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Odd behaviour - can't fathom it out. Any ideas?

(50 Posts)
moosemama Mon 18-Jul-11 21:45:14

I have a twelve and a half year old belgian shepherd cross border collie. She's a sweetie, still thinks she's a pup and is very healthy, despite having severe malassezia which vet after vet haven't been able to resolve.

She has one problem, which is she climbs our greengauge tree, picks the fruit off and eats it. hmm We normally fence it off before it fruits, but it caught us unawares this week, as its the other end of our long garden and we only realised it was fruiting when we saw her climbing it.

Since then she has once thrown up a small pile of greengauge stones. She seems fine in herself, no tenderness to her abdomen or throat, normal behaviour eating and passing stools ok.

BUT, she is behaving really strangely around her water bowl. We have one of those non-spill bowls and she usually lets us know its empty by grabbing it with her paw and kicking around the kitchen. Heard her do this last night, went it and she'd tipped the entire bowl upside down and it was full of water - so the floor was swamped. Since then she keeps on doing it. She looks like she wants to drink, looks at her bowl, then puts her foot in it and tips it up. (She looks anxious when she does this.)

I did try giving her a different (open topped) bowl with some water in and she took a couple of laps, but then went back and tipped up her own bowl again. I tried holding it up for her, just in case her throat was sore - but still no joy.

I put water in one of her stainless steel food bowls this evening after she ate and she did the same thing with that, only this time she actually put her foot in the middle of the bowlful of water. confused

Initially I was concerned she might have either scratched her throat with one of the stones, or worse had one lodged - but this is contradicted by her eating two full meals perfectly happily. I don't think she can have eaten enough greengauges to cause an impaction and anyway she's still passing normal stools.

I am stumped. Bearing in mind the absence of any physcial symptoms, I'm now thinking it must be behavioural - but why? The only think I can think of is that we had a slug in the kitchen yesterday and I'm wondering whether it might have gone in the water bowl at some point and that's what's bothering her - but I assume if that were the case she'd be happy to drink from a different water bowl. (Her bowl has been washed up and refereshed several times since we evicted the slug infiltrator, so its not like its contaminated or anything.) She does look like she's peering at or into the water each time she does it, but she's by no means a fussy dog and has happily guzzled the water many times in the past, only for me to discover a piece of one the dc's dinner in there afterwards.

Has anyone seen anything like this before? I am at a loss to know what to do, but will try the vets in the morning if the behaviour doesn't settle down.

bumpybecky Mon 18-Jul-11 23:12:08

do you think maybe her eyesight is going a little?

humans get more long sighted as they get older, and so can't see things close up (hence the need for reading glasses) maybe the same is true for dogs (about not seeing, not about needing reading glasses)

from what you've said about how she's acting, it's almost as though she thinks the bowl is empty (can't see the water?) so at first acted as though it was (tipped the bowl up) then later stuck her paw in the bowl to check?! poor thing though, she sounds a bit confused by it all sad

I've never heard of a dog climbing trees to pick greengages before though - she sounds like a real character smile

moosemama Mon 18-Jul-11 23:23:31

I wondered about that at first, by the way she was peering in the bowl and then tipping it with her paw, but even once she knows the water's there she's only taking a couple of tiny laps then backing off. She is on prednisolone for her malassezia at the moment, and she managed to catch a tiny pill mid air when I gave it to her this evening as well (daft dog thinks they're sweeties). If there was a problem with her sight I would have thought she'd have missed that.

She's now taken to lying on the quarry tiles instead of her bed, which isn't like her, so its definite a trip to the vets for her in the morning.

I feel awful for her. She keeps looking at me with this sort of anxious, pleading expression and I don't know what to do to help. She definitely wants to drink, she just can't seem to actually do it. sad

I put the bowl between her front paws when she was lying down earlier and she had a reasonable amount then, and we soaked her food in plenty of water as well this evening, just in case we couldn't get her to drink, so at least she's not getting dehydrated.

She is a real character - full of life and fun, always ready to play and always thinking of her stomach! grin

chickchickchicken Mon 18-Jul-11 23:36:43

sorry, cant come up with any likely answers. glad you are taking her to the vet tomorrow

btw my 14yr old jrt has cataractic (sp) spots on her eyes. she cant see as well as she used to but is still amazing at catching a ball and tiny scraps of food flying towards her

it does sound as if there may be something else going on so glad she is going to be checked by vet. as you say she has eaten and had a drink earlier hopefully nothing serious

i would mention to vet that she drunk from her bowl when she was led down as maybe that would help diagnosis. not an expert by any means, just trying to think of any ideas

bumpybecky Mon 18-Jul-11 23:37:38

well if she cat catch a pill then it sounds like she can see well enough smile

hope the vet has some answers for you tomorrow

chickchickchicken Mon 18-Jul-11 23:39:56

my dogs will drink water from a bottle with a sports top (handy for when i forget to take a bowl out). it does sound as if she has had enough fluid but if you were worried could you squirt some water into her mouth using a sport top water bottle?

moosemama Mon 18-Jul-11 23:53:40

Thank you for your replies.

Chickchickchicken, I will mention to the vet that the only time she drank anything was when she was lying down. She only took the drink from lying down this evening because I called our other dog over and offered him a drink. Thing is, she usually empties the water bowl after her evening meal but she's only had a few laps this evening and I haven't seen her take any all day.

If she won't take any more I'll get dh to nip out and get a sports-style bottle of something that we can offer her water from. She does this out on long walks, so it might work.

I'm trying not to make too much of a deal of it with her though - don't want to reinforce the odd behaviour in case its behavioural rather than physical, iyswim.

Poor little lass, her nose is really dry. sad

Off to bed now - have set my alarm to get up and offer her some water in the night - am paranoid she's going to get dehydrated and end up on a drip. Its all a bit backwards really - she should be more thirsty on prednisolone - not struggling to drink.

Mind you, it doesn't help that I lost my 13 year old SCWT two days before Christmas and still haven't got over that. I don't usually worry excessively about my dogs health - I've done a course in canine health and first aid and know them well enough to know if something's up, but my gut feeling is that something's not right - just wish I knew what it was. sad

I'll report back tomorrow when we've seen the vet.

Thanks again for your replies - I really appreciate the support.

moosemama Tue 19-Jul-11 12:08:11

Well, she's back to normal this morning. Has eaten and drunk normally and no more weird behaviour. All very odd.

I'm thinking it must have been behavioural now. She drank lying down three times in all and took more each time, so maybe getting her to drink in a different way got her past her worry that there was something scary in the water bowl. confused

Anyway, thanks for your support last night. I am just really relieved it wasn't anything serious and she's happy again.

chickchickchicken Tue 19-Jul-11 14:31:12

thanks for the update smile

she is lucky to have such a caring owner. glad she is drinking now

moosemama Thu 21-Jul-11 10:15:06

Well it turns out she was ill - or rather injured. sad

She has been quieter than usual this week, but still eating, drinking and passing uring and stools normally. Then this morning we came downstairs and she has a huge swelling under her jaw, can't open her mouth and is drooling. sad

We have an emergency appointment at the vets this afternoon, but I would bet its something lodged, probably a stick. We never throw sticks for her, but she has a habit of picking them up herself, running off with them and then chewing at them like bones. Dh took her for a walk in the dark the other night - its pitch dark in our park and I reckon she must have done it then.

I feel awful for not realising sooner, but she started drinking normally and seemed fine , if a little quiet, after her odd behaviour on Monday. Dh was worried the behavioural change was down to the prenisolone, so reduced her dosage and I now think it was that that was masking the symptoms by reducing the swelling/inflammation.

She ate some fruit this morning (dh gave it to her, she hasn't been allowed back near the greengauge tree), but seems completely unable to drink unless I fill the bowl to the brim and hold it up to her mouth when she's lying down. She's had a good long drink a couple of times with my help though, which is good.

I tried to get a look in her mouth/throat but she screamed in pain, so I thought it best to leave it to the vet.

Poor girl! sad

bumpybecky Thu 21-Jul-11 12:42:11

oh the poor thing sad hope she lets the vet have a look later

chickchickchicken Thu 21-Jul-11 13:13:43

awww poor dog. you did everything you could to try to identify what if anything was wrong. sadly they cannot tell us what is wrong. dont feel bad. you tried to work out what it was and now you are taking her to the vet the same day you have noticed swelling. let us know what the vet says

moosemama Thu 21-Jul-11 14:22:19

Vet couldn't see anything - despite her letting her have a good look down her throa - but, there is a huge abcess under her jaw/on her neck (difficult to see as she has a huge ruff.

They are assuming some sort of throat injury from something she's chewed then swallowed and have given 48 hours of mega antibiotics and anti-inflammatories. If the abcess hasn't gone down significantly by Saturday morning, they are going to have her in in the afternoon and operate, but they want to avoid this if possible as the location of the abcess will make it a very tricky op. sad The good news is that none of her other glands are up, so the infection does seem localised at the moment, which means we stand a better chance of the antibiotics knocking it on the head.

The odd thing is, the vet said she'd had another dog in with the exact same symptoms, but no obvious sign of injury last week, had given that dog the same treatment and it worked - so fingers crossed.

She's eaten some soaked kibble with her pills and then had a drink with me holding the bowl for her again and is now sleeping. She's very clingy and when I took dd up for her nap she started pacing the kitchen panting and fretting, which isn't like her at all - she's usually very loving but pretty independent.

At least they didn't need to admit her. sad

chickchickchicken Thu 21-Jul-11 19:09:23

thanks for the update. i hope the drugs work and it has settled a bit by saturday. it does seem odd for another dog with the same symptoms to see the vet too. hopefully yours will work out the same

moosemama Fri 22-Jul-11 19:20:12

No improvement at all, so it looks like she's going in for the op tomorrow afternoon. The vet said that at least they'll have a better idea of what they're dealing with once they can get in and have a proper look.

We've had to remove her collar this evening as its now too tight. I've never seen her this poorly before, she usually just carries on as normal - even when she's had bad ear infections caused by her malassezia. It breaks my heart to see her like this. sad

We are going on holiday next weekend though and I'm really worried about whether she'll be well enough. The vet said it will be a tricky op because of the location of the abcess and I assume any neck wound will run the risk of opening up with too much head movement, and she'd be unlikely to be able to wear an elizabethan collar either.

Its a bit of a problem really, as ds1 has ASD and is obsessive about our holidays (same place, same things every year) he wouldn't cope well at all if we had to cancel.

Poor girl, she really loves the beach as well and usually romps on the beach all day while we're away, but I can't take her near sand if she's had an op.

Dh pointed out that she will have to have her beautiful ruff shaved off as well. sad

chickchickchicken Fri 22-Jul-11 20:52:12

aww poor girl. hope her op goes well tomorrow. i understand what you mean about ds as my son has asd and we do the same holiday thing every year. my dogs love the beach too so it all works out well.

have you got a back up plan for dog if she cant go away with you?

moosemama Fri 22-Jul-11 21:36:04

Thanks chickchickchicken.

Unfortunately we don't have a back-up plan. We would normally ask PILs if they would be willing to look after her. They love dogs, but MIL is not well and they are already looking after SILs cocker spaniel, who has serious problems with other dogs. My own Mum loves dogs, but is really allergic to them and my SDad is terrified of them.

I guess we'll just have to see how it goes. We are going to Ireland and staying at the family's holiday house, so she'd be fine in the house, but I'd be worried about her on the ferry and then we couldn't take her on the beach with us, but wouldn't want to leave her on her own at the house either.

Ds1 is already all over the place with the end of term. He's been crying all week both at home and school and when he hasn't been crying he's been completely manic. I daren't tell him we might not be able to go.

moosemama Sat 23-Jul-11 18:17:00

Not good news I'm afraid.

Dh took her in first thing this morning and saw the senior vet. He immediately said he felt it wasn't an abcess, more likely a big tumour with associated infection and she needed operating on there and then. At the time we were told to expect the worst, that if it was as big as they thought, it would be inoperable and we would have to make a tough decision for her. sad

Spoke to them a while ago and she has several things going on:

1. A massive infection, with an enormous amount of gunk that had to be drained.

2. A large hole in her throat, which may be the source of infection, although no foreign body was found.

3. A huge amount of abnormal fibrous tissue, which may be cancerous and has been biopsied.

4. A number of adhesions which have effectively tongue tied her - hence the difficulty drinking, as she can't move her tongue forwards to lap.

She has a big open drain in her neck, which has to be covered by a bandana (made from sheets) and will have to be changed hourly.

She is going back on Wednesday for a post op check and they should have the biopsy results then.

According to the vet, she is still ok to go away with us, can have her stitches removed by the local vet (my Dad's old dog's vet) and can go on the beach, as long as she stays out of the water and we make sure we dress the wound properly before and after she goes. I'm qualified in canine first-aid, so this isn't a problem, just need to buy some more cohesive bandage sand sterile dressings.

Dh has just gone to pick her up and I am still a bit shaky but trying to be optimistic. This morning I was sure we were going to lose her and at least now there might be a chance, although I don't have a clue what her treatment will consist of - if any.

chickchickchicken Sat 23-Jul-11 22:10:59

aww i was thinking of her today. had a busy day and then visited a poorly friend so no pc all day. what an awful time for you all but glad the op is over with. poor dog.

i am glad she can go away with you. will you be able to stay with her on the ferry?

let us know what the vet says on wed. fingers x for you all

moosemama Sat 23-Jul-11 22:47:52

Thanks chickchick. I won't be able to stay with her on the ferry, but she'll be crated in our campervan, which she is used to and will only be a couple of days off having her stitches removed by then, so as long as I make sure the wound is properly dressed she should be ok. I'll check with the vet if its ok, but if it is, I'll probably give her some scullcap and valerian tincture and spray some DAP on her bedding, as it really chills her out at bonfire night, so she should sleep for the crossing.

chickchickchicken Sat 23-Jul-11 22:52:56

i'm glad she can stay in your campervan as she is used to it (have never taken a dog on a ferry so was unsure of procedure)

moosemama Sat 23-Jul-11 23:31:07

You can put them in a kennel on board if you want to, but they're allowed to stay in your vehicle if you prefer. Mine have been going over every year since they were pups, so its all pretty routine for them these days.

bumpybecky Sun 24-Jul-11 01:31:18

oh moosemama sad

I hope she's not to stressed about what's happened, sounds horrible. Please keep us updated and please give her a big kiss from me

moosemama Sun 24-Jul-11 09:16:01

Thank you bumpybecky, she was very stressed when she came home, but shot up to me and curled up on my feet for some love and that helped calm her down. I sat by/half in her crate with her for the first 3/4 hour and she slept after that.

She's now decided she doesn't want the crate, she wants her normal bed - usually she can't wait to get in the crate. confused So now lurcher boy is in the crate, blissed out and she's curled up under the kitchen table in her basket with a load of extra vet bedding. We put dd's baby monitor in the kitchen last night and got up to her if she sounded like she was getting stressed or moving around a lot, but we only needed to come downstairs twice.

She's drinking better now, already managing without us holding the bowl up for her and is delighted to be getting fresh chicken and fish instead of James Wellbeloved to eat.

She's amazingly calm considering and still wagging her tail every time she sees me - dogs' resilience never ceases to amaze me.

Have made her some big bandanas out of some old sheets, like the vet suggested and she looks quite cool in them actually. Dh says he's going to tie dye some for her to wear on holiday so she just looks like a 'cool dog', rather than one with a sheet around her neck. smile

scartette Mon 25-Jul-11 00:07:36

Oh Moose,just happened upon your doggie story-how awful for you and your fab dog.Lol about greenguage tree-thats a new one on me! I'm an avid dog lover also and can only imagine what its been like. How typical that everything goes belly-up just as you are about to go away. Hope it all goes ok in Ireland -I'm here in southern Ireland and it looks like you might be ok weatherwise-not bad here at moment. Hope the dog improves-fingers crossed, we havent had any real sickness issues so far with ours but she's only 3 .By the way , what part of this great island are you holidaying in?

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