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Dr. Deb
Dr. Deb, Dog Veterinarian
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 583
Experience:  DVM VMRCVM '89, 20 yrs experience in progressive small animal medicine and surgery
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last night my English Setters right front leg became extremely

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last night my English Setter's right front leg became extremely painful and he just held it out and wouldn't put any weight on it. We noticed in the morning that it had swollen. We took him to the vet and after some x-rays and blood work and drawing some fluid: it was determined that nothing was broken or dislocated, the blood work came back almost normal with a very slightly elevated white blood count, and the fluid drawn was from fatty tumors. The leg kept swelling and was starting to turn purple so the vet suggested we drive 4 hours away to MI State University Hospital. We did this and they have been running test and are not finding any infection. They told us it might be vasculitis or cellulitis and they needed to do more testing. Our setter is to remain there for a couple of days and my husband was told that he has a 50/50 chance of survival. Can you help me understand what this might be and what to expect? Our dog is very active and ran for about 30 minutes yesterday and we thought that maybe he hurt himself on the ice. I don't know what to think. Please help!!!!

Dr. Deb :

Hi, I'm Dr. Deb, I'm not really sure what this is. I just wanted to mention that I once saw a dog with a sort of similar problem. He had a fishing line wrapped around his leg. It was very hard to find because it had gone through the skin and hair. It needed to be clipped and surgically explored to find it- while he was under anesthesia. This may not be the case but I wanted to mention it. Were you anywhere near a fishing area? Ice fishing is very popular in some regions. I hope the answer is found soon, it sounds like he is in good hands. Best of luck.

Dr. Deb and 2 other Dog Specialists are ready to help you
Hi, I was wondering what was going on with your dog? I hope the news is not bad. I have been thinking of you.
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Dr Deb

Thanks for inquiring again. The response was helpful and I will click on accept as soon as I write this.Your first intuition is what our first and continuing thoughts are. You thought of fishing line or some kind of trauma. BJ my setter wasn't exposed to anything like that but over the years he has had some interesting things happen to him: a thorn in his eye that had to be removed, sliced tendon in one of his ankles, porcupined at least twice, blew a knee in a back leg that they did a tight rope surgery, had a mink that he found by the shoreline bite a hole completely through his cheek and several other things that I won't mention. He loves to run and does so with little regard to safety. Knowing him as we do my first reaction is he hurt himself when he was running on Thursday night. The staff at MI State cannot find infection, raised white cell count, clean biopsies, and no temperature. The last that we heard was that some blood is starting to seep into the other front leg. When asked if they could drain off some fluid to relieve pressure on the first leg...they said yes but they didn't want to do that because that pressure may be stopping more bleeding. Since it is the weekend, he has yet to see an Internist or have an MRI or Ulta sound to see where the bleeding is coming from. Instead they keep running test to find some illness. We are frustrated because we feel that checking for a trauma to the leg is definitely called for. I don't know what to do...we have asked them why they haven't done this and they said that nothing can be done till Monday. What are your thoughts? Are we way off base here? I just hope he survives the weekend.

Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Dr. Deb
Could you tell me what you think about this?
Hi, sorry, I was our for awhile and came home to find your message. If the swelling is indeed due to blood, then I would wonder about a problem with blood clotting. That is what they are likely doing tests for now. In a strangulation event, as I described, the fluid is much more likely to be clear or light pink than actual blood. If it is blood then that would be a hematoma. This can happen with clotting disorders, or trauma. It can be hard to identify the initial cause/. It sounds like a vasculitis is possible. Does he get many ticks? Do you use a tick medicne on him? I hope he is clotting normally. Keep in touch.
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Dr. Deb

They told us his clotting is normal. They also don't feel that it is a vasculitis (I'm not sure why). They called my husband and told him that BJ was resting comfortably and the bleeding seems to have stopped. He does get an occasional tick in the late spring since we live in a woods. I generally find them either before they attach or within a day. I do not use a flea and tick medicine on him. We are presently at our lake home in northern MI but we live outside of Indianapolis. I know that MI can have deer ticks but I don't think that they are as prevalent in the area that we live most of the year. We just came up north on Thursday to attend to some business. There is probably at least 6" of snow on the ground and the lake is still frozen. I didn't think that we needed to watch for ticks when it is still cold. I typically have gotten a Lyme's disease vaccine for my dogs except last year our vet felt that it would be better to get a shot for ? (it has to do with lake water and ducks). We are going home tomorrow and Lansing (MI State) so we will get to see BJ and hopefully talk to a doctor. I will keep you posted.

Thank you so much for your care and concern and your good information and advice!!!

I hope you so take him home soon. If he does not have Rocky Mountain Fever-a tick borne disease which can cause vasculitis and can be seen anywhere in the US, or Ehrlichiosis- another tick born disease which can cause low platelet numbers and increased bleeding, then that is good.
I still wonder if the ultimate explanation was a traumatic injury to an artery. At first it hurt but then the blood began to leak, you may never find out the cause. The important thing is that he get better.

Best of luck,
Dr. Deb and 2 other Dog Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
we stopped to see him today and he was really drugged out but the swelling was greatly reduced and pending a couple more tests he may get to go home on Tuesday. We received a call a short time ago and they found a few cancerous cell in one of the samples that they drew. Tomorrow the Oncologist will call us to discuss a biopsy. They vet said that the cells appeared to be of the Sarcoma type and therefore could be well contained and slow moving. We are waiting for more info but he suggested that surgery might be a good option. he actually said that removing the leg might be what we want to do. We are waiting to talk to the Oncologist and hear the biopsy results. We do not like the option of removing his leg; we would be willing to do surgery to remove the tumor if it is contained. What do you think? One way or the other we will get to bring him home pending biopsy results which I guess can take from 5-7 days. I lost two Goldens to cancer and
the "C" word really concerns me but I am trying to be positive .hanks for all your help!!! Susann
I am so sorry to hear about the diagnosis. Cancer, or Neoplasia, let's use this word maybe it isn't as scary, would be another explanation for the signs. Surgery would be the next step. You will be told more when more is known about the biopsy- what kind of sarcoma is it?
Before any surgery, they will look for any sign that it has already spread- chest x-rays and maybe ultrasound.
If surgery is indicated, removal of the entire leg is the best option. Dogs can do very well after this procedure. It sounds like he was very athletic before this happened so he would likely do very well. Remember, dogs don't wear pants or care what anyone says about them at the mall. They adjust.
I am a little concerned that there may have been fluid built up in the other leg, hopefully that doesn't mean he has both front legs affected.
I hope the news is as good as it can be.
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Dr. Deb

I talk to the Oncologist this morning. The lung and chest have been x-rayed twice and found to be clear. The only abnormality found was a small spot on the leg in an ultrasound. His blood work has been normal in all testing. For that reason I am hoping that this is very contained. (Actually i am hoping that they have misdiagnosed). A biopsy will tell the real story. I will keep you informed. Thanks and have a good night! Susann
So the only place any cancerous cells were found was in this small spot? I thought it was from fluid taken off the leg and was more widespread. That is good news. Maybe just removing that spot will be sufficient. We can hope.