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Thread: Mystery Illness

  1. #1
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    Default Mystery Illness

    Hi Guys, I have a dog with a mystery illness. Ive posted the letter I've sent to several vets below, excuse the length of it! Lots of info. I realise the diagnosis of cancer is a big possibility...but Im not giving up on my mate just yet! If any body has any thoughts, or suggestions, please offer them! If there is actually a vet out there who cares enough to want to get to the bottom of this, please help! The 6 vets Ive seen all just seem to want to charge me $$$ and then diagnose without really looking into it.

    EDIT - Just like to point out guys, I am not after yet another "cancer diagnosis", as I have heard this time and time again. My aim to post here is to try and find something else, or hear from a vet who has another theory. (I am more then willing to travel to see a vet(I live in Melb CBD) - given online diagnosis is useless). If you read below, you will hear why I dont believe cancer is a neat fit here...but I seem to be at a dead end, and cannot find a vet who will look deeper.

    Thanks in advance.

    ----------------------
    I have an 8 year old Hungarian vizsla, Jake, who has had ongoing symptoms for at least 2 years. He has experienced a bout of what was diagnosed as Myosistitis, fluid in his abdomen, tonsillitis, and a bad cough/gag. Details as follows…

    Early 2010, Jake showed signs of being a bit off colour on two or three occasions. This was diagnosed as bouts of pancreatitis, due to fatty food intake and once treated went away.

    First half of 2011. He was showing signs of lethargy, lost a lot of weight and was quite unwell. During tests, a vet found his urine was quite diluted and suggested cushings disease and further tests were suggested. While we considered options, he seemed to come good, and got over this untreated. He regained weight, and seemed back to himself. This has not reoccurred.

    July/August 2011, he had extreme muscle and/or joint pain. Arthritis was the first diagnosis, but treatment failed to improve his symptoms. I googled and came up with a possible diagnosis of Myositis. He was placed on steroid treatment and the symptoms stopped in 3 or 4 days. This has not reoccurred.

    September 2011 Jake developed severe ascites in his tummy, he was given several ultrasounds and X-Rays, first of which showed a vague mass in his tummy. The subsequent xrays and ultrasounds found nothing to repeat that finding. He was then sent to a specialist clinic, who found to symmetrical masses in his chest, and he was diagnosed with Chest cancer, and given 3-6 months. Upon returning to our local vet, he suggested the masses found were too symmetrical and were possible swollen hilar lymphs. Jake also had tonsillitis, causing him to gag and cough. A link to lymphatic tissue swelling was suggested. Our local vet suggested possible lymphantasia. At the time, nothing was found that was suspicious in his bladder. 10 litres of fluid was drained, and Jake was placed on Aldactone and Macrolone. 2 weeks later, he was as good as he ever was. They also noted during testing that his spleen seemed to be missing. He has never had a return of Ascites.

    Early 2012 His latest symptom set began, which is that he is having an urge to constantly wee, and has been passing small amounts of blood at the very end of his wee. He also passed a finger sized lump of "congealed" puss recently, and upon squeezing his penis, I was able to get more puss to come out, and another blob. He hasnt had any signs of puss since that.

    He has also been experiencing small bouts of leaking urine beginning around a week ago. He doesn’t seem to be in any pain, but does appear to be a little depressed, which I would think is from the urge to urinate all the time. His appetite is fine, and no marked weight loss is noticeable.

    A recent ultrasound showed thickening of the bladder wall, which was possibly a tumour. So a sample of that was taken via needle, and the pathology result was as below...

    The variability in the cells both in the prostate and urine are suspicious for a carcinoma. The cells in the urine are consistent with transitional cells - while highly reactive transitional cells can have features similar to those seen here, in the absence of a cause (i.e. UTI/uroliths) the cellular variability is concerning for a tumor. The origin of the tumor is unclear. The cell populations in the urine and prostate are not identical. A tumor originating in the prostate could be of either prostatic or transitional cell origin. Spread throughout the urinary tract is possible particularly for a TCC - also variability within these tumors is also not uncommon depending on the depth of sampling. Consider biopsy to confirm the diagnosis

    No diagnosis has been accurate or consistent up to now and he has been to at least 5 different vets. We are at wits end!

    We are a little but concerned that we aren’t getting anywhere with his diagnosis, and once again the above doesn’t confirm or deny cancer.

    My concern is that he has had symptoms on and off for months and months...if it is cancer, surely it would be degenerative, and symptoms wouldn’t be coming and going. For example, if cancer was causing his cough, surely that would be still present? Or if it was causing his ascites, surely that would have reoccurred? It seems he gets a symptom set, then it disappears and another appears. I cant help but think he has some obscure infection or auto immune disorder, that vets locally are missing...

    What is really frustrating, is none of them seem to want to get to the bottom of it, and are happy to latch on to whatever the most obvious diagnosis “could” be. Nothing has been conclusive, and if cancer is present in his chest, bladder and stomach…surely he would have other signs, or at least re-occurrence of his previous symptoms.

    I realise cancer is still very real possibility…but something just doesn’t sit right…and I am not willing to give up just yet…hence trying online for a solution!
    Last edited by SaltyDog; 07-10-2012 at 02:24 PM.

  2. #2
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    There is no way a vet is going to do a diagnosis based on an email. They need to see the dog.

    It is discouraging that you haven't got your diagnosis yet.

    Have you asked for referral to a specialist? How much money are you williing to spend? You didn't want to get the further tests the first time around - maybe now is the time? But a vet isn't going to recommend if you don't want to spend the money.

    Have you talked to your dog's breeder - about possible problems that Viszlas get and their vet recommendations?

    It could be that he's got some sort of immune system disease or weakness and gets lots of different things. And cancer symptoms (and other disease symptoms) do sometimes seem to go away and then come back. It's not a neat straight line steady getting worse, especially not if some of the treatments you have done so far have been effective at reducing symptoms (without dealing with the cause).

    You may want to investigate the possibility of a University Vet Hospital ie the teaching vet hospital that goes with the Uni trainning course. They're usually much more interested in getting an accurate diagnosis. But your regular vet may have picked up on your reluctance to do comprehensive testing eariler.

    It's a balance between spending all your money to find out what it is which may not help the long term health of the dog anyway (ie being diagnosed with prostate cancer - doesn't always mean any difference to treatment or outcome) and just dealing with stuff as it comes up.

    surely he would have other signs, or at least re-occurrence of his previous symptoms.
    Nope. Disease is not like a computer program. It's not a fixed set of instructions with a fixed outcome for fixed inputs.

    You've got a lot of variables here. Each disease manifests in each critter (even of the same species or family) differently.

    Are you willing to pay for xrays? You know this would mean a general anaesthetic for the dog, and the older the dog is, the more risky this is. Though even young dogs can die from the GA.

    If you're not happy with what you're getting, ask your vet to refer you to a specialist, and be prepared to empty your wallet in the process. I think you haven't given the vet the option of doing enough stuff to get a diagnositc so it's a bit hard to blame them entirely. If it is a rare disease - it's unlikely your local vet would recognise it.

  3. #3
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    Hi Hyacinth, Thanks so much for your response. I do realise a vet cannot diagnose via email, but any help would be appreciated. I would be happy to take my dog to a vet anywhere in Victoria, or with a day or two drive of Melbourne, if they think they can assist. The problem I have is that all 6 vets so far, seem to have no idea what is going on. When they say "its probably cancer" it just doesnt really sit well with me.

    Have you talked to your dog's breeder - about possible problems that Viszlas get and their vet recommendations?
    Yes, I have. They recommended a vet who we have been seeing about 45 mins from where we live (Melb CBD), and has probably been the best so far. None of Jake's symptoms fit anything the breeder recognized.

    You may want to investigate the possibility of a University Vet Hospital ie the teaching vet hospital that goes with the Uni trainning course. They're usually much more interested in getting an accurate diagnosis. But your regular vet may have picked up on your reluctance to do comprehensive testing eariler.
    We have been to Melb Uni in Werribee, which is a teaching hospital. They are the ones that diagnosed chest cancer, and charged us $900 for basically nothing. I was quite disheartened with the vets attitude, and lack of response to the information I provided her. She basically x-rayed and Ultrasounded him and told us he was dying of chest cancer. I had prepared a full run down of symptoms and case history...which she read, but didnt seem to pay any attention to. I understand cancer may be the likely diagnosis of first glance, but his case history and ongoing symptoms indicate some a little more complex.

    I think you haven't given the vet the option of doing enough stuff to get a diagnositc so it's a bit hard to blame them entirely. If it is a rare disease - it's unlikely your local vet would recognise it.
    I should have made that clearer. Sorry! I have had all tests that have been recommended so far done. They include 4 x Abdominal Ultrasounds, 3 x Abdominal Xrays, at least 9 blood tests, 4 x urine tests in house, 3 x path lab urine tests, 1 x full body xray, 1 x Bladder Cell aspiration. The only tests we knocked back were cushings disease. But that was due to us living remotely at the time, and it being an 8 hour drive, plus a lot of $$. We spent a couple of days stewing on it, and during that time he came good. Hence us not going back. We havent bothered to pursue cushings further, as blood tests and symptom sets dont really indicate that is likely.

    Money hasnt really been an issue, we have spent $6000+ on tests and failed treatments so far...we are rich, so we arent limitless in funds, but I want to get him fixed...but at the moment we keep forking out money on tests, that come back as "maybes" or "suspicions" or "possibilities".

    As I said, I do believe cancer is a distinct risk, but I do know my dog, and working from home, I am with him 24/7 basically and it just doesnt quite sit right with me. Which I why I would love some advice or information from other people, and hear different thoughts and experiences.

  4. #4
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    Are you prepared to try holistic?
    I will ask my Vet if she knows anyone in Melbourne.

  5. #5
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    Cancer is as cancer does. It is different for every single dog it affects, and unless it is a specifically detectable variant such as leukaemia or lymphoma, there is no blood test created (for dogs or humans for that matter) that is going to give you a definitive diagnosis.

    How do I know? Well, I've just finished walking your path, and for all the tests, and all the money, and all the non-definitives, Rosie died of incredibly agressive, but non-specific, cancer. It manifested in a bladder tumour originally, which thickened, advanced, and eventually grew through the bladder wall and attached to the lining of her abdomen. Then it multiplied and filled her tummy cavity with tumours ranging in size from golf balls to oranges. She was ultrasounded, xrayed, biopsied, blood tested, you name it, she had it, and never detected anything until we told our vet to get in there and look... and what he found made him cry on the phone with us. If you want his details, I'd be happy to pass them on via PM (he's in Melbourne, outer east).

    Rosie managed to keep going for me for just shy of 6 months from when she started to pee repetitively. It was heart breaking to live through - like you, I was with her all day of every day, and I know that she lasted as long as she did because I kept asking her to.

    Sometimes, no matter what, there are no good answers - in fact, sometimes there are no answers at all, just heartbreak, and I wish you weren't likely to be headed down this road - but cancer is sneaky, it doesn't play by the rules, and even though you know your dog is not right, you may never get the answer to the question of what's wrong.

    We made the decision with Rosie to make it all about quality, and up until her last breath, she was loved, she was treasured and she was trying her best to fight for us - which I'm sure is the same for your doglet.

  6. #6
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    Thats a terrible story to hear Pinkest. Im sorry to hear that. But I dont think we are walking the same path. I could accept Bladder cancer, or chest cancer or any other sort of diagnosis a lot easier, if it wasnt that he symptoms are ongoing, and changing from month to month. They havent been isolated to a region of his body, nor have any of them persisted or reoccured. Thats why I am scratching my head and looking for alternate diagnosis.

    We have been told he is possibly riddled with cancer (this was approx 9 months ago), hence the different symptom sets and wouldnt last 6 months...but if that is the case, I would think he would be a lot sicker then he is, and showing some more terminal signs.

    I do understand cancer is a beast unto its own, and it can present in all different ways...but Ive researched and researched his symptoms and different conditions, and ive read hundreds of articles of cancer patients. Yes, it does present in various ways...but the one thing that seems to remain constant, is that it doesnt give up its hold on organs once it has hold. Which, if this is cancer, it seems to have done at least twice.

    I also do realize Im being optimistic, and yes, i am refusing to believe its cancer. But I also believe I do still have some hope to grab onto.

    I guess the real reason I am on these forums is to get a theory OTHER then cancer...because to be brutally honest, I have heard them all and read about them all. I personally think he has something underlying all these symptoms, that are related...not just a "coincidence" as the last vet has told us.

    Are you prepared to try holistic?
    Yeah, we are. We have tried one in Melbournes East, who we are still seeing (EastWest Vet). But she came without a recommendation, so if you could ask your Vet, that would be fantastic!

  7. #7
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    I made a mistake and just left a message on your page.
    (visitor message, lol) Just click or double click on your own name and you can see it.

  8. #8
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    Wouldn't cancer show up on the x rays?

    Some cancers do tend to start somewhere then break off and flow around the body via blood or lymph systems and lodge and start again somewhere else and then same again. Sometimes the body fights bits off (spontaneous remission) and sometimes it doesn't. They're not all the same or progressive or obvious. But there's usually a whole lot of somethings that show up on the xrays or MRI or if the vet opens the critter up and has a look.

    I'm not a vet so I don't know. My dad did die of cancer and his symptoms were all over the place and there was a time where he was a whole lot better for a while (year or so) and then the last 6 months were progressively the worst - but not in any way that made sense, just more and more of him stopped working, and all we could do then was pain management - treading a fine line between being out of it because of the pain or out of it because of the drugs.

  9. #9
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    Vizsla life span averages about 9 years give or take.

    And they're prone to these cancers
    Lipoma (fatty lumps), Mast Cell Tumors, Hemangiosarcoma, Lymphoma

    Heres another list of things Vizsla can get.
    Disorders by Breed - Hungarian vizsla - LIDA Dogs - Faculty of Veterinary Science - The University of Sydney

    College of Veterinary Medicine

    Hemangiosarcoma - this one is really nasty when it affects the internal organs eg heart and spleen
    Hemangiosarcoma

    Cancer cells travel around the body and lodge anywhere...

  10. #10
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    Not with Rosie it didn't. It didn't show up in her biopsies either - there were never any malignant cells, and nothing malignant grew in the cultures either - yet the only diagnosis that could be drawn from sudden onset of incredibly growth-sagressive tumours was cancer. Cells do not suddenly just divide and multiply unless there is something wrong - just like with your Dad Hyacinth - everything (and yet, nothing) was wrong... specifically.

    You could see the growth on the ultrasounds, but when the biospies are clear, it does give you false hope. I think that is what took me so long to wrap my head around. This WAS cancer, of who-knows-what origin, but at the same time, it wasn't.

    Up until the day she passed, Rosie's coat was like a mirror, and they say that illness shows first in the coat, through dullness and hair loss. Well, no, it doesn't, not necessarily. She also only lost 500 grams in 6 months. The "experts" also diagnose massive weight loss attached to cancer. Well, again, not necessarily.

    This dog is asympomatic of a "classic" diagnosis for cancer doesn't mean that ultimately that is what is wrong, in one way or another. The problem is that there are no reliable protocol's for cancer testing if biopsies do not return malignant cells in culture growth.

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