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Dog has been hospitalized 3 times - Vets cannot diagnose or successfully treat her

by Janet Rodriguez
(Laguna Niguel, CA USA)

June 5th - my dog started coughing - we were out of town.

June 7th - we got home, she was still coughing and had a fever of 103 F. She had an oval lump with a scab in the middle on her back off to one side. Took her to vet.

Based on chest xray, he thought she had lymphoma. Diagnostic doctor said she did not have cancer but had pneumonia. Vet placed her on antibiotics.

June 9th - still had fever and had two more oval lumps on body with two more coming up. Vet changed antibiotic. I put Evocin foam (kills surface bacteria) on all lumps, 3 with scabs and 2 more coming up - they all went away. Not sure if from antibiotics or Evocin or both. Fever subsided.

All of this time her appetite wasn't good - 10 or 12 bites here and there.

End of July fever returned, lethargic, doctor said to take her to specialist hospital. She was admitted, x-ray showed some improvement but infection still there. They said she had neck pain, suspected a neurological or spinal disease. Trach wash and spinal tap came back negative. They placed her on pain meds, anti-nasuea, appetite stimulant and continued antibiotics. Fever subsided.

July 10th pain meds and antibiotics ended - she immediately started vomiting - vomited 3 times - returned to hospital. Chest x-ray showed lungs vastly improved but still some infection. Placed her on steroids, back on antibiotics, on anti-nausea and pepcid. Said she had IBS. Placed her on 1 protein dog food although she had been on 1 protein dog food for years.

July 28th anti-nausea med ran out - she
immediately started vomiting - returned to hospital. X-rays showed lungs good but she spiked a fever - unknown origin. Did stomach ultrasound which shows abnormally thick stomach wall, found node on spine - aspirated both - both negative.

Decreased steroids - got worse - not eating, listless, depressed, increased steroids, has on 3 antibiotics, anti-nausea, appetite stimulant. Still not eating well at all, depressed.

Aspirated stomach lining again - I am waiting for results. If this comes back negative they plan to send blood work in for some rare bacteria.
I am in Spain. Tried to get a flight home and they are full. Leaving Weds and will be home Weds. night.

Phoebe (an 8 year old female Bichon Frise) has never been sick before. Vomiting didn't start until 35 days into illness. No diarrhea. 5 doctors have seen Phoebe now - no one can figure out what she has or how to help her.

I had bought Phytonucial, Dr. Goopet's Canine digestive enzymes, gentle digest probiotic, K-9 Transfer factor and k-9 immunity, wild Salmon oil and Nutri Joint support through Petnutrisystem which should be home when I get there with plans to try and hep her holistically before she was admitted this last time and they are talking about cancer again. I do not know if I am putting her through too much. I also do not know if my absence has made her worse. I am very distraught!!!

I feel very confused about how to proceed - whether I should put her down because this last hospitalization she is not responding or showing an improvement? If you can help, I would appreciate it. I feel so badly for her!

Comments for Dog has been hospitalized 3 times - Vets cannot diagnose or successfully treat her

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Aug 01, 2011
My Online Vet Response for Dog has been hospitalized 3 times-Vets cannot diagnose or successfully treat her
by: Dr. Carol Jean Tillman

Hi Janet,
Your poor little Bichon sounds like she is going from bad to worse, with too many veterinarians trying to treat her and only suppressing the symptoms. I am not sure that another veterinarian (myself) will help. I will give it an attempt and try taking a holistic perspective.

At the beginning, when she had a cough, a skin lesion, and high fever, did they run a titer for Canine Valley Fever (Coccidioidomycosis)? It is not too common in Southern California, but it is a common disease found in the southwest USA. It is caused by a fungus. It will present with respiratory, skin, and bone problems. Always with a high fever and poor appetite.

As she was treated with more antibiotics, I feel that her GI tract suffered, resulting in the irritable bowel condition, and caused her to vomit. Since the anti-nausea and appetite stimulants are not helping, I would suggest stopping them.

I would immediately start her on acidophilus. Do not wait until you return from Spain -- have someone go to a health food store and buy PB8 or some other brand in a capsule form so it can be opened and sprinkled into chicken broth, or beef boullion or chicken or turkey baby food so she can get some normal gut flora re-established in her intestine! I would give her 1/3 of a human dose three times daily.

Feed only a very bland diet, such as chicken or turkey baby food, steamed potato or yams, cooked rice, and/or scrambled egg whites.

She may need to also have sub-cutaneous fluids. This will serve two purposes: maintain her hydration, and decrease her fever, since the fluids will be at room temperature 78-80 degrees(?), much cooler than her body temperature of 103! Your conventional veterinarian can show how to administer this at home, and give the first dose in the hospital. Probably once or twice daily depending on how much she vomits.


Aug 01, 2011
My Online Vet Response for Dog has been hospitalized 3 times-Vets cannot diagnose or successfully treat her-PART TWO
by: Dr. Carol Jean Tillman

Hi Janet,
Here is the rest of my response.

ALSO, have the veterinarian make up injections of B-complex 1/4 cc in a TB syringe with 1/2 cc B-12. To be given subcutaneously once a day for 5 days, then two times per week until her appetite is back to normal.

I think that some of the antibiotics could be discontinued, and perhaps after the fluids and vitamins have been given for 3-4 days, then try to decrease the dose of steroids.

At this point, it will be too soon to start adding all of the supplements you have into her food at once, since she is not even eating well. The Probiotics/acidophilus, is the most important at this time. I would not add any digestive enzymes, salmon oil or nutri-joint support.

Once her appetite is improved, then add in some Transfer Factor and K-9 Immunity. I am not familiar with 'Phytonucial'(?)

If she is POSITIVE for Valley Fever, then you will know what to treat. I would advise that you seek the help of a holistic veterinarian that can perhaps treat with either acupuncture or homeopathic remedies, once she is weaned off most of the drugs!

To find a holistic veterinarian in your area click here:
find a holistic veterinarian in your area

Please keep us posted by coming back to this page and clicking the 'click here to add your own comments' link below.

Take care,
Dr. Carol Jean Tillman

DISCLAIMER: This educational advice is based on the depth of your question and the picture you submitted. The above should never replace the advice of your local veterinarian, as they have the ability to evaluate your dog in person.

Aug 02, 2011
Follow Up
by: Janet Rodriguez

Thank you Dr. Tillman!
2nd Aspiration of stomach wall came back negative for cancer or fungus.
Currently the specialist hospital is running tests for Valley Fever and Bartenella.
I appreciate all your help! I had thought of some of what you recommend, so feel confirmed and have direction. I am grateful and I thank you again!

Aug 05, 2011
Update and thanks!
by: Janet

Dear Dr. Tillman,

I want to thank you for your answer to my question. I collected Phoebe from the hospital late Wednesday night.

They did not start the acidopholus as I requested. They would not give her the subcutaneous saline. They did give me
the Vitamin B shots but told me to administer them 1 a week and I do not know if they are just Vitamin B 12 or the combination you instructed because the doctor wouldn't come out and talk to me and the tech was clueless.

The tech told me, "Phoebe is . . .ok", like she wasn't hopeful. She was down to skin and bones. They were feeding her 1 T of food and had fed her 3 times in the last 24 hours. I went through all the meds she was on, researching them: 3 antibiotics, the steroids, anti-nausea and appetite stimulant along with two intestinal protectants - they told me it was crucial I keep her on the intestinal protectants (one is prisolec and the other is a ulcer med) while on the other meds, but they didn't give me enough of them to last the week. They also told me she was also still vomiting.

I found she was being given twice the amount of one antibiotic than she should be given based on her weight. The steroid dose was very high for her as well.

(continued in my next post...)

Aug 05, 2011
(continued from previous post)
by: Janet

Anyway, long story short, I decreased her steroid slightly (I know how crucial it is to do this very gradually), decreased the one antibiotic dose to her size, decreased another one slightly, started giving her the acidopholus and yesterday late afternoon started a very good, small does of electrolytes by Rise and Shine. Also gave her her first B-shot yesterday mid day. Started
feeding her 1-1/2 T. half a/d, half extra-firm tofu in a little organic chicken broth, slightly increasing the food portions as I went along.

I'm giving her the acidopholus and electrolytes in organic Greek yogurt. She couldn't get enough
food - she wanted more, more, more but I was doling it out every hour - absolutely no vomiting! Drinking water. She ate 3/4 can a/d, 3/4 pack tofu and 3/4 container of Greek yogurt in 24 hours. Her tail is up and wagging, she has
a bounce to her step. Two of her antibiotics will be up within a few days - since she is doing so well, I am not changing anything else i.e. to stop them.

I ordered her more Vitamin B complex and B-12 and the intestinal protectants all online and will not be calling the doctor back or taking her back to that hospital. Her care there cost $7,000, they could never diagnose her, I feel they made many mistakes in her caretaking - the doctor couldn't come out and talk to me when I collected her - and they could not even wash her face so she
had food and medication caked in her hair and smelled to high heaven.

I don't mean to complain, but have been up for 3 days now, the last two basically every two or three hours - which was her med schedule. But, I want you to know I am very, very grateful for your help and for the service you provide online. It's a very, very important service! You were a Godsend for Phoebe and I. I thank you!!!

Best regards,

Janet Rodriguez

Aug 06, 2011
My Online Vet Response for Dog has been hospitalized 3 times-Vets cannot diagnose or successfully treat her
by: Dr. Carol Jean Tillman

Hi Janet.
That is wonderful news. I am glad her reports (so far) are all negative! And I am very glad to hear that you have her back home and she seems to be doing well.

You seem to be doing everything correctly, by slowly weaning her off the steroids and finishing off the antibiotics as they run out (The same with the antacid and appetite stimulant.)

Continue with her B-vitamin injections one time daily for 2-3 more days, then two times per week for 2-3 weeks.

No extra dog dietary supplements until she is eating without vomiting for 7-10 days. Continue the acidophilus FOREVER.

Here are some guidelines for how much food to feed her. Check the calorie content of the food.
For the proper amount of food for a female Bichon Frise, if her normal weight is 15 lbs she should have 300 calories/day; for 20lbs body weight she should be fed 400 calories per day. Or if divided into 4 meals daily, then 100 calories per meal and for 25lbs she should have 450 calories/day.

Take care,
Dr. Carol Jean Tillman

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DISCLAIMER: This educational advice is based on the depth of your question and the picture you submitted. The above should never replace the advice of your local veterinarian, as they have the ability to evaluate your dog in person.

Aug 23, 2011
Follow up questions and answers for Phoebe

Click here for the continued back-and-forth between Dr. Tillman and Phoebe's owner, Janet.

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