Hoarse Barking with Hacking Cough, Reverse Sneezing, and Vomiting?

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Kip & Oogie

Goof Fox & Diva- Squirrel
Barked: Wed Mar 14, '12 8:49pm PST 
So, this is kind of long... as I posted earlier, Kip and Oogie went in for their annual exams with their vet yesterday. Kip is a pomeranian/chihuahua mix, almost 1 year and 5 months old, and weighs 6.1 pounds currently.

That morning when we woke up, Kip hacked a bit and threw up some yellow bile. I didn’t think much of it and assumed he had a hair caught in his throat since this is not a normal behavior and he seemed fine otherwise in terms of playfulness/appetite/bathroom habits.

I mentioned it in the exam, and the exam went well. We did titers for their distemper/parvo vaccinations, a heartworm test, and a stool sample- the latter of which came back negative for any abnormalities. We still have to wait for titer results. For the rabies vaccine (which apparently there is no way around) we are going to wait 3 weeks so it doesn't interfere with the heartguard medicine I gave him Sunday night. I mentioned my concern about possible collapsing trachea as Kip has been coughing/hacking 2-3 times more often than not only after drinking water- something I’ve noticed especially since he got his retained baby teeth removed in January. It happens to Oogie only occasionally. Very rarely it will happen when they are running and chasing each other outside, but not inside. Anyway, she said collapsing trachea was very common in both Pomeranians and Chihuahuas and that we don’t have the fluoroscopy to diagnose it in our city, and even so it sounds so mild if that’s what it is that really the only thing to do is treat symptoms if it gets worse. Regardless she said his heart and lungs sounded great and physically he was in excellent shape.

So, after the exam I stopped by my workplace to pick up my paycheck, chatted with my fellow employees for a bit and snacked on some cheese, and then went and met a friend of mine for coffee. While I was sitting with my friend with the dogs in my lap, Kip out of nowhere threw up his breakfast all over me (and the tiny nugget of cheese I gave him which has never bothered him before). REALLY gross. This was around 4:30 or 5pm. After throwing up he didn’t really seem fazed though.

We get home, and I offered him some more water (which he drank) and also a bit of food (which he gladly ate). He then became pretty lethargic and started reverse sneezing a few times (very very uncommon for him), and he would cough up food/water and swallow it back down. He acted like he wasn’t feeling well and carried his tail low to the ground rather than over his back, and when he tried to rest he kept his head up rather than laying it down. Around 5 in the morning, he threw up the dinner that I had fed him at night and continued acting like he did not feel well with a bit of coughing/reverse sneezing.

We slept for a bit, and I woke up as soon as the vets office opened and they said they could work him in at 2. At 10:30 in the morning I took him outside- he had a normal stool and normal urination. HOWEVER, he saw a big dog off in the distance and started barking, and then I noticed his bark is hoarse/strained sounding! NOT normal. I then asking him to “sing” – and he started coughing and could not perform the command as he usually does. Currently, he can not make whining pitched sounds at all and he has a very quiet, raspy, hoarse bark.

Note: his diet has not changed. He has been on Orijen for a long time now. The only different thing in his diet was the heartguard plus chew I gave him late Sunday night, a medication which he has had before with no adverse reactions that I can recall. Sunday we went on a hike on some local trails (we go on walks every day but on my days off we usually hit up long hiking trails), and he did jump into a pool of water though I don't think he drank any. He has never been boarded, I groom him myself, and we don't go to dog parks. However, we do go to our local petstore once or twice every month or so and occasionally we go to petco if our regular store doesn't have what I am looking for. We did go to a small dog meetup towards the beginning of February but that seems like it was too long ago to have anything to do with his current condition which had a very sudden onset. A blockage is unlikely seeing he has passed normal stool since this has started, he has maintained an appetite, and I am good about monitoring him.

So, I offered him more water to prevent dehydration, he drank it, and he ate a few pieces of kibble which he managed to keep down.

We got to the vet at 2 and his vet not working today, so we see a new vet. She says it could really be anything, but she suspects allergies or an upper respiratory infection (think laryngitis) since his lungs sound normal. She said allergies could be causing post nasal drip which could cause inflammation of the airway as well coughing and nausea, and that the motion of coughing/reverse sneezing could be aggravating the nausea and causing him to throw up. She said it could also be a bacterial or viral upper respiratory infection, but if it is that it doesn’t think the symptoms match kennel cough and doesn’t think that his lifestyle puts him at high risk for being exposed to it anyway. She said there are several other strains of bugs that it could be though.

I asked about the possibility of him reacting to the heartguard (many herding dogs have an abnormal gene mutation on MDR1 which causes them to react poorly to the main ingredient) and though Kip has no herding breed background, he has a similar coat pattern/marking as many herding breeds (Long coat with “Irish” markings- a white collar, white feet, and white tail tip). I can’t help but wonder if that particular marking is somehow linked to the gene (the breeds that are affected tend to carry this coat marking pattern), but she says it is unlikely and assures me that it is a breed specific reaction shown in collies and shepherds and mixes which contain them.

So, she ends up prescribing a bland diet along with a cough suppressant and an antihistamine. She said to come back in two days if he doesn’t improve or if he gets worse, and then she will prescribe antibiotics to address any possible bacterial infection that could be occurring and possibly do a blood panel (he just had a blood panel done in January when he had his baby teeth taken out though and all of his levels were in the normal ranges). She says a good indicator to if its bacterial/viral/contagious will be if Oogie starts displaying symptoms as well- though thus far, she appears perfectly healthy and normal.

Kip ate his dinner and has kept it down, he hasn't had anymore reverse sneezing, and the cough medicine has pretty much knocked him out. He is still very very hoarse though.

So, I guess my questions for you guys are
1) Has anyone on here had experience with a “hoarse” bark, coughing/reverse sneezing, lethargy, and vomiting? If so, what ended up being the diagnosis?
2) Has anyone with a dog who is not of the herding breeds ever had a reaction like this to heartguard plus within 48 hours of treating with it? Whether you have given it before or if it was a first time reaction?
3) How common are environmental allergies? Kip has a known chicken allergy but I’ve never known him to be allergic to outdoor irritants. The vet said she had been seeing several cases of environmental allergies lately (plants are blooming and it’s been rainy so there is pollen and mold galore)… so I don’t know.

As always thoughts and comments are always appreciated! Cheers if you made it through the novel of a post smile

Barked: Thu Mar 15, '12 1:37am PST 
sounds like Kennel cough to me.

Akita Pals- Always.
Barked: Thu Mar 15, '12 4:51am PST 
Kai does not exhibit the reverse sneeze but he and my Akita/GSD I had before Mika both suffer from the occasional coughing until they vomit and hoarse sounding bark,as well as a runny nose,as seasonal hayfever like illness. We with Kai do not have serious enough symptoms to treat and even our vet has advised us to let it go as long as he is functioning normally. We hope that's all it is and Kip is better soon.

Kip & Oogie

Goof Fox & Diva- Squirrel
Barked: Thu Mar 15, '12 12:12pm PST 
@ Charlie, I thought that initially too but the vet doesn’t seem to think that’s what it is. shrug She said if it was that then Oogie would probably have it too since it is highly contagious and the two live together/share the same water/go the same places- Oogie seems fine though.

@ Mika & Kai, I’m sorry that happens to Kai! How long would that typically last for him? Did it take a long time for his throat to heal/bark to come back? I really hope the seasonal allergy thing is all it is with Kip too. Right now we just finished getting a lot of rain and all of the plants are blooming like crazy here, so I suppose that could be the case. Considering he has a food allergy it makes sense that he could have environmental ones too…

Ironically, he spit up the liquid cough medicine (which he hates) right after I gave him his second dose at night, but even so he slept soundly without coughing/reverse sneezing/vomiting, and he kept down all of his food from the day which is awesome. He even felt like playing this morning! Unfortunately the little dude’s bark is still a raspy whisper- he’s using his “library” voice against his will frown I am so very happy that he is otherwise showing signs of feeling better though, regardless of whatever is going on with him.
Kip & Oogie

Goof Fox & Diva- Squirrel
Barked: Thu Mar 15, '12 12:16pm PST 
I wonder if getting an allergy test for him would be a good idea? I mean, I found the chicken allergy through an elimination diet- but keep him away from all other types of poultry (turkey/duck/etc.) just in case since the protein structure is probably pretty similar... As for the environment, I can't control the pollen or mold levels outside, but I could maybe refrain from taking them on long hikes on days that allergens are high if it is something outside that Kip is allergic to.