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PitRottMommy, Veterinary Nurse
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 8732
Experience:  15 yrs experience in vet med, 8 in emergency med. Founder of a non-profit animal rescue
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My 6 pound chiweenie had a sudden onset of extreme lethargy

Customer Question

My 6 pound chiweenie had a sudden onset of extreme lethargy yesterday. Wouldn't open his right eye and seemed in pain. Diagnosis was possible eye infection or trauma to head or eye. By evening he was super lethargic but after nausea meds, came around, ate some. By morning he was so much better. Ate well twice today and now at 9pm slipped back into very dulled mentation, isn't walking great and seems beyond tired and just sleeps. I can kind of wake him but he's basically unresponsive and out of it.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Dog
Expert:  PitRottMommy replied 1 year ago.

Hi Brenda, thanks for your question. Can you give me more info on Lenny?

1) What dosage of tramadol is he currently on? How often is it given?

2) Was labwork performed during his checkup?

3) Did the vet elicit any pain when he performed the exam?

4) What risk does he have of head trauma (is he allowed to roam freely in the yard, backyard, neighborhood, etc).

This info will help me to give you the most useful info.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Lenny has a dog door and can roam freely in our fenced backyard.
He is on 50 mg tramadol (cut in half) but hasn't had it since yesterday at 1pm. He had a cerenia for nausea, 16 mg, at 9 pm tonight. He is also on neoploydex ophthalmic eye drops every 12 hours for a possible eye infection.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
This came on very suddenly 2 nights ago. He was much better this morning. Ate all of his food today but then took a turn for the worse at about 8:30 tonight.
Expert:  PitRottMommy replied 1 year ago.

Was any labwork run during his visit?

Did the vet find any overt pain (we usually don't use tramadol unless there is pain, but it's always good to check)?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Blood work was done yesterday. All normal except an elevated WBC of 19,000. Very lethargic and only very linked semi responsive. Just some Odin response around his right eye. Left eye is now very closed and squinty.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I meant pain response around his right eye.
Expert:  PitRottMommy replied 1 year ago.

With your concerns of lethargy coming and going, I would also be concerned about eye or head trauma. A lot of dogs will make a vast improvement when we give medications, but the improvement can either be short-lived or them feeling well can cause them to overdo it--causing them to then have similar or worsening symptoms later on during the day. As well, it's often seen that dogs with head trauma are slow to rouse and may sleep harder than normal. This can be due to inflammation in the area causing him to feel unwell.

I would be curious if your vet would want to try some steroids with Lenny. The white blood cell line is only moderately elevated and we can sometimes see an upward shift in the WBC's when a pet has recently received trauma to their body. We like to avoid steroid usage, however, if we're dealing with an infection. There's certainly a "should we or should we not" concern here because the infection (if he has one) is not obvious. You also did not mention that he's on antibiotics, which makes me believe your vet suspects that this is not related exclusively to an infection. I would discuss this with them, for sure. Steroids can be of great benefit when there is trauma involved as it helps to reduce swelling rapidly. If benefits of steroids is to be seen, we usually start seeing an improvement within the first 24 hours after it is administered. Depending on treatment protocol, your vet may wish to do a simple injection or to place an IV catheter, run fluids and administer a different type of steroid. Either may be of great benefit to Lenny.