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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hi, everyone. I've been on this board for quite a few years, but was too anxious to post. I hope I can get some suggestions here! And by the way, he does have a vet app on Friday! I'm just curious if anyone has ideas of questions I can ask. I apologize for the length...I worry I won't give enough info for informed comments. Sorry if my english isn't good.

Firstly, Kodi is a white rescue GSD who is 9yrs.

As everyone knows, summer is here, and down here in the south, it's unbearable. For the past month or so, Kodi has been panting A LOT. Like...a ridiculous amount. When he does, his tongue is long, and the breathing is not heaving, but I still won't say it's not short. I don't know if that makes sense. When laying down flat, you see his sides going up and down quickly. I'm pretty sure he didn't do this the summer before, but it might partly be because the heat slammed into us with no warning this year, while before, we had a gradual incline.

He and my other dogs just had their vaccines about two weeks ago. This also served as a yearly exam, and they did a fecal exam. It revealed they had hookworms, which we suspect was spread from one dog who keeps eating poo and then likes to lick the other dogs' faces/mouths, so I've had to get even more fanatical about being outside with them and picking it up. In a followup, the hookworms are gone, but I still check their poo when I pick it up. For Kodi specifically during the yearly exam, my vet told me what he said in Dec., which is to get Kodi's weight down (he is 110 now...last checkup in December he was at 90, then went back up! No table scraps, plenty of outside time with me, etc. I'm working on it, though) and mild arthritis. We already knew about that, because he started getting hot spots on his hindlegs and I immediately got him checked out, which was why he had that Dec. checkup to begin with. We have pain medicine that he gets as need be, which helps a lot.

At the followup to make sure the hookworms were gone, my vet took note of the ongoing panting when I mentioned it and said it was most likely the heat, because Kodi's has a thick, beautiful coat, which he makes sure to remind us by shedding so much! But the vet said they've had a lot of dogs coming in with heatstroke/heat problems recently. I've been avidly looking at the signs, and so far, so good...except this dang panting! His gums are okay and pink, and he's drinking plenty of water...should that be another concern? like SO MUCH WATER! I will try to record it today, but it's definitely more water intak since summer started and WAY more than my other dogs. I keep the house at 68. This is partly for the dogs and because I get hot very easily, so it works out. He also still prefers carpet other the tile/hardwood, so don't know if he's THAT hot, since he'd go on them instead, right? But he's also always been a velcro dog and never leaves my side.

I'm wondering if it's because of a combo from the heat and weight? I really miss the cold weather, because his exercise schedule was perfect and it was going down very well. I go pick up poo x2 a day (like I said, the other dog likes to eat it), so Kodi would follow me around the whole backyard, with me throwing the tennis ball and him chasing it. We also adopted a black GSD in Jan. The new dog is 1yr, and helped get Kodi's weight down, too, because they loved chasing each other around the backyard...so much I had to stop it sometimes because they'd play for hours, and Kodi would be too stiff later. Kodi doesn't play with him much now, though. But he has no issue running after squirrels, cats, and birds in our yard when I first open the door for them to go out. If anything, I try to slow him down, because he'll practically toss himself off the front step and sprint after them like a bullet, which drives me nuts! Now, even though he still chases stuff, he stops after they get away to lay down in the shade and pants, but in a way much worse than in the house. Before the heat, he'd keep trotting/running along the fence the whole length of the 4-sided gated yard to see if he could still get them, and I didn't mind him doing that at all and never stopped him, so he'd do that several times. I hate this heat so much...I feel it is really upsetting my dogs. If it's the weight, I don't know what to do for exercise, and feel helpless.

Like I said, sorry for the length...I am hoping some of you wonderful people have advice for me, or what other things I can check out so I can ask/tell my vet about.
 

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Did your vet test Kodi for heartworms at the annual visit?

Also, did you also run a senior wellness blood panel at the annual visit? If not, I think it would be a good idea to do that on all senior dogs -- it's a way to pick up on things going wrong early. They would test kidney function as part of that comprehensive senior panel, and that's very important with a dog drinking more than usual. Do you vaccinate annually for lepto? It's the "L" in a combo vaccine. There's a lot of lepto in the Gulf South, and it can cause kidney problems.

If that all comes back normal, I'd be tempted to do a chest xray to see if the heart is enlarged or there are any other things going on suggesting illness.

With the hookworms, you might check to see if your monthly heartworm prevention includes something for hookworms. Many do. After you treat the dogs, that low monthly dose is just enough to keep it coming from coming back, if you choose a HW product from the vet that includes it. They live in the soil, and survive a LONG time. Wondercide (a cedar oil spray --wondercide.com) claims to kill hook worms, and spraying your soil would be a good idea.

Don't let kids (or adults) go barefoot in places the dogs might have spread hookworm eggs either (basically, anywhere the dogs might have pooped) -- wear shoes in the yard all summer -- the hookworm larvae are microscopic and burrow through skin on the souls of feet and paws to get into the bloodstream and travel to the GI system. They infect humans as well as dogs.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Did your vet test Kodi for heartworms at the annual visit?

Also, did you also run a senior wellness blood panel at the annual visit? If not, I think it would be a good idea to do that on all senior dogs -- it's a way to pick up on things going wrong early. They would test kidney function as part of that comprehensive senior panel, and that's very important with a dog drinking more than usual. Do you vaccinate annually for lepto? It's the "L" in a combo vaccine. There's a lot of lepto in the Gulf South, and it can cause kidney problems.

If that all comes back normal, I'd be tempted to do a chest xray to see if the heart is enlarged or there are any other things going on suggesting illness.

With the hookworms, you might check to see if your monthly heartworm prevention includes something for hookworms. Many do. After you treat the dogs, that low monthly dose is just enough to keep it coming from coming back, if you choose a HW product from the vet that includes it. They live in the soil, and survive a LONG time. Wondercide (a cedar oil spray --wondercide.com) claims to kill hook worms, and spraying your soil would be a good idea.

Don't let kids (or adults) go barefoot in places the dogs might have spread hookworm eggs either (basically, anywhere the dogs might have pooped) -- wear shoes in the yard all summer -- the hookworm larvae are microscopic and burrow through skin on the souls of feet and paws to get into the bloodstream and travel to the GI system. They infect humans as well as dogs.
Thank you for your post!

I am looking at his paperwork now. Kodi and all the dogs had their annual/semi-annual wellness exam, annual/semi-annual fecal exam, rabies exam, heartworm test, canine distemper-parvo vaccine, and kenel cough vaccine...all came clear except the hookworms, which they very promptly gave medicine for. For lepto, you mean canine distemper vaccine? My paper says DHLPP.

I did not think to ask for a senior wellness blood panel. Thank you. I remember we did blood panel in December (I was worried for no reason, it turns out) and it was clear, but something may have changed, since much time has passed. I will write it down so that I remember. For things like enlarged heart, are there other symptoms? The only thing Kodi doing is the panting and water intake and laying in the shade outside since the heat...he's still eating very well, getting up okay, sniffing around the yard, barking at the neighbors' dogs, etc. He doesn't mind me messing with his ears and paws, and his eyes are bright/clear, and nose is wet. I also give them ice cubes during the day, which he still loves, like usual. It's just those three thing, which still seem very important to me when they change. The vet always walks me through everything he's doing with dogs/takes suggestions from us with research, so I will ask about heart possibile when I see him.

And I will look into the hookworms...reading that just made me queasy and drives the point in very well, so thank you yet again! I confess that out here, we do walk around outside barefoot sometimes, so I will pass the warning to my brother and sister (my parents, of course, don't do that haha). When this first began, I went to a store called tractor supply, so I will also ask them if they have yard treatment for hookworms. Walmart did not carry any, but we forgot to keep asking...I feel bad about it now, but hopefully getting the wondercide or something equal will fix it. On the plus side, our dogs are just at home. They don't go to dog parks or the beach or anything, so I hope it can be contained/others won't spread to them.

Another worry I have about the hookworms is the neighbor dogs. They are kept outside outside and never in the house. Their poo is all over the place, including by our shared gate, and they interact with our dogs a lot...we share a chain link fence, but plan to put up a wood fence this summer. I already try to keep our dogs away, because the dogs there are always scratching from fleas. I don't know if they have ticks, but I check our dogs often for that, so they're ok there. But will the hookworms keep coming back to our yard even if we keep spraying? Because it's about prevention, isn't it?
 

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I don't believe there's a regular commercial spray for hooks -- it was astonishing to me that Wondercide figured out that cedar oil works on them. It's not like Walmart-style pesticides -- it's a whole other thing. As a bonus though, it kills fleas, mosquitoes, and ticks too, and it's non-toxic to pets. I use it for mosquito control in Louisiana by spraying weekly.

Yes, the "L" in your vaccine covers lepto, so that's covered.

With old dogs, it's so hard to know whether they're just uncomfortable in the heat, or something serious is starting. There's a form of cancer common in older GSDs that can affect the heart, liver, and even lungs -- the x-ray might help rule that out too, if all the organs look normal.
 

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I don't believe there's a regular commercial spray for hooks -- it was astonishing to me that Wondercide figured out that cedar oil works on them. It's not like Walmart-style pesticides -- it's a whole other thing. As a bonus though, it kills fleas, mosquitoes, and ticks too, and it's non-toxic to pets. I use it for mosquito control in Louisiana by spraying weekly.

Yes, the "L" in your vaccine covers lepto, so that's covered.

With old dogs, it's so hard to know whether they're just uncomfortable in the heat, or something serious is starting. There's a form of cancer common in older GSDs that can affect the heart, liver, and even lungs -- the x-ray might help rule that out too, if all the organs look normal.
I will look into ordering that, then! We're fortunate to not have issues with fleas and mosquitoes, but I'm paranoid of ticks, even though I haven't seen one for many years.

That's a terrifying thought and will cross my fingers that cancer is not the case...in my horse community, we sometimes have things called "heart horses" where that's sort of your #1 horse, above all others, even when you've had several special cases, but that none will measure up. Even if they weren't perfect, or were even just plain rotten, they're still #1. I have had a lot of GSDs, but Kodi is definitely my "heart dog." I hope he'll be okay and I'll have even just a few more years with him.
 

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Can you see how he responds by placing him in an air conditioned car or room for an hour or two? Give him long enough to cool down, if he stops panting, you know it's probably the heat he's reacting to.
 

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Can you see how he responds by placing him in an air conditioned car or room for an hour or two? Give him long enough to cool down, if he stops panting, you know it's probably the heat he's reacting to.
I can try that! My air is set to a solid 68, and since the heat, the dogs only go out a few times a day, but I can put him in my room with me today. He's very velcro and hates wandering far from me.
 

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To me, it sounds like it could be something more than just Heat? Our dog is a middle-aged husky/shep mix with the Husky coat (so thick). We keep our house at 76 (so much warmer than your house!) and he does not pant much...only after coming in from exercise. I wonder, what is your dog like if he gets wetted down (like, puts his paws in a baby pool full of cool water, or lays down in it)?

I need to watch the diet/weight of my dog carefully, I measure his kibble with a cup and check his "waistline" visually. So I think like with people, it's got to be double-ended...move more, eat less. They have senior low-cal dog foods...I was thinking of changing my dog to one, but will ask vet first. It's probably more comfortable for your dog if he can both move a little more, eat a little less? Are 1-hr daily walks out of the question (even with help of a neighborhood teen or a dog walker?) That's a big amount of weight to gain (20 lbs?!)...again, would wonder if it could be a medical issue.
 

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To me, it sounds like it could be something more than just Heat? Our dog is a middle-aged husky/shep mix with the Husky coat (so thick). We keep our house at 76 (so much warmer than your house!) and he does not pant much...only after coming in from exercise. I wonder, what is your dog like if he gets wetted down (like, puts his paws in a baby pool full of cool water, or lays down in it)?

I need to watch the diet/weight of my dog carefully, I measure his kibble with a cup and check his "waistline" visually. So I think like with people, it's got to be double-ended...move more, eat less. They have senior low-cal dog foods...I was thinking of changing my dog to one, but will ask vet first. It's probably more comfortable for your dog if he can both move a little more, eat a little less? Are 1-hr daily walks out of the question (even with help of a neighborhood teen or a dog walker?) That's a big amount of weight to gain (20 lbs?!)...again, would wonder if it could be a medical issue.
I agree with the above as far as your dogs weight....senior dogs typically will loose weight (muscle mass) not gain.....I know he's older now..but...think back to how he handled the heat when at a lighter weight....I understand it's very hard for most owners to change---the amounts-how we feed -what we feed and treats-table scraps basically get out of an existing routine----these guys have those big "sad" eyes that say--"Why are you starving me? "..........But once you and your dog get by that and loose the extra weight....he'll be better off... have more energy--breath easier and live longer
 

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To me, it sounds like it could be something more than just Heat? Our dog is a middle-aged husky/shep mix with the Husky coat (so thick). We keep our house at 76 (so much warmer than your house!) and he does not pant much...only after coming in from exercise. I wonder, what is your dog like if he gets wetted down (like, puts his paws in a baby pool full of cool water, or lays down in it)?

I need to watch the diet/weight of my dog carefully, I measure his kibble with a cup and check his "waistline" visually. So I think like with people, it's got to be double-ended...move more, eat less. They have senior low-cal dog foods...I was thinking of changing my dog to one, but will ask vet first. It's probably more comfortable for your dog if he can both move a little more, eat a little less? Are 1-hr daily walks out of the question (even with help of a neighborhood teen or a dog walker?) That's a big amount of weight to gain (20 lbs?!)...again, would wonder if it could be a medical issue.
I hate the heat as much as the dogs, so keeping it low benefits all of us! Haha but even with that, he still pants and drinks a lot. He isn't much for getting wet. For example, I was outside last week with the hose and cleaning the pavement, and sprayed low pressure water around the dogs. The black male GSD loved it, as did my black female GSD, but Kodi wasn't too fond of it, which is not unusual behavior for him. I will look into getting a pool, which he might like.

Oh, yes, it was alarming to me, too. Several months ago back in last year, we checked thyroid, which came up clear. I have always been paranoid with my dogs' health, and I don't know if this is important in these instances to say, but I suffer from OCD. So my thoughts are obsessive and circle in my head very badly, and when something is wrong with my dogs, I notice right away. My mother has to calm me, but it's hard because I convince myself. I very much feel something else is wrong, but I ALWAYS feel that way, and it usually turns out okay...I can't tell if this instance is different, you know? I am so careful with his food because it is a compulsion and I have a glass measure cup, but a low-cal senior food diet change maybe the key! My fear is that if overheating isn't the problem, pushing him too much will drive him to overheat on top of what else could be wrong. The coolest times here are in the peak evening, which is my last trip outside with them to pick up poo. I still try to get him to play catch, but he is not impressed. After he's done usual runaround after squirrels/birds, he is done. Even if I get down in the grass and call him, it takes a few calls before he decides to get up. When it's not hot, even with his arthritis or stiffness, he practically knocks me over with happiness to get to me.
 

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I agree with the above as far as your dogs weight....senior dogs typically will loose weight (muscle mass) not gain.....I know he's older now..but...think back to how he handled the heat when at a lighter weight....I understand it's very hard for most owners to change---the amounts-how we feed -what we feed and treats-table scraps basically get out of an existing routine----these guys have those big "sad" eyes that say--"Why are you starving me? "..........But once you and your dog get by that and loose the extra weight....he'll be better off... have more energy--breath easier and live longer
You're very right. I will talk more in detail with my vet about his diet. I do struggle to change, because of my compulsions, but I will do anything for Kodi. My vet has always been good about going over things with me and talking to me, because he knows I fret a lot. He may have suggestions for senior food, which may help.

The strange part is that my other dogs are good, and vet praised me. Besides Kodi, I have the newly adopted black GSD and another black GSD who is 13 -- we're very lucky she's made it this far, since we rescued her when she was 7! The girl at 55lbs and the boy GSD at 56lbs. Both of them are smaller than Kodi, and have always been steady, with no sudden gain or drop ever...well, the girl at least, because we've only had the new boy since Jan but he hasn't changed since we got him. In fact, I have to give a little more food to him, because he is more active and rambuntious, and he and I run around the yard with fetch/flirt pole for many hours to tire him out, and even so, he is always ready to go again. The heat doesn't bother him at all, in spite of his black fur. Kodi has never been much with the flirt pole, even as a pup. He is the one who has struggled the whole time we have had him almost his whole life. Funny enough, the girl doesn't like exercise either, and gets the same amount of food as Kodi. All she does is sit in the sun/sunbathe and walks around the yard occasionally. Even so, she gets LESS exercise overall than he does! It's why I'm so convinced of the wrong.
 

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I just had another thought re the weight gain -- when you run the bloodwork, be sure the vet adds T4 to it if it's not already in there (it usually is part of the senior wellness panel though). That is a thyroid screen -- one of my older dogs started gaining weight and couldn't lose it normally....because his thyroid was low. Once he got on thyroid meds, his weight normalized and he had more energy.
 

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I just had another thought re the weight gain -- when you run the bloodwork, be sure the vet adds T4 to it if it's not already in there (it usually is part of the senior wellness panel though). That is a thyroid screen -- one of my older dogs started gaining weight and couldn't lose it normally....because his thyroid was low. Once he got on thyroid meds, his weight normalized and he had more energy.
Going to add that to my list of tests! I was worried about his thyroid early last year, and it came clear, but he's older now and so many things can change quickly. The test wasn't expensive, if I remember correctly, so I'll make sure it's included. May I ask what your treatment plan was?
 

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A low thyroid just needs a twice-daily thyroid hormone pill -- it's a generic human drug given to dogs. Our vet fills for around $20 (and that bottle lasts a couple of months). Or you can probably get filled at the WM pharmacy for as little as $10.

The only slightly complicated thing is finding the right dose -- it takes repeated testing a few times a year until the levels are right. We ended up having to go up a little higher than the starting dose during this subsequent testing.

If the T4 thyroid screening result is marginal, there's a specialized full-panel thyroid test through either Hemopet or Michigan State University that sometimes helps clarify things. The full-panel test more thyroid factors, so it sometimes picks up subclinical changes that haven't yet resulted in T4 changing. My own vet thinks that not all dogs need that specialized testing -- I would start with the cheap T4, and let the results guide whether further digging is needed.
 

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A low thyroid just needs a twice-daily thyroid hormone pill -- it's a generic human drug given to dogs. Our vet fills for around $20 (and that bottle lasts a couple of months). Or you can probably get filled at the WM pharmacy for as little as $10.

The only slightly complicated thing is finding the right dose -- it takes repeated testing a few times a year until the levels are right. We ended up having to go up a little higher than the starting dose during this subsequent testing.

If the T4 thyroid screening result is marginal, there's a specialized full-panel thyroid test through either Hemopet or Michigan State University that sometimes helps clarify things. The full-panel test more thyroid factors, so it sometimes picks up subclinical changes that haven't yet resulted in T4 changing. My own vet thinks that not all dogs need that specialized testing -- I would start with the cheap T4, and let the results guide whether further digging is needed.
That is not a bad cost at all. I already spend I think almost $60 every other month or so for his pain medicine, but I wonder if even that will decline if it's from the weight and he finds it easier to move/exercise with treatment. One of my other concerns was that it was Cushing's...I am trying not to freak myself up, because I have a tendency to do that a lot...with my OCD, my compulsions create thoughts that circle my head obsessively, and make it hard to logic my way ot :( So I am doing my best to be informed, but not panicky, or else the thoughts will not go away and I'll convince myself of the worst. I'll do anything I can to help Kodi, as long as he's happy/his quality of life is good.

I appreciate everyone's help here, too!
 

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There's an old Native American myth about Rabbit and his fear-calling -- you can find it with a Google search. I read it to myself when I start worrying about my senior dogs, to remind myself not to "fear call."

For yourself, you might also check out an herb called Ashwaganda -- there's very interesting research on its helpfulness for anxiety. I find it helps with sleep when work is stressful and my brain is on overdrive. https://www.drweil.com/vitamins-supplements-herbs/herbs/ashwagandha/
 

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There's an old Native American myth about Rabbit and his fear-calling -- you can find it with a Google search. I read it to myself when I start worrying about my senior dogs, to remind myself not to "fear call."

For yourself, you might also check out an herb called Ashwaganda -- there's very interesting research on its helpfulness for anxiety. I find it helps with sleep when work is stressful and my brain is on overdrive. https://www.drweil.com/vitamins-supplements-herbs/herbs/ashwagandha/
Thank you! I can use all the encouraging words I can get...I do fret a lot more than I probably should. And I will check out that herb! I am actually already in therapy and seeing a psychiatrist. I am on mood stabilizers, and they...well, stabilize my mood :) They work very well. As strange as it may sound, only six or so months ago I used to be frightened and compulsive than I am now. Slow progress has been made. Even so, I found myself watching several videos earlier about CPR for dogs, because of my mind is just going to crazy.

Ah, I have probably shared too much haha I come to say that Kodi is breathing easier today. He is still sort of panting, but his breaths are deeper. Not in a "I'm slipping away" way (oh goodness I hope not). I have been watching him, and his breathing is close to my other two dogs normal breath. Gums are still pink, eyes still clear, nose still wet, ate his morning meal fine, took his medicine okay (and tried to steal other dog's carrot treat, which is normal!), running outside when I open the door, he still dances happily when I get energetic, and poo is solid. I'm not sure what changed, but I am grateful. He also hasn't been drinking as much water as before. He's drinking the normal amount now, which I hope is good news. I'm keeping a very close eye on him, and getting him up and moving every now and then. I wish dogs could speak and tell us how they feel. The only reason I set the appointment a couple days away was so I could take a lot of notes to give my vet a better idea. I am anxious for 4:00 pm tomorrow. I may call today and ask for an earlier appointment in the morning, because I'm not sure my heart can take sitting around all day tomorrow...these up and down moods still freak me out.
 

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Update on Kodi:

I have, perhaps, acted irrationally. Kodi's breath was becoming shallow when he was at rest again, even despite not having been outside for a few hours, and in the cool house. Every time I saw it going up and down quickly, all I could think was, "Is that his last? Is that his last? Is that his last?" and could not bear it any longer. I called my vet to ask if they could see him today. Unfortunately, they could not, but they said I could drop him off and if they're able, they'll take a look at him.

I've kept meticulous notes for this past week or so, and gave them to my vet, and he promised he'd look them over and watch Kodi. I've been going to that vet for over 10 years, and he's always been good to me, so I believe him. He said he's call this afternoon with an update, and if need be, I can make the decision for Kodi to stay overnight. I would rather look like a fool and seem as though I'm overreacting than Kodi get seen too late!
 

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Hello. Last update for Kodi.

I had to put him down on Friday, because it was a tumor. For anyone whose dogs have this problem, I do not want to scare you, but please get it checked thoroughly. It can be something simple, or in some cases, like poor Kodi, it may not be.

My heart is broken and I have not stopped crying, and even now, I'm teary. I did not want him to suffer and was there when he took that last sleep. Thanks all here for help.
 
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