Page 1 of 1


Posted: Wed Jul 09, 2008 11:52 pm
by HugABull1
So, I took Angel in for a checkup and blood panel yesterday. There's nothing "wrong" per say, but dh's mentioned a few times that she doesn't seem quite right. She pants sometimes even when she's not hot or needing to do her business, which we know can be due to discomfort. She is still eating well, but is not as enthusiastic and eager for food (takes a bit of time to eat it, rather than inhaling it), and will occasionally snub a treat. Bad breath, although her teeth look great. A bit of swelling on one of her knees.

The vet examined her, and she looks in great health, aside from her bad knees, which we already know about (nothing to be done for her there). Figured the panting is due to soreness when she's overdone it. Agreed it's not time to put her on metacam or rimadyl, we want to save that for when she's acting sore and starting to slow down. A certain amount of pain is good - it tells us what our body shouldn't do, and the fact is, Angel shouldn't do some things because of her joints.

I had the bloodwork done as an afterthough, just to be sure. I also had bloodwork done a year ago, before putting her under anesthetic to x-ray her hips and knees (Angel has congenital luxating patellas, tibial rotation, a deformity and laxity in her ankle, and hip dysplasia, and she hadn't had x-rays in 3 years, so she was due for a check).

Anyway, both last year's bloodwork and this year's bloodwork show low neutrophils. The rest of her bloodwork is normal.

Last year, because the rest of her bloodwork was normal, we dismissed it as an anomaly, the tail end of an infection maybe.

However, with two tests, a year apart, showing the same result, we now have to figure out why she's got neutropenia (low neutrophils).

the vet told me possible causes are:
    infection (which she has no symptoms of)
    immune disorder

He's going to talk with the specialist tomorrow, to get advice on what the next step should be. He said that his course of action, going on his gut and experience, would be to start with a set of chest x-rays to rule out a chest infection or tumours. If that was normal, then a trial of prednisone, to see if it improves (immune-related neutropinia is treated with steroids). And finally, if that doesn't give us the answer, a bone biopsy.

I asked if it was possible that her "normal" was just to have lower neutrophils. He said that some breeds are predisposed to that, but with Angel being a mixed breed it wasn't likely. It's more likely she has some underlying health issue. Since she's asymptomatic, whatever it is, if it's serious, we've probably caught it in time to treat it.

Anyway, do any of you vet techies have any experience with this?

I'm not worried, I'm totally sure that whatever it is, we've caught it in time, and Angel will be fine.

It's weird, I wouldn't be at all surprised if it's cancer. Dh and I were chatting, and it turns out we've both always thought, secretly, that Angel would have cancer at some point in her life. We've both thought that since she was a puppy.

Gut instincts aside, from my reading, it seems the most common cause of neutropinia is infection. They list the pathogens most often responsible, and two of them are fungus that come from bird droppings, particularly pigeons. Angel has a habit of catching birds, our neighbour keeps pigeons and chickens, and the people who owned our house before us bred budgies and every other type of bird, so Angel's had plenty of potential exposure. Dogs infected with these fungi are often asymptomatic, but chest x-ray shows chronic lung infection. So, if we get some chest x-rays done, it will rule that in or out.

I should have more info tomorrow, but would love any feedback in the meantime.

Posted: Thu Jul 10, 2008 12:25 am
by 6pak
Wow, I don't really have any feed back. I just want to say I hope everything turns out alright. I just have one question that I'm kind of curious about, why do you think that your dog would get cancer at some point in her life?

Posted: Thu Jul 10, 2008 1:01 am
by HugABull1
6pak wrote: I just have one question that I'm kind of curious about, why do you think that your dog would get cancer at some point in her life?

no reason, just a feeling we've both always had. It turns out we've both always felt/thought that our other two dogs would live long healthy lives, but that Angel would have cancer. Maybe it's because we've dealt with illness/disability with her since she was a puppy? She first started having severe symptoms of her joint problems at 4 months old. She has inverted nipples that need regular cleaning, which we discovered at 6 months. She had a few acute vomiting episodes, where she vomited over and over until she was vomiting blood, between 6 months and 1 1/2 years old, and continued to have a sensitive tummy until she was around 3. She had localized demodex from about 8 months old until she was just about 2 years old. She's had a growth on her back removed. Just lots of little things and big things - she's a classic example of irresponsible breeding (but with an incredible temperament).

Posted: Thu Jul 10, 2008 7:56 pm
by Nicki
Don't know if this applies to animals, but my daughter has had neutropenia since infancy. She had to have a CBC when she was 7 months old, and it was discovered she had a really low neutrophil count. Since she did have an infection, it was attributed to that. Dr wanted to retest in a month, just to be sure. Still tested low, even though infection was gone. Next month, same thing. Hemotologist did bone marrow biopsy to see if she had the beginnings of leukemia. Thankfully, the presence of neutrophils cells were there, just not maturing. Dr said this can occur and is cyclic, but she would outgrow it by the time she was 2. She had monthly CBCs til she was 5, and still no change. Dr concluded her other blood cells were taking over the job for the missing neutrophils, because she was (and is) healthy as a horse and was (and is) rarely sick.

Long story short, my daughter is almost 15 years old now, and the condition has been labled benign neutropenia, just a strange phenomenon that has no ill effect on her health whatsoever. (though trying to explain this to the insurance company when switching providers was a nightmare!) :po:

Hope the same healthy outcome for your fur baby! :thumbsup:

Posted: Thu Jul 10, 2008 8:09 pm
by Nickdawg
So sorry to hear all that - you mentioned "A bit of swelling on one of her knees." why would the vet not x-ray the knee? I know she has had ongoing issues with them but the swelling should be checked out.... unfortunately that can be a sign of cancer.... hope all turns out ok.

Posted: Thu Jul 10, 2008 10:50 pm
by Misskiwi67
I've seen immune-mediated neutropenia before. The dog had 2 neutrophils... yes, TWO. The diagnosis was confirmed via bone marrow aspirate and treated successfully with steroids.

Posted: Fri Jul 11, 2008 12:56 am
by HugABull1
Nickdawg wrote:So sorry to hear all that - you mentioned "A bit of swelling on one of her knees." why would the vet not x-ray the knee? I know she has had ongoing issues with them but the swelling should be checked out.... unfortunately that can be a sign of cancer.... hope all turns out ok.

She had x-rays a year ago. It's not uncommon for her to have some swelling on and off, as she's a totally high-drive, high-energy freak of a dog, who is WAY more active than she should be (she lives for the springpole). This is very minor, localized swelling. If the average person, who didn't know every inch of my dog's body, was to look at her, they wouldn't see it. But because I check her over a couple of times a day, I notice when there's slight swelling.

Anyway, the specialist's opinion is that, since there's no symptoms, the neutrophils aren't critically low, that's the only abnormality, and there's been no change in the past year, that it's probably "normal" for Angel. They said cancer is not a concern because she doesn't have symptoms and all her other bloodwork is normal. yay! So I just have to get her blood checked once a year, or if her health changes - sounds like your daughter Nicki. Angel doesn't get sick any more often than any other dog, so obviously her system is compensating for the low neutrophils somehow.

Posted: Fri Jul 11, 2008 2:12 am
by Nickdawg
ah I see/get it....glad all is ok :thumbsup: