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Swollen foot and death in a dog.

Species: Dog
Breed: mongrel
Age: 2-5 years
I am seeking for an answer what could be the reason my dog can hardly breathe and his right foot swollen and turned purple. I brought him to the hospital but within 24 hours he died. When I brought him my problem was that he was pale, aside from his swollen foot and eye (both right side) caused by scratching as it looked like itchy. He also pooped with blood but it stopped after he was given gentamycin antibiotic by another vet. What I wondered is when I brought him to the hospital and he was given a few medications that was the time he suffered from labored breathing and his whole leg swollen and purple. I have uploaded the whole story and pictures on my personal blog http://dogfashionandmeds.blogspot.com/2010/11/november-is-worst-month-of-this-year.html. I am really thankful for the advise you can give me. I have 11 other dogs (they were 13 before but I lost two just in just two weeks!). If okay with you, I will also post your advice on my blog so it can help other dog lovers, and I will put a link going to this website of yours so they can contact you in case they have questions as well. Thanks very much!


Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

Oh, I am so sorry to hear about your ordeal with Sugar and that he did not survive.

I did take some time to read your blog. It sounds like Sugar had excellent vet care.

You mentioned on your blog that Sugar was diagnosed with Ehrlichiosis. This is likely that cause of all of his symptoms.

Ehrlichiosis is spread by ticks. Sometimes a tick can be present on a dog and not be found.

Here is a link to some good information on ehrlichiosis.

One of the most significant things about ehrlichiosis is that it causes really low platelet numbers. When platelets are low it will cause the body to bleed very easily. In your blog you mentioned several signs of bleeding:

-Blood in stool
-bruising on the foot and leg
-the black stool (indicates bleeding in the stomach)
-pale gums
-the tiny bruise marks on the abdomen

I can think of two possible reasons for the serious problem with the foot. The most likely is that Sugar had an infection in that foot possibly as a result of a small wound. But, because he was really low on platelets he could not heal the wound properly. Where a normal dog would have a small bruise, he just kept on bruising and swelling.

The second possibility is if he had something called "vasculitis". Some dogs in the end stages of ehrlichiosis can get a serious problem where the immune system causes tiny molecules to form that can block blood vessels. This causes extreme swelling and purple discoloration.

I am so sorry for all that you went through. From what I read on your blog it sounds like all of the right things were done in his treatment, but sometimes we just don't win against serious disease.

You are definitely welcome to post my reply to your blog. Please rest assured that you did all you could. It sounds like Sugar was a really important part of your family and will be sorely missed.

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.