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Fluid in the lungs that got better.

Species: Dog
Breed: American Cocker Span
Age: 5-8 years
Hi, My boy Buster Brown has an array of health probs from dry eye syndrome to pancreatitis, his immune system was destroyed by Lyme as a puppy... (I adopted him from the Humane Soc. at a yr old and he had his first treatment then and subsequent ones since, the most recent being a series of injections abt a month ago). He is 7 yrs old now. He had just gotten a clean bill of health including a cancer free cytology of some fatty tumors on his hind quarters. He is heartworm free and always on a preventative. I have spent thousands on his care. 2 wks ago he developed a rasping/hacking cough overnight and was lethargic and turning food away when he is normally food crazy (he is on a hydrolyzed protein food diet for the pancreatitis and skin allergies, Royal Canin) I brought him in and xrays showed white lungs full of fluid and a grade 2-3 heart murmur that he had never had. My vet thought it was a burst heart valve. She sent us home with Lasix and an apt for an ultrasound and ECG Mon (This was Fri). After a rough night the Lasix worked and he stopped coughing and started ambulating. Mondays tests were NORMAL. His heart looked normal and the ECG was normal, they sent it to a cardiologist to confirm. However, a week has passed and he is even more lethargic and still turning away food. I have to wrap his pills in sandwich meat which hes not supposed to have becuz he wont eat his allergy pill pockets that he usually loves. Something is really wrong. I think its his stomache. What can it be???

Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

Your poor little guy sounds like he has been through a lot.

What an odd situation you have described. Fluid in the lungs is something that is generally really easy to recognize on an xray, so it's unlikely that there was a mistake made. With heart disease, if there is fluid in the lungs and we give lasix, we can see some improvement but it would be odd to have him be completely better after just a few days.

The first thing that came to my mind was the possibility that your dog had suffered some kind of electrocution. The most common reason for this would be chewing on an electrical cord. This can cause pulmonary edema (fluid in the lungs) and heart changes.

Will he let you have a good look inside his mouth? If so, take special care to look right at the back of his mouth. It's possible that he has some burns in his mouth that are causing his lack of appetite.

If he is still not eating then there is definitely something wrong. Is it something to do with his stomach? It would be hard to connect the fluid in his lungs and coughing with a stomach problem.

If this were my case, I'd likely be running a full blood profile on him now, even if one was done when you first brought him in. It could be that whatever caused the fluid in the lungs is now affecting the rest of his body. You may want to ask your vet if there is a possibility of some type of venomous incident such as a snake bite or insect sting. Snake bites are not common in my area, but I think it's conceivably possible that it could cause an odd anaphylactic reaction with pulmonary edema and then have lasting effects.

I wish I had more answers for you, but the best advice I can give is to keep pushing your vet to do more tests. If he's not eating and lethargic something is definitely wrong.

If you do get some answers I would love for you to post back with the findings. Hope things look up soon.

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:

Hi Dr. Marie, Thank you for your I input. Because he continued to decline and was having trouble even standing, and my vet just didn't seem to have any answers, I took him to the Emergency Veterinary Clinic where I live in Newtown, CT. They have an amazing facility and I had taken him there before with his pancreatitis. The very first thing they said was, "What do you mean she said he never had a history of a heart murmur? We diagnosed him with a grade 2 heart murmur last July, a year ago and we faxed that report to her then" and they showed me in the computer the faxed document. I am having a very difficult time with how my vet missed not only the previous record of his heart murmur, but how she missed hearing it in every exam in the past year (and she has seen him very often!) She immediately focused on his heart because of the cough, the lack of history of heart murmur and its "sudden onset" (she had last seen him 2 weeks prior and said there was no record of it then) and the fluid in his lungs. Then we did all those expensive heart tests which of course came out normal. Because its NOT his heart. Buster Brown has pneumonia, which is why his lungs were full of fluid, this was improved because she had given him a course of Clavamox, but not entirely cleared up. But the primary issue is that he is DIABETIC!!! He does drink and pee a lot more than my other cocker, which I had mentioned. She had said it didn't make sense to run blood tests because it was too early from when she did his last quants for his Lyme. But Newtown ran a full panel and found him severely hyperglygemic (>686), his white blood count was slightly elevated (17,670) and BUN (69). He also had an enlarged liver (But the Dr said that makes sense with diabetes) but all other organs look good and no evidence of heart disease or failure. He has been admitted to the hospital until Friday for IV antibiotics, fluids and insulin therapy. Then he will be on daily insulin injections for the rest of his life. I think the most important lesson from this terrible ordeal is that you can NOT always trust your vet just because they are the "expert". No disrespect intended as I know this is your profession, but some vets are not specialized in critical care and mostly do routine preventative care such as immunizations, flea/tick control, spay/neuter, etc. When you KNOW your animal is sick, when he looks at you begging for help, take him to a specialist. It may cost a little more, but it is worth it to save the life of your best friend....and a misdiagnosis can actually end up costing you MORE, while prolonging your pets suffering, as in our case. I am glad I took him to Newtown, and SO glad he will be ok!

Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

Oh, I am glad that you were able to get some answers. This sounds like a very complicated case.

I really hope things continue to look up!

Dr. marie.

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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.