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Not eating and very weak.

Species: Dog
Breed: Unknown
Age: 2-5 years
Our dog has been quite sick for a bit over a week now. We live on a small island in the South Pacific where there are no vets. Our dog is an island dog (mutt of some sort). About 2 weeks ago she stopped eating her food, which could just mean she was eating somewhere else. Around the same time, she got really bad green eye discharge. At the beginning of the week we started noticing severe weight loss, weakness, and extreme lethargy. She barely does anything but lay down. She has been vomiting, but not heaving. It’s like a steady stream of liquid coming from her mouth that is incredibly foul smelling. Just a little bit smells up an entire room with the smell of feces. There also appears to be some stomach sensitivity when we touch it. On the plus side, she remains responsive, can move around if necessary, is still drinking water, and her nose is normal. As background, she has what we believe is transmissible venereal tumor. Thinking it might be worms, on Thursday we gave her .3 CCs of ivermectin, but haven’t seen any improvement (in fact she seems to be getting worse). We recently moved to an area with high levels of leptospirosis in the ocean, but she doesn’t go by there. For a picture, you can go to this link:
Thank you for your help.

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Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

Oh, I am so sorry to hear that Princess is not doing well. The symptoms you have described really do have me concerned that something serious is going on.

While it is not possible for me to give you a diagnosis over the internet I can give you my thoughts on what could be going on.

The first thing that came to my mind is a serious kidney problem. Renal failure can cause vomiting, lethargy, lack of appetite and the foul odor that is coming from her. One of the more common reasons for renal failure in a younger dog is indeed leptospirosis. While leptospirosis can be treated, if it gets to the state of causing renal failure and causing her to be this sick, her chances of treatment (even with intensive veterinary care) are not good.

Another possibility is if she has eaten something that is toxic to her kidneys. Again, if she is this sick then I am quite concerned for her.

The transmissible venereal tumor is not likely to be causing these symptoms that you have described.

It's also possible that she has pancreatitis. Unfortunately the treatments for pancreatitis require intravenous fluids which would have to be given at a veterinary clinic.

Another possibility is if she has eaten an object that is stuck in her stomach or intestines. If this is the case there is not much that you can do.

The green discharge from her eyes could be a sign of distemper virus. This is very serious and usually fatal.

Is there any way at all that you can get her off of the island and into a veterinary clinic? It really would be worthwhile to have her tested for leptospirosis as lepto is actually contagious to people. If she does have lepto she can be started on antibiotics and this may give her a chance (albeit a small one).

If there is no way that you can get her seen then one of the best things you can do for her is to try to keep her well hydrated. If you are able to buy unsweetened pedialyte (this is a solution that they make for children with diarrhea) then you can encourage her to drink this which will help with hydration and also help her kidneys.

Another thing that you can give her that won't hurt and may help her a little bit is famotidine (known as Pepcid). The dose to give to dogs is .5 mg per kg twice daily. It usually comes in a 10 mg tablet. I'm guessing, but from the picture she looks no more than 30 lbs. So, if this were the case she could have a half tablet twice daily. This will help with the stomach upset.

I wish I could offer you more help. It does sound like she is very unwell.

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Customer reply:

Thank you for your detailed answer. Of course, this morning she started limping, just to keep us guessing. Unfortunately, getting her off-island to a vet is pretty much out of the question due to extreme costs of travel, quarantine laws, and the fact that another flight doesn't leave here until Thursday. However, we do have leftover Cephalexin and Cipro, and we could get other antibiotics from the hospital if need be. While I know this is out of the ordinary, what would be a typical dosage of one of these drugs for a possibly lepto ridden 30lbs dog?

Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

If this is lepto, antibiotics alone are not likely to be helpful. She'd really need IV fluids as well. Unfortunately I legally can't advise at all on medication dosages.

But, if you live in a remote place with no vet care, there may be vets just off of the island who you could phone who may have the legal right to prescribe or advise you on medication. I know that this is the case in some remote northern areas.

Have you tried the Purr Pillow? This is one of Dr. Marie's top recommended pet products for 2016.

Customer reply:

Thank you again for your help. I understand the legal issues. She has been eating and drinking just fine today, so long as we put it right in front of her. Her back legs seem to be very weak, so that she can barely stand up on them. We're going to try antibiotics, and lots of water (with Pedialyte).

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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.

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