About 3 months ago, my dog Jasper (8 yrs) fell off of the seat in my car when I had to brake to not hit a car that pulled out in front of me. He limped a little when I got him out of the car but seemed normal after that. However, after a few days he let out a cry when getting up from his bed. He still walked fine though.
Over the next few weeks he started wailing a little more frequently but was still energetic. I left him with a friend while traveling one weekend and he slipped over her slippery floors. After that, he would hardly move, so I took him to the vet. She said it was probably just arthritis, gave him NSAIDS and said she would see him back in two weeks if he still wasn't feeling better. He continued to get worse and she did xrays and again told us it was just arthritis. Before this, he was jumping, running and playing fine with no pain.
It got to the point where Jasper was crying out in the middle of the night and we were physically having to pick him up to get him to stand. Every time he got up he would wail a little bit. His back end also started collapsing whenever he would step awkwardly or try to turn or step up. We asked for a referral to a local orthopedic specialist when we no could no longer pretend it was just arthritis.
After doing all of the normal physical tests and not coming to a conclusion, the vet decided to do a hip tap. The synovial fluid came back murky, indicating an infection. This led the vet to diagnose Jasper with immune-mediated polyarthritis caused by either cancer, tick disease, bacterial infection or an autoimmune disease.
I couldn't afford to do all of the tests and opted for the tumor hunt (xrays and ultrasounds) and blood work as the vet said we would treat any infection/disease Jasper may have no matter what. The tumor hunt came back negative and the blood work showed all the signs of an infection. All of Jasper's major organs looked fine in the scans.
The vet was pretty convinced the cause of the polyarthritis was an autoimmune disease but wanted to treat Jasper with Doxycycline for a month for any infections. He said if Jasper improved within a week that it was likely tick disease or bacterial infection.
Great news! After a day, Jasper showed signs of improvement. At our week checkup, the vet was very pleased, believing it was in fact a tick disease. Unfortunately, the very day we took him to the vet, Jasper wailed a couple of times getting up. He's extremely anxious at the vet and we were thinking maybe he strained something.
It's been 7 days since the vet visit and he has cried out a number of times when rising since then. However, his attitude and energy is greatly improved. He is nowhere near the state he was when we took him to the orthopedist, but he seems to have plataeued in his improvement.
He is still taking the Doxycycline and we have another follow up visit scheduled for next week. The vet said if his condition worsened over this two weeks, we would start suppressing the immune system with prednisone to treat an autoimmune disease. I'm still worried that he may have a tick disease and that this approach may harm him.
I truly believe this vet is one of the best we have in our area. Everyone who sees him raves about him and he is the only one who helped our little guy. I've just been doing so much research over the last few weeks that I'm making myself nervous over all of the uncertainties.
Has anyone else had a similar experience?