View Full Version : So sick--Please help!!

1st January 2009, 05:38 PM
Our Cavalier Charlie is not doing well at all. He's only a year old, and has always had great health until now. His heart has always checked out clear. On Dec. 18, he was a little bit lethargic in the morning, but not so much that I was concerned. Around lunchtime, he suddenly started limping with his left hind leg. I called my husband at work, and he came home on his lunch break to see Charlie. We were worried but because we couldn't think of any way that he could have been hurt, we decided to give it a few hours. Charlie mostly laid around in his crate for the rest of the day, and we decided to take him to the vet in the morning. But when my husband went to take him out before bed, Charlie couldn't walk. My husband picked him up, and Charlie yelped. When he put him down in the yard, he collapsed and yelped again. My husband rushed him to the emergency clinic, where they did x-rays and an exam. They couldn't find anything wrong, so they gave Charlie a tentative dx of a cruciate ligament injury, and put him on Rimadyl.

The next morning Charlie was acting a lot better, walking around and only limping a bit, less than originally. We felt pretty good about the medication, but we didn't want Charlie to hurt himself, so he still spent most of his time in the crate for that day and the next. (We just took the crate with us from room to room). However, on Dec. 21, he went from seeming to feel well to feeling terrible. He wouldn't come out of the crate, and he didn't want to eat. His limp got much worse, and when my husband carried him out to pee, he would just stand there, not moving at all. Then he would take a step or two and then his hindquarters would just kind of collapse. He went to our regular vet on Monday, who said that he now thought that Charlie had injured his other rear leg from trying to compensate for the original injury. He said that we should completely confine Charlie to his crate and keep him on the Rimadyl.

Over the next few days, Charlie continued to decline physically. He went from being a little off his food to not eating at all. He stopped drinking entirely. We bought some chicken broth, which he liked at first. By Christmas, though, he would only lick the broth very slowly from my husband's fingers. He also started having respiratory symptoms, coughing and making this wheezing almost purring sound when he breathed and having nasal drainage. And he wouldn't walk almost at all. He went to the vet the day after Christmas, and had a fever of 104.5. The vet still wasn't super worried, but we insisted that he put Charlie on an antibiotic. By that time, we had taken Charlie off the Rimadyl, because after doing some research, we were also worried that he might be showing the signs of a bad reaction to the medicine. The vet didn't think so, but he went along with us and put Charlie on a different pain medicine.

Charlie has contined in our eyes to decline. He is on prescription invalid food, which my husband has to force-feed him. He will not drink anything, so my husband has to pry his mouth open and use a medical syringe to squirt it down his throat. The vet has injected fluids under his skin twice to stave off dehydration. He will almost never walk, and he is now showing a limp in the front as well. His respiratory sounds have gotten louder and more frequent. He won't take his medication unless my husband forces it down his throat. He still has a fever, his eyes look so sick, and he just lays there for hours and hours, mostly sleeping, but almost never moving.

When his bloodwork came back, he showed two high enzyme levels that the vet said show liver damage. He talked to an internist, and their best guess at this point is leptospirosis. They ran the test, and the vet said if we're lucky, we might know the results tomorrow. Charlie does have many of the symptoms, but he has been on antibiotics for nearly a week with no improvement at all. Up until yesterday, he showed no signs of kidney problems, but yesterday morning, he had peed all over his crate overnight. And now he pees more frequently, and in really large amounts, much more than usual, even though he's not taking in much fluid. He's also starting to limp with one of his front legs as well.

We just don't know what to do. If it is lepto, it must be really bad, since he's not responding to the antibiotics. And if it's not lepto, what could it be? We never really thought that he was injured, and with the other legs having problems, we're virtually certain the lameness goes along with the illlness. I keep bringing up Lyme disease to the vet, but Charlie has absolutely no history of ticks. Besides, the vet says that his lymph nodes are completely normal and that Charlie would certainly be improving by now from the antibiotics if it were Lyme. He'll go back to the vet in the morning, but we just don't know what we're missing. Does anyone recognize these symptoms? Or has anyone experienced a Cavalier having problems like these?

Thanks so much,

1st January 2009, 06:30 PM
Andrea, I am so sorry you are experiencing this. It must be scary and agonizing for you to be unable to find the exact problem and know how to treat it. I don't have any advice, but I wanted to let you know I am thinking of you, and I am sure someone on this board will come along that might have some answers.

The only suggestion I might make is for you to get another opinion from a different vet. It sounds like they haven't been real agressive with trying to diagnose the problem. That may be incorrect, but sometimes you just need a fresh opinion from a different doctor.

Hugs to you all and I hope you get some answers soon and that Charlie recovers quickly.

1st January 2009, 06:33 PM
It does sound like your Charlie is very sick but I don't have any knowledge re: his symptoms. Is there a University Vet Hospital within driving range? Feels as tho' your vets are not finding the cause unless the blood test comes back positive and that is why I ask about a University Hospital or a large Vet Clinic with specialists aboard. These places usually see many types of illnesses and, by that, have large experience. To me it sounds as if he should be on IV fluids as a start to keep up his hydration and should be being observed in a Hospital setting . I know you are very concerned and :hug: to you during this hard time. This is so difficult to deal with during a Holiday. Keep him hydrated-dehydration can really interfere with wellness. :xfngr: Wish I could help you more.

Love my Cavaliers
1st January 2009, 06:54 PM
Oh, I'm so sorry. I can only echo what Frecklesmom said about getting Charlie to a specialist. Could you bring him to the internist that your vet consulted with? Maybe if he saw with his own eyes how ill Charlie is, he might have a better idea of a diagnosis. In my mind, he needs to have constant observation and IV hydration. It's so horrible when our babies are sick. Good luck to you.

1st January 2009, 07:02 PM
A word of caution, please be careful administering fluid from a syringe. Don't squirt it down the throat, introduce it gradually via the pouch at the side of the mouth.
If given wrongly the fluids could reach the lungs which you obviously don't want.

Hope you get some answers soon, poor boy.

1st January 2009, 07:25 PM
Hi Andrea, what a nightmare! I have no experience of these conditions.

It is staggering to me that you and your husband are having to perform such high level nursing to what is obviously an incredibly sick little boy. The current vet doesn't seem to be grasping just how ill Charlie is.

Like the others I am of the opinion he should at the very least be on an IV and receiving constant care. If I can offer you advice it would be to get him that care NOW, even if you change vet / ideally are able to go to a larger practice they can always liase with your current vet for test results tomorrow.


1st January 2009, 07:40 PM
"he just lays there for hours and hours, mostly sleeping, but almost never moving"

My Mum who's a nurse just read this is disbelief, and highlighted the problem of pressure sores together with dehydration etc (prevention is better than cure).

Poor poor Charlie :( get him to the emergency vet!

Good luch Andrea!

1st January 2009, 07:51 PM
Please please get him to a vet that is only bit of advice I would give
---Aileen and the gang(Barney----Jazzie---Jane)

1st January 2009, 08:13 PM
Thank you everyone who has responded so quickly. I want to reassure you that we are trying the best we can. We unfortunately do not have a lot of money so we have been trying to go through the regular vet as much as possible. We have already spent almost $1000 in the last two weeks, and we still don't really know what's even going on with Charlie. My husband is a teacher and I stay home with our youngest little boy. We have discussed hospitalization several times with the vet, but he keeps trying to reassure us that Charlie is not dehydrated and hasn't lost much weight and that his kidneys look good. He says that these are signs that Charlie is not gravely ill. I don't really agree with him; I live with Charlie and can see with my eyes that he is really sick. But we don't have an endless amount of money to spend. I asked the doctor what they would do for Charlie if we hospitalized him, and he said that they would put him on an IV and monitor him. This would cost us around $300 a day. If you add additional testing in, it could easily cost us $3000 for this next week. We don't have that kind of money to spend. We have already spent most of our emergency savings.

I do agree with you that something else needs to be done. We are going to contact animal hospitals in our area and see what they say. We are in the DFW area if anyone on this board knows where we should take him.

Thank you,

Love my Cavaliers
1st January 2009, 09:32 PM
I've been thinking about Charlie since I first read your post and if you have an emergency center near you, I would get him there ASAP. I know I would feel better if someone were watching over him constantly and is able to respond immediately if his condition deteriorates further. Keep us updated.

1st January 2009, 09:58 PM
Keep thinking about your boy and wondering how he's doing. His respiratory sounds could be caused by taking food and liquids by mouth when he is so weak. Some of the food or liquid can go into the trachea instead of just down the esophagus and he can then have aspiration pneumonia which can be very serious, that's why such a sick little guy needs to be on I.V.'s. He could have regular pneumonia from lack of moving about for so long-either way his increased respiratory sounds need to be addressed. Please let us know how he's doing and please take him to a good emergency care today-don't wait for tomorrow. :thmbsup: You've done a heroic deed getting food and fluids into Charlie-so unnerving for pet parents to deal with such a sick fellow :xfngr: for Charlie's wellness. You won't be out of our thoughts and prayers.

1st January 2009, 10:22 PM
Oohh! Your poor little dog! I sure wish I could offer some useful advise. But since I can't really, I'd just like to let you know that many of us will be checking this post regularly in hopes of hearing of some positive response from Charlie. I do agree though with others that have replied that Charlie certainly sounds like he should be in the hospital on IV.

Where are you from; is Leptospirosis (sp?) know to be a risk in your area? Was Charlie vaccinated?

2nd January 2009, 12:54 AM
I must admit that going by your description, I agree that some of your vet's approaches to this seem -- well, bizarre and rather indifferent. I'd have gone to a different vet for a second opinion or to a specialist via a vet school. I'd also be concerned that the respiratory problems getting louder may be because you are accidentally syringing fluid into his lungs and this alone could be a major contributing factor to his decline. I know of dogs that have died from being syringed with water incorrectly -- they actually drown -- so as Ruth notes, this is really something to be very cautious about and to make sure is being done correctly.

Keep in mind that seeing a regular vet who is unable to diagnose correctly, rather than a specialist, may well end up costing far more in the long run -- a specialist can often pick up the problem immediately.

To me this does sound like an emergency case however -- it is very alarming that he is so ill that he barely moves all day. :eek: But maybe you are seeing more problems than are actually there -- which can be easy to do, and it is very hard to know. I would get a second opinion -- I think you need this because either your vet is not getting to the problem, or you need to be reassured by a second opinion that you are perhaps seeing a larger issue than is actually there.

2nd January 2009, 01:08 AM
Andrea -- I'm so sorry to hear what you're going through. I would second and third the suggestion to take him to a different vet, one at least affiliated with a 24 hour emergency care center. My vet is associated with one such center and I know that the DVM's there are trained well in diagnostics and emergency care. I also know that there are often "good samaritan" funds in place at such centers. I just had a rescue that I picked up spend 2.5 days at my vet clinic -- he was treated for an infection, fleas, had vaccines, bath, anal gland expression and general around the clock nursing care all for just $140. You may be surprised to learn that emergency care is more affordable than what your current vet is telling you.

Please keep us informed and know that you're in my thoughts and prayers.

2nd January 2009, 02:01 AM

I live in the DFW area and have PM'ed you my vets information.

2nd January 2009, 02:35 AM
Where in the Dallas area do you live???? There are emergency clinics all around. We had to take one of our dogs to one and they were great.....

Cathy T
2nd January 2009, 03:08 AM
Charlie's story is just breaking my heart. I think I would get him to an ER vet as soon as possible. I'm sorry but it sounds like your regular vet is not taking this seriously enough. He most definitely is not well. Hoping and praying Charlie is going to be okay. Please keep us updated. I'm going to be worrying and thinking about him, and knowing the kind of anguish you are going through as well.

2nd January 2009, 03:23 AM
Thanks so much to everyone for your thoughts and prayers.

We live in Bedford, which is in the Mid-Cities area. I am willing to travel a distance if necessary. Right now, my husband wants to take Charlie to our vet once more early in the morning. Our guy will be on vacation, so we'll actually deal with the other vet in the practice; she hasn't seen Charlie yet. I don't have a lot of confidence that they'll say anything new, but we will get to see if the results are in from the lepto test. We also want to get the medical records so that we don't have to start from scratch with a new vet or a specialist. I found one place online that looks promising. It's called the Veterinary Referral Center of North Texas, and it looks to have multiple specialists. We need a referral from our vet to go there, though. Does anyone else have any specific suggestions for hospitals in the area? I tried to look up University hospitals, but I must admit, I'm not really sure how to find them. A&M is unfortunately way too far away.

CVFlagg--I will call Lover's Lane Clinic in the morning and talk to them. Thanks for that.

As far as Charlie goes, there's really no change to report either way. He's been mostly sleeping all day, and as my husband described it, he's limping with his whole body, if that's possible. He did swallow all of the food and his pills this morning, and he actually drank his water out of my husband's hand (he's the best nurse!). He left the crate on his own a couple of times today (he has done that a few other times) to try to be near us. He almost immediately goes back to sleep once he lays down again though, so I don't know if that's a good sign or not.

I also want to reassure the people that are concerned about Charlie's lungs that the vet did listen to them closely on several occasions, and he said that they sounded completely clear. He said that the wheezing sound was coming from his nose and throat, not his chest. Other than the limping getting a bit worse today, I would say that Charlie seems just the same, still sick, but not declining any further. I wish that I could say that he is better; I don't even really know what to look for in terms of improvement.

Obviously, I was somehow hoping that someone here would have had experience with at least some of these symptoms with their Cavs. I must admit that it's really scary that no one has had any of this happen with their dog. I really appreciate people taking the time to be so kind and helpful to us. And please rest assured, we have listened to your advice. We will definitely take Charlie somewhere else tomorrow.

Thank you so much,

2nd January 2009, 03:43 AM
you and Charlie will be in my thoughts tomorrow. Please post an update. I hope to hear that things are looking better by then.

2nd January 2009, 03:45 AM
Oh Andrea, I am so upset just reading your post. It does seem that your vet is a bit dismissive of what you are telling him, in light of the extreme symptoms that you are observing. Please keep us posted on little Charlie's progress, and hopefully you can find a specialist who can get to the bottom of this and diagnose and treat him properly. You might also see if there is a payment program that you could take advantage of in light of the expenditures that are taxing your family. Will keep your family and Charlie in my thoughts and prayers. :hug:

2nd January 2009, 04:21 AM

The Veterinary Referral Clinic is a great place if you can get your vet to refer you, I know they will work to find out what it wrong. My youngest had one issue that the regular vet could not diagnose and he referred us to the DVRC and we saw an internal medicine specialist and after several tests we discovered the problem and treated it. If I were you, I would call your vet first thing in the morning and demand they call DVRC and get you in tomorrow. We saw Dr. Nitsche but I have heard wonderful things about the other vets in the practice. I will be at the Plano office tomorrow at 11am actually for one of mine to get physical therapy, let me know if I can help.

2nd January 2009, 05:00 AM
The DVRC looks like a good place for Charlie. Having several specialties available should benefit him greatly and there should not be any reason for your Vet to be disagreeable about a referral-he needs to head toward wellness quickly. Good luck tomorrow-will be thinking about you :flwr:

2nd January 2009, 05:11 AM

It sounds like you and your husband are doing absolutely everything you can for Charlie. I so hope that you are able to see someone tomorrow who may be able to pinpoint what is going on. You are in my thoughts and prayers. Thank you for being such a great mom to Charlie!

2nd January 2009, 10:14 AM
I do hope you manage to get him to the Veterinary Referral Clinic today - he does sound a very poorly little dog :(

I have recently had to nurse my oldie, it is quite difficult unless you are taught correctly to syringe food and water into them safely {I have a fantastic vet nurse}

I am really a bit disgusted with your vet - they do not seem to be taking this seriously at all :mad:

Thinking of you all and wishing Charlie a speedy recovery.

2nd January 2009, 11:13 AM
You and Charlie will be in my thoughts and prayers.Lets hope they can work out fast what is causing Charlie to be unwell.
Keeps us all updated.

2nd January 2009, 11:40 AM
No advice to give...just letting you know I am thinking of you and hope little Charlie gets better soon....one thing though, when you get through this,please change vets.

Your vet seems quite uncaring.

2nd January 2009, 12:02 PM
Your vet does seem a bit dismissive. Hopefully the other vet will be able to figure out whats wrong with poor Charlie.
I'll be keeping you in my thoughts and prayers :flwr:

2nd January 2009, 05:33 PM
We got an emergency referral to the Veterinary Referral Clinic this morning. We will be taking Charlie in today and hopefully we'll find something out soon. The Leptospirosis titer test did come back negative, which is not absolutely definitive, but it was just a long-shot guess anyway. My best theory at this point is that we might be dealing with an autoimmune disorder like Lupus or Rheumatoid Arthritis. We'll run those ideas past the specialists and see if they think it's worth testing for. He does have many of the symptoms, and I read a few accounts online that sounded very similar...we'll just have to wait and see I guess.

Charlie seems much the same today. His limping is just as bad as yesterday. He still has a fever and no energy...still not hungry or thirsty. But he will take food and water with much effort, so please be assured that we are taking the best care of him that we can.

Thank you so much to everyone for your continued thoughts and prayers....this means the world to me right now. I was crying to my husband last night about the amazing support and generosity of strangers....it's overwhelming to say the least! We'll keep everyone updated.


2nd January 2009, 05:41 PM
I was crying to my husband last night about the amazing support and generosity of strangers....it's overwhelming to say the least! We'll keep everyone updated.

I found that strangers on this board quicky become friends. I had a similar experience on here this summer when Pixie was in ICU. She didn't make it (her situation was a terrible, freak accident) and I don't know how I would have gotten thru the crisis and the grief without everyone here. We are all bonded by our love for our cavaliers and our care for the breed in general.

I hope you get Charlie on the road to recovery quickly. Poor fella. I am sure you have been consumed by your worry of him.

2nd January 2009, 05:57 PM

I so glad you were able to get into DVRC today, if anyone can find out what is wrong with Charlie it is them. They are a great group. Please keep us informed of his progress and diagnosis. We are all pulling for him.

2nd January 2009, 07:50 PM

just catching up with your thread, and praying hard that your poor little boy gets diagnosed, treated and well soon.
Take care and keep us updated.

Cathy Moon
2nd January 2009, 07:54 PM
Andrea, I'm just catching up with posts and am so glad to read that he's going to be seen by a specialist. Paws and fingers are crossed for a good outcome very soon. :xfngr::xfngr::paw::paw::paw::flwr:

2nd January 2009, 08:13 PM
Just reading this post. I hope and pray they will find out what is wrong with your boy and :xfngr: for a speedy recovery.

2nd January 2009, 10:43 PM
So glad to hear you got a referral. I hope you'll be able to finally find out whats wrong with Charlie :xfngr:

3rd January 2009, 12:43 AM
Of course we are all so concerned for Charlie and you....You are definitely in my thoughts and prayers. I can't wait to hear what you found out today. I continuallly check to see if there is any update. Bless you. I hope you are able to stay strong, and I hope the news is good. Judy

3rd January 2009, 02:25 AM
We live in Bryan/College Station, Texas.
About a five minute drive to Texas A&M Veterinary Hospital. (Dr. Sonya Gordon is very well know with Cavalier owners, and is my Sophie's Cardio)
If you want you can come stay with us and get Charlie seen.
We have plenty of room in our home.
My email: margivj at suddenlink dot net

3rd January 2009, 06:02 AM
This is Chris, Andrea's husband, and Andrea said it might do me some good to post as a form of emotional therapy... then I am going to go collapse.
It is tough to say how today went. In many ways we really didn't accomplish much. But, as my wife and I have recently become all too accustomed to the gruesome task of waiting for testing results, we endure. In a nutshell, the internist, who was awesome and incredibly patient, said after an initial exam that we could run an army of tests to try to figure out exactly what was making Charlie so sick. Some of these tests were ungodly expensive, requiring hospitalization, anesthesia, etc. When the doctor totaled everything he recommended, the amount exceeded 5,000 dollars. It is difficult to express how looking at such a staggering number made me feel with our sick little puppy just laying there helpless and miserable.
When the doctor returned from doing a procedure on another pet, I think he could see my misgivings written all over my face before I even said a word. The only thing we knew for certain was that we essentially knew nothing. With Charlie's immune system going crazy, the two biggest suspects were an infectious disease or an autoimmune disorder. We started going through the list test by test. We decided that a chest x-ray seemed the logical first step. If it showed something abnormal, it would at least give us something to go on. When it came back normal, we just talked. On the one hand, if Charlie had an infectious disease, we had a good shot of fighting it with stronger antibiotics. On the other hand, if Charlie did not and his own immune system was the culprit, the only way to fight it would be to suppress his immune response with steroids. These scenarios cannot be dealt with simulteaneously, so we both decided that our main focus should be to assume we are looking for an infectious disease. So, they are going to run a urine culture, plus separate culture just for lepto. Andrea, via cell phone, insisted we also run a blood test for autoimmune disorders, but the doctor warned us that the test can often have false positives. He prescribed Charlie amoxicillin and Baytril in addition to his doxycycline in the hopes that any bacteria in his body can be fought off. He will also stay on his Tramadol for pain. The tests should come back by Tuesday.
It is weird to hope your puppy has an infectious disease, but that is where we are right now. If Charlie has an autoimmune disorder, it could be a dooming diagnosis. Of course we would have to try a large dose of Prednisone and hope Charlie's immune system responds. Then, in a best case scenario, we could slowly pull back the dosage until everything goes back to normal. But, realistically, the best case scenario seems like childish wishful thinking. Charlie's condition declined so quickly, and at such a young age, that it would have to be a pretty severe disorder. It is more likely that he will go the rest of his life on a steriod rollercoaster, where relapses are just one of the many setbacks he would have to deal with. The doctor said that, realistically, Charlie is looking at a life of illness, weakness, a myriad of potential side effects, and eventually diabetes. If he were ten years old, maybe I could swallow all of that, but my God, he's just a puppy!
So, here we wait. I elected to take Charlie home and continue to care for him, and, for what it is worth, I think Charlie would agree with me. The one time I did have to leave his side today, the nurse said he got noticably agitated until I returned. He's always been such a pampered little nerd, so a forced isolation from his family might kill him outright. Besides, after spending over $900 dollars today, we will need every last penny for what struggles may be yet to come, should we decide that taking those struggles on are in Charlie's best interests. The good news is that Charlie went through the day like a trooper. When we got home, he ate, drank, and took all of his medications. We are going to make sure he gets lots of rest, and all the attention he can stand. If we are lucky, by the end of the weekend we will see more energy and an improved appetite. It is the best we can hope for, so hope we shall.

Thank you all for your prayers and support,

3rd January 2009, 07:18 AM
oh, Chris, I was hoping you and Andrea would have a diagnosis, a treatment plan and a positive outcome just around the corner. Though you don't have a diagnosis yet, I will still be hoping that you get one quicky, and that treatment and recovery are possible. I do understand your agony of wondering what the best thing will be for your beloved dog, how much to put them through, and even how much you can afford etc. It is a terrible place to be standing.

I will be pulling for Charlie, for you both and for his doctors to find and be able to treat whatever is ailing him. I know that isn't much, but I hope it brings a bit of comfort to know many of us here are anxious for your Charlie. Many hugs to all of you.

3rd January 2009, 08:07 AM
I will continue for you and Charlie. I can't imagine being in your place right now. Wanting so badly to help your baby and not being able to. I know finances limits us all at some point. I have often thought about what I would be able to do if Bella becomes seriously ill, its scary to think about. I have heard of Care Credit, its a credit card type thing, that you apply for and its accepted at many different medical facilities. Vets have also started accepting it in come areas. You may want to check into that to see if it is available and accepted in your area. You can get, I think, up to 12 months interest free, but if it goes over that, then the interest is added onto the balance or something. % of Interest depends on your credit score I think. I work for an Oral Surgery practice and a lot of our patients use it and like it. Just a thought, since sometimes the immediate out of pocket is what is so hard to do. I pray that little Charlie recovers and get back to being the healthy, happy puppy you have loved. My Bella just turned one on Monday, so it hits close to home with me. Best of luck and lots of prayers.:xfngr:

3rd January 2009, 09:18 AM
Chris and Andrea,
Just catching up on this thread... how totally devastating. But you are absolutely doing the right thing by exploring all the options you can. You would always wonder otherwise. Charlie is getting the best possible care at the moment. I hope this board provides a comfort to you. I know exactly what you are going through, as a little puppy we had went through something similar. Her head became enlarged... I won't go into all the details but when she was undergoing tests in the vet hosp this board was an absolute godsend. There are so many people here rooting for you both and Charlie, praying for you and wishing you well. Hope you find out definitively what's affecting him soon :flwr:

3rd January 2009, 09:44 AM
We have our fingers and paws crossed for you in the hope that you find what is causing Charlie's discomfort :paw:

3rd January 2009, 01:17 PM
The first thing I did this a.m. when getting up is run to my computer to see if there was a diagnosis on Charlie and how he is doing. Most of us here have never met and myself have only been on here for a very short time. My heart aches for you guys. We all love our dogs and they are our children. Just knowing all the people on here care has got to help a little. Please please keep posting as I know everybody else like myself is wondering constantly about this little guy. You are all in my prayers.

3rd January 2009, 01:42 PM
Thinking of you..and will check in frequently to see how the little man is doing.

3rd January 2009, 02:12 PM
I am so sorry all of you are going through this.
I know you are pleased with the care you are getting but we are only 3 hours from you and A&M Veterinary Hospital lets you pay them in monthly payments.

Prayers sent your way....

3rd January 2009, 03:49 PM
Andrea & Chris,

Hang in there, you are in good hands. My youngest was vomiting and pooping blood for 2 weeks and it was the team at DVRC that was able to diagnose him and get him on the right medication and now he is a happy, healthy boy-we owe them his life. I am in the area so if there is anything I can do to help you, please do not hesitate to ask.


3rd January 2009, 04:27 PM
Andrea and Chris :flwr: It has to be so hard to deal with a non diagnosis for Charlie and yet you did end up with 2 possibles. Charlie has you as loving parents, a physician working on his behalf, the concern,love and prayers of forum members-he is ill and he has good support. You did so right to bring him home because you are his strength and comfort. He in turn will give you all he can-sweetness and cuddles. Give him a soft hug for all concerned and know you are not isolated in this struggle. Let's :xfngr: that this is a "bug" and that it is totally covered by the antibiotics-it can run but it can't hide :thmbsup:.

3rd January 2009, 05:14 PM
Chris again. Charlie is much the same, but he did seem a little less shaky on his feet this morning. He still didn't take very many steps, but the ones he did take were a bit more confident. Compared to how skinny and bony he is getting this seems trivial though. Maybe it's a good sign...
The meds have made him more thirsty for sure. I have had work hard to get Charlie to take 40ml of water a day for the past three days, and he eagerly lapped up 40ml of water from my fingers just with his morning meal.

"Three grand essentials to happiness in this life are something to do, something to love, and something to hope for." -Joseph Addison

3rd January 2009, 05:17 PM
A little improvement, hopefully you will see more soon.

Thinking of you and Charlie:paw:

3rd January 2009, 07:37 PM
Any baby-steps are good news.... Thank you, Chris, for updating us. We are all so very concerned. Judy

Cathy Moon
3rd January 2009, 08:38 PM
Andrea and Chris, we're sending positive thoughts for you and little Charlie. :lotsaluv::flwr::hug: I would take the same approach as yours. Hang in there.

PS: I know someone whose labrador retriever caught Lepto, and it took a very long time (almost a month) to get a diagnosis. They had to go to more than one vet to get the diagnosis. He pulled through it and improved immensely - that was just over a year ago. :flwr:

4th January 2009, 01:42 AM
Hoping that you have good healing rest tonight and a little improvement tomorrow :xfngr:.

4th January 2009, 01:58 AM
Andrea & Chris-

Sending positive thoughts your way and hoping that Charlie continues to show signs of improvement. He is in all of our prayers!

Claire L
4th January 2009, 12:59 PM
Sending prayers and healing thoughts for Charlie :hug::hug::hug:

Blessed are you, Lord God
maker of all living creatures.
On the fifth and sixth days of creation
you called forth fish in the sea
birds in the air and animals on the land.
You inspired St. Francis to call all animals
his brothers and sisters.
We ask you to bless this animal.
By the power of your love,
enable Charlie to live according to your plan.
May we always praise you
for all your beauty in creation.
Blessed are you, Lord our God, in all your creatures! Amen.

4th January 2009, 01:10 PM
Thinking of you and Charlie and you are in our prayers. Do hope that he continues to improve. :hug: to you all.

4th January 2009, 03:42 PM
I am sending you all my thoughts and prayers for Charlie. I hope, he is feeling better.
:hug: Charlotte

Cathy T
4th January 2009, 04:40 PM
You all have really been through way more than any owner should endure. I am hoping and praying that Charlie will continue to improve. Please know you are not alone.....we are all sending our prayers and healing thoughts to you.

4th January 2009, 06:09 PM
Praying that Charlie gets better soon.

4th January 2009, 07:37 PM
Thank you all so much for your prayers and good wishes! We are all hanging in here the best we can, hoping for a turnaround. Charlie is still feeling very poorly. He goes outside every four hours or so, around the clock, and he takes a few steps every time. His limping doesn't seem to be quite as bad, but we're not sure if that's just our wanting him to seem better. He is definitely drinking more, and he actually drank from a bowl for the first time in two weeks last night. His appetite is still nonexistent, but Chris is still feeding him the prescription food by hand and has been getting Charlie to take more food for the last few meals, so maybe that's a good sign too. He still just lays there most of the day, though, so we're just not sure what to think. We're praying that Charlie just has a wicked infection that needed more antibiotics and more time to fight it.

The internal medicine vet said that Charlie would improve by tomorrow if it is an infection, so we'll talk to him tomorrow and see if he thinks these little signs are enough improvement to keep on this course. If not, then we'll discuss Charlie's prognosis in terms of a likely autoimmune disorder.....don't want to think about that just yet.

Again, thank you all so much for your support during this extremely difficult time for our family. Chris goes back to work tomorrow and our older son, Alex goes back to school, so the house will probably seem quieter tomorrow with just me, our little one, Ian, and Charlie.....I wish I could say I was looking forward to it. But, we'll just keep on keeping on and hoping for the best. We'll keep you all updated!

Thanks so much,

4th January 2009, 08:49 PM
Thank you for the update, Andrea. I know this is such a stressful time for your family. At least it sounds like Charlie isn't worse.....and hopefully those little changes you are seeing are signs of improvement. We will continue praying for him, and hope, hope, hope the news is better tomorrow. Hugs to you, Chris, and Charlie. Judy

Margaret C
4th January 2009, 09:57 PM
I am so sorry to read what little Charlie is going through. Thank goodness he has you both to care for him.
I do hope that tomorrow brings better news.

Margaret C

4th January 2009, 10:05 PM
Charlie seems to be taking baby-steps forward but it is forward :).
In your first post

He is on prescription invalid food, which my husband has to force-feed him. He will not drink anything, so my husband has to pry his mouth open and use a medical syringe to squirt it down his throat. and so today seems a bit better and hopefully tomorrow,too. He has great parents caring for him :flwr:

4th January 2009, 10:58 PM
Yes, it does sound like he's made one little step already. We are all willing him to take another,then another.. Wishing you well,and hoping Charlie will soon show signs of improving.

5th January 2009, 12:31 AM
Still thinking of you and little Charlie, hope tomorrow brings more hope for you.

5th January 2009, 01:07 AM
Andrea & Chris-

I think it is a good sign that Charlie is making improvements and not having any regression. Which doctor are you seeing at DVRC? They are all fabulous and I know will work with you to determine what needs to be done to make Charlie feel better. You are in my thoughts!


Claire L
5th January 2009, 10:20 AM
Hope you feel better today Charlie :lotsaluv:

5th January 2009, 03:59 PM
Just wanted to let you know I am thinking about you, Charlie, and hoping you feel better today! :flwr: Still praying you get diagnosed and get better everyday!:xfngr:

5th January 2009, 04:14 PM
Hope to day is a little better day, Charlie. Thinking of you :hug:

5th January 2009, 04:18 PM
He still just lays there most of the day, though, so we're just not sure what to think. We're praying that Charlie just has a wicked infection that needed more antibiotics and more time to fight it.

Hi Andrea,
If Charlie is indeed fighting a massive infection that is probably where all his energy is going. If you think about it, the energy he has to do more than sleep, lay around, comes from what is left over from trying to get well. And he's not eating as much as normal I would guess, so this could be why he is so quiet. Sometimes sleep is a very important part of natures cure.

Still thinking of you all and praying for a good recovery.

5th January 2009, 09:44 PM
thinking of you all today. Hope Charlie is showing improvement.

5th January 2009, 09:57 PM
If he is drinking on his own and eating better that already sounds like a significant improvement over where he was. Glad you are working with such good people and hope today has further improvements. :xfngr:

5th January 2009, 10:02 PM
Well, we are really hoping that Charlie might be feeling a little better. He's acting very much the same, still mostly sleeping and laying in his crate, but he does seem a bit more alert when he's awake. We tried to get him to walk, and he can, albeit very, very slowly. He doesn't really bend either of his back knees, so he walks like an old, arthritic dog, but the limping seems to be improved.

But the best news of all is that his fever is down! Chris ran him over to the vet on his lunch break, and they took his temp. He's down to less than a degree fever, and it's 2.5 degrees lower than it was on Friday! So we're really, really hoping that this means we're dealing with an infection...we can fight infection! Charlie's specialist is on vacation until tomorrow, but we're trying to find out if any of his tests have come back yet.....come on, Leptospirosis! Like Chris said before, it's really strange to hope that your pet has an awful disease, but if it is Lepto, I feel confident that we'll beat it. The worst part about Lepto is that it's potentially contagious to people, so I'm really paranoid about my kids right now. If the test comes back positive, we might put everyone on antibiotics to be safe...don't know yet.

Thanks again to all for your support through all this. It really is helping!

5th January 2009, 10:08 PM
It sounds like good news. I am glad to hear that he isn't worse and even showing improvement. I will be anxious to hear what the tests show tomorrow.

5th January 2009, 10:08 PM
So glad to hear his temp is down. Keeping my fingers crossed that he continues with this improvement.

6th January 2009, 12:10 AM
Glad to hear he is a little better...please let us know as soon as you get the test results.

Fingers crossed for continued improvement.

6th January 2009, 12:56 AM
We will take ANY good news there is..... So hopeful that his improvement will continue, and he will be as good as new... What an ordeal. Will be anxious to hear the latest on your Charlie. Judy

6th January 2009, 01:38 AM
Ah good for Charlie-so nice to hear. Can't beat steady improvement for making your heart sing. :xfngr: it is a bacterial infection and that Charlie is on the right path to recovery. :flwr:

6th January 2009, 10:37 AM
Glad to hear hes feeling a bit better, and there has been some obvious improvement. Thats lovely. :xfngr: for the test results.

6th January 2009, 12:00 PM
Good news!!
Our whole family is praying for Charlie....

Cathy Moon
6th January 2009, 12:07 PM
It's good to hear he's improving. :flwr:

I just had a thought. You might want to ask your vet if his diet could be changed in case it is Lepto. The diet could be something that's beneficial to his kidneys (and possibly his liver?) The reason I brought this up is that Lepto can possibly damage organs, so if his diet could be changed now (just in case), it might prevent or lessen any damage. This is definitely something I would do - I apologize for not thinking of this sooner.

Also, if it is Lepto plan on having additional blood tests run in order to guage the effect of the disease on his kidneys, etc.

Daisy's Mom
6th January 2009, 09:19 PM
I just read this thread from beginning to end. It is very scary and I am praying for your family and Charlie, as others have said. Your latest posts do give cause for more optimism, so that's great. Hang in there, Charlie!

Do you know if they tested for blastomycosis? I know it can occur in the South and SE U.S. One of my college students' dogs got it last Spring. It comes from the soil, and if your yard has the fungus that causes it, it can be treated with bleach, but her vet told her it was a very laborious process to completely eliminate the fungus. Her story scared me to death, since we live in the same town. Just another thought to maybe mention to the vet if they have not checked for it yet. I assume it is a blood test, but I don't know for sure. I'm not a vet, nor do I play one on TV, but after reading your experiences with Charlie, my student came to mind, so I thought I'd mention it.

Anyway, I'm thinking about you and praying that things are looking up now. You've definitely been through the ringer and Charlie is very lucky to have you!

7th January 2009, 05:07 AM
To give everyone an update, Charlie is doing about the same...still just lays there, still not moving much. He ate his food today with slightly more interest, actually licking up some of it himself. He will sometimes drink from the bowl if you hold it up to his mouth. He has not gotten up on his own yet, but he has kind of half-sat up a couple of times when Chris came near him. (He just adores the man...he's got great taste!). We're hoping that these might be signs of improvement, but it's just really hard to tell. Charlie is still nothing like the bouncy, hyper, happy boy he usually is. It's really, really hard to see him like this.

We talked to Charlie's internal specialist today. He did think that Charlie sounds a bit improved, but he was definitely hoping for a more apparent change in movement and behavior. The lepto test hasn't come back yet, but he thinks we should know in the next couple of days. The urine cultures came back negative for bacterial infection, though, so if it's not lepto, then it's probably an autoimmune problem. The doctor mentioned immune-mediated polyarthritis several times on the phone, so I think that's his thinking. This was already on my own list of possibilities, so I wasn't that surprised.

If this is the case, Charlie would have to be put on high-dose Prednisone to see if his disease could go into clinical remission....if so, they would wean him off the steroids with the hopes that he would stay well. The problem with all of this is that if we are dealing with autoimmune disease, the doctor said that with Charlie being so young, he would very likely have several periods of regression throughout his life. He would have to go back on the high-dose steroids every time he showed symptoms. The doctor described it as a steroid rollercoaster, with many potential side effects. He said that Charlie would have less energy, and would very likely become overweight and develop diabetes.

This is all very hard to swallow. Charlie is only a year old. He's a high-energy, fun-loving dog. He loves to chase squirrels, chase his ball, chase the kids, and take LOOOONG walks. He's like the Energizer Bunny of Cavaliers! It's really hard to picture him as a more placid dog, and it's painful to think of him as a sickly dog his whole life. I'm trying to do a lot of reading about autoimmune disorders to get a good picture of what Charlie's life would be like, but it's difficult, because most of what's available to read is clinical studies and journal articles. We don't yet know what is best for Charlie if this is what we're dealing with....so we're still hoping for the lepto test to come back positive.

If anyone here knows anything about autoimmune disorders, or has had a pet with a similar disease, we would of course love to gain any knowledge we can on the subject...it's really hard not knowing what to do for the pet you love. Thank you all for your continued support and prayers...Chris and I both gain strength from hearing your kind words.


7th January 2009, 07:22 AM
Andrea, so sorry that this just drags on and on for you with no end in sight. I don't have any advice since I thankfully haven't experienced what you are going through, but I might make a suggestion. If you start a new thread and title it something like "possible autoimmune disease in Charlie-help!" it would get the attention of anyone who has experience with this type of thing and I am sure they would be quick to help with all the knowledge and experience they have.

I will continue to be pulling for you. :xfngr:

7th January 2009, 08:34 AM
Still thinking of little charlie and hoping for a good outcome...

7th January 2009, 01:41 PM
Sorry to hear that Charlie is not improving as fast as we had all hoped. I guess tiny steps are at least progress though.

There is a lady who has been at the forefront of dealing with and publicising auto immune issues in Bearded Collies. She *may* be able to help or could perhaps poimt you towards correct information.

This is the only contact I can find for her

Jo Tucker -


Otherwise I know Beverly Cuddy of Dogs Today magazine has had dealings with her and may put you in touch.

7th January 2009, 03:28 PM
I have been reading your thread & waiting for some good news. Glad to hear there is some improvement. You and Charlie will continue to be in my thoughts & prayers.

7th January 2009, 05:23 PM
one of the guys I work with had an autoimmune issue a couple years back that cause the muscles in his legs to seize up, sounds like what your charlie has, he was over it in a couple of weeks. I hope charlie gets better soon!

8th January 2009, 02:20 PM
I only just read this thread (completely) and I'm so sorry for all of you :( I can't even imagine how I would feel if something like that would happen to any of our cavaliers... I even panick when they just got the flu or something stupid..
So I can only say that you're really very brave and I honestly hope that there will be a change in the very near future!
I'll be thinking of all of you and crossing my fingers!!!

8th January 2009, 05:30 PM
Andrea: Worried about my baby also but you are also in my mind. Please keep posting about Charlie. We haven't heard anything from you in about 36 hrs. so please post even if no change etc. We care!!!

8th January 2009, 05:30 PM
Thinking of Charlie with :xfngr:. Hoping today continues on the improvement path.:flwr:

8th January 2009, 06:59 PM
Charlie is still doing about the same. He still can't walk, and still just lays there not moving much. His appetite does seem to be a bit better...basically, Chris offers him a bite of the prescription mushy food, and Charlie licks it up. This is definitely easier than physically putting the food in his mouth, and we are hoping it's a sign that Charlie is feeling a bit better. The no walking thing is very worrying, though, as Charlie's internist said we should be seeing a lot more movement by this point if we're dealing with an infection. We left a message with the doctor with the hopes that he'll call us with the Lepto test results today, but it's possible we won't know until tomorrow. :xfngr::xfngr::xfngr: for a Lepto diagnosis. I'm finding out as much as possible about autoimmune disease and Prednisone just to be prepared in case we don't get the result we're hoping for. We really love this little pup, and his quality of life is the most important thing we have to consider.

Thanks to everyone here, and we'll let you know as soon as we know.

8th January 2009, 07:51 PM
Hi Andrea,
thanks for keeping us updated. Still praying for a Lepto diagnosis and a good outcome for you all.

8th January 2009, 08:48 PM
Thanks for the update..still hoping for a good outcome and sending positive thoughts for charlie.

9th January 2009, 04:11 AM
Thinking of you, will be saying a prayer for Charlie tonight. Judy

9th January 2009, 12:16 PM
I know your family is really going through a lot right now but know that everyone on this board truly cares and is praying for Charlie.

9th January 2009, 01:53 PM
I hope all is well still.its hard i know,i just lost my boy,he was nearly 3.We had a rapid decline after ear surgery.Jus.

10th January 2009, 05:58 AM
Well, we heard back from Charlie's internist today, and the Lepto test came back negative. This means that Charlie has been diagnosed with autoimmune disease. Specifically, Dr. Wasik said that he is relatively certain Charlie has what is known as Immune-mediated Polyarthritis. What this means is that Charlie's immune system, for reasons still unknown, went nutty and attacked his joints with massive inflammation, leaving him with major arthritis in multiple joints. All of the other symptoms that Charlie experienced were due to his body tricking itself into thinking that he was very sick, hence the fever, loss of appetite, no energy, etc.

The prognosis for this disorder is...complicated. Charlie is starting high-dose Prednisone (steroid) tonight. What we have to do is suppress his immune system enough that the autoimmune reaction "turns off" so that the inflammation will go away and Charlie will feel better again. If all goes well, Charlie should show major improvement in just a couple of days, and should feel well within a couple of weeks. If his body goes back to "normal", then we will slowly taper back the Prednisone with the hopes that he stays stable. If he remains well, he will be able to go off the meds completely. At that point, Charlie should feel great and be himself again; his disease will be in remission.

It is possible that once in remission, he might never have symptoms again. It is probable that he will relapse at some point, however, and he will have to go back on the Prednisone right away to try to keep the arthritis from setting in again. The doctor said that it is very possible that Charlie could have multiple relapses in his lifetime. And it is unfortunately also possible that the disease will not fully reach remission, in which case Charlie would have to stay on the Prednisone long-term or take other, more powerful drugs.

This is all very scary to us. We are putting this little guy on major meds and we don't even know for absolute certain that this disease is what he has. And obviously, it's extremely upsetting to find out that your sweet little dog has an incurable disorder like this. We have been going through all of this for a month now, and I feel like I've been in shock the whole time. We want Charlie to have a great life, and this all just seems like a big roll of the dice.

But, Charlie is doing all right. He still mostly just lays there, but from time to time he seems more alert. He had a decent appetite today, eating all of his food with no fuss. And he's been drinking more, so I'm sure that makes him feel better. His walking is not really improved, but he did get up on his own for a minute yesterday. And he wagged his tail for the first time in four weeks! (It was only for a second, but I nearly cried). The doctor said that these little improvements give him hope that Charlie might improve really quickly once his immune system is suppressed. So that's what we're hoping and praying for now. Thanks to all of you for helping us through this difficult time, and I hope that we'll have better news to report in a day or two.


Cathy Moon
10th January 2009, 06:33 AM
I hope Charlie goes into remission very soon. :hug::flwr:

10th January 2009, 07:47 AM
I hope little Charlie continues to improve. At least you know what your dealing with now, and can go from there. Just know that we are all praying for you and Charlie and miracles do happen, so he could turn the corner and be your happy little baby again. Please keep us posted on his progress.:flwr:

10th January 2009, 08:18 AM
Andrea, I am sorry to hear that your situation with Charlie is going to be such an ordeal for the duration of his life, but he is a lucky boy to have a "mommy" like you to make sure he gets everything he needs.

I guess as bad as it is, feeling like you are getting somewhere with a diagnosis must help some. I know for me, the waiting is worse than the knowing.

I will hope to see that he improves rapidly and that he never has a relapse.

10th January 2009, 04:13 PM
Sorry that Charlie has come under autoimmune disease as a solution . Sometimes diagnosis is achieved by rule-out-that is rule out everything else. The Yahoo clubs possibly have one devoted to autoimmune disease and some-times valuable tips can be gleaned but you do have to wean out the "chaff". One of the thoughts down the road will be about vaccines and whether or not to have them administered-Dr.Jean Dodd, online, has information about vaccines and the immune system. And now-the best-Charlie back to a bouncing smiling Cavalier boy ready and able to tackle his world :rah:. Know that he could have a double Cavalier attitude re: food when he is on steroids -they could easily increase his appetite to no end. I hope he responds to the treatment so well that you can smile all day.:luv:

10th January 2009, 05:24 PM
Sorry to hear this..at least now you know what you are dealing with.

Hope things get better for Charlie soon.

Cathy T
10th January 2009, 08:58 PM
I knew Charlie's diagnosis sounded familiar....I just confirmed that a friend's Cavalier, Quincy, has the same thing. Quincy is doing well with treatment. He is on 1 Atopica ( 25mg.) tablet daily, and a 1/2 prenisone ( 5 mg.) 2 X weekly. He is also on 1/4 tablet of Torbutrol for pain as needed. This is a 60 day regimen he is on.

Here is what Linda says about Quincy

Quincy is really fine other than that, eats and plays well, however slow to sit, and he wants to be carried up the stairs at the end of the day. Never turns down a walk

I hope this will give you some encourgement. I am also going to pm you Linda's e-mail and phone number. She welcomes you to contact her as she has been dealing with this for over a year now.

11th January 2009, 03:44 AM
Oh Andrea, what a time you have had. At last, hopefully, there is a name and a treatment for his illness. Now, finally there is going to be a plan to get him well. Still praying for you that he is much better soon and that the doctors get him the medication that he needs. Hugs to you all. Judy

13th January 2009, 05:45 PM
Hi Andrea,
I'm so sorry this is the diagnosis for Charlie, but at least now you can move forward with the right treatment. Let us know how he is doing.

13th January 2009, 06:27 PM
Hi Andrea..How is Charlie doing?

13th January 2009, 10:57 PM
I just wanted to let you know that autoimmune disorders do not = horrible life! I would keep your hopes up as there is a good chance he will lead a happy, full life. I have 4 disorders that are all autoimmune, but I lead what most would think is a normal life. The only difference between me and my counterparts is that I take daily medication. Other than that, I work, hike, swim, play etc.

Autoimmune disorders can make life more complicated at times, but don't give up hope!