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Recently, have run into a problem with one of our male neutered Standard Poodles, Jasper (8 ½ years old). Never any illnesses or sickness before this. I’m lucky enough to be with our dogs 24 x 7, so he gets run several times each day. I’m afraid to run him now because of this problem. He’s not happy about that at all! He has always been super strong, until now. Sometimes he will throw-up yellow bile before, sometimes, not. Attack can happen anytime of the day with or without warning. He’ll be fine and then all of a sudden, starts slowing down and then starts staggering, sometimes he will fall down. He will standup, but will be unsteady on his feet and weak. We’ve captured these attacks on video for Cornell and our vets. This has been going on since the middle of June. The first time this happened (he was outside), I carried him into the house and held him in my arms, my wife and I thought that we had lost him. We thought that he had a stroke. Took six hours for him to recover. Took him to our vet, thorough checkup including blood work. Couldn’t find anything wrong. A couple of weeks go by, Jasper has another attack. Off to our vet, they send us to Cornell Medical Center for an emergency visit. Spend the day there, lots of tests and they couldn’t find anything wrong with him. Because he stabilized, they released him. The next day (Saturday), he had 4 attacks and I told my wife that I expected he would be gone by the morning. We called Cornell’s Emergency Room and they told us if we brought him in they would release him if he stabilized. It is 1 1/2 hour drive for us to Cornell, so, we stayed up all night with him. The next morning he was fine. At Cornell’s recommendation, we then had full neurological set of tests run including MRI (brain scan) spinal tap, x-rays of his major body areas including chest. Then heart testing set including EKG and ultrasound of his heart. Then ultrasound of his lungs, abdomen, liver, kidneys, intestines and colon. We’ve run approximately $1.5k in blood work tests (including special Thyroid and Diabetes tests) with nothing showing up. We’ve run urine tests, Acid Bile, Addison’s and Cushing’s tests and all have come back clear. Cornell Medical staff is stumped, our local vet and local animal hospital are also. Cornell’s recommendation was to put Jasper on seizure meds, which we’re reluctant to do because we want to identify the problem and just not mask it or cover it up. I’ve had dogs with seizures and these don’t look or feel like seizures to me. We’ve contacted Jasper’s breeder (great person with 30 years of experience) and she has never seen anything like this in her lines.

After all this, we went 30 days and he was back to normal. Full of energy and strong. Then out of the blue, he threw-up and it started all over again. Now, the attacks are more minor and instead of collapsing, he just gets really slow. Almost like he is moving in slow motion. He now, usually recovers in less than two hours from each of the episodes.

He’s been on Blue Buffalo dog food for several years. The only thing that we change is the flavor. Throughout this Jasper has been extremely thirsty, urinates a lot more and is starving. We think that this condition could be gastric related. We’ve checked for all kinds of poisoning. As a note, our other two dogs are fine.

Jasper is a wonderful and loving friend! Everyone that meets him loves him! We love him and want to help him, but are at a loss as what to do next. All these test show nothing! Any ideas or suggestions will be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance - Ted.
 

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Gosh that is tough!
I know that the testing has ruled it out, but it still sounds like low blood sugar/diabetes to me!
I might look to see if there is such a thing as a veterinary endocrinologist that you could take him to, but meanwhile , since there would be no harm from it, I would try dividing his food into smaller portions and feeding him every 4 hours, since the episodes often begin with the empty stomach retching thing, I would try to make sure that he is never empty...


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It sounds like diabetes, but all those blood tests should have shown that. Good luck figuring it out. You have done way more than most people would do already!
 

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Clinical Signs of Myasthenia Gravis:
Clinical signs of mysathenia can be quite variable, depending on the form.
Megaesophagus: signs include regurgitation, coughing, and pneumonia. The veterinarian may discover abnormal lung sounds on physical examination. Whenever megaesophagus is diagnosed, MG should be suspected. Conversely, whenever MG is diagnosed, chest X-rays should be done to evaluate the esophagus, in case megaesophagus is present.
Generalized weakness: the owners may note weakness that is more pronounced after activity, the veterinarian may note an easily fatigued palpebral (blink) response leading to incomplete palpebral closure.
Fulminant MG: the dog presents immobile, having collapsed acutely, with difficulty breathing and swallowing.
Breeds likely to have congenital MG: Jack Russell terrier, springer spaniel, smooth-haired fox terrier.
Breeds likely to have acquired MG: medium to large breeds, particularly the German Shepherd, and Golden and Labrador Retrievers.
 

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my first reaction after reading your message was that it sounded like seizures, since we have a dog that does the collapsing and staggering etc. that you mentioned. Since that apparently has been ruled out, it is beyond my knowledge as to what it might be, but if there are specialists in your area that your own vet could recommend that might be helpful. Good luck, please keep us posted.

David
 

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Recently on another forum, a dog had the same symptoms as yours, and finally on a whim they tested the dog for EPI (exocrine pancreatic insufficiency) even though all blood was good except a high b-12 which is a clue...sometimes! He essentially was always ravenous,yet underweight, thirsty, had bouts of lethargy. It is often overlooked as it is not a common thing. The good news is that it is managable.
If you are interested, Google 'EPI In Dogs'........it might be worth a look-see!
Hope you find answers!
 

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I had a papillon who had an insulinoma..an insulin producing tumor on her pancreas. This caused her blood sugar to get extremely low which resulted in 1-5 minute "attacks". She would get very weak and uncoordinated in her back legs,stagger and get a "slow motion" type of general movement. There is a lot of info online-- Sure hope you can get your pup feeling better!
 

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If it's only after exercise then I would look into EIC (exercise induced collapse). If it happens at other times I would investigate some of these other suggestions. Maybe try another food just to cover all your bases.


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Discussion Starter #12
Wow! All I can say is thanks to everybody for their posts, comments and recommendations. We really appreciate them. This is the first we've heard of Myasthenia Gravis and Exercise Induced Collapse. With all the testing and vets and doctors that we saw this summer, none of them mentioned either of these two conditions. We'll also relook at EPI. We're going to be doing some research and then be forwarding this thread to our primary vet. She's great! However, she has never seen anything like this before.

I'm sure everybody can understand how frustrating this situation is for Jasper and us. He's a wonderful animal and friend and looked like he'd been in a car accident as he was shaved all over for testing. Jasper doesn't get better, we try every test recommended. Honestly, we are thinking the worst because the doctors try to prepare us for that outcome. And then nothing and Jasper still isn't well! The worst part is when he is feeling ill, he comes and looks to me for help and there is nothing that I can do but pick him up and hold him.

Our dogs are all very active. We have a large area behind our house where they can run and play. So, as puppies they are introduced to running (on their own) and play (chasing balls or frizbee). Jasper has never had any issues with exercise. Our vet has always commented on how strong he was. We're now afraid to let him run. However, because he insists, we do let him play on a limited basis. This doesn't seem to be the trigger. Actually, we can't find any trigger. These spells can come on at anytime.

Again, we appreciate everyone's posts and will update with findings as we go. Thanks - Ted.
 

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Oh gosh. I'm so very sorry you're going through this. It is a mystery. I hope they figure out what it is and he can be treated. It sounds like you are doing everything anyone could possibly do. He is in good hands. Keep us posted.
 

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I still think it sounds like seizures. Not all seizures produce twitching. I can't imagine them doing an EEG on a dog, so how did they rule it out?
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Update

Yesterday morning in the parking lot of our groomer Jasper had another attack. Short one and he recovered in 1/2 hour. This is just unbelievably frustrating.

I still think it sounds like seizures. Not all seizures produce twitching. I can't imagine them doing an EEG on a dog, so how did they rule it out?
Regarding testing - we have spent considerable time at our local vet, local animal hospital and Cornell Companion Animal Medical Center. The testing for seizures included an MRI, some type of CT Scan and a spinal fluid test and all kinds of blood work, etc... This was rough on Jasper, he was exhausted after this round. One trip to Cornell, we spent the better part of the day with the Neurological Department. They did a full neurological workup on him including some eye tracking and eye movement tests. A comment was made that they prefer MRIs over EEG. We are not experts, so are relying on experts for help. The problem remains that all the tests came back clear! The Cornell Neurological Dept's approach was that since they can't find anything wrong with him it must be seizures and he should be treated with a relatively new seizure med. We don't want to use meds to mask a problem and then have the real problem appear and be too late to help him!

Cornell's Heart Dept, conducted thorough EKG, scans, etc.., on Jasper and couldn't find anything wrong either. They want to put a 24 hr holster tester on him. The problem is that he may go a week w/o an episode. They don't have longer duration testing equipment available now. So, we would probably just be throwing $ away on this unless we got lucky. We've had his heart tested several times and there never has been any irregularities.

Thru all this, we're really at a loss!!! He doesn't have canine insurance and none of this is inexpensive.

As a note, I've forwarded information from this thread to our local vet and am waiting for a reply. Thanks again to all for comments and ideas. Ted.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
I still think as a precaution to transition him over to another high quality dog food just in case it's something in his diet.


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What high quality dog food would you recommend? We had a bad batch of EVO a couple of years ago. Dogs got sick! At the time, we had a 18 year old dog that got really sick! That's how we ended up with Blue Buffalo. Thanks - Ted.
 

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I am so sad you are having those issues. It is so heartbreaking to just not know after having all those tests. My boy did the same thing with the yellow vomit, the staggering, and afraid to take a step like he might fall. When I had to carry him in, I did the same thing, took him to the emergency vet, and after much blood work and x-rays, nothing was amiss. I wish the best for you and hope nothing comes of it, and you have had some great advice.
 
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