I share an 8 year old neutered female spaniel dog with my ex-husband. A few months ago, she started shaking some and doing a belly crawl. She was seen by a vet, they found nothing significant, and the dog was sent home with something called Carprofen for a few days. She got better and the medicine ran out. The problem started again a week ago so I took her in where she got a tick that was negative but positive for anaplasmosis. Pending a PCR, I received Carprofen and a week of doxycycline for the dog. The PCR came back negative and again it seems that she is feeling much better but I am worried that when the medicine runs dry again, things will be as they were. What do I do now and would you suggest another test? I was told that she is otherwise fine, except that she is a little overweight and is always a little anxious and does a lot. Are there other medications that you think she should have?
In the absence of real lameness, it can be difficult to diagnose what is going on. You describe a belly crawl, but does she have problems with stairs or jumping up such as. on a bed or a sofa? A few things come to mind after ruling out tick-borne diseases that can cause some problems.
Since she has reacted positively to Carprofen, she may have just started having some arthritis that can be well controlled by using this drug, which is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug. If so, she may need to take it long-term with blood tests taken about every six months to check her liver values and to know she is tolerating it well.
Doxycycline was probably given pending the PCR test results because it would be the preferred drug for possible anaplasmosis as well as other tick-borne diseases such as Lyme. Now that it is out of the question, you can discontinue the medication or quit what you have without any side effects. Another possible condition could be immune-mediated polyarthropathy, but you did not describe any swollen joints, which would be a key finding.
A final diagnosis that can be examined if things do not remain normal, or if there is a continuing challenge to normal ambulation, are x-rays of the spinal cord to look for any changes, including disc disease, ankylosing spondylosis, or other problems. Finally, you mentioned that she is a little overweight and the best thing to do for an older dog who is heavy to help with mobility is to get its weight down. Put her on a diet and work with your veterinarian to solve the problems you are dealing with. Hopefully her condition is nothing more than a slightly older canine arthritis, and between weight loss and the use of appropriate medication, she will feel good and cope for several years to come.
Dr. John de Jong owns and operates the Boston Mobile Veterinary Clinic. He can be contacted at 781-899-9994.
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