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Lung problem in dog.

Species: Dog
Breed: GSP/Pitbull Mix?
Age: 2-5 years
Our cuddly Walter had "kennel cough" several times throughout his life (about 5), including when we adopted him from our local Humane Society as a puppy. Three weeks ago is when this all started, Walter developed a cough and we proceeded to take him to the vet. Our vet informed us it was probably a standard infection/ "Cold" and proscribed us broad spectrum anti-biotics. Along with the exam for the cough we had blood work run on both our dogs and Walter had an elevated white blood cell count which were were told could be from "possible parasitic infection" or from the "cold". We gave Walter the correct dosage until the bottle was gone, which eliminated his cough and he seemed perfectly fine just in time for a trip out of town. My wife and I went on a 4 day vacation and left Walter and our other dog at a local boarder where the dogs are in a large outdoor area with 30+ other dogs. Upon return from our vacation Walter developed another "Cold"/Kennel cough and we proceeded to take him to the vet a second time. Again we were proscribed anti-biotics and we proceeded to give Walter the dosages on a regular basis. The vet said Walter had clear lung sounds and a strong heart beat.. Walter's kennel cough cleared up and we thought it was the standard deal again, but 1 day after being off of the anti-biotics he symptoms returned and with a greater intensity and his appetite was poor and he was slightly less energetic. The night of 4/3/2011 Walter seemed very uncomfortable and was coughing very often, we dug out the last of some cough syrup we were given with the anti-biotics and gave the rest of it to him and it helped him relax and go to sleep. The morning of the 4/4/2011 we took Walter to the vet again and had a chest X-ray done, the Vet informed me that Walter's right lung had collapsed, every lobe was dark with no signs of being functional, the vet also commented that he could not believe Walter was walking and functioning. He referred me to a specialist in my area and I rushed Walter to the specialist's office. There he had an ultrasound done and the specialist informed me that his right lung was "compromised" and would never be able to re-inflate. The options we were given were 1. Needle biopsy to try and determine what was in his lung (which we were told had a 70% accuracy rating), followed by IV anti-biotic treatment if it was infectious. 2. Surgery to remove his right lung, which was high risk, very expensive ($5,000) and had limited options for recovery/quality of life 3. Shotgun anti-biotics/high dosage anti-biotics without any information. 4. Euthanasia


The Vet kept on dancing around if it was cancer or not, he would not give us a strait answer "He is really young to get cancer, the only way we will know for sure is by doing the surgery" and every time I brought up the needle biopsy he always wanted to hit the point "its only 70% accurate".

We chose to Euthanize Walter with great sorrow, our home will never be the same without him. With a 1 in 3 chance the answers we got from the needle biopsy were going to be incorrect, with the amount of pain he was in, and the best outcome possible hindering his quality of life forever we felt we had no choice..

Why could my dogs lung not recover, what could have made my dogs lung irreparable? Was this vet giving me the run around? Did this vet have my dogs care his top priority? Should we have done more, seen something? I feel horrible but it was so emotionally overwhelming we didn't know what to do. Please, if you have any answers let me know, I would be eternally grateful.


Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

I'm very sorry to hear of Walter's death.

I think that you couldn't get a straight answer because no one truly knows what the problem was. I have been practicing for 12 years now and I have never had a case like this. And, on top of that I really don't have an idea of what could have been going on with Walter.

It sounds like the biopsy may have given us more of an idea as to what was going on, but as the vet said, there's no guarantee that we would get an answer. And, there's also no guarantee that it would be a fixable problem.

I'm remembering now that I did once see a dog with a lung lobe torsion which sounded something like what Walter had. This is quite rare. Some dogs can recover with surgery to remove the lung. But, the surgery is very expensive and the risk is extremely high.

I would have made the same decision that you did.

I'm so sorry for your loss.

Dr. Marie.

---This question was asked in our Ask A Vet For Free section.---


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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. AskAVetQuestion.com 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.

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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.