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Wobbly boxer

Species: Dog
Breed: Boxer_American
Age: 2-5 years
My 3 year old male boxer has several issues. A couple weeks ago he was lethargic and his gums were almost white so we took him to our the vet where blood work (including tick born disease test) were done. His red cells were low but a second blood work test showed they were coming back to normal and he did NOT have the tick born disease. A couple days after this issue, he was playing (jumping up) and suddently stopped and just fell to his side and they did an EKG and his heart looked fine, but the vet recommended an ultrasound at a specialist vet clinic, which we have scheduled for tomorrow (Thursday). BUT, I also wonder if it could be something else? I have witnessed a number of times where he gets up from sleeping/resting (which he does a lot!) and then stops suddenly and his legs are wobbly. He just stands still for about 30-45 seconds and then he seems okay. His pees are also very long....very long! We lost a boxer to cancer so I'm familiar with lots of dog issues, but not this one. Before I spend $500 on the cardio ultrasound, are there other things I should be checking first? Thanks so much for taking my question. BTW, Beau is brindle and weighs 82 lbs. He is eating fine and drinking his water. We feed him good food and a fish oil vitamin twice a day.

Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

Oh, I am sorry to hear that you and Beau are going through this scary ordeal.

Whenever I hear of a Boxer who is having fainting episodes or wobbliness I get worried about heart disease. There is an actual condition called boxer cardiomyopathy that can affect the heart of this breed.

Often dogs with this condition will have no obvious changes in their blood tests. The only way to diagnose it is with an ultrasound.

Another possibility is if Beau had something that was bleeding inside such as a tumor on his spleen. This would be really uncommon in a 3 year old dog though. If there was a spleen tumor and it ruptured then we can see a temporary drop in his red cell level and wobbliness. Then, as the body reabsorbs the blood the red cell level returns to normal.

If this were my case I would definitely be recommending an ultrasound of the heart and if that showed nothing, then an ultrasound of the abdomen.

I really hope everything goes ok. Feel free to post back with more questions if I can help.

Dr. Marie

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Disclaimer: Although Dr. Marie is a qualified veterinarian, the information found on this site is not meant to replace the advice of your own veterinarian. and Dr. Marie do not accept any responsibility for any loss, damage, injury, death, or disease which may arise from reliance on information contained on this site. Do not use information found on this site for diagnosing or treating your pet. Anything you read here is for information only.

Customer reply:

At the cardiologist appt today, they said on a scale of 1-6 he does have a heart murmur (level 3), but the ultrasound of the heart was okay. They see a very minor congenital defect (subaortic stenosis) when the blood flow leaving the left side of the heart out of the aorta is too fast and becomes turbulent. This is a common boxer defect and very mild and the vet does not think this is causing his weakness. We have him on a 24 hour Holter monitor to evaluate his heart rate and rhythm for a day to see if we can find evidence of any arrhythmia that could be treated with meds..but that's it for now. He's not too happy with the Holter must be as hard to wear this as the cone of shame! Didn't do the abdomen ultrasound yet - we'll see how the holter reading goes and who knows...but thanks for the info!

Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

Interesting. Thanks for the update. I hope you either get some answers, or better yet, that the symptoms simply don't come back again!

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Dr. MarieDr. Marie is a veterinarian who practices in a busy animal hospital in Ottawa, Ontario. She created Ask A Vet Question as a resource for good, accurate veterinary advice online. Dr. Marie treats dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pigs, and rats. She has been a vet since 1999.

Is an online vet visit just as good as a trip to your veterinarian? No! But, many times, asking an online veterinarian a question can help save you money. While Dr. Marie can't officially diagnose your pet or prescribe medications, she can often advise you on whether a vet visit is necessary. You can also ask Dr. Marie for a second opinion on your pet's condition.