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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hi all. First, I’m new here. I have come seeking information about a very strange and alarming situation with my girlfriend’s dog. Vet said he’s never seen anything so extreme so I’m seeking advice from others to see what could have caused this situation. There’s a lot of details here so thanks in advance to anyone taking the time to read and respond (TL;DR at bottom). I’m very scared and concerned, as I’ve never seen anything like this before.

Background information:

Breed: Golden Retriever
Age: 2.5 years
Gender: Male
Weight: ~25 kg (55 lbs)
Region: Guangdong, China.
Weather: Tropical climate - highs this past month of 85-92°F / 30-33°C. Home is air conditioned.
Medical History: Up to date on all meds. No previous serious injuries, pre-existing conditions, or trauma. Minor abnormal gait.

History:

I live in China and my girlfriend has had her Golden Retriever since his birth. His name is Sergi. She takes care of him better than a lot of people I’ve seen in the U.S. She takes him on walks at least twice a day, personally cooks all his meals with natural ingredients, keeps him up to date on all his meds, etc. We’ve been together almost a year and the dog has been over to my home many times. I even took care of him for a week while my girlfriend was away. My girlfriend and her beloved dog moved in with me about 3 months ago, as she got a new job closer to me. She is now able to take him into work with her at the office with a very supportive environment. And he gets a good 15 min jog to and from work each day. Though, due to her decreased amount of free time she hasn’t been able to cook all of his meals and has been feeding him some Chinese packaged dry dog food (which is something that concerns me - we plan to start importing food but haven’t found a good source yet). No matter, I honestly think this guy has close to the best life any dog could wish for. But things just took a dark turn and I am struggling to figure out what happened.

Situation:

My girlfriend and I went on a small weekend trip last a week ago. We left Sergi at a kennel which we personally inspected prior (but he has never stayed there before). We had a friend pick him up before we came back because we arrived too late. When we picked him up from our friend he seemed fairly normal. But the next few days we noticed he was starting to get a bit sluggish and was having some trouble climbing up stairs, onto the bed, etc. It seemed his left leg in particular was causing him trouble. A day or two after, he vomited twice and started producing very liquid feces (no blood in either, though). Then his mood started to degrade and was acting very tired all the time. We did some research and thought that maybe due to the increase in exercise recently we may have inadvertently aggravated some form of hip dysplasia.

So, we decided to take him in for x-rays. We looked them over with the vet and saw nothing out of the ordinary. The troublesome side showed a very slight misalignment in the joint, but the vet said it really doesn’t look like dysplasia. So, we paid the bill and as we were leaving a woman with a small female Terrier mix came in. Sergi had a sniff of the owner and her dog then proceeded to have a complete meltdown. He started squealing, yipping, crawling on the ground, running around the room, defecating, urinating, drooling, and more or less lost all control of his body. It took a good 15 minutes to calm him down. I’ve never seen an animal react that way before. I’ve unfortunately witnessed a dog become aware of his impending euthanasia and this still seemed a bit extreme in comparison. Gave me one of the biggest scares in recent memory. We asked the vet to help, but he told us to leave (it’s China - “vet” doesn’t mean what it means in the West). So, we gave the vet a piece of our mind, wiped poor Sergi down and took him home. We talked to the owner of the other dog and asked if she had any illnesses. She said no, just that her dog was in heat.

Anyway, Sergi took a very long nap after we got home. Then he woke up and started howling, yipping, squealing, and crawling again. He didn’t seem to have much control of his body still. He starting drifting in and out of sleep only to wake up again screaming. He was obviously in severe distress, but we could not figure out why. He could barely walk, acting drunk, and falling down only after a few steps. We tried to feed him some boiled chicken breast, which he gladly ate (which was promising). We also went back to the kennel he stayed at and reviewed the recording from his stay there. We didn’t see any obvious signs of trauma or bodily harm that may have occurred.

We did a bunch of research and finally found a reputable vet. When we arrived, Sergi went berserk again but didn’t defecate or urinate. We had to sedate him to start doing any kind of tests. But the doc only gave him a third of the normal dosage for his size and he was out like a light within 30 seconds. His reaction to the sedative and his arrival to the vet were both very surprising to the doctor. He said he’s never seen a dog behave that extremely before. We did the full suite of tests: blood, urine, stool, stomach, liver, etc. The doc said he could not find a single thing wrong with Sergi other than a very high fever (between 41-42°C / 105-107°F). He said it seems like Sergi experienced something very traumatic and scared him nearly to death. He didn’t know what else to do except take him hope, keep him cool and hydrated, and wait to see if his condition improves. Sergi was twitching and/or shivering a lot some time after the sedative was injected. At times it almost looked like he was convulsing. The doc said that’s normal with the sedative, but it still worried me nonetheless.

The poor guy slept all night, shivering/convulsing, and woke up once to cry again. We kept him hydrated by dripping water in his mouth. Late this morning he finally regained consciousness and starting trying to walk but still doesn’t have much motor function.

I’m so scared for him (and my girlfriend as the dog is her life). Lack of access to a truly trustworthy vet and quality food are two of my biggest concerns prior to this event. I feel helpless and cannot figure out for the life of me what would cause a perfectly normal dog like that to completely breakdown so severely. My current theory is he got sick from the kennel, got a fever, got delirious, smelled a dog in heat, got excited, twitched something in his body, felt a sudden shock of severe pain, then got scared ****less (literally) - possibly thought he was going to die. And now he’s just taking time to come down from his fever and recover from a traumatic psychological episode. But I just can’t see how it would be this extreme.

Have any of you seen/heard anything like this before? Any ideas as to what could have caused this?

I will post updates if anything changes. I also have some videos of him howling and trying to move. If you think they would be useful let me know and I can upload and link them.


TL;DR: Healthy 2.5 year old male golden retriever in China. Developed a fever after a two day stay in a kennel and just had a complete nervous breakdown (loss of motor control, defecating, howling, squealing) after encountering a female dog in heat. Seems to be in severe pain but vet cannot find any signs of physical ailment besides a high fever. Two days and he has calmed down but still lacks most motor control. No one I know (including vet) has seen a reaction this severe in a dog before.
 

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The doc said he could not find a single thing wrong with Sergi other than a very high fever (between 41-42°C / 105-107°F). He said it seems like Sergi experienced something very traumatic and scared him nearly to death.
My guess is possible poisoning. I think you must have misunderstood the vet, I think he is ill, not scared.
 

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I had a dog that displayed this type of behavior. She became very depressed, had loose stools and vomiting. We took her to the vet and found out she had parvo. We were to late and she died at the vets. If you haven't already done so please get your dog tested for parvo if caught early enough your dog can be saved.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
My guess is possible poisoning. I think you must have misunderstood the vet, I think he is ill, not scared.
He was referring to the sudden breakdown, not the lingering condition. But I'll double check. Anyway, I thought about poisoning but haven't looked into too much. I'll need to dig a little deeper on that. Thanks.
 

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Did the vet mention anything about a stroke? Sounds a lot like the symptoms of one. When my old girl had hers she was growling, snarling and yelping and trying to run but couldn't seem to control her legs. It caused some lingering unsteadiness, lack of appetite after. It doesn't explain the main root cause, but I highly doubt your dog just had a panic attack without any health problems associated.

Something is going on neurological at least, but I wouldn't know what beyond that. Sometimes after strokes there can be a fever. There are so many different things that could cause it though that I can't help beyond that. I really hope you can find a solution and your pup recovers.
 

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The only off the wall thing I could possibly think of may be Spaniel Rage Syndrome. Since it's a fairly rare disease there's not a whole lot of "typical" behaviors and most vets aren't even aware that it can happen in other breeds besides English Springer Spaniels.

If you haven't all ready done so, I would have the vet run a full blood panel including tick born parasites.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
I don't have access to a computer right now, and I'm not sure how to edit my post from mobile. So I'm providing an update here.

Firstly, thank you for your concern, support, and suggestions.

We finally found a good clinic a few hours away and rushed Sergi there. I was so relieved when we arrived. Very professional little private clinic.

Unfortunately we still can't figure out what's wrong with the poor guy. They did another blood test, testing for everything they can. Found nothing. They also did another x-ray and confirmed no bone issues. They did a stomach ultrasound, MRI, and spinal tap. Still nothing.

So, we've ruled out spinal/nerve infections, brain infections, stroke, bone issues, gastrointestinal issues, poisoning, and pancreatitis.

The doctor said they cannot check for Rabies or Distemper. They would have to send samples to Germany to test that and unfortunately we cannot afford that or much else at this point. My financial reserves are now depleted.

We can't afford to keep him there so we're taking him back to the local doctor we trust to keep an eye on him, keep him hydrated and fed, and keep him cool. At this point I think all we can do is keep him comfortable and pray he pulls through. He was hesitant to say it but the doctor is not optimistic about Sergi's chances. He said he's never seen anything quite like this case before.

We've got a full digital report with brain scan and everything so we're looking for some experts in Shanghai who can review it. I would like to find someone in the US who can review it also. Any suggestions?
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Also, they did not check for parasitic related illnesses in the blood and that no one in China can do that. That also has to be sent off to Germany to check. That was a bit strange to me. But I don't know any better to argue.

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Although distance is definitely an issue for you, I would recommend you contact ICVS Beijing. They are an international vet service which means their care is provided at western standards. They have a group of stateside specialists who consult for them as well. I would suggest an email addressing Mary who is the managing director and a native English speaker.

International Center for Veterinary Services 北京新天地国际动物医院

I have been a client of them for years They are good people and maybe can point you in the right direction. Good luck!
 

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Also, I know for a fact that rabies titre tests can be performed in Beijing now as I had it done recently through ICVS. So, perhaps other tests are available in country as well.
 
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