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Energetic, toy-obsessed and vocal after morning walk
  • ecwelchecwelch
    Posts: 5
    Hello, forum folk! You were all so helpful and supportive when I posted soon after I rescued my adult female shiba, Olive, that I thought I'd reach out again. I'm posting to solicit advice to minimize her silly behavior and make sure that this behavior isn't indicative of a more serious underlying issue.

    While she's always exhibited interest in toys ONLY after walks, it's become extreme lately-- she eats breakfast after our morning walk, then she will whine/whimper as she walks around searching for one of her toys (stuffed animal variety). Once she finds one, she picks it up in her mouth and carries it with her as she runs laps around the apartment. It seems like she's looking for somewhere to stash it, but neither of her dog beds suffice. As she walks/paces around with it, her whimpering turns into full-on screaming and gets louder and louder. I'm sure the neighbors think I'm either torturing her or a person is having extremely loud, ummmmm, relations, until I approach her and take the toy away. Of course, she doesn't want to give it up, but she's otherwise normal in terms of temperament/personality after I take it away.

    I can't even explain how loud and crazy her screams are. Most of us are probably familiar with the anti-bathtime scream, and this is even louder. All while holding the toy in her mouth, she makes noises that alternate between shrieking, yelling and barking. I don't get it. Olive is an old lady now, for sure, though I don't know her exact age. Our best guess is somewhere between 10 and 12. Can this all be attributed to dementia? She doesn't get lost in corners or randomly bark as other senior dogs I've owned have done.

    Other potentially useful info:

    In December, I brought her to the emergency vet for treatment. For about a day and a half she was vomiting (though she still had a hearty appetite) if I gave her more than ~20 kibble at a time, and then was visibly not feeling well. I freaked out and thought I was going to lose her. The vet noticed that her balance wasn't excellent and that she seemed generally uninterested in what was going on around her when they had her in the back of the office while I waited. Through a process of elimination, the vet tentatively diagnosed her with a brain tumor and prescribed steroids. Olive is doing well on steroids, and we reduced the dosage from 10mg/day to 2.5mg/day and she's doing just as well.

    For the previous six months, we had been in the process of diagnosing or ruling out Cushing's with our regular vet. Her red and white blood cell counts were below average, she was incredibly hungry and thirsty and having accidents in the house (for the first time ever). This vet office found she had a UTI, and after two courses of antibiotics and a urine pull (two weeks after the second course) she received a clean bill of health from our vet. But the accidents persisted. When I brought her into the emergency vet/specialist, they did a urine pull once again and, wouldn't you know-- she still had a UTI.

    After a lot more testing and worrying we have determined the following: she has no UTI, no Cushing's and continues to do well on steroids. The improvement in her mood after taking steroids seems to support the presence of a brain tumor, but I have not (and will not) make her get an MRI to confirm this. I'm not going to put her through surgery, so it seems pointless. I also took her to my parents' vet, who thought that she had just had a seizure and a brain tumor was unlikely.
  • ecwelchecwelch
    Posts: 5
    Oops, not a seizure-- I meant to say stroke. Though, aren't strokes uncommon in dogs?
  • sunyatasunyata
    Posts: 8582
    Brain tumours can cause seizures and seizures can cause strokes (and LOTS of other issues). Been there and done that with my youngest Shiba. Granted strokes affect dogs differently than they affect people. You can read through some of the earlier parts of her downward spiral:
    http://www.shibainuforum.org/forum/discussion/8597/complex-partial-seizures-a-nola-update-/p1

    While that thread is not complete (due to declining health, I stopped updating it), I (and our awesome vet) did confirm that it was a tumour based upon standard x-rays. I also was not willing to pay for (and put Nola through) an MRI when it would not change our course of action.

    Nola currently has a WBC of practically zero. She has no immune system. She gets bi-weekly injections of immunoregulin to help boost her up. She ear infections and UTI's on a regular basis, and has had a couple of respiratory infections since we moved to an area with a higher canine population density. Since she started having seizures, she has had two strokes. After the first stroke, I thought I was going to have to put her down (she could not walk, she would not eat, it was VERY difficult and so sad, since even with all of her issues, she was still happy).

    However, with a LOT of management (and a great relationship with our vet - even our new one now that we have moved), she is doing very well. She still has seizures on a semi-regular basis, but they are infrequent enough that she has been off phenobarbital for almost two years (but we are revisiting that since she has started to have seizures a bit more regularly in the past few months). She still has issues with memory and motor skills. But for a dog that was on death's door a few years ago, she is a miracle. She has a will to live that I have not seen in a LONG time. And as long as she is willing to fight, I am willing to fight with her.

    I almost forgot about your initial issue: the toy in the mouth issue. My oldest has recently been diagnosed with CCD and this sounds like something that she would do. Granted, she has not done anything like this, but it definitely sounds like it could be a symptom of CCD (canine cognitive disorder). I would take her back to the vet for a full senior check up (including a full senior blood panel). If your regular vet does not come up with anything, you may want to think about taking her to a neurological specialist.
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    Casey, with Bella and Nola, hanging out in the mountains of Virginia.
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