Tuesday, July 2, 2013

The old Jack Russell coughs "to get attention"

"Dogs seldom if ever coughs to get human attention," I said to the gentleman whose 9-year-old female Jack Russell has been coughing for the last 3-4 months.

"She coughs when awake but not when she's sleeping," he said.  
"Could she be suffering from kennel cough?" he speculated.
"Unlikely as she had not been to boarding," I said. "Let me check the heart and lungs."
I used the stethoscope on the heart and lung areas. There were heart murmurs but the most notable sounds were wet swishing sounds called rales inside the lungs.
"Is she breathless after exercise?" I prescribed heart disease medications.
"Yes. How's the blood test results"

SGOT/AST  96  (<81 p="">Urea 4.0 (4.2-6.3)
Creatinine 67 (89-177)
Platelets 91  (200-500)

"It is unusual to get platelets so low at 91," I said. Also, SGOT has increased to 96, indicating some liver inflammation or damage. "Did you feed Chinese drugs for the cough?"

"I fed the Chinese herbal cough medicine for one week," he said.
"Did it stop the coughing?"
"No," he said. I advised him to stop this Chinese medicine.

I phoned at 7 pm to follow up.
"Is the dog still coughing?"
"Yes," he said. "But the cough is softer".
"Is she coughing a lot?"
"Once in a while."

The dog is much happier and so is the owner.

This case illustrates the danger of giving unknown Chinese herbal cough mixtures to dogs as the platelets have had dropped drastically due to toxaemia. Seldom do I get to see such low platelet count yet normal red and white blood cells in a coughing dog as most owners do not want blood test. But this dog was coughing 3-4 months and the blood test provides evidence of good health. Except for the low platelet count which would be lead to serious internal bleeding if the count drops much further as in people with dengue haemorrhagic shock syndrome which is fatal. 

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