Saturday, May 9, 2015

1190. How your dog can live longer - The left head-tilting Schnauzer passes away at home

ed Yesterday, May 9, 2015, the 11-year-old Miniature Schnauzer that collapsed twice in the dog-sitter's boarding place passed away at home in the early hours of the morning. He first collapsed and became recumbent and trembling in his whole body around 14 days ago at the dog-sitter.

The daughter of the owner brought the dog to see me. I gave the IV drips and medication and the dog recovered and went back to the dog-sitter the next day.  "The prognosis is poor as he has very low rectal temperature," I warned the daughter.
"Can he survive till my parents come back from Japan?"
"Hard to say, but he started eating and was able to stand in the evening, after treatment."

The dog was OK for the next 4 days. On Sunday, the parents picked him up but he had collapsed again. The father brought him to see me on Monday. The blood test showed only slightly high blood urea but may not be significant. Euthanasia was not acceptable to the wife. After my injections, the dog was active for the next 2 days. He walked 15 minutes in the morning exercise. Then he became restless and paced. He started to breathe fast. These were not good signs.

I examined him again 2 days before his passing away. He was having a sore throat and back pain, probably from being ataxic and falling on his sides against the walls. I gave him a low dose of diazepam sedative IV so he could have rest for the night. I explained this action to the owners (husband, daughter and son-in-law).  The dog did not sleep soundly as the dosage was low. His breathing was fast. 2 days later, he passed away.

From the perspective of an outside vet who had not seen the case at the beginning, his opinion was that diazepam caused his rapid breathing and killed him. The dog's life was ending when he first c collapsed at the dog-sitter and suffered from hypothermia and whole body tremors. Surprisingly, he revived after treatment and went back to the dog-sitter the very next day. He was eating for the next 7 days and the dog-sitter actually took videos of him eating on the last day he was to go home. The owners were given the video clip and had shown to me. The dog collapsed again just on the day the owners came back from Japan to take him home. The husband brought him to me for treatment the following morning. I gave him the injections but he was not back to eating as before. He was pacing, restless and breathing fast. The prognosis was poor. The wife spent the last few days with her beloved dog who passed away at home. The husband texted to me the sad news.

The husband was appreciative and thanked me saying that his wife got to spend some days with her beloved dog at home, after returning from Japan.

This is a situation whereby the vet giving the sedative could be accused of killing the dog. Without sedation, the dog was restless and pacing the whole night. With sedation, he had some rest. His failing health was attributed to something affecting his brain. No MRI imaging of his brain was proposed as this would cost a few thousand dollars, I told the son-in-law.

This dog had not been able to recognise the owners for the last 6 months and was circling to the left. His mind was not normal. But he had good appetite and was much well cared for.

As to what caused his head tilt to the left, I was not the vet to examine him earlier and so I do not know the possible cause or advise a solution. 

However, Schnauzers have hairy ears and ear infections which may rupture the ear drum and cause infections in the middle ear and head tilt. Early detection of ear infections and sometimes surgery to open up the lateral ear canal or remove the vertical canal when the Schnauzer is young may prevent middle ear infections leading to head tilts.

The surgery is called lateral ear canal resection or vertical ear canal ablation.


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