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Dr. Amanda
Dr. Amanda, Veterinarian
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 799
Experience:  Associate Veterinarian
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Gina, We rescued a yellow lab/German Shepard mix 7 months

Customer Question

Hi Gina,
We rescued a yellow lab/German Shepard mix 7 months ago. Sam is 6 years old and weighs 115 lbs ... He is a barrel but I have a few to lose and his weight issue didn't stop my husband and I from taking him home. We lived in MN but my husbands new command in is VA so that is where we now reside. We had a vet in VA see Sam in September because he hacks and coughs especially with excitement or trying to bark ... It sounds like something is stuck. We had 300.00 worth of chest and neck X-rays. His lungs were beautiful ... His heart looked great. He was put on medication for possible kennel cough although he's been vaccinated and not around any other pets ... That medication did nothing. We went to another vet in October for a second opinion she thought it may be allergies and suggested we try Benedryl and Claritin ... Neither worked. She also added he's very obese and his fat could be pressing on his lungs ... We bought the diet food she suggested ... All flavors .... Also a no go. Tonight we were back in MN for leave and we were coming home from his grandparents when Sam started hacking hard ... I tried to give him some water and he drank it all. He then vommitted and his tongue turned blue and white and we rushed him to the closet vet off the highway. By the time he was seen he was acting back to his normal happy self. She wanted to do blood work (mostly for his weight) and set him up for something with his larynx where he'd have to be sedated ... He had just had full bloodwork and a dental done 5 months ago. She wanted us to agree to 600 worth of "maybe" there is a answer ... We weren't confident and feel it's more gert or blockage related. We have always felt something is just lodged back there that won't work its way out ... Do you have any suggestions? Thanks Much!
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Dog
Expert:  Dr. Amanda replied 1 year ago.


My name is***** and I am sorry to hear that Sam is sick.

Just to clarify- his symptoms include- not eating hard food, coughing leading to blue tongue and gums, obesity (with difficulty with weight loss), swallowing hard. Does this sound right?

For blood work- has your regular vet checked his thyroid level? How about a screening test for Cushing's?

Based on your description, I would wonder about a few different things-

-I am very suspicious that his obesity could be pressing on his airways, especially when he is coughing. He could also have very soft rings of the trachea (common in small breeds and called Collapsing Trachea) and when he coughs his trachea is squished, making it very difficult for him to breathe. He may also have laryngeal paralysis, which is where he cannot open or close his voice box when breathing. When he is relaxed, he can breathe normally, but if he becomes stressed he can feel like he is choking.

-another contributing factor could be allergic airway disease. I know you mentioned this, but some dogs need some steroids in low doses to help reduce inflammation in their lungs. Typically the dose is very low, so we won't see weight gain or excessive water drinking.

The next part of this is his swallowing hard/possible reflux. Obesity can also contribute to this because the fat in the abdomen is pressing on his stomach. Also, having a low thyroid can slow stomach emptying time and cause reflux. Have you tried Pepcid? The dose is 0.5mg per pound, so I would recommend giving him 60mg twice daily and see if this helps. Pepcid is the most effective antacid available for dogs.

If we are concerned about a possible tracheal foreign body, the only real way to find it would be with an endoscope down the trachea or with a CT scan of his chest.

Does this help? Do you have any other questions?

Dr. Amanda

Expert:  Dr. Amanda replied 1 year ago.
Hi Kristina,
I'm just following up on our conversation about Sam. How is everything going?
Amanda Mouradian-Dar