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Panting, Erratic Breathing

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Panting, Erratic Breathing
  • I have a 3 year old border collie. He has respirations between 30-50 when sleeping or at rest. He get's up from the floor and sits at the foot of the couch and pants. Not fast pants but breathing from his mouth. He can play ball for about 30 minutes or so then he lies down. I have gone to the vet and he had good color gums, a clean chest x-ray and he has no other symptoms....Maybe. Also keep in mind that he has been like this since he was a puppy.

    I say maybe because when he was at the vets he got worked up (excited) and of course started panting, he then went into the exam room and had his temp taken. It was 105 or there abouts. He was then put on antibiotics and had a blood draw. That night I checked his temp and it was normal at 101, this was just a few minutes after I had given his first round of antibiotic pills. His blood draw came back at high cholesteral and high bilirubin (2.35). All other parts of the test came back normal, CBC, enzymes, WBC, etc. His urine was checked the next day for bilirubin and that too came back normal so maybe a lab error? We will find out today.... He got retested.

    With this being said, is it possible that maybe he has trouble regulating his body temperature? Some humans don't have sweat glands, is it possible that maybe he has trouble cooling down by panting? It's just a thought I had because I and the vet can't explain the temperature thing. My vet is also kind of out of ideas about the breathing too but I just realized today that I failed to tell her that he has been breathing this way his whole life. My vet is new to us because we recently moved. Maybe arming her with that inforamtion can help in a diagnoses. Has anyone else had this problem with their dog?
    *Just wanted to add to this, he really shows no signs of fatigue or listlisness or weakness. He lies down while playing ball but if we walk up to him and throw it again he goes after it. He really looks like and acts like a perfectly healthy happy dog but I know his breathing is not normal.
  • There is a cardiac condition (shows up in bc's and belgians in my experience, must be others) in which the dog is abnormally stressed by exercise.  The body systems overheat.  Part of the diagnosis requires information that is not really available in a typical vet visit.  Start a log for two weeks of normal activity.  Check respirations and temps before and after exercise.  That may help in diagnosis.  Some video would be helpful too.
  • Good advice. I already did  the video thing and I am showing the vet today. I will do the log thing too, that's a great idea. Side note, his bilirubin did come back normal now so he has no liver issues as of now.
  • You may want to have a look at this page:
    Interesting info on working dogs and temperature regulation.
  •   Welcome to the forum; I was thinking it could be a heart condition too ( because you said he's always had it) although I didn't know about the condition mrv mentions. You say he lays down but will go after the ball if you throw it; it's not unusual for a dog with the kind of drive a Border Collie has to do what he thinks is expected of him even if he isn't feeling well; it's the nature of working breeds. We have a GSD mix who's the same way; there's been a few times when she was sick or injured but would still try to do her chores.
  • I know what you mean by him having that drive to still work. He absolutely is doing that and that's why we have to decide for him to stop.
    I showed the vet (2 of them actually) the video I made of him. They both agree that his breathing is not right and that his nasal discharge is also excessive. They really still don't know what to do but they do feel that it is not a heart issue. They think it's respiratory. So they either think that he has scarring on his lungs from a previous virus, which he did have a bad case of kennel cough when we got him. They also think it could be a pollup (sp) or some other condition. They proposed a few different tests to me like scoping his nasal cavity and putting some fluid in his lungs making him cough and sucking it out and then getting it analyzed.
    Unfortunatley they are kind of like why put him through these expensive tests when they may just find nothing. My attitude is that let's do this while he is young, strong and healthy. As for the cost, so it may cost me a couple thousand now but what if this issue really arises in 5 years or so and then they can't scope him, I imagine that would cost me more then than it would now.
    I did mention that maybe he is having trouble regulating his body temp but they don't seem to think thats it.
  • That is a great article. I am going to track his temps before and after hard play and see what the results are.