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Hi. Out of the blue recently my 11 year old Shih Tzu/Bichon mix woke up coughing/vomiting up white foamy mucus looking stuff and had some diarrhea. He had a little touch of wheezing. He became listless and would not eat so I brought him to the vet who thought he just got into something icky. His heart sounded good. He did not have a fever. She gave him a shot of something so he would not vomit anymore and sent us on our way with some metronidazole.

Two days later he still was not getting any better and not eating. His wheezing was getting worse. He was breathing hard so I brought him back. This time he had a fever and he was , coughing up mucus still, sneezing, discharge from nose,so they gave him fluids and some antibiotics and oxygen. They said x-rays showed some nodules in his lungs and they were going to watch them to see if it was pneumonia or something worse. The next morning they called saying the fever was gone and that he seemed brighter and the wheezing was better so I was hopeful. I went to see him that afternoon and I thought his breathing was worse and he seemed miserable. They asked if he had gotten into anything and there was nothing that I knew of.

The next morning they called saying he had deteriorated overnight. They said his breathing was much worse and they had given him oxygen which didn't help at all. They had taken him out for potty and he had bloody diarrhea. An x-ray showed a webbing of fluid around his heart. They suspected something like cancer and said his prognosis was poor. I asked about nebulizer or oxygen bed/tent but they didn't have that and said I would have to go to a bigger hospital to get those and they didn't guarantee that would help. They said he was suffering and we had to make a decision to put him down.

My kids and I went to see him and his breathing was awful. his stomach intracted deeply with every breath. He continued to cough and cough up white stuff. we talked about giving it one more day to see if he improved, but ultimately decided to let him go as we thought it would be selfish to make him struggle with breathing like that. It was sad and terrible and the guilt killed us.

That was last week. Now my mind is full of what ifs. What if I had brought him to a bigger hospital where they had nebs and oxygen beds. Could it have saved him? Did he have pneumonia or kennel cough and may have gotten better? If so, then where does the bloody diarrhea come in? If its cancer then why did the fever go away with the antibiotics? My daughter volunteered at a kennel. Could she have brought home something to him? (he had all vaccines up to date), my son told me last night he had some nicotine patches in his garbage and although he didn't see the dog with any, the dog had gotten into his garbage as well as his girlfriend's purse. Could this have caused what was wrong? not knowing is killing me. I am sending this just to see if anything jumps out to you on what was going on with him before he died. Sorry this got so long. Thank you.

Answer
Hi Tami,

I am really sorry for what has happened to your pet. What I can tell you from the symptoms like coughing and wheezing is that your pet was not getting sufficient oxygen or it was in a state of hypoxea. The main reason for this could be  insufficient blood, reduced heart or lung functions   etc.The X rays  also states that there was lung and heart involvement and there was  bloody diarrhea.I think as experienced professionals,your vets are right in deciding to put him down as they found that there is no improvement even after providing support measures. Usually when supportive therapy is given, the patient will have to respond by improving its health status so that the support mechanisms can be withdrawn one by one and eventually it can support on its own,especially the vital functions.

The reason for this ailment is not clear to me.May be a postmortem examination and subsequent pathology lab findings would have helped to find out the actual reason.Now that everything is over , there is no point in stressing up your own mind. I would request you to feel good for your pet that it was not put into too much of suffering.And you as a responsible owner has already given the best possible things to him.

Wish you all the best

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Dr S Bindu Anand

Expertise

Large and Small Animal Medicine and Surgery, Farm Management,Preventive medicine http://binduanand.webs.com/

Experience

A Senior Veterinary Surgeon with more than 25 years’ experience in the field of Veterinary Science and Animal Husbandry. Mixed animal Practice that will utilize my skills in medicine and surgery, public health, client relations, and developing relationships within the community, such as humane society

Organizations
Veterinary Consultant with Department of Animal Resources,Ministry of Environment,State of Qatar (Present). Animal Husbandry Department, Government of Kerala, India. Oakland's Park, Gloucestershire, United Kingdom. Severnside Veterinary Center, Gloucestershire, United Kingdom. Saud Bahwan Group, Sultanate of Oman. Trivandrum Regional Co-operative Milk Producers Union,Kerala,India.

Education/Credentials
BVSc & AH (Bachelor of Veterinary Science and Animal Husbandry) 1990. College of Veterinary & Animal Sciences, Mannuthy, Thrissur, Kerala, India under Kerala Agricultural University. Certificates Of Accomplishments- Equine Nutrition- University of Edinburgh Principles of Public Health-University of California, Irvine. AIDS- Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia. General Environmental Health – EPHOC-Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine and the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Public Health. Food Protection-EPHOC-Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine and the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Public Health. Zoonoses:University of Minnesota-School of Public Health online. Food Safety:University of Minnesota-School of Public Health online. Occupational Safety and Health-EPHOC-Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine and the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Public Health. Rabies Educator Certified -Global Alliance for Rabies Control. Animal Handler & Vaccinator Educator Certified -Global Alliance for Rabies Control. Wildlife Conservation-United for Wildlife

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