I would greatly appreciate hearing about your ideas and experiences. I would also appreciate some tips on what tests and treatments I should make sure the veterinarian considers.
About a month ago, my three year old border collie (Osa) randomly had a fit of "gulping" before bed. Her mouth was closed, but she would jut her head forward and we could hear the "gulping". We weren't sure if she was swallowing something down or regurgitating something up. We also wondered if it could have been a weird hiccup as she has gotten the hiccups occasionally since she was a puppy (seemingly associated with nervousness or excitement). The episode would last less than a minute and she would promptly return to whatever she was doing (probably throwing toys at me amidst some pre-snooz zoomies). Over the next few days, this happened a couple more times (at least only a couple while I was there to witness it). She is a very expressive dog and didn't seem phased by it at all so, I wasn't very worried.
About a week later, I got a cat (Gitche Gumme). Now, we already had a cat in the household (my roommate's), but this was MY cat. So, my dog was suddenly sharing a lot of her space with this cat. They get along just fine. Sometimes the desire to play is lost in translation between them, but they coexist peacefully and possibly even with mild affection. The cat prowls and sleeps elsewhere in the house at night, so the dog is still the sleepy time cuddle queen. Based on all of this, I don't think the cat's moving in has been particularly stressful for the dog and potentially exacerbating the observed symptoms.
Over the next couple weeks, the dog was "hacking" a bit more than usual. We live on the coast of Lake Michigan in the northwestern region of Michigan's lower peninsula and she frequently swims. She will "hack" after a rogue wave splashes down her throat, but other than that is not a common occurrence. The "hacking" still didn't seem to phase her, so I tried not to worry too much. It was not worsened by pressure on the throat or exercise (which commonly occurs with kennel cough), it was just a random thing I was seeing her do with increasing frequency.
Late Wednesday evening, she started to act differently before and after "hacking". Now, she would sit down and start licking her chops while staring at me before she would "hack". When the "hacking" began, she would bow at me/grovel and smile. She typically smiles when excited to see or meet someone or when she knows she has been naughty, so this was confusing. She would lick her chops a bit afterwards as well. If I was sitting or lying down, she would sometimes bury her head in my lap or side. She isn't a clingy dog but was glued to my side the rest of the evening. The episodes weren't lasting longer, but they were happening every hour rather than once or twice a day. The "hacking" seems to be more of a dry heave/gag than a cough and doesn't appear to be impacting or related to her breathing (thank goodness). She is also still eating, drinking, peeing, pooping, and playing as usual though, so I didn't think it was time for an emergency call to the vet. I tried to get her in to see the vet the next day, but they couldn't see us until this upcoming Monday. I also tried the other local vet and they said the same. I fed her her usual meal that morning, but decided to fast her for at least the next 24 hours. About 12 hours after her last meal, the "hacking" seemed to have stopped. Still no hacking after the 24 hour marker either. At about 30 hours since her last meal, I fed her a half cup of her kibble (Wellness Core), a little bit at a time. About 15 minutes later, the "hacking" began again. I have fed her her usual meals since then. In addition to Wellness Core, I usually sprinkle some "Digg it Firm Up dehydrated pumpkin and cranberry" supplement, mix in some filtered water, and top it off with a couple blueberries and a small spoonful of plain greek yogurt. Since the fast, I have only given her the dry kibble and then separately, a small spoon of plain greek yogurt.
Her nose isn't excessively wet or dry. Her poop is normal. Her energy is normal. Nothing has changed in her diet other than that we started regularly giving her Greenie Dental Chews in July, but she now hasn't had one in two weeks. I was concerned that was the cause but cutting them out had no obvious effect on her symptoms. I also suspect that she has been receiving more table scraps than I would prefer '_'. She has never had any health issues before. She has all her vaccinations and takes NexGuard and HeartGuard during the advised times of year. She does have a fatty lipoma on her upper chest. We first noticed it in May and she had a biopsy that showed it was currently harmless. She had kennel cough once before and the symptoms were very different, but I know the strains can also vary greatly. She hasn't been to a public park or anywhere where she came in contact with unfamiliar dogs since July. She has been exercising less frequently as of late for a variety of my personal reasons, but she still gets a lot of playtime and is her usually silly, sweet self.
It is now Saturday night and our vet appointment is Monday at 11 am. Her symptoms don't seem to be any worse or better. This will be our first time with a new veterinarian this Monday and I'm nervous. The vet she has seen since she was a puppy is no longer in the area and we are so sad! I am probably being overly protective, but I'm finding myself worried that someone that doesn't know her will just call it kennel cough and fail to really investigate the cause. In addition to kennel cough and dog flu, I have wondered about acid reflux, a food or environmental allergy, a scratch or injury to the throat or soft palate, a foreign object, and attention seeking. I work at a humane society and have also worried that I could have brought something home on my clothes. I did work directly with a couple dogs that had kennel cough symptoms as well as cats with colds that were all medically treated accordingly, but I made sure to throw my clothes in the washer and shower before greeting my critters on those days.
I would greatly appreciate hearing about your ideas and experiences. I would also appreciate some tips on what to make sure the veterinarian does, as in possible tests and treatments. I want to make sure my baby gets everything she needs! Thank you for your time and consideration <3