Dysautonomia in Dogs

Dysautonomia in Dogs - Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Recovery, Management, Cost

Most common symptoms

Anemia / Diarrhea / Disorientation / Lethargy / Painful Urination / Vomiting

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Most common symptoms

Anemia / Diarrhea / Disorientation / Lethargy / Painful Urination / Vomiting

Dysautonomia in Dogs - Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Recovery, Management, Cost

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What is Dysautonomia?

Canine dysautonomia causes the degeneration of the enteric, peripheral, central, somatic, and autonomic nervous system. Dysautonomia affects humans as well; it is called Key-Gaskell syndrome and it is usually fatal just as with dogs. Since dysautonomia affects the autonomic nervous system, the heart rate and breathing are uncontrolled and this is ultimately the cause of death. The worst part about dysautonomia is that the cause is not known, although it is seen mostly in the rural midwest states in North America, namely Kansas and Missouri. Also, it is more prevalent in dogs that spend more than half their time outside and seems to prefer younger dogs, with the average age of only three years old.

Dogs with canine dysautonomia disorder suffer from a dysfunctional autonomic nervous system. Symptoms range from digestive to motor function and the first signs of trouble may be that your dog is having trouble urinating and loss of bladder and bowel control, or you may notice the lack of appetite and extreme weight loss. This fatal disorder also makes it impossible for the body to regulate the heartbeat, temperature, blood pressure, and breathing. Unfortunately, there is no successful treatment for dysautonomia, but some dogs recover after a few months of aggressive treatment, although it is rare.

Symptoms of Dysautonomia in Dogs

The disruption of your dog’s digestion is the most commonly reported symptom, but this can vary from case to case. The nervous system controls the most important vital functions and you may notice that your pet is acting clumsy, confused, sleepy, or cannot stand. Other likely clues that your dog has dysautonomia are:

  • Painful urination
  • Dilation of the eyes
  • Lack of pupil reaction to light
  • Inflammation of the bladder
  • Dry mouth, nose, and eyes
  • Loss of appetite
  • Obvious loss of weight (extreme)
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Losing control of bowels and urination
  • Sleepiness
  • Weakness
  • Lack of tear production
  • Photophobia (fear of light)
  • Swollen third-eye
  • Abdominal tenderness
  • Coughing
  • Depression
  • Loss of motor reflexes
  • Muscle degeneration
  • Slow, weak heart rate
  • Breathing difficulty
  • Death from loss of autonomic nerve control

Causes of Dysautonomia in Dogs

The cause of dysautonomia is unknown, but there are some animals that are more susceptible than others:

  • Living in the Midwest (Missouri and Kansas mostly)
  • Being outside most of the time
  • Access to rural areas and wildlife
  • Dogs younger than five years old

Diagnosis of Dysautonomia in Dogs

If you cannot get an appointment to see your regular veterinarian, take your dog to the closest animal hospital or clinic. Dysautonomia is a life-threatening emergency and you cannot afford to wait for an appointment if you believe your pet has this dangerous disease. The veterinarian will need to give your dog a thorough examination to begin with, including pupil reaction time, reflexes, blood pressure, body temperature, oxygen level, breath sounds, pulse, and respiratory rate. The lack of pupil contraction and absent reflexes are usually indicative of dysautonomia and your dog’s blood pressure, temperature, and heart rate will usually be abnormal. An echocardiograph (ECHO) is an important tool in diagnosis and will likely show systolic dysfunction and enlargement of the atrium or aorta. An electrocardiograph (EKG) will also be performed to check the electrical and muscular functions of your pet’s heart.

Although most blood work will be unremarkable, the veterinarian will still need to perform certain tests to rule out other illnesses and injury. Some of the tests performed may be a serum biochemical analysis, complete blood count (CBC), liver enzyme panel, urinalysis, and fecal examination. Another important step in diagnosing dysautonomia is radiography. Abdominal and thoracic x-rays and ultrasound will usually show bladder distention, enlarged esophagus, and aspiration pneumonia. If the veterinarian needs a more detailed view, an MRI or CT scan may be needed.

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Treatment of Dysautonomia in Dogs

Treatment for dysautonomia is not usually successful no matter how early it is found because there is no known cure at the moment. There are certain medications that can help in some cases, although it is uncommon. Special foods and fluids are also helpful in making your dog more comfortable.

Fluid Therapy

It is important that your dog is well hydrated, so the veterinarian will administer intravenous (IV) fluids, artificial tears, and humidified air for dry mucous membranes.

Medications

Some of the medications that have been successful for at least a short time are pilocarpine and bethanechol for stimulating muscles and boosting nervous system activity, domperidone or other prokinetic drugs for the gastrointestinal system, corticosteroids, and antibiotics for infections. 

Special Diet

The veterinarian may prescribe a special diet high in protein, carbohydrates, vitamins, and fat to prevent wasting disease, which is a loss of muscle mass. If the diet is unsuccessful, intravenous (IV) feeding may be necessary for a certain amount of time.

Hospitalization

The veterinarian will admit your dog to the hospital for at least 24 hours for treatment and observation. Your dog may be well enough to go home after that, but usually does not last since there is no cure.

Recovery of Dysautonomia in Dogs

Prognosis for dysautonomia is grave and if your dog is able to survive, the quality of life may be poor. This is why most pets that are diagnosed with the disease are usually euthanized within a few weeks or months, depending on the severity. There are rare cases of survival, but the disease is fatal in most dogs.

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Dysautonomia Average Cost

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Average Cost

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Dysautonomia Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

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Poppy Seed

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Blue Heeler

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14 Months

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Critical severity

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0 found helpful

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Critical severity

Has Symptoms

None

I have successfully treated my dog for CD. She is now back to being her old self. The only signs that she was sick is some loss of sight in her left eye. When I took her in to the vet she was critical and they gave her about two weeks to live. Here is the regimen I used. Detox and Immune booster Ambrotose by Mannatech - boosts the immune system and provides phytonutrients and glyconutrients so the cells can detox Detox and supplement Detoxitech by Natural Factors - detoxifier with vitamins Pedialyte for electoytes Celery juice electrolytes and energy booster as well as urinary system support Bone broth in powder form (beef) Collagen by Ancient Nutrition and liquid bone broth (chicken) for repairing damage Probiotics - I bought the childrens chewables and she chewed them up but you can also use liquid form if the animal will not chew them up. They do make them for animals Slippery Elm Bark! I fed her half a teaspoon of ambrotose every hour. If she was eating I would mix it into her food. If not I mixed it with pedialyte and used a plastic syringe and squirted it in her mouth. She was thirsty but would not drink from a bowl and due to the complications of the disease they should not drink or eat with their head down. They run the risk of aspirating the liquid so they will sense that so they will not drink or eat unless held up to their mouth. You have to make them drink, they will resist at times but if you have to make them drink. I also froze the pedialyte and water in ice cubes and she would chew on them. For some reason she really liked the ice cubes. I gave her half scoop of detoxitech by natural factors two to three times a day. My dog was about 30 lbs so you can adjust accordingly. These products are a food, not a chemical or medication so you can't overdose the animal. I fed her plain food, at first boiled chicken breast and the broth from it. I ground it up so she could digest it easier. I also fed her sweet potatoes. She loved them so i would feed them to her with bone broth in them or even add them to the boiled meat. I gave her some wild rice, as wild rice is good for nerve damage and collagen powder. Make sure the collagen is pure collagen. Regular rice is high in arsenic, do not give them rice! Lot's of Bone broth, it provides bone marrow for the cells to rebuild. After she was feeling a little better I would give her raw beaten egg. Not every day, just every few days. After she started showing signs of improvement I put her on canned dog food but only pure mild flavors with meat and some veggies, the best one I found was Science Diet Sensitive Stomach and skin. I worked a lot better for stopping diarhea. Slippery Elm Bark! Is a must. I bought the powder at www.theholistichorse.com. They have great products. Make it according to instructions and add it to the soft food. I instantly saw a change in her bowels. I added water and liquid bone broth to the food to make sure she stayed hydrated. I also kept her in a very dark room and since they have inflamation and body temp issues I she was in a cool room but a light cover on her. I gave her liquid black walnut drops in her food after a couple of weeks for parasites. No chemicals should be given to the animal. I also didn't give her steroids or antibiotics. They destroy the natural flora of the body and compromise the immunity. I gave her the probiotics after about two weeks time to make sure she had good flora in her intestines. If I had known this disease existed I would have been quicker to take her to the vet for diagnosis and treatment. Do not feed the animal anything dry, they need moist food only. If they eat dry foods they will get a blockage. I had to remove one myself so I learned that the hard way. Do not give the animal chemical flea and tick treatment. I only use diatomaceous earth because it is natural and won't compromise the immune system. If they get knats from their oder just use eucalyptus oil diluted with water in a spray bottle. My dog did not want to be bathed for some reason so I used a bucket of water to wash only her hindquarters. Due to body temperature issues this worked the best. Keep the eyes moistened with eye drops, preferably a liquid herb eyebright, it will nourish the eyes and protect against damage to them

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alpha

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min pen

dog-age-icon

6 Years

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Serious severity

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0 found helpful

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Extreme Weight Loss

Noticed rapid weight loss appearing as a starved dog, from being a plump well fed dog. Noticed routine vomiting and loss in appetite. Took dog to veterinarian and all Doctor could diagnose was that dog in gotten into something poisonous and prescribed 'stomach settling pills' to subdue the excessive vomiting. I researched symptoms and highly suspected dog had ingested a tablespoon or so of anti-freeze resulting in poisoning to dog. (assuming being a free roaming dog had found anti-freeze on neighbors property or somewhere(?) Dog continued deteriorating becoming more skinny, and even became 'blind' (looking at the eyes could not see any pupils), and dog was only getting around by blindly stumbling in a very suborn manner. Dog was totally dying a slow death! I immediately began treating the dog with; Colloidal Silver Marijuana CBD Oil Digestive enzimes Omega 3 Oil Dog appears to be doing much better, although still blind and although still skinny, does appear to slowly be improving. Appetite has somewhat returned. His energetic movement has somewhat returned from the slow drunk wobbling movements previously exhibiting. He is NOT vomiting anymore, and looks to have normal bowel and urination functions.

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Frankie

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terrier

dog-age-icon

7 Years

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Fair severity

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See Above Comments

Our Terrier mix (Frankie) was diagnosed with CD 2 yrs ago come March 3, 2019. She was 5 yrs old at the time. She is alive and thriving today. I want to let pet owners know that there is hope if your dog is diagnosed with CD. I was very frustrated with the lack of information regarding this disease. All I could find out was there is no known cure; that MAYBE it's an airborne bacteria; that it is prevalent in Kansas and Missouri (we had just moved to Missouri 6 mos. before she was diagnosed) and the survival rate is around 20%. All our vet would tell us when they sent her home after diagnosing her was "give her comfort support." When we asked what does that mean they couldn't define it, just to try and keep her comfortable. When we dropped her off at the vet she was extremely lethargic. After spending the night receiving an IV solution and a shot of B12, she had some pep when she came home. So, we thought pffft with the "comfort support" and decided we're going to try treatment instead. After all, she was more or less given a death sentence so what was the worse we could do? Everything we did for Frankie was done on what WE thought would help save her. So, I'm first going to list her symptoms since there is a 15 letter limit in the Symptoms section below this section and then I am going to list the things we did for Frankie in hopes that maybe it can save your dog. Frankie normally weighed 18#, but was at 15# when diagnosed. So, all the measurements mentioned below are based on what I thought she needed at her weight. Frankie's symptoms: 1. Dry nose, both inside & out. This was the very first symptom. 2. Lack of appetite. She completely stopped eating. 3. Quit drinking water. 4. Extremely lethargic. Here's what we did to treat her: 1. Using a large syringe, squirting it down her throat, we gave her 20ml of bottled water with electrolytes (found in the baby aisle). If it was good for babies, it should be good for dogs. We thought the electrolytes would help with the fight. We gave her water every 30 minutes trying to keep her hydrated. 2. We'd squirt water up both nostrils every time we gave her water. Her nose was extremely dry, both inside and out. 3. We put vaseline on her nose after we squirted water up the nostrils. She would lick her nose afterward, but most of the vaseline stayed on. 4. We put eye drops in both eyes (actually it was my contact lens solution) every 30 minutes. She had a white mucus that would gather in both eyes. After using a Kleenex to clear her eyes, we'd put the drops in. 5.*** Using a smaller syringe we gave her 1 ml of liquid B12 twice a day. I want to stress that I think this is key. B12 helps the nervous system which is what this bacteria attacks. We, again, would open her mouth and squirt it down her throat ensuring she took it. 6. One Clavamox pill a day. Our vet originally thought she had colitis, (she didn't) so they prescribed Clavamox (which is an antibiotic). I continued to give her the Clavamox to help ward off any infections that may occur i.e. urinary. 7. Every other day we gave her an enema. 8. Because she had (at the time) no bladder control, we put doggie diapers on her. You can find these in the dog section of Walmart, etc. The first four days, she wouldn't eat. We tried soft dog food, baby food, cooked chicken and she'd take maybe a bite or two and that was it. By now it was approximate a week since she had really eaten anything. We were a little concerned, but getting and keeping the fluids in her was our first priority. Then on day five I gave her a hotdog...and she ate the whole thing. Not only did she eat it, she kept it down. Every day, thereafter, she had a hotdog in the morning and one at night. Once she started eating solids, we gave her an enema every day. After two weeks, she started to drink out of her own water bowl. After three weeks, she started to eat dry dog food out of her bowl plus we we able to take the diapers off of her because she had full bladder control again. After approximately two weeks her nose was moist and wet and the mucus in her eyes was gone. (Her eyes is another symptom I was hoping the Clavamox would help with). We continued the enemas for another week because she was constipated for a few days after starting back up on dry food. After that, we gave them if or when needed. After a full six months, I was confidant Frankie was out of danger, so I took her to the vet for verification . I wanted a full examination to make sure she had no bladder or bowel infections, etc. When the vet walked in he was grinning from ear to ear. He said "I give you full credit for Frankie surviving this." My comment back was "and I take full credit." Today, the only signs Frankie has of CD is her right eye pupil stays dilated so she squints when shes out in direct sunlight. We can live with that. Other than that, she still loves to play catch and chase her ball and is a happy, healthy dog. I truly hope this helps if you've been seeking any kind of positive information regarding this terrible disease.

Dysautonomia Average Cost

From 582 quotes ranging from $2,000 - $10,000

Average Cost

$5,000

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