Pet (Q) & (A) .. By Dr. Dunn (Responding To A Plea For Help)

Guideline For Pet Owners In Similar Situations

There is a page in about GETTING A DIAGNOSIS that gives some good guidelines for pet owners in similar situations to one of our readers, as listed below. The URL of the page is and I highly recommend the reading! // HART

QUESTION from D. Rawlusyk

I have a 2 1/2 year old female open cocker spaniel. She has been healthy until late May when she started to have diarrhea – not more bowel movements, just sfot and then liquid. I had her to the vet and she was put on metronidazole, prednisone, amoxil and baytril and Hills i/d diet. She had fluid bloating in her abdomen which disappeared and then it reappeared a couple of weeks later and it won’t go away – she is wasting away, she was taken off metronidazole when she started to have seizures, they stopped and now they have started again (also has an ear infection). Tried Hills i/d diet and two types of Medi-Cal to no avail. Went to specialist, they couldn’t find out anything, except what looks like fibers in her abdomen in the ultrasound. Help!!

Read Dr. Dunn’s Reply!

I’m sorry to hear about your dog’s multiple troubles. The seizures might be due to blood chemistry imbalances secondary to all the dehydration, fluid loss, and maldigestion difficulties. Hopefully there is no organic brain issue… but whenever a patient has multisystem pathology going on, we have to rule systemic diseases.

Just a few potential causes of systemic diseases in young (previously healthy) dogs that might be at the root of the troubles include malignant lymphoma or other forms of leukemia. Leukemic cells can preferentially invade the intestinal tract causing such dysfunction as diarrhea, maldigestion, weight loss, etc. Other diseases that could be involved are systemic fungal infections such as blastomycosis, histoplasmosis and also pseudomonas bacterial enteritis. Pancreatic insufficiency (called “exocrine pancreatic insufficiency”) is discussed in at

An often overlooked problem is giardia infection. Giardia can be chronic in some patients, especially if they have continual access to the waterborne parasite such as in streams, ponds, etc. Giardia often require veterinary pathology laboratory methods to be established as a cause (or ruled out). Do not overlook the possibility of giardia organisms just because a single treatment protocol “didn’t work”.

Rarely lymphangectasia, a cellular infiltration of the lymphatic drainage ducts of the intestinal tract can be overlooked in some patients.

The bottom line is that you do not have a diagnosis! You and your veterinarian have to be determined to do whatever is needed to get a diagnosis! Exploratory surgery to view and take biopsies of the gastrointestinal tract may be the only way to establish a diagnosis; blood chemistry re-evaluation, a CBC, fecal culture, fecal evaluation for digestive enzymes, a TLI blood test for pancreatic function, and trying a different food to rule out food allergy (Hills ID is not considered a hypoallergenic diet but is easily digested in some dogs) by using such diets as Hills ZD Ultra can be helpful.

I could go on but the diagnosis is waiting to be made. Get busy on more diagnostic workup to find the cause and to move away from the “it could be…” status.

Let me know what you and your veterinarian find and how your dog is doing.

Best Wishes,
T J Dunn, DVM
Wisconsin, USA


To: D. Rawlusyk
From: HART (

I hope you keep us informed on your situation … you can just post all your responses in the comment field below.


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