Yesterday, Monday, Mar 19, 2012, at 10pm, I received a phone call from Clare who had cared for a Maltese, Female, spayed, 5 kg, 7 years old, in her apartment. The dog was Ok but started to pant non-stop for the past 48 hours. The owner was overseas and she had to get veterinary attention.
"The dog may be having a heart attack," she said to me. I drove down with Dr Daniel who had just completed his REA lecture on advertising at Toa Payoh Hub. We waited some time for Clare to come.
After the physical examination by Dr Daniel, I examined the dog and asked Dr Daniel: "What is the cause of this continuous panting? Is it a heart attack?" My assistant Min was helpful in suggesting that the dog's mouth be closed while his heart was being auscultated. An old dog like Min and I would know that.
"No," he said. I agreed with him. "So, what is the problem?"
"Pneumonia," he said. "Yes, the right lung sounds were harsh."
"What to do?" I asked.
ABC is the usual standard operating procedure taught by the vet professors.
The dog's tongue was cyanotic. "Check the rectal temperature again," I asked Min when he showed a 39.4 deg C in the thermometer. It was again 39.4 deg C. A dog that had panted non-stop for 48 hours should show a much higher temperature. Yet, she did not. She could eat. "Drank lots of water," Clare said. "But otherwise, passed normal stools and had appetite."
So, what causes the sudden-onset pneumonia?
"Kennel cough," Dr Daniel had elicited cough reflexes from the throat.
"It is possible," I said since this dog was boarded by the busy groomer who would have such viruses. "But the dog has regular vaccination," Clare said. But what type of vaccination? She did not know. Kennel cough vaccination is usually not done.
"It is possible that the virus has attacked the lungs," I said. "I need the blood test and the X-rays."
In the meantime, what to do?
"Oxygen therapy. That is for "A" of the ABC for respiratory distress lecture by the professors. Did the dog need oxygen now? I didn't agree.
"It would be better to reduce this incessant panting as the heart will fail if it continues," I said. Sedative diazepam rectal tube was given. Lasix was injected IM. A drip was given. Tolfedine and baytril with pred.
The dog's panting rate reduced by 50% after half an hour. The groomer went home quite relieved. At 8.20 am today, I checked the dog. She was panting much less. More observations needed to be done and the blood results should be known.