I have a 13-year-old chocolate lab named Rocky. He is in generally good health and in good spirits, but slowing down. A couple of years ago he was diagnosed with acid reflux and we maintained using Prilosec. Lately it's gotten worse. Mostly at night (between midnight and 6 or 7 a.m.) but also during the day sometimes he'll do a sort of gag/cough, sometimes several in succession. This tends to be particularly bad when he's laying on the couch for a long time or rolls over on his back.
Recently we've been trying some other remedies such as Pepcid, cutting down on fatty foods, giving him more and smaller meals (particularly kibble), and even metoclopramide, which seemed to make it worse so we stopped (the vet thought the bad reaction could happen and suggested it could indicate that the source of his problem is the lower esophagus). He is also taking Prozac to manage anxiety and the vet suggested this could cause increased gastric upset, but he was doing the gagging before he started with the Prozac so I don't think it's the culprit. Plus it really seems to have helped him. He was developing a bit of "sundowner's syndrome" over the summer but the Prozac (combined with some Chinese herbal medicine called Shen from the vet) seem to really lift his spirits and he's less confused.
It has been suggested that he have endoscopy to see what is going on. We are a bit worried about this because of his age. But on the other hand the gagging is going on every day and I'm sure it must be uncomfortable. Right now he wants to eat snow I expect to cool his sore throat. All of our other attempts to do something non-invasive don't seem to be working out. So we're leaning toward the scope, with some trepidation. My fear in particular comes from the experience losing a 15-year-old cat who went in for a teeth cleaning and then died just after coming out of anesthesia.
Has anyone else experienced these types of symptoms with your lab and what did you do? Should we go with the endoscopy to find out what's going on? I'm not sure what we will find or whether the problem can be fixed. Any ideas would be much appreciated.
Its possible that this is a symptom of laryngeal paralysis. I'd get a vet opinion, but I don't know how aggressively I would treat a 13 year old dog. Good luck and good thoughts.
Sharon, Blaise and Diesel.
Sounds like LP.. I'd definitely consult with your vet about that. Unfortunately it does happen to Labs.
Good thoughts and prayers for you and Rocky!
Have you tried a small meal of some type or a couple of treats before bed time. It could be he need something in his stomach. Also, you might want to ask your vet about Sucralfate. Perhaps it would be effective in coating his stomach and reducing the acid at mealtime. This med might be a solution. Followed according to instructions can be beneficial. Also it sounds liek checking for LP would be a good idea as well. Good luck. Hope you find some answers. It is hard to watch them when they are uncomfortable and you feel helpless to do something for them.
Guest poster - original forum July 2001. Member 2002. nbsc
They may be able to do the endoscopy with sedation and not a full anesthesia. Easier to recover from.
Sharon, Blaise and Diesel.
Thank you so much for the ideas. I've wondered about LP too. And I'm glad to hear that endoscopy might not require a full anesthesia. We will see what we can find out.
We have an 11 year old that has been doing this as well. Our vet ruled out everything else (enlarged heart etc) because it's less invasive than doing an endoscope to see if it is really LP. It's not bad enough to need meds or surgery, so we just take care of him as if it really is LP and deal with it.
I would probably go that route with your senior as well.
Rocky went to the vet last Friday. He had a chest and throat x-ray, which ruled out any problems with heart, lungs or possible tumors in the throat. All clear. He is now taking sulcrafate which is helping some. We're seeing how that goes. We talked about LP with the vet, and they could do a light sedation to check out the larynx, although it seems some of the symptoms are there such as louder breathing (although otherwise he's fine, he doesn't gag when he eats and his bark is just the same as before) - but we'll be curbing how much he exerts himself. They also did blood tests, all was okay other than raised liver values, which he's had in the past. We may do a Cushing's Disease test, although we understand from the vet that the treatment has some side effects that may not be good (i.e. Addison's Disease). But overall Rocky is doing fine, he has good energy and is eager to go for walks and eat. So we'll just keep monitoring things and perhaps do the LP check and an endoscope in a couple of weeks if the sulcrafate is not doing enough for him. Thanks again for your suggestions!