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Dr. Kara
Dr. Kara, Dog Veterinarian
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 16526
Experience:  Over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian
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My golden retriever is 10.5 and lately seems down and depressed, this morning he struggled

Customer Question

My golden retriever is 10.5 and lately seems down and depressed, this morning he struggled to lift his back legs up, he has been vomitting all morning but also drinking excessive amount of water?
He has always been an active dog. My other golden died a year ago at 10.5 and he is looking like he did.
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Dog
Expert:  Dr. Kara replied 2 years ago.
Hello, my name is***** and I have over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian. I am so sorry to hear that Caesar seems distressed, vomiting, lethargic, and struggling to stand on his own suddenly.
In an older Golden Retriever we do need to worry about arthritis (hip dysplasia or spinal arthritis), but that is unlikely to create such a sudden change in him with no previous history of limping, stiffness or pain. Most dogs that become immobile from arthritic pain show some symptoms before things get that bad.
Unfortunately Goldens are also very prone to cancer. That could include a couple types of splenic tumors, either a hemangiosarcoma or lymphophoma, either of which could suddenly rupture and lead to abdominal bleeding and weakness. Lymphoma can also invade nerve tissue or grow around it in the area of the spinal cord. Pressure on the spinal cord could lead to sudden loss of function in his rear legs as well.
I recommend checking his gum and tongue color. If they are not a nice bubblegum pink color then we do need to worry about internal bleeding. If his color is pale that warrants an immediate veterinary visit and if your veterinarian is closed now then take him to an emergency clinic. I don't mean to alarm you too much but if his gums are pale this is a true emergency.
The other possibility for sudden weakness, lethargy and nausea is a disturbance in the balance system called vestibular disease.
Is his head tilted?
When he tries to walk if you can get him up does he seem to be circling or leaning to one side?
Does he have rhythmic back and forth or circular eye movement? (like this dog : )
Does he now or has he had a recent ear infection?
With vestibular disease he could get very nauseous and because he is so dizzy he won't want to get up or walk. Vestibular disease is a disturbance in the balance system. It can be due to a problem in the middle ear or along the pathways that send information from the middle ear to the brain or in the brain itself. Dogs with vestibular disease feel like they have just stepped off a merry-go-round, very dizzy and nauseous and the more they try to move the worse they feel, so they can refuse to even try to get up.
There can be several causes of vestibular disease. They range from very benign causes such as idiopathic (meaning we don't know the cause but they resolve on their own with supportive care) to middle ear infections or polyps, brain infections (bacterial, fungal or viral) or even a primary brain lesion such as a blood clot, bleeding or a tumor.
If we cannot identify a cause then we will often treat the patient symptomatically (antinausea drugs, anti-inflammatories and antibiotics) as most dogs do get better with supportive care. Prognosis if this is caused by a lesion outside the brain is very good in most cases.
We will check bloodwork to make sure organ failure or low thyroid hormone are not the cause of his symptoms.
At home if he seems to be dizzy, but his color is good, you can give Gravol also known as Dramamine (dimenhydranate) to control nausea, which is also used for carsickness. The dose is 4mg to 8mg per pound of body weight every 8 hours. Side effects are mild sleepiness and dry mouth.
Or you can try Benadryl (diphenhydramine) at 1mg per pound of body weight orally every 8 hours. Side effects are sedation and dry mouth as well.
To stimulate his appetite start a bland diet of 1/2 boiled, lean hamburger (or boiled, white, skinless chicken), all fats and juices drained off the meat, mixed with 1/2 boiled, plain white rice. Feed several small meals a day.
But with your history of excessive vomiting I believe that Caesar would benefit from emergency veterinary care now, I am very concerned that he may have an abdominal mass or he may get very, very dehydrated from all of his vomiting.
Please let me know if you have any further questions.

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