NORMAN — Dear Dr. Fox: I have a 31⁄2 -year-old Lab/golden cocker retriever female named Maddie. Her ideal weight is around 40 pounds. Since November 2011, we have been having the same issue. This came on suddenly and is still happening.
It started the day before Thanksgiving, when she started throwing up and having diarrhea. This continued for a day or two, then we thought she bounced back. Well, she continued this pattern of being sick for three or four days and then OK for two or three days. Each bout got worse and worse. We began seeing the vet shortly after she got ill, and we were at the vet’s regularly for about three months until he said he didn’t know what else to do.
Her illness consists of the following symptoms: vomiting for several days at a time; diarrhea; not eating; squinting her eyes like she has a headache; loud, gurgling noises from her stomach; drooling; staring off into the distance, including sitting outside in the rain and staring; and weight loss — at the worst of her condition, she had lost about 8 pounds.
These are the treatments we have tried: several different antibiotics; gastrointestinal medications; X-ray with barium; sonogram; blood work (twice); stool samples; changed to a no-grain food; changed to chicken and rice made at home; changed to a venison-based prescription dog food (which then added a hacking/wheezing cough to the above symptoms); and the last thing was to try a course of Prednisone. No test turned up any abnormalities.
Lo and behold, the steroids seemed to help. She ate regularly and gained back her weight and energy. When we tapered back off the steroids, she got sick immediately. We tried a different dose with the same results. As a last-ditch effort, I played a little with the dosage and determined that she needed 1⁄4 dose twice a day.