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Boxer collapsed.

Species: Dog
Breed: Boxer
Age: 1-2 years
Last saturday our female 1 year old boxer collapsed and her gums went very pale. We have previously had a male boxer who had Cardiomyopathy and we lost him just before his 6th birthday. As we have seen this happen before with him we took her straight to the heart specialist he used to see. She took some bloods and did a scan of her heart and said that apart from a Grade 1 heart murmur and 1 leaky valve her heart looked fine. She has since had another 2 episodes, one being quite bad and included her urinating and the other being quite mild. We have her booked in for a 24 ECG at the end of this week but what else could the problem be if it is not connected to her heart? She seems very confused while all this is happening but then is completly back to normal again.
Thanks
Laura


Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

Sorry to hear that Candy is having these episodes. It is frightening to see your dog go through something like this, especially when you don't have a diagnosis!

As you know, boxers can be prone to heart murmurs. The most common reason for boxers to have heart problems is something called "boxer cardiomyopathy". Some boxers with cardiomyopathy will have a very enlarged heart. This would have been seen on the ultrasound. However, some have a normal looking heart on ultrasound, but will have rhythm problems with their hearts. Something called a Holter test is required to find out what kind of rhythm problems are there. (This is the 24 hour ECG).

Most likely the Holter test will determine that there is a heart condition present. The vet will likely prescribe a medication to help keep the rhythm normal. What they prescribe may depend on how severe the rhythm changes are that they see. They will likely want to repeat the 24 hr ECG test a few weeks into treatment to see if we are making a difference. If we are not, then they will try a different medication. They may also suggest a supplement called carnitine which helps some boxers with heart problems.

While there are other possibilities, boxer cardiomyopathy is the most likely.

Another possibility is that she is having a seizure. While many seizures will have obvious paddling and loss of consciousness, not all of them do. If your vet does not find any heart related illness they may talk about the possibility of her having epilepsy.

Another reason for a dog to collapse and have pale gums is if there is something bleeding internally such as a spleen tumor or a stomach ulcer. But given that she is young, and that she is totally normal when she's not having an "episode" neither of these are really likely.

I would be very surprised if this was not a heart issue though. A good number of dogs with heart problems like this can live full and healthy lives on medication.

I hope all is well!

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. 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.