Coughing and gagging, antibiotics, shots, vet visit and Willow

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Coughing and gagging, antibiotics, shots, vet visit and Willow

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Old 07-21-2010, 02:22 PM
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Coughing and gagging, antibiotics, shots, vet visit and Willow

Sort of a story with some questions attached for anyone that might have an answer.

So yesterday I had to take Willow to the vet for a problem where she is making a coughing/choking/gagging sound. Sort of like "hack, hack, hack, gag" over and over. She seems to only have it late at night or first thing in the morning and then it goes away all day long including while she sleeps. On Saturday and Sunday she would sit and cough (always ending with a gagging sound like she was going to throw-up, though she hasn't yet while doing that) for 10-20 minutes straight. Id get her up and walking around some and itd go away. It was a bit better on Monday, and better yet on Tuesday but since she was still making the sounds and motions I took her in. Today she did it for maybe 20-seconds -- two rounds of it.

So she saw the vet yesterday. The vet she saw was new to her since I was there as a walk-in and her normal vet was in an appointment. All of the DVM's and techs at my vets office are pretty great though and I trust them.

The vet took her temperature, looked at her gums, listened to her heart, lungs, chest, and throat, and did things of that nature. Asked about her energy level (which is fine), eating habits (she eats well and drinks plenty of water), poops (nice and firm). She felt around her throat area to see if she could stimulate something in the zone which will make them cough if they have kennel cough -- she didn't cough. She didn't really have any suggestions since Willow appeared 100% healthy and a-okay.

She said that it's possible she had a reaction to the bordatella/para-influenza vaccine that was done inter-nasal. She said inter-nasal is the best way but occasionally they'll pick up a tad of the virus from it. She said if it was kennel-cough though, it would have to be in the very-very early stages because her lungs sounded fine and she couldn't get her to cough by pressing on the area of the throat. Since she had her last shot-cycle a few weeks ago she didn't think it was this.

She said it could be hay-fever or sinus drip, but without some very expensive testing that wouldn't really do much other than tell us it was a sinus allergy there was no real way to tell.

She said she could have got a piece of one of the gazillion things she tears apart caught in her throat. She suggested picking up all of her stuffed animal toys or anything with fuzz on it, getting some kiddy locks for the cabinet doors that Willow has mischievously learned to open on her own, and very carefully monitoring her so she doesn't find paper-towels, paper-towel rollers, paper (she really finds tearing apart paper things to be an awesome time), people hair, or tear apart her potty pads. She said if Willow wasn't energetic or wasn't eating or drinking properly then she may want to anesthetize and do a scope to see if she caught something in her throat, but we're not at that point yet. She prescribed an 8-day course of a broad spectrum antibiotic called doxycycline in the case she got a tiny infection due to chewing the wrong thing.

Anyway, so Willow's due for her 3rd round of puppy shots this upcoming Sunday. My vet is a 45 minute drive from home so I take Willow to a local clinic to have her shots done. I'm really terrible with time concepts so when the vet asked me when Willow had her shots done (I was rushing out the door to the vet yesterday morning while telephoning my work to say I'd be a few hours late and forgot to grab her records) I answered something that made no sense and led the vet to think that she had them done a week and half ago; which isnt the case at all. Essentially what I should have said was "four weeks this upcoming Sunday," or "well I know the latest she can have them is this upcoming Sunday.

So, I called my vets office and per the vet she should finish the antibiotics. But, she shouldn't have the shots done until the day after the antibiotics are finished. I can't afford to and don't want to start her shot cycle over. I really need to finish her shots up. I can keep her happy enough for a week after this Sunday (as so the last vaccine kicks in) but she's nearly 16-weeks and she's getting to the point where she needs to expend energy that she can't being an in-door basset-hound living in a one-bedroom apartment. She really needs to be able to get out for walks and play. The stir-craziness is driving her nuts which is testing my nerves.

You all have ran the gambit of issues with your pets and I imagine one of you have knowledge on this topic.

First, her vet told me that I could have the vaccines done "the very next day" after she takes the last antibiotic pill. From what I've always understood from taking antibiotics myself, they continue to work for a few days after the course is finished. So, does "the very next day" sound correct? While I trust my vet, it sounded peculiar to me.

Second, since she needs to have the shots done by Sunday, can I cut the antibiotic dosage to 5 days (rather than eight) so she can have them finished on Sunday? Or, *sigh* are we optionless in regards to starting from square 1 with the shot series?

And lastly, has anyone else had any problems where they've noticed similar symptoms as what I described with their pooches?
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Old 07-21-2010, 04:16 PM
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The shot cycle can range anywhere for 2-4 weeks in between shots and the dog will be just fine. I can't see a vet making you do the entire series over again because you were a few days behind on her last series. Antibiotcs usually ahve a half life in the body of 24-48 hours depending on the antibiotic given. Zitrhomax is one of the few ones that have a prolonged effect (take for 2-3 days and have coverage for 7-10 days, the half life is 68 hours and up depending on how many consecutive days you have taken it before you stop).

If the vet is thinking your dog is having a reaction to the bordatella/para-influenza vaccine then why not simply not give it to her in the alst round of vaccines. It isn't something that is a core vaccine in many areas and is generally only needed if you plan on having your dog boarded or groomed or exposed to large amounts of unvcaccinated dogs. 9 times out of 10 the vaccine doesn't guarantee protection against the disease anyway since there are so many different variants of the kennel cough virus. I never give my dogs those and have never in 16 years had a problem and my dogs go everywhere with me.
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Old 07-21-2010, 04:57 PM
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Yeah. I don't think she thinks it's a reaction to the kennel cough viruses, more she thinks it's that she ate something that gave her a bit of irritation and then irritating that irritation maybe caused a bit of an infection or something along those lines.

When I telephoned I asked her tech about getting the last set of vaccines considering that she was on antibiotics since I wasn't sure if the antibiotics themselves would interfere with the vaccine building up immunity. Their answer was basically "Dr. so and so said that you had told her that your dog had just had her second series a week and a half ago" and I was like "no, I said the Sunday after the last Sunday after the last or something like that, I wasn't sure the exact date, but checking my calendar it'll be four weeks this Sunday."

Then they were like "Oh, hold on," and came back and said "well, the doctor said she should finish the antibiotics and you should try your best to finish them, she said that she needs to get the shot and you can go up to four weeks but shouldn't let it wait any longer than that."

But the two dates cross and that makes it all contradictory. =\

Interesting about the half-life, I didn't know that.
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Old 07-21-2010, 07:19 PM
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She said she could have got a piece of one of the gazillion things she tears apart caught in her throat. She suggested picking up all of her stuffed animal toys or anything with fuzz on it, getting some kiddy locks for the cabinet doors that Willow has mischievously learned to open on her own, and very carefully monitoring her so she doesn't find paper-towels, paper-towel rollers, paper (she really finds tearing apart paper things to be an awesome time), people hair, or tear apart her potty pads. She said if Willow wasn't energetic or wasn't eating or drinking properly then she may want to anesthetize and do a scope to see if she caught something in her throat, but we're not at that point yet. She prescribed an 8-day course of a broad spectrum antibiotic called doxycycline in the case she got a tiny infection due to chewing the wrong thing.
this is my thought honestly, it sounds like a piece of "som'thing" stuck in there...


as far as the antibiotics/vaccines go, I never really realized you can't do both....first time I've seen that mentioned, my pup was on antibiotics until he was about 4-5 months old and had his whole series of shots during that time, and not a single doctor said anything about it. I must say Iam confused as to why an antibiotic would be an issue for a virus. They don't affect virus. *shrug*
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Old 07-21-2010, 07:58 PM
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You know, I'm not actually positive they do. After our visit, my initial call to the vet was to see if it would be okay for her to get her shots while on antibiotics. I was primarily thinking that the antibodies the antibiotics would create to fight off infection might either 1) interfere and kill off the vaccine before it could immunize or 2) attack the vaccine, not weaken it (meaning the vaccine could still do its job) but be spread the antibiotic thin enough that it wouldn't be able to do its job of fighting the infection. Whether either would happen I wasn't sure. Also since it's not positive she even has an infection (they prescribed a broad-spectrum antibiotic as a preventative measure, but she didn't have a fever, and she couldn't hear anything by stethoscope or get her body to react in any way by poking and prodding at it) the antibiotics are possibly just kicking back doing no-harm no-foul.

I was sort of hoping the vet's office would say "no big deal get her shots done, keep her on the antibiotic." When they said she shouldn't get shots at the same time as the antibiotic I thought "well, I guess it wasn't such an odd question after all" but I was so left in confusion by how I could finish her antibiotics and get the vaccines while not having them overlap that I sat on it all of yesterday and then decided to post here this morning.

Yeah, Crio it sounds to me like something caught in there too. I've sort of caved (I know, I know...badddddd) and started letting her sleep next to me at night – she’s warm and snuggly and good about it. I'm thinking maybe my fluffy bed is making it so she puts a bit of pressure on what ever is caught causing her to cough in the morning, clearing up once she's up and going.

Gross as it may be, I sort of have a sneaking suspicion that it's a people hair-ball too (like cats get, and the sounds and motions are very cat yaking up a hair-ball like in nature). The other day I noticed some people hair in her stools (I'm kind of ummm...saying anal about it is too much a pun, so I'll say I check her stools every time I pick them up...as I know you appreciate [this is my attempt at not looking ultra-strange for checking her poops] you can tell a lot about how your pups doing by taking the time to look at their poops and ensure everything appears normal). She had also got into the bathroom trash where I toss the hair from my brush when I clean it. I told the vet this and she sort of shrugged it off as a “could be that sure.”

Well, as usual, I'm rambling *sigh*...anyway, thankfully when I was there, when the vet said "we're not at that point yet" (in talking about putting her under and trying to scope and remove whatever it is if it’s something caught) she had also said that a lot of times caught objects will clear on their own. She said the thing to watch for is if she starts to lose appetite, not drink or become malaise; none of which she's come close to doing.

Last edited by MorningGlory; 07-21-2010 at 08:06 PM.
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Old 07-21-2010, 09:13 PM
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Hrmmm...I'm thinking of maybe having a titer panel ran and then from there I can figure out what to do. Dogshrink you know a lot of dog related medical info, do you know if a titer is accurate after round 2 of 3 in a puppy series?
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Old 07-22-2010, 01:36 AM
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Originally Posted by MorningGlory View Post
Hrmmm...I'm thinking of maybe having a titer panel ran and then from there I can figure out what to do. Dogshrink you know a lot of dog related medical info, do you know if a titer is accurate after round 2 of 3 in a puppy series?

I think that doing a titer at that stage of a vaccine series is going to produce inaccurate results as the dog hasn't developed it's own immunity to the vaccine yet and the vaccine is still so fresh in the system. Almost like a false positive. I don't think you'd get a true reading.

The thing to understand about vaccines is that in pups they have natural immunity from their mothers for about 2-6 weeks (depending on who you ask... still a huge subject of debate) Hence starting puppy series at 4-6 weeks when you start to wean and remove mother's natural antibodies. when they are given an immunization it takes about 2-3 weeks for the pups own system to react and build natural defenses to that disease (hence the 2-4 weeks between shots protocol depending on state law etc.

Different breeds are going to develop immunity on a different time frame. It's unrealistic to say a dane will develop immunity to a vaccine a lot faster than a chihuahua would. It all depends on how long it takes that particular dog's system to process/absorb the information and react to it.

Personally I don't think there is ANY problem with being a week late with a dog's last series of shots. All it, in reality takes, is ONE esposure to a disease for someone/something to develop antibodies to it so repeated immunizations are redundant and killing our dogs IMO (I actually wrote an article on it if you care I can post it). There have been studies done that ahve tracked individual puppies who have only ever had their puppy shots and they have had titered levels of valid active immunity upwards of 7-10 years later. How sick is that. Don't get me started on outrageous vaccine protocols... THAT could be a bad debate.

Onto the coughng... I've been thinking of this because it's been bothering me... something you should have your vet consider is lung worm. My dane had this and it was detected thru a fecal float exam. They were cheking for the regular parasites and found lungworm... nice right. Well good thing is it's treatable with a 3 day course of panacure (fenbendiazole), butit can take repeated doses if it's not discovered early enough. Now any time one of my dogs go on a coughing jag for mroe than a day or three, it's off to test poo. They can pick this up practically anywhere. travels in local waterways from diary farms. Did ya go swimming lately or play in the creek? Run thru a pasture? Walka long the side of a road that boarders a pasture? I always rule this out first when it comes to caughing.

If no lungworm the next thing I consider is...

... a hair sliver? Ever get one of those? You're walking thru yur house barefoot, next thing yo know you feel a splinter like thing in your foot, you stop to dig it out and it turns out to be a dog hair. Ask a groomer about this.. they're wicked. The hair is barbed at the end a little so it gets stuck in our pores. SO if your dog is a licker or had been licking itself previous to this episode. it's worth considering. Usually a few bits of bread can usually clear an object stuck in the throat.

If still coughing then I think heart issues. Coughing is also a symptom of degenerative cardio myopathy (sp?) DCM. This is what killed my Dane Dauber (he's the dog in my avitar). It's like a doggie heart attack and the symptoms can often be mistaken as simple signs of aging when it happens in older dogs, but it is also a congenital defect and can be present in pups too (or other various cardio issues that can be in pups) they don't produce really audible differences unless the vet is specifically looking for it. Dauber never produced off heart rythems and he had his last appt. 6 months before he died).

As you can tell we don't take coughing lightly in our house. It is a very misunderstood symptom that is too easily written off by vets and they aren't usually willing to consider looking deeper until it's too late. God forbid we challenge their intelligence. It can be an early stage symptom that is present for a short time then goes dormant until the disease progresses then reappears when the disease is full blown. Don't underestimate the relivance of the cough.

Sorry... rant over...

Last edited by Dog Shrink; 07-22-2010 at 01:38 AM.
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Old 07-22-2010, 02:38 AM
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I'll give her a few days and if it's not cleared up then I'll talk to the vet about doing a fecal for lung worm.

Also, yep, she is definitely a licker so a hair splinter's a possibility. I hadn't heard of that before, but if they're caused by licking it's a definite possibility.

The coughing thankfully is only at night or first thing in the morning, if it were all day long I'd have taken her into the vet on Saturday or maybe Monday, I wouldn't have waited until Tuesday at least. The only way I really caught it was that she woke me up at night hacking and ending each hacking cycle with a gag (think of that sound cats do before they get up the hair-ball...the self-inflicted Heimlich maneuver that animals do) that right then I started watching her. I actually was just expecting her to cough up something like a hair-ball since the sound is so mimicking and I used to have a long haired cat that'd cough them up. She's never spat anything up though and when she just did it for a minute Tuesday morning I decided I better call work saying I'd be late and get in into the vet pronto.

Unfortunately by the time we got there (or for that matter within five minutes after she started) she wasn't making the sound anymore and the vet couldn't get her to mimic it. The only time I've heard her do it that wasn't late at night or first thing in the AM was Monday after I gave her an eigth of an apple to munch on and then it was pretty much over within 10 seconds.
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Old 11-10-2010, 08:49 PM
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Hi Morning Glory!

Our dog is having the same issue, and has been having it since the end of July. She's been to the vet twice. First time she was given antibiotics and it didn't help at all. Went back a second time and she was given a broad range antibiotic. Guess what? That didn't help at all either. The doc suspects that it might be a collapsing trachea, but x rays came back negative for that. We're at our wits' end, and just about resigned that we're just going to have to live with this hacking cough.

Just fyi: our puppy is a miniature poodle named DeeDee, and she's 25 weeks old.

Any help or advice anyone can throw out there would be *greatly* appreciated! Thanks!
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