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Worthy of the Vet's?

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Hi guys! I have a health-related question about my 8 y/o bc, Maple.

I've been fairly sick recently, and have been too uncomfortable to sleep through the night. Last night, I noticed Mae behaving a little restlessly. She would get up, stretch, and lie down a bit more than what she normally does. At her age, I put it off as achey joints, perhaps due to the dramatically oscillating temperatures this winter. I know the cold and wet makes my arthritis flare up.

The stretch she was repeating is one very typical to her, but she normally only does it in appropriate contexts. She holds her back legs in place and then walks forward with her front legs, lengthening her spine. If she's waking up she'll walk her back legs up into a normal standing position. If she's readjusting her sleeping position she'll continue to slide forward until she's resting on her tummy before rolling over to her side.

Her tummy was also making noises, but it was 4 am and breakfast normally comes around 7 am. Occasionally it will grumble before breakfast, especially if she didn't get as much kibble the night before (sometimes I cut back if she has had more snacks than usual on a given day). All tummies grumble, especially if they've got less inside to dampen the noise!

This morning I took her out to potty as usual, and then gave her breakfast. Afterwards, I climbed back into bed and she took her usual spot alongside me. She was more restless though! She got up and stretched, moved positions and stretched again. She jumped down on the floor and repeated the process. Mae has a very expressive face, and I read her mood as uncomfortable. I asked her "What's wrong?" and she jumped up beside me a curled up against my shoulder and face as if to cuddle (normal behavior from her!). She pushed her hind-legs awkwardly out, though, and her tail was pulled between them as if fearful or shameful.

I interpreted this as her trying to communicate something important, my first guess being diarrhea. We got out of bed and I let her out again. She stretched again a couple more times and pooped soon after. There was nothing unusual about the stool.

We went back to bed for the second time, and this time all seemed well. She picked a spot and curled up without any problems. I'm a worrier though, so I turned to Google for clues. I read about canine bloat and pancreatitis as possible emergency causes, and she was displaying a few of the symptoms! However, all the behavior had ceased after she pooped this morning. I checked her tummy for distention and it was as normal as ever. She slow-blinked at the attention, which tells me the palpating caused her no pain. Maple is a healthy weight with reasonable muscle tone, something my vet always commends me for.

Should I still be worried? I know the common response to occasions like these would be "talk to your vet!" but vets are expensive! I'm sure if I call in there's a high probability they'll ask me to come in and charge me to examine her. It's snowing out, and as someone who was recently in a fatal car accident, I'd like to avoid driving the 30 mins to the vet as much as possible. That's why I'm asking fellow bc owners for a 2nd opinion. Is this a true emergency, even if she's no longer displaying the symptoms? Do you think it was just a gassy tummy that resolved itself? If she really needs help, of course I'll make the sacrifice. My anxiety has been so bad lately, I can't tell if I'm overreacting. Maple means the whole world to me.

EDIT: I forgot to add that I noticed her drinking more water and urinating more than usual yesterday. Nothing crazy, just enough for me to take notice.

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Note: I am not a vet, so.....

But if Maple were my dog, at this point, I would continue to watch her closely for the next 24-48 hours for the same behavior or something else that doesn't seem right. If the behavior is not repeated, IMHO it is just simple idiopathic episode. But if she were to repeat it, I would definitely want to see if there is cause for concern. Unfortunately, sometimes we never get an answer.

I recently had an episode with one of my dogs in which he had a normal day and evening of eating and pooping. Then around midnight, he was whining enough to wake me up. I took him outside, and he immediately started frantically 'grazing' on the grass for a few minutes, then he pooped, but because it was in the dark, I couldn't see if it was normal or watery. I wondered if he had an upset stomach which caused the grass eating, but I hoped he was done. Not so. About 2 hours later, he woke me up again with insistent whining and wanted to do a little bit of grazing, but no pooping. Weird. Then about 90 minutes later, he woke me up again. Went outside, but didn't really do much, no grazing, no pooping. Totally mystifying, and my best guess is upset stomach due to ???? He has been normal since.

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If our Ben does not get enough exercise, i.e. walks, he gets behind in his pooping, the goes off his food, and has some poop problems when he does go.  He is almost 14, and we have observed this behavior many times over his life.  We spent $700 at the Emergency Vet one weekend to find out that there was nothing wrong with him.  If you have recently been in a serious accident and not feeling well since, perhaps Maple is not getting as much exercise as usual.  That would certainly be the case here. Ben is also very sensitive to us, and when one of us isn't well, he reacts by not acting normal and not eating.  Perhaps Maple is reacting to your condition.  Not knowing her, I can't say with any certainty, but it could be.  I would also sit and observe before calling the vet, since you noticed a definite improvement after she emptied herself out.  Best wishes to you both for the New Year.


Kathy Robbins

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I agree with Bordercentrics. above. If you're not moving around as much, then she's not moving around as much. If you use a heater in your home, the air might be more dry and thus make her more thirsty. Oddly enough, I drink more water in cold weather than warm, I think because it's just so dang dry.

I just looked up pancreatitis in dogs and the symptoms are noticeable, not subtle. Vomiting, hunching over in pain, etc. The stretch you describe is pretty common, from what I've seen, not a symptom of a problem.

She may be confused because there's not as much activity/interaction as she's accustomed to. Teach her some inside tricks, groom her if she likes that, etc. (One of my previous bc LOVED being brushed) Do whatever you can that does not tire YOU out. If there's someone who will walk her for you that might give you some extra rest. If she's social with other humans, that might help a lot.

Hope you feel better soon!

Ruth & Gibbs

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Thanks for helping to assuage my fears. I kept a close eye on Mae and she seemed okay for the rest of the day. There's nothing unusual to report this morning, either. I'm glad she seems to be feeling fine. Saves me a lot of money and worry!

The past couple days she hasn't been getting as much exercise simply due to weather conditions, so y'all might be right on that front. Generally we do some casual agility together (i.e. low hurdles & short courses/sessions), but she sprained her knee in late September and I always try to be mindful of that when we're getting exercise. Working with her helps calm my anxiety too, so perhaps my worry stems from lack of exercise as well haha!

With our family gathering for the holidays, another guess I had at the etiology was a family member may have fed her something that didn't sit well. Kids are sneaky! You look away for one second and next thing you know they're giggling hysterically at your dog, who is inexplicably and unprecedentedly standing on your coffee table!

20 hours ago, urge to herd said:

I just looked up pancreatitis in dogs and the symptoms are noticeable, not subtle. Vomiting, hunching over in pain, etc. The stretch you describe is pretty common, from what I've seen, not a symptom of a problem.

I suppose because I googled "Why is my dog stretching so much?" instead of "canine pancreatitis" we got different results. A few websites said repetitive stretching of the abdomen may be an attempt to relieve discomfort and indicate early stage pancreatitis. You're right, though. I feel like if there actually was an issue, her symptoms would have persisted and gotten worse.

Thanks again for getting back to me! I appreciate the kind words and advice very much!

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