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Saturday, November 13, 2010

Post-Bone Problems

Donna sent this in...

 I am writing in reference to my 7 mo. old English Mastiff. I recently gave him a large raw cow bone on Monday afternoon and the following Wed. he became ill. I fed him his kibble which he started hacking and proceeded to throw all that up. He started to  shiver, hack just general not feeling well.  I took him to our new vet and my pup did have an elevated temp. 103. the vet said he had a bacterial infection poss. e-coli, salmonella. He kept him overnight and I picked him up the next morning with the only instructions to give him his antibiotics and pain meds, Tramadol 2 50mg every 12 hrs.  There was no bloodwork or x-rays taken. I got my pup to eat some boiled chicken and rice shortly after I got him home (about noonish)" then later that evening some kibble with the same c & r topper.  He finally moved his bowels, very small amount which had 6 large bone chunks in them. I asked the vet upon leaving about his coughing hacking and he said he would either hack up the shards or pass them. about 11 pm. I gave him 1/ pc of bread and after that is when he passed them. He is still hacking and gagging as if trying to throw up something or dislodge. I  called my vet about x-raying and he said to wait and let the meds take effect. He is eating but I am concerned that there may still be something lodge somewhere.  I really dislike taking a wait and see approach if something could be there and then have a life or death situation on my hands.  he is also limping terribly on his right front leg, no connection I am sure but has gotten severely worse since being at the vets.  in relation my pup also has generalized Demodectic mange and a 4" hygroma on his right knee. Do I have reasons for concern or am I being an overprotective paranoid furmom?

Donna, you've mentioned several things and I'll try to at least touch on all of them.

I don't like giving bones to dogs as I've seen too many problems with them.  Raw bones can indeed carry bacteria, and can lead to infections like your dog may have.  Salmonella is only one of the bacteria that can be a problem, and these can be difficult infections. Bone shards can also cause constipation or intestinal irritation, as well as potentially become obstructed if the pieces are large enough.  Bones can chip teeth and even get stuck on teeth or the roof of the mouth.  I really, really don't like giving bones to pets, even though it's the stereotypical thing to give to dogs.

I don't want to second-guess your vet since I'm not able to examine your pet myself.  I will usually defer to my colleagues when I'm not involved in the situation.  Personally, however, I would consider taking some radiographs, especially if there seems to be continued hacking or gagging.  This is a case where I would consider bone shards being a problem and would want to look for them.  Bone shows up well on an x-ray, so if they are there it shouldn't be difficult to find.  Blood testing may not be absolutely necessary initially, but it's never a bad idea.  If the problem is persisting I would definitely want to run these tests.

The other problems won't be related.  Limping is certainly not related to eating the bone, and could be anything from developmental problems (not uncommon in large and giant breed puppies) to a sprain or bruise.  If it's persisting or worsening I'd want to take radiographs of the affected leg.  Demodex is also not related, but if widespread should be treated.  It's a little unusual to have a hygroma at seven months old, but this is a common problem in large dogs.

Donna, I can't say whether or not you need to be extremely concerned as I can't examine your pet.  However, the potential for a serious problem exists.  Salmonella and E. coli infections can be serious and lead to severe complications.  A bone obstruction can be life-threatening and require emergency surgery.  If it's been 2-3 days since starting medication and there's no signs of improvement, I'd want to run full blood tests (chemistry panel and CBC) and get some x-rays of the abdomen and chest/neck.  If your dog is worsening since starting medications I'd want him seen as quickly as possible.

I hope this helps your decision.  Good luck with him and I hope everything turns out okay.