1994; actively engaged in private regular and emergency practice since that time.
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10 year old large border collie's symptoms: listless, lack of energy, glazed look oc

Customer Question

10 year old large border collie's symptoms: listless, lack of energy, glazed look occasionally, mass around lung, taken meds for seizures for 5+ years, a seizure monthly but well controlled, takes potassium bromide and novox daily, tried to eat long dead rat about a month ago from the field and choked it up, blood work normal except slightly high sodium, chloride and a factor relating to liver, muscle loss in back end, loss from 105 to 70 lbs in last 6 months on Science Diet weight loss dog food, last week could not make normal walk, began "dry heaves" a couple of days ago with strong push from abdomen, also fever of 102+
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Dog Veterinary
Expert:  Dr. Jo replied 2 years ago.
I'm Dr. Jo and I'm here to help you with your question about your border collie. I'm so sorry he isn't doing well, but glad you're looking for the information you need.
It sounds like you've been through a lot with him here lately.
Could you please tell me his name?
I'll be typing in my thoughts in the meantime.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Expert:  Dr. Jo replied 2 years ago.
Colby. Beautiful name.
Please let me start by telling you it sounds as if Colby has received an appropriate diagnostic work-up and good care.
Unfortunately, I must continue by saying I'm inclined to agree with your vet. The most likely thing to cause all these things (including the mostly normal blood work) is cancer.
I'm so sorry. I wish I had better news, but that's what this looks like.
You indicated you were having a hard time rationalizing the fever. I have two thoughts on that...
1. Anything that causes inflammation can cause a fever. Fever doesn't necessarily equate with infection.
2. You indicated he had a fever of over 102. The textbook normal temperature for a dog is 102.1. We routinely see healthy dogs with temperatures of 100.0 to 103.0 during wellness examinations. Every vet may be a little different, but I don't even start to wonder if a dog has a fever until I see something significantly over 103. Most dogs with a bona fide fever are over 103.5.
I hope this helps to address your concern about fever.
More to follow...
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Please continue...this has been very helpful to assure us of the right decision about how to proceed.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
So lung surgery is a long shot due to probability of already spreading or spreading from the surgery?
Expert:  Dr. Jo replied 2 years ago.
Correct, lung surgery is a long shot. Every person is different and each situation is unique, but if you were to ask me to make a list of all of the possibilities that could cause a mass on the lung that would be simple to treat and lead to years of added life expectancy for Colby, my list would be blank.
I'm so sorry.
The devastating fact is that while lung surgery is the best we can offer in an attempt to try to solve Colby's problem, the likelihood of success is minimal. In a sense, pursuing surgery falls into the category of things like "heroics" and "hoping for a miracle".
By all means a person can choose that path, but it's valid to recognize that it's territory that is out of reach for most pet owners logistically and financially.
If, on the other hand, you're the type of person who has no barriers of cost or access to veterinary specialists and feel compelled to be aggressive with doing whatever it might take to see if Colby can survive this problem (which is currently appearing to be terminal), then pursue the surgery.
As I said, everyone's perspective is different. While in my eyes, a decision to pursue an aggressive path for a dog with this severe of a disease would be more about doing what the owner wanted rather than the dog, if you were my clients and you wanted to go that route, I would do all I could to help you with the referral to a specialist.
If you did not, I would do everything in power to help you through the end of Colby's life as humanely and compassionately as possible. After all, we all must die at some point, and I believe it is important to try to die well. I never met a dog who wanted to live a *long* life, after all. Just a *good* one.
Please understand I do not wish to offend you with this discussion. I know these are deeply personal and important issues.
Please let me know your thoughts.
Expert:  Dr. Jo replied 2 years ago.
I want to say I hope I haven't upset you, but I know this is a terribly upsetting discussion to have.
Please rest assured I am here to help and want to make sure you have all the information you need to make the decision that is best for your family and Colby. Nothing about a decision like this (to proceed with surgery or not) is easy.
If you are satisfied with the information I have provided, please take a moment to ACCEPT my answer and rate my response. If you are not, please let me know how else I may be of assistance.
Regardless of what road you choose, I know you have a tough path ahead and i want to do whatever I can to help.
Thank you for using our website.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
My slow response has been numerous intervening phone calls hoping I could multi-task.
I am feeling better and thinking clearer since your responses and appreciate them very much. They will help our family with our "putting him down" this evening or tomorrow. Thanks again. You have helped alot.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Signing off
Expert:  Dr. Jo replied 2 years ago.
I am happy to help. My heart goes out to you. Even though putting him down may be the right thing to do, it still isn't easy. Peace.
-Dr. Jo
Expert:  Dr. Jo replied 2 years ago.
I'm just checking in to ask if there is anything further I can do to help you as you navigate this difficult decision with Colby. You've been in my thoughts.
I also wanted to send out a heads-up...I'm afraid this computer system automatically sends out an email checking on pets a few days after our original correspondence, and in your case that could come across as horribly insensitive. I want to apologize in advance if you receive one of those emails.
I hope things are going as well as they can.
Please let me know if there is anything else you'd like to discuss. If there isn't, please take a moment to ACCEPT my answer and rate my response. Without your positive feedback I receive no compensation for helping you, so your rating is important to me. Thank you.