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Discussion Starter #1
Hi guys,

I'm hoping somebody will be able to help or enlighten me, please.

Mid September I boarded my boy in a kennel I hadn't used before (the kennel I normally use was fully booked) for a long weekend. NOTE - I had forgotten to take off his check-chain when I left him. On his return I noticed that he was a lot quieter and settled than normal (I originally put this down to being tired), he had developed a cough/gag (almost like he was hacking something up) about a day later, when exercising, getting excited, or being checked, and he was sneezing a lot more.

He was taken to the vet, where she concluded that he MAY have kennel cough (despite not having a distinct honking cough). He was given anti-inflammatory for his sore throat and 1 weeks worth of antibiotics for any associated infection. The coughing subsided.

Later that month he was boarded again in our normal kennel for a long weekend. Once again he came back to me quieter than normal, developed the same cough a short time after, and was sneezing occasionally. NOTE - This time the check chain was removed.

It's now been a couple of weeks since then, and during this time he has developed an occasional heavy pant when getting excited, and he ALWAYS wants to lick us or our bedding. He has also been taken to a different vet, where he was assessed - heart and lungs listened to, throat looked at etc. He concluded it was the after effects of kennel cough, and he just needs time to heal.

Is he right?

(NOTE - My boy is vaccinated, and de-wormed and protected against parasites each month)

Thanks.
 

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Discussion Starter #2
EDIT - The symptoms above tend to occur mostly after exercise/excitement, in the morning, or after a very deep sleep.
 

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The vet and I briefly spoke about this. He felt, as he was a doberman it may be a good idea. He didn't have any concern, just that he was a doberman, but at £450 it's something I can not afford and I'm unsure if insurance would cover the cost. Neither of my boy's parents had DCM, so I'm confident he'd be clear of that. What do you think?
 

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Neither of my boy's parents had DCM, so I'm confident he'd be clear of that. What do you think?
DCM testing is done via a combination of Holter monitoring, echocardiogram and ascultation. For breeding purposes the results are typically reflective of the dog's recent health and it does not mean that the animal will not develop DCM later in life. My cardio vet recommends DCM screening that be done yearly in dobermans starting with a baseline at age 2. For our dogs, our breeder will let us borrow her holter monitor for use and this cuts down the cost significantly.

That said there are several conditions that this could be that are not DCM related. My suggestion is to consult with a specialist.
 

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Holters should be done yearly, regardless of health of your dog, or their parents. Have you contacted universities in your area? It's such a devastating disease that some schools are funded to research it, allowing you to have discounted visits and tests. I holter my dog for just $100 and it's through a university.

Having a cough/gag for so long (weeks you say?) would concern me.
 

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And I don't think that little dogs heart cough is like what I've heard a dobermans heart cough sounds like. Best of my memory it does have a hack or gag at the end.

Plus, DCM often skips generations or rears its head from nowhere. It's s very unpredictable disease unfortunately.
 

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And I don't think that little dogs heart cough is like what I've heard a dobermans heart cough sounds like. Best of my memory it does have a hack or gag at the end.
My Homer's cough sounded nothing like the little dog in the video. Sometimes his cough sounded like he was trying to clear his throat, mostly though it sounded like a really deep burp with a gag at the end. Wish I'd thought to video it at the time.

OP, do you have a video of your dobe coughing that you could share with us?
 

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The cough my last dog developed, after two years of treatment for diagnosed DCM which were basically symptom free, was a kind of a deep throat clearing sort of cough, followed by a gag/retch at the end. It wasn't a light hacking cough only involving the throat or mouth; she seemed to use the muscles of her whole body with each cough. It was heart-rending to hear.

Her development of that cough was a signal that she had reached the end stage of her life. After she spent most of a night coughing off and on, the vet said there was basically nothing else he could do to help, and we put her to sleep that morning.


Does your dog sound hoarse when he barks? My first dog came home from boarding with almost no voice, having apparently barked the entire time he was there. His voice was never quite the same again. He would have periods of hoarseness after future boardings, with the kind of cough you might associate with a sore throat due to a laryngitis kind of illness.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Holters should be done yearly, regardless of health of your dog, or their parents. Have you contacted universities in your area? It's such a devastating disease that some schools are funded to research it, allowing you to have discounted visits and tests. I holter my dog for just $100 and it's through a university.

Having a cough/gag for so long (weeks you say?) would concern me.
Since my post, I have looked into this, and a number of sources are offering this service at a fraction of the cost. It will be something I will definitely bear in mind.
 

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Discussion Starter #12 (Edited)
DCM testing is done via a combination of Holter monitoring, echocardiogram and ascultation. For breeding purposes the results are typically reflective of the dog's recent health and it does not mean that the animal will not develop DCM later in life. My cardio vet recommends DCM screening that be done yearly in dobermans starting with a baseline at age 2. For our dogs, our breeder will let us borrow her holter monitor for use and this cuts down the cost significantly.

That said there are several conditions that this could be that are not DCM related. My suggestion is to consult with a specialist.
I have now spoken to a total of 4 different educated/reliable sources (including the breeder, 2 local vets, and my pet insurance vet) since my post, and not one thought it could be signs of DCM. Pretty much everybody agreed that it is kennel cough. I was advised, with kennel cough being a virus the symptoms can last for a long time after the initial contraction. Should this be the case, finances will dictate future annual DCM tests.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
My Homer's cough sounded nothing like the little dog in the video. Sometimes his cough sounded like he was trying to clear his throat, mostly though it sounded like a really deep burp with a gag at the end. Wish I'd thought to video it at the time.

OP, do you have a video of your dobe coughing that you could share with us?
I will try and get a video, but I doubt I will be quick enough. It's only ever occasionally and it's over after a hack or two.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
The cough my last dog developed, after two years of treatment for diagnosed DCM which were basically symptom free, was a kind of a deep throat clearing sort of cough, followed by a gag/retch at the end. It wasn't a light hacking cough only involving the throat or mouth; she seemed to use the muscles of her whole body with each cough. It was heart-rending to hear.

Her development of that cough was a signal that she had reached the end stage of her life. After she spent most of a night coughing off and on, the vet said there was basically nothing else he could do to help, and we put her to sleep that morning.


Does your dog sound hoarse when he barks? My first dog came home from boarding with almost no voice, having apparently barked the entire time he was there. His voice was never quite the same again. He would have periods of hoarseness after future boardings, with the kind of cough you might associate with a sore throat due to a laryngitis kind of illness.
My boy definitely has a light hack rather than a heavy forced cough.

The first time we noticed, he was horse. In fact it was from him trying to bark where we noticed it first. He would bark, then hack. He rarely barks, but recently, there is no longer a hack following a bark.
 

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First, why are you using a "check chain" on a Doberman?

I assume you mean a choke chain, as we refer to them, this side of the pond.

Dobermans are so intelligent, there are many better, safer methods to train with--especially in a breed prone to CVI (Wobbler's, neck issues) in the first place.

Second, if that boarding kennel didn't have the sense to remove your dog's choke chain while he was kenneled, shame on them, and I'd never use that place again--clear demonstration of negligent safety practices.

Moving on--it is most likely residual effects of kennel cough. You can ask your vet for a cough suppressant to soothe him a bit, if you feel it warrants medicating. If it's very occasional and decreasing, then I likely wouldn't medicate at this point.

As to the DCM discussion, I'm sorry, but asking around and getting opinions on a Doberman's heart is naive in the extreme--not trying to insult you--just speaking as someone who's been there, done that, with a very young dog.

My dog was likely about your dog's age, when he first developed DCM--I don't know for sure, because everyone I asked said he was "too young" to be developing heart disease, so I didn't run the diagnostics at that time.

He was dead of severe congestive heart failure by age three, so obviously they were VERY
wrong and misguided.

We've known of dogs as young as six or nine months with DCM.

All that is not to go to the worst-case-scenario right off the bat--it is actually far more likely, with the history of kenneling and the dog's symptoms, that it is in fact a viral illness and the after-effects, BUT part of owning a Doberman, sadly, is not discounting the likelihood any cough, slowing-down, lethargy, exercise intolerance, etc, etc absolutely needs serious investigation, what with the prevalence of DCM in this breed.

As others said, the fact your dog's parents have so far not exhibited the disease is no guarantee you won't face it with your guy--about 60% of male Dobermans develop DCM. (40% of females)

If your breeder isn't echo'ing and holtering every single year, then they in fact don't even actually know if the animals are developing DCM or not.

All that is by way of saying--please figure out a way to get those tests accessible to you, for your dog's sake, and keep a close eye on him with these current symptoms, even though it's hopefully just bordetella.

Oh, and try boosting him before taking him in for a planned boarding, in future--your vet can discuss with you optimum times to re-vaccinate.
 

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Discussion Starter #17 (Edited)
First, why are you using a "check chain" on a Doberman?

I assume you mean a choke chain, as we refer to them, this side of the pond.

Dobermans are so intelligent, there are many better, safer methods to train with--especially in a breed prone to CVI (Wobbler's, neck issues) in the first place.

Second, if that boarding kennel didn't have the sense to remove your dog's choke chain while he was kenneled, shame on them, and I'd never use that place again--clear demonstration of negligent safety practices.

Moving on--it is most likely residual effects of kennel cough. You can ask your vet for a cough suppressant to soothe him a bit, if you feel it warrants medicating. If it's very occasional and decreasing, then I likely wouldn't medicate at this point.

As to the DCM discussion, I'm sorry, but asking around and getting opinions on a Doberman's heart is naive in the extreme--not trying to insult you--just speaking as someone who's been there, done that, with a very young dog.

My dog was likely about your dog's age, when he first developed DCM--I don't know for sure, because everyone I asked said he was "too young" to be developing heart disease, so I didn't run the diagnostics at that time.

He was dead of severe congestive heart failure by age three, so obviously they were VERY
wrong and misguided.

We've known of dogs as young as six or nine months with DCM.

All that is not to go to the worst-case-scenario right off the bat--it is actually far more likely, with the history of kenneling and the dog's symptoms, that it is in fact a viral illness and the after-effects, BUT part of owning a Doberman, sadly, is not discounting the likelihood any cough, slowing-down, lethargy, exercise intolerance, etc, etc absolutely needs serious investigation, what with the prevalence of DCM in this breed.

As others said, the fact your dog's parents have so far not exhibited the disease is no guarantee you won't face it with your guy--about 60% of male Dobermans develop DCM. (40% of females)

If your breeder isn't echo'ing and holtering every single year, then they in fact don't even actually know if the animals are developing DCM or not.

All that is by way of saying--please figure out a way to get those tests accessible to you, for your dog's sake, and keep a close eye on him with these current symptoms, even though it's hopefully just bordetella.

Oh, and try boosting him before taking him in for a planned boarding, in future--your vet can discuss with you optimum times to re-vaccinate.
Slightly off topic, but what methods would you recommend?

Yes, they are an intelligent breed, but not all dobermanns are the same. Unfortunately, my boy is a little more stubborn than most, and after using many methods (and many training sessions with a brilliant trainer), it seemed to be the one that's worked the best (not perfectly, but it's a lot better than previous). FTR, treats (yes ALL types of treats/meats have been tried), praise do not and will not work with my boy for heel-work. As with the e-collar if shown how to use them properly, they can prove to be effective (dog dependent).

As for the kennel, no, I will not be using them again.

Just to clarify, I sought opinions on his symptoms, not his heart. If I had sought advice on his heart, 3 of the people I had spoken to were professional vets. If I can't trust their judgement, then who's can I trust?

Finally, as previously mentioned, he is and was vaccinated. Unfortunately, the vaccination is not a guarantee, and due to the many different strains (just like human flu) he still contracted it. However, thank you for your advice.
 

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Slightly off topic, but what methods would you recommend?

Yes, they are an intelligent breed, but not all dobermanns are the same. Unfortunately, my boy is a little more stubborn than most, and after using many methods (and many training sessions with a brilliant trainer), it seemed to be the one that's worked the best (not perfectly, but it's a lot better than previous). FTR, treats (yes ALL types of treats/meats have been tried), praise do not and will not work with my boy for heel-work. As with the e-collar if shown how to use them properly, they can prove to be effective (dog dependent).

As for the kennel, no, I will not be using them again.

Just to clarify, I sought opinions on his symptoms, not his heart. If I had sought advice on his heart, 3 of the people I had spoken to were professional vets. If I can't trust their judgement, then who's can I trust?

Finally, as previously mentioned, he is and was vaccinated. Unfortunately, the vaccination is not a guarantee, and due to the many different strains (just like human flu) he still contracted it. However, thank you for your advice.

Just addressing the bolded part.

Many, many veterinarians, unless knowledgeable about doberman heart problems, will miss the symptoms of DCM often diagnosing pneumonia in cases of congestive heart failure. So make sure your veterinarian is aware of the doberman breed's tendency toward heart problems presentinging with arrhythmias and or CHF.

Arrhythmias are usually only picked up by the 24 hour holter or your dog dropping dead. CHF, on the other hand, presents with coughing, shortness of breath...intolerance to exercise due to the hearts inability to pump blood effectively which causes fluid to accumilate in the lungs and an inability to get comfortable, especially at night.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Just addressing the bolded part.

Many, many veterinarians, unless knowledgeable about doberman heart problems, will miss the symptoms of DCM often diagnosing pneumonia in cases of congestive heart failure. So make sure your veterinarian is aware of the doberman breed's tendency toward heart problems presentinging with arrhythmias and or CHF.

Arrhythmias are usually only picked up by the 24 hour holter or your dog dropping dead. CHF, on the other hand, presents with coughing, shortness of breath...intolerance to exercise due to the hearts inability to pump blood effectively which causes fluid to accumilate in the lungs and an inability to get comfortable, especially at night.
Thank you.

The vet and I briefly spoke about this. He felt, as he was a doberman it may be a good idea. He didn't have any concern, just that he was a doberman, but at £450 it's something I can not afford and I'm unsure if insurance would cover the cost...
 

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Slightly off topic, but what methods would you recommend?

Yes, they are an intelligent breed, but not all dobermanns are the same. Unfortunately, my boy is a little more stubborn than most, and after using many methods (and many training sessions with a brilliant trainer), it seemed to be the one that's worked the best (not perfectly, but it's a lot better than previous). FTR, treats (yes ALL types of treats/meats have been tried), praise do not and will not work with my boy for heel-work. As with the e-collar if shown how to use them properly, they can prove to be effective (dog dependent).

As for the kennel, no, I will not be using them again.

Just to clarify, I sought opinions on his symptoms, not his heart. If I had sought advice on his heart, 3 of the people I had spoken to were professional vets. If I can't trust their judgement, then who's can I trust?

Finally, as previously mentioned, he is and was vaccinated. Unfortunately, the vaccination is not a guarantee, and due to the many different strains (just like human flu) he still contracted it. However, thank you for your advice.
I believe this is where most trainers and owners don't think outside the box. All dogs are modivated by something, regardless of how stuborn they are. They are smart, and are looking for 'whats in it for them'. Sometimes it just takes a while to find it. Our dobe is not very modivated by meat, either… but the second I bust out a natual white cheddar cheeto - he will do anything. Some dogs, its meat. Mine, cheetos. Another, that special squeaky toy. You just need to find what works for your dog.

For heel work, we were told to practice one, yes 1, step at a time. We didn't move forward until he mastered one step, then we moved on to two. He didn't know how to heel, so we have to start small, and show him what we wanted. I don't understand how a choke chain can master this skill. If the dog dosen't know what you are asking, they don't know - regardless of what is on their neck.
 
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