Why is my dog pacing and panting?
Original Question: Hi there this question is for Dr. Greenway as my dog was a former client. My 10-year-old Chocolate Lab has been showing odd behaviour at bedtime. He starts panting and pacing as soon as the lights go off. This started about 6 months ago and has been happening every night. I took him to the vet initially and started a variety of treatments (Adaptil, Gabapentin, M-Eloxyn) none of which showed any improvement. About a month ago the panting and pacing got much worse so I took him back to the vet. X-rays and bloodwork showed severe arthritis in his hips, back legs, neck and back. Bloodwork came back good. She put him back on M-Eloxyn again and Trazodone. He had a SEVERE reaction with diarrhoea and vomiting. To stabilize that she has put him on Famotidine, Sucralfate, Tylosin, Gabapentin and ProGut Plus. He is stable for now. My last visit with the vet on Saturday she brought up starting to think about making the decision to put him down. My instinct is that he was over medicated and needed time to get the medication out of his system. She now wants to develop a new treatment plan for him. This entire experience has been tiring and expensive. I believe there is something cognitive happening where he is associating the bedroom with anxiety. If I sleep on the living room couch he goes to sleep no problem. When I move to the bedroom he starts panting and pacing immediately. Some background information on him: - Neurological issues where he drags his front feet. - He has Wobblers Syndrome - Severe degenerative joint disease in his back legs, hips, back and neck. He previously had mass cells in 2014 (removed). Looking for any support surrounding getting him comfortable with sleeping in the bedroom again as sleeping on the couch is killing my back. Thank you!! - Esther
Thanks for your question!
The symptoms you describe of your dog panting and pacing certainly sound like pain behavior upon first hearing them. The most likely source would be the musculoskeletal system or nervous system. Sometimes you can have pain from the gastrointestinal system causing some of these symptoms, such as the pacing and panting. I would recommend abdominal radiographs and blood work to look for any sources of disease related to the gastrointestinal system simply to eliminate that. Recurrent episodes of pancreatitis or gas distension could be a cause.
The treatment your veterinarian chose seems like a good one to me based on the thought of a musculoskeletal source of pain. She also added an anti-anxiety supplement as well. It’s a shame that there was no great benefit and instead caused negative side effects. The consideration exists to use different anti-inflammatories and pain medications to see if they work without causing side effects and consider low doses that gradually increase to avoid any adverse reactions.
My biggest recommendation would be to have a visit with a neurologist. You’ll find them at the referral centers around the city. They would have a much greater ability to determine the source of the pain and how it may relate to his known history of neurological challenges. I assume that you’ve had spinal imaging which would be especially important given the history but also the development of new clinical symptoms. I wonder if the Wobblers syndrome was confirmed by a neurologist and how recently because it could be an alternate diagnosis that has advanced.
I hope this helps.
Dr. Clayton Greenway
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