Need Help - Dog with Immune-Mediated Polyarthritis

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Need Help - Dog with Immune-Mediated Polyarthritis

This is a discussion on Need Help - Dog with Immune-Mediated Polyarthritis within the Dog Health forums, part of the Keeping and Caring for Dogs category; Hello! About 3 months ago, my dog Jasper (8 yrs) fell off of the seat in my car when I had to brake to not ...

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Old 08-17-2018, 01:57 PM
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Need Help - Dog with Immune-Mediated Polyarthritis

Hello!

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?
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Old 08-17-2018, 06:53 PM
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We have had a somewhat similar problem with ours. In April we were out of town, with our motorhome, Samantha was of course with us. She did not want to walk around, we were along the coast, and she loves walking on piers, watching boats and people. She would lay down in the middle of the street while we walked, and could not seem to climb the steps in or out of the motorhome. When we got home, she started crying out sometimes when she moved. Our Vet did X-Rays, suspecting a spinal problem in her cervical or neck area. Nothing. Next she could not pick up anything from the ground, and at that point our Vet sent us to a neurological center. There she got another exam, an MRI, and then a spinal tap. Though none of the tests were absolutely conclusive, they pointed in the direction of an auto-immune version of meningitis. The neurologist wanted to get her started on prednisone to knock down her immune system, and I mean huge doses of that steroid. She did begin to respond at least her pain lessened, and she was able to move a bit better, but now she was beginning to suffer the side effects of all those steroids. Her energy level was very low, she did not want to go on walks, which had always been a exciting part of her life. She was drinking enormous amounts of water, peeing almost non-stop, even for the first time in over eight years had some accidents in the house. Sometime in June the neurologist felt she had responded to the point that we could start weaning her off the steroids, which brings us to now, mid-August. She is still not completely off the steroids, but on an every other day, low dose. She is slowly building her strength back up, for instance this morning she and I walked .08 of a mile. I don't push her, but try to keep some motion and exercise in her routine. I am at this point pleased to say she is coming back, her beautiful personality has returned, she is becoming more and more playful and energetic. Since she will be ten on her next birthday, I realize she will never be a puppy again, and as we get her off the drugs, we can only hope she does not relapse. About all I can say, is we are hoping for the best. My advice, follow your Vets advice, in our case, even with life time auto-immune issues, she does seem to be doing fairly well. Per the neurologist and our vet, she can never have any immunizations ever again, so we have to be careful about who and what she is exposed to. Sorry this is so long, but ………… Yes this has been expensive, but we still have her, and hope to for years to come. As long as we can keep her out of pain, and she has a decent quality of life, we will continue to go the distance for her.

Last edited by Laco; 08-17-2018 at 06:55 PM.
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Old 08-17-2018, 07:03 PM
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I meant to add, that the neurologist that is treating our dog, did comment, that for some reason, she is seeing more and more auto-immune disease cases, in dogs she is treating. Certainly raises the question of why, though no one I have talked to has any answer.
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Old 08-17-2018, 07:07 PM
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I'm glad to hear your dog responded well to the prednisone and is doing better. I'm extremely worried about the side effects of the steroid. We would be doing the very large doses as well and I've heard such bad stories. I just hate seeing the little guy in pain.
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Old 08-17-2018, 07:15 PM
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The doses of prednisone they give is no joke, and I have to tell you, between the disease and the prednisone side effects, our poor Samantha really went through a rough patch. The big question is, once they are off the prednisone, will the disease remain in remission, or will she suffer a relapse. The Vets are non-committal, which I understand, as the neurologist told us she has treated dogs that have stayed in remission for years and years, and some that relapse, but can not accurately predict which may occur in any individual case.


I don't know where you are located, but we are fortunate to have a variety of specialists available, within a 50 mile radius of where we live.

Last edited by Laco; 08-17-2018 at 07:17 PM.
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