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Thread: Difficulty breathing and eating

  1. #1

    Default Difficulty breathing and eating

    Hello all,
    I have a beautiful 7yo Springer Spaniel, who seemed in good health until a few days ago when I noticed that her mouth was open and her tongue was hanging out a little bit. I'd given her a piece of salmon skin at lunch time, and she'd failed to chew it; just taken it down in one piece which was about 6cm x 115cm. That evening at 5pm her breathing was loud and sounded as though something was obstructing it, and her mouth was open, with tongue out. I assumed the salmon skin was stuck, so gave her some dry biscuits to try and dislodge it, but to no avail. We went to the vet first thing next morning.
    They had a look but couldn't see so they gave her an anaesthetic and tried again, and also X-rayed her. They were unable to find any obstruction or swelling. She is on a course of antibiotics and anti-inflammatories, and the vet said that in the back of his mind he is considering the possibility of Myasthenia Gravis. It seems as though she can't keep her tongue in her mouth or control her lower jaw. If anyone has any clues, I'd be very grateful.

  2. #2


    Has the vet tested her heart, lungs and done a full panel blood test - including thyroid ?
    Last edited by RileyJ; 03-23-2014 at 12:45 PM.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2009


    Myasthenia Gravis

    Canine Myasthenia Gravis - A Neuromuscular Disease in Dogs

    the above website says it's genetic, and the below website doesn't have it listed for Cocker spaniels so you might want to get her pedigree ancestry submitted to the NSW database by your vet. And you probably want to chat with her breeder about it.

    It might be something else entirely - so I'd want a blood test or dna test to check for sure it was this particular disease.

    Disorders by Breed - Cocker spaniel - LIDA Dogs - Faculty of Veterinary Science - The University of Sydney

    If she'd inhaled the salmon skin instead of swallowing it - I'm not sure giving more food is a good idea. I have helped a horse who inhaled some apple pieces and was choking - by massaging his neck until the lumps of apple dislodged and went where they were supposed to. We organised a horse dentist after that to make sure his teeth were fixed up after that. And I was a lot more careful about feeding apple to greedy horses.

    My dog - given the opportunity will inhale and choke on most things, from bits of kibble to lumps of mashed potato. I don't think I'd give her something like salmon skin after your story - tho she gets away with eating long bits of grass intact on a regular basis.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2009


    My oops (thanks Riley)

    Genetic list for English Springer Spaniel - it's longer but still doesn't include the vet's suggested diagnosis
    Disorders by Breed - English springer spaniel - LIDA Dogs - Faculty of Veterinary Science - The University of Sydney

  5. #5


    Thanks RileyJ and Hyacinth. The vet hasn't done bloods or DNA yet; they want to wait and see if the antibiotics & anti-inflammatories fix the problem. I did ring her breeder and she hadn't heard of the problem. She suggested giving the medications 48hrs or so to show results and then calling the vet again if Baillie wasn't improving considerably. She did wonder if the vet had checked her tonsils. Another thing I've noticed is that she's licking her front paws a lot, so much so that they appear wet. I've put her on canned food at the breeders suggestion, as the vet has suggested chicken and rice but that was too difficult for Baillie to eat and it kept falling out of her mouth and there was food all over the floor. She seems to be drinking a lot (40 seconds at a time), but perhaps she isn't very efficient because the bowl hasn't emptied as fast as I expected. Apparently Myasthenia Gravis can also be acquired as well as being genetic, although I haven't discovered how it is acquired. She is also producing massive amounts of saliva; like when you're at the dentist and they have your tongue pressed down and you can't swallow and you make that gagging noise... When I go to feed her she winds up with a big line of saliva/drool hanging from her mouth to the ground. Baillie is not a dog who drools; we've never seen more than a hint of drool even when she is forced to wait prolonged times for her meal, so this is really unusual for her. At the moment I have to wipe her face every hour or so, and sometimes her paws as well. Her breath, and her saliva, smell bad - somewhat fishy, although she hasn't had any fish for several days. I think perhaps I should call the vet again tomorrow and ask them what they suggest as the next step. If they don't have a definitive plan, I'll ask who they'd suggest referring her to. I live in Marian, which is near Mackay in North Queensland. Thanks again for the advice, and for listening. Cheers,

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2009


    All that drool reads like the bit of fish is still stuck in her wind pipe.

    I saw an early episode of bondi vet where the dog inhaled a chicken carcass - and they pulled most of it out but there was still a bit stuck deeper in that they couldn't see. The symptoms were the same as you describe. Lots of drool, trouble eating or drinking anything - cos can't block the airway when swallowing because something is stuck in it...

    Was really tricky to get out as you need to put breathing stuff down a dog's wind pipe to give it a general anaesthetic, but you also need to run one of those tiny cameras and a long long pair of tweezers or cut the dog open to get the obstructions out.

    I'd be considering a second opinion from a more experienced vet. Or one with the ability to look deeper into the wind pipe ie has one of those camera on a stick gadgets (arthroscope).

  7. #7


    Just a few more things to ask you whether they have been checked:

    1. Mouth – all inside the mouth – teeth, jaw and tongue – no sign of any sores/abscesses/gingivitis.
    2. Suggestion from breeder was good – tonsils – and also sinuses.

    Smelly breath – could be because of - dehydration, something caught somewhere, inflammation in the gut, liver and/or kidney problems or problems like mentioned above.

    Did the salmon happen to have scales on it ?

    Licking her paws – could be a stress release for her or somehow a pain release by using her tongue.

    Frothing – can mean pain, stress or feeling ill.

    Something I found – having a look around:

    Paralysis of the Jaw in Dogs | petMD

    Now that you have given a basic area where the pup is – maybe get in touch as a second opinion – or get you vet to talk to the people from the following link:

    School of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences - JCU

    There are some really ‘smart cookies’ up there in that faculty. (Was not intended to be a play on words !)

    Good Luck !

  8. #8


    Hi Riley J, Baillie is much better thank you! I think you hit the nail on the head with the Paralysis of the Jaw article. We've been back to the vet twice and Baillie is now on a course of steroids to assist with healing, after the final diagnosis was "probable nerve damage/injury" - cause unknown. It may have been an injury or a virus. The article sounds identical to what happened.

    Thank you to you Riley J, and to Hyacinth,for all your help and support - greatly appreciated. It was pretty stressful here for a while. I think all is going to be well though and we are once again considering our plans of getting a pup later in the year!

  9. #9


    jumping-for-joy-smiley-emoticon.jpg Fantastic news ! Love reading an update like this 'Persephone' ! Keep them coming !

    Any chance of you putting up a photo of this precious little pup called Baillie for us - you know the one that has caused all the stress and worry ?

  10. #10


    Baillie 1 .jpgBaillie 2.jpgShe feels better!.jpg

    Hello again, it look me long enough, but at last here are the photos of Baillie. We now have the above mentioned pup as well so Baillie is now the staid one, although she has regressed a bit; the way toddlers do when a baby comes along! She's still my beautiful, gentle, patient Baillie and is being wonderful with Merlot who is also a springer and therefore a bundle of energy. Hard to believe that I thought I might lose her when I read this post again. Time heals. Thanks again.

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