Doggy Depression?
January 21, 2004 9:53 AM   Subscribe

I'd like some help with my dog please. [more inside ...]

I have an eight and a half year old basset hound, she has mostly enjoyed good health and right now appears to be physically strong and sturdy. She is not overweight, which is a major concern for the breed.

About one year ago she contracted a urinary tract infection. The vet prescribed antibiotics which cleared it up, only to return a few months later. New antibiotic regimen, cleared up again. Repeat two more times. So in the last year, 4 UTI's treated with 4 different antibiotics.

Last week she was panting and short of breath, I took her in and she had a high temperature. 103, dogs average about 101. She has always been a voracious and enthusiastic eater of any and all food. At the same time as the fever she lost her enthusiasm to eat dog food, now she will only eat if I make her some meat.

There have also been some behavioral changes. She is a bit more lethargic and mopey, but will go for walks if I take her. She doesn't play with the cat quite as much as before, but doesn't ignore him either. I do have a new girlfriend who spends the night frequently, so that could be contributing to some of the changes.

So to sum up, what I have is a dog with some clear, but not yet significant actual physical maladies which could possibly be explained away by advancing age. And I have some behavioral changes that could possibly be explained by changed stimuli. But both simultaneously has me very, very anxious, especially the off-her-food part.

She is at the vet right now getting X-rays.
Any advice, thoughts, experience on what could be the problem?
Could it be doggy depression?
posted by vito90 to Pets & Animals (13 answers total)
Is she spayed? Sometimes spayed females have loose urinary sphincters - if the sphincter is a bit flabby, you get urine leakage and occasionally an increased likelihood of infections. The fact that she's a Bassett and built low makes infections more likely as well, because her vulva is more likely to touch the ground and pick up bacteria that way. I'd discuss this possibility with your vet, medications like phenylpropanoloamine or diethylstilbestrol can fix this problem very easily. If she's not spayed, she could have chronic vaginitis which can also lead to urinary tract infections (if she's not spayed, there's a host of other problems she could have as well). The problem with all those antibiotics is that they kill off the good as well as the bad bacteria, and she could have a yeast infection (feeding yogurt is a good idea), but that probably wouldn't be the sole cause of the symptoms you're seeing. Did you ever have a sterile urine collection done with a culture and sensitivity run on it? This is the only sure way to know that the antibiotic you're using will actually kill the bacteria she has.

Have you had bloodwork done? Chronic urinary infections can lead to kidney infections, which can cause some of the symptoms you're seeing.

Dogs do get depressed, but it's more likely to be depression related to a physical problem (like feeling icky) rather than emotional depression. At very least I'd rule out physical issues first. The x-rays are a good idea, I'd also get a blood panel done which includes thyroid (and a full thyroid panel, T3, T4, free T3, free T4), liver and kidney levels. I might also get an ECG done if the x-rays and bloodwork don't indicate anything, panting can sometimes be a sign of heart problems. Hope she's okay, I love Bassetts, please let us know.
posted by biscotti at 10:29 AM on January 21, 2004

Thank you biscotti. She is spayed, it was done 8 years ago right when she was old enough to do it. She never had a UTI until the first one a year ago. Also, I forgot to mention, for the entire last year of chronic UTI's she has had a high ph urine, for which I was advised to give her Vitamin C.

The diagnosis for each of the 4 UTI's came after a urine sample and centrifuging for crystals (which were found in all 4 cases).

After the fever, bloodwork was done and she was found to be slightly anemic (but not alarmingly so, according to the vet) with a elevated white blood cell count (to be expected with all the UTI's).

Thank you for your comments, as they reminded me of all those things that had been done that I forgot to mention in my original comment.
posted by vito90 at 10:36 AM on January 21, 2004

I don't know this person at all, but I've read good things about a vet named Jackie Obando. I think she's up your way, at Mercer Island Vet Clinic. She's a wholistic vet who understands chiropractics, homeopathy, and maybe traditional chinese medicine.

I couldn't possibly begin to touch biscotti's excellent answer, but if all else fails, you might want to go the wholistic route.
posted by pomegranate at 11:09 AM on January 21, 2004

I do have a new girlfriend who spends the night frequently, so that could be contributing to some of the changes.

Probably a longshot, but does your new GF wear any perfume or such the dog might be allergic to? I suppose an allergic reaction could exacerbate an existing condition, and animals have powerful noses.

Like I said, a long shot -- but my aunt has a dog who has severe coughing spells that require occasional medication, and this dog never gets them when she is in my house (which is free of most odors due to my own allergies to cigarette smoke, perfumes, etc.) My aunt overdoes it on the perfume heavily, and smokes as well.
posted by Shane at 11:24 AM on January 21, 2004

Oh, and: Compliments to biscotti. Are you a vet, or a well-informed enthusiast? Great answer.
posted by Shane at 11:27 AM on January 21, 2004

I just heard from the vet :( the x-rays showed a mass (likely a tumor) right next to her spleen. They are doing an ultrasound to confirm this and if thats what it is they will do surgery right away to remove it :(

thanks for all your answers
posted by vito90 at 12:03 PM on January 21, 2004

Best of luck to your puppy-dog. [fingers crossed]
posted by Asparagirl at 12:14 PM on January 21, 2004

Are you a vet, or a well-informed enthusiast? Great answer.

Ta much. :) I used to be an animal health technician, and I'm still an enthusiast.

vito90 - here's hoping she's okay. Let us know.
posted by biscotti at 12:22 PM on January 21, 2004

Good luck with your doggie, vito! (*Prays to Anubis, the jackal-headed god...*)
posted by Lynsey at 2:34 PM on January 21, 2004

The vet just called and said the ultrasound showed a grossly enlarged spleen and liver, and a very slightly enlarged lymph node. She now thinks it's lymphoma which is treated with chemo and not surgery. Good news, perhaps. Apparently chemo does not attack a doggy in the same way it attacks humans. What a day. All your thoughts are most appreciated, and if you have any experiences with chemo on your dog please feel free to pass them on...
posted by vito90 at 5:13 PM on January 21, 2004

Good luck, V. Your dog is lucky to have you.

Why do so many dogs and cats end up with liver problems or tumors in that area? (Although I realize we're probably talking lymphoma in this case.)

When vito90 has an update for us, this thread will probably be long gone off the page. Is it acceptable for him to post a new thread to update us? (IMO, this should be okay in the slightly more relaxed atmosphere of AskMe, as long as reposting threads is not abused.)
posted by Shane at 6:49 AM on January 22, 2004

Thanks Shane, that's really nice of you. Here is one update, I made an appointment for this coming Tuesday with a veterinary oncologist. She is local to my house and comes very highly regarded. Not only did she show up in several Internet searches but my regular vet and one other acquaintance who went through with this also recommended her. This is a very scary thing, my girl being as young as she is and enjoying good health up until now. What I have been reading gives me hope that her life can be extended in a good-quality fashion, which if nothing else will help me prepare for an eventuality that I am not prepared for now.
posted by vito90 at 9:58 AM on January 22, 2004

Hang in there, vito90. You're right that chemo in dogs is almost always for the purpose of extending quality life, rather than curing the cancer (this is one part of why it's less stressful for them, because the dosages are lower), but quite a few dogs live for a year or more with treated lymphoma. Quality is more important than quantity. One suggestion I have for you is what I did when my cat was dying of kidney failure (he lived for two years after a prognosis of less than two months) - I kept a journal, I took lots of pictures and I made every day count. Even if you're not a journal-keeping kind of person, it can really help to both have a place you can try to work out how you're feeling (when you might not feel comfortable talking about it with people), and something to go back to years later, which will remind you of little things about your dog. I'm sorry this has happened, Shane's right, your dog is lucky to have you.
posted by biscotti at 12:33 PM on January 22, 2004

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