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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
To summarise things briefly, we have seen a number of different veterinarians and specialists over the past 12 months, and have had a range of tests too (varying from an MRI of his lower back, X-Rays of his stomach and hips, blood work, countless examinations) but we have never been able to determine the underlying cause. The examinations/tests always come back unremarkable.

Since April 2020 - Max will have these ‘episodes’ that typically occur every 15-20 minutes (but it is common for him to have multiple attacks within minutes of each other as well) where he can be sleeping, resting or standing, and then immediately jolt up and begin pacing uncontrollably whilst (if severe enough) whimpering in pain. During this time he will be licking his lips repeatedly, occasionally have a very arched back, and will also place his head very low to the floor (please see videos attached for referencing). After a few days it will then miraculously go away (the episodes will widen in frequency) to the point where it then stops and he can rest. After several weeks/months it will then return again seemingly randomly.

As you can appreciate, having to deal with this for so long (particularly when it is severe) is already distressing enough for the dog, and he is also unable to sleep during these periods as well. We’re desperately just looking for some guidance on what we can do next and as to whether anyone has seen this type of behaviour before within a goldenn. Our finances have been completely drained as a result of this, and we’re willing to try anything in an attempt to get this under control. It is both mentally and physically exhausting not only for the dog, but us as well.

Following the events over the past 12 months, we have followed a range of recommendations from various specialists and Vets - such changing to various foods (from AVA, to Royal Canin Golden Retriever, to Royal Canin Hypoallergenic and now Royal Canin Gastrointestinal), a strict diet, regime and limited exercise – but none of this has helped our situation. Max is currently on Royal Canin Gastroinestional and is fed 8:15, 13:45 & 18:45 (each portion is 115g which is weighed electronically and eaten via a maze bowl). The reason why I am highlighting his food is, on all of the occasions where we have taken Max to the vets (even when he is experiencing the most severe episodes) the examinations always come back unremarkable and we assume due to the adrenaline and the dislike for the vets, it overrides the pain responses. Ultimately, I am convinced the area of concern is his stomach or at least something internal. My observation would be like a sharp pain or something giving him grief. We have witnessed him roll over onto his back on some occasions because the pain is so significant but the worst part is the level of discomfort and the overall duration of it, it can last for days, and it is pure hell for him. Here are some videos of it:

Videos:


  • (resting and then pacing)

  • (head down, back arched and licking of lips)


  • Dog Pacing (severe pacing with audible crying and discomfort which is quite common)

  • (pacing)

  • (Mild episode whilst upstairs and relaxing/sleeping)

  • (episode with access to the garden (typically attempts to roll over to minimise discomfort)


Have you seen this before, do you know what it could be? No one is able to tell us.
 

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I'm so sorry you and Max are dealing with this. I agree it's very bizarre and it sounds like you've already pursued most of the traditional routes to try to resolve this.

So.... All I have left is some "out there" suggestions:
1. When traditional vet medicine fails me, I always default to holistic medicine. Have you tried taking him to a holistic vet? Or tried acupuncture? This may be as simple as a pinched nerve that isn't showing up on MRI/x-ray.
2. If you think it's digestive, and you have no reason to believe he might be sensitive to milk, you might want to try a round of colostrum therapy
3. Would you consider using an animal communicator? (I've had mixed success with this - some have been completely off base and others have been absolutely amazing and spot on. If you try a holistic vet, they might be able to refer you to someone who they feel is "legit." If you get one that is good, they may at least be able to tell you what the dog is experiencing so you can narrow it down to digestive, pain, spine, etc.).

I hope you get some answers soon!
 

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That would have me soooo worried. Pain, anxiety, seizure, whatever it is is not good. I think I would see a neurologist- who may try anxiety meds after bloodwork.. I'm so sorry. I know this is frightening.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
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Thank you for that, it is appreciated!

I'm so sorry you and Max are dealing with this. I agree it's very bizarre and it sounds like you've already pursued most of the traditional routes to try to resolve this.

So.... All I have left is some "out there" suggestions:
1. When traditional vet medicine fails me, I always default to holistic medicine. Have you tried taking him to a holistic vet? Or tried acupuncture? This may be as simple as a pinched nerve that isn't showing up on MRI/x-ray.
2. If you think it's digestive, and you have no reason to believe he might be sensitive to milk, you might want to try a round of colostrum therapy
3. Would you consider using an animal communicator? (I've had mixed success with this - some have been completely off base and others have been absolutely amazing and spot on. If you try a holistic vet, they might be able to refer you to someone who they feel is "legit." If you get one that is good, they may at least be able to tell you what the dog is experiencing so you can narrow it down to digestive, pain, spine, etc.). I hope you get some answers soon!
Thank you for your reply. We will certainly look to explore these areas.

That would have me soooo worried. Pain, anxiety, seizure, whatever it is is not good. I think I would see a neurologist- who may try anxiety meds after bloodwork.. I'm so sorry. I know this is frightening.
Thank you for your reply. Interestingly, we have had him cleared by neurology but they did not explore this in the way of scans. All of his practical examinations went well, so they opted not to go down this route. It is definitely very distressing to watch and deal with though, mostly because there is nothing that we can do when it is happening. He is usually a very calm dog and loves his sleep so when he is like this, we immediately know something is not right.
 

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I'm so sorry. My first thought was some sort of seizure behavior. How old was he when this started? I wish I had something to offer other than sympathy. Have you considered a homecooked diet or raw where he had single source of protein and reduced or limited carbs? Trying only beef for 2 weeks or trying only lamb or duck etc. for two weeks with some rice? Have you consulted with a chiropractor? He appears to be a healthy weight.... does he have good quality of life when this isn't happening? Enjoy walks and outings? Play?
Has the vet offered some sort of sedative or pain reliever for when these episodes occur so that he can rest? Are you doing something to keep him in a part of the house so you can get sleep when this happens? I know it must be hard to separate from him when he's in pain but if you don't get rest and keep your strength up, you can't help him. I am so sorry for him and for you. Please update us on what you ultimately find to give him relief, it may help someone else in the future who is searching for answers.
 

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Another super out there thought ... did you travel anywhere with him in the three months or so before this happened? There aren't many infectious diseases or toxic plants or what have you where the symptoms would last THIS long and be intermittent. But I'm sure there are some, and if they aren't found in your local area, the vet might not know about them.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I'm so sorry. My first thought was some sort of seizure behavior. I wish I had something to offer other than sympathy. Have you considered a homecooked diet or raw where he had single source of protein and reduced or limited carbs? Trying only beef for 2 weeks or trying only lamb or duck etc. for two weeks with some rice? Have you consulted with a chiropractor? He appears to be a healthy weight.... does he have good quality of life when this isn't happening? Enjoy walks and outings? Play?
Has the vet offered some sort of sedative or pain reliever for when these episodes occur so that he can rest? Are you doing something to keep him in a part of the house so you can get sleep when this happens? I know it must be hard to separate from him when he's in pain but if you don't get rest and keep your strength up, you can't help him. I am so sorry for him and for you. Please update us on what you ultimately find to give him relief, it may help someone else in the future who is searching for answers.
Based on the most recent recommendation from the vet, we have switched him to gastrointestinal low fat (just in case there is an underlying acid reflux issue of some sort that is silent) but given the way he is during those videos, I find it difficult to associate it with that. You raise an interesting point about a possible seizure, as it has been said a couple of times before (from people observing the footage) but neurology do not believe that this is the case.

He is a perfectly healthy dog outside of this, goes on for 3 hour walks a day (loves running, very playful, eating and drinking well, etc). Everything we have been prescribed during these episodes doesn't seem to have any impact yet.

The sleeping arrangements (or should I say lack of) is pretty bad when he is having episodes. I usually try to sleep downstairs but if the pacing is really violent, it is impossible to sleep. If he is crying in pain too, it is even more unpleasant and distressing to deal with.

So we have an otherwise very healthy dog that can be fine for weeks/months but then suddenly deteriorate rapidly.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Another super out there thought ... did you travel anywhere with him in the three months or so before this happened? There aren't many infectious diseases or toxic plants or what have you where the symptoms would last THIS long and be intermittent. But I'm sure there are some, and if they aren't found in your local area, the vet might not know about them.
No travelling at al but I appreciate your input. We've just been doing our usual routes for the past 3 years with no changes at all.
 

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I am surprised the vets ruled out epilepsy. It looks a little like some type of focal seizure. Or maybe a pinched nerve? Have any of the vets suggested a trial period of phenobarb? If the episodes stop while he's on PB for a period of a few months, it's probably epilepsy. If not, epilepsy is unlikely. If it's a pinched nerve or something similar, a trial period of Rimadyl might help.

If you think it's food related, maybe he's having mild bloating episodes that resolve when he's moving around. If that's the case, he will eventually torsion, which is a disaster. You could try a home-made diet or add canned food and/or table scraps to his kibble. (There is some evidence that canned food and table scraps added to dry food decrease the incidence of bloat/torsion.)
 

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I am surprised the vets ruled out epilepsy. It looks a little like some type of focal seizure. Or maybe a pinched nerve? Have any of the vets suggested a trial period of phenobarb? If the episodes stop while he's on PB for a period of a few months, it's probably epilepsy. If not, epilepsy is unlikely. If it's a pinched nerve or something similar, a trial period of Rimadyl might help.

If you think it's food related, maybe he's having mild bloating episodes that resolve when he's moving around. If that's the case, he will eventually torsion, which is a disaster. You could try a home-made diet or add canned food and/or table scraps to his kibble. (There is some evidence that canned food and table scraps added to dry food decrease the incidence of bloat/torsion.)
Would those seizures typically cause a pain response as well? I say that because on the occasions where it is very severe, he will be whimpering quite loudly (as you can see from the one of the recordings). Starting to get worried if this is indeed seizure related but it's just so odd because I have watched various videos online of seizure and epilepsy but Max doesn't do anything like that at all. We have given him Rimadyl but I'm afraid it does absolutely nothing for Max. He has even had gabapentin for nerve pain and it barely made a difference.

We have obviously poked and probed him at home when he is like this but never get a response from his belly, etc. Currently we're trialling omeprazol and Suculfrate for acid reflux but if that doesn't work, I guess it wouldn't harm him to go on phenobarb and explore this instead. Are they any implications I should be aware of for this, is it possible if this is seizure related it'll get worse over time?
 

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I'm sorry you're dealing with this. If only they could talk.

You seem to have explored all the usual avenues, but with no answers in sight. So I'll throw in a couple of "out-of-the-box" suggestions just in case. First, after watching the videos, the pacing looks a lot like an anxiety response. I'm wondering if this might be his problem, because you mention in your original post that he's perfectly fine outside the "episodes" and enjoys his walks, play sessions, etc. It might be something weird, in his environment, that is causing him to have anxiety episodes. For example, one common element in most of your videos is the television playing in the background. Dogs are extremely sensitive to specific types of noise, some more than others. I wonder if there might be some kind of high-pitched noise or whatever, from the television, that triggers these episodes? Or a specific program that includes certain types of noises? My dog went through a short but extreme fear period as an adolescent, and he would react in a similar way to your dog (hunching, drooling, pacing, cowering, whining) to high-pitched noises (squealing car brakes, a dog howling, etc.). He really, truly looked like he was in physical pain, but it was in fact a fear/anxiety response.

Following the same line of thought, you've done pretty much everything you can to check out his digestive system, and all the tests have been normal, but have you had his ears examined? For example, dogs can suffer from conditions such as tinnitus, which is very disconcerting to them and can trigger the types of reactions you're seeing from your dog (whining, rolling, pacing). Or is there something in the environment surrounding your house that might produce sporadic, anxiety-inducing noises or emissions? Power transmission lines? Gas lines? Factories/industries? Mining activity? An underground rail system? It might be something quite far away, or something you don't hear or notice.

A dog suffering an anxiety attack looks a lot like your dog. It can look like physical pain, but isn't.

Best of luck with this. It must be horrible to watch this and not be able to help him. I really hope you find some answers.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I'm sorry you're dealing with this. If only they could talk.

You seem to have explored all the usual avenues, but with no answers in sight. So I'll throw in a couple of "out-of-the-box" suggestions just in case. First, after watching the videos, the pacing looks a lot like an anxiety response. I'm wondering if this might be his problem, because you mention in your original post that he's perfectly fine outside the "episodes" and enjoys his walks, play sessions, etc. It might be something weird, in his environment, that is causing him to have anxiety episodes. For example, one common element in most of your videos is the television playing in the background. Dogs are extremely sensitive to specific types of noise, some more than others. I wonder if there might be some kind of high-pitched noise or whatever, from the television, that triggers these episodes? Or a specific program that includes certain types of noises? My dog went through a short but extreme fear period as an adolescent, and he would react in a similar way to your dog (hunching, drooling, pacing, cowering, whining) to high-pitched noises (squealing car brakes, a dog howling, etc.). He really, truly looked like he was in physical pain, but it was in fact a fear/anxiety response.

Following the same line of thought, you've done pretty much everything you can to check out his digestive system, and all the tests have been normal, but have you had his ears examined? For example, dogs can suffer from conditions such as tinnitus, which is very disconcerting to them and can trigger the types of reactions you're seeing from your dog (whining, rolling, pacing). Or is there something in the environment surrounding your house that might produce sporadic, anxiety-inducing noises or emissions? Power transmission lines? Gas lines? Factories/industries? Mining activity? An underground rail system? It might be something quite far away, or something you don't hear or notice.

A dog suffering an anxiety attack looks a lot like your dog. It can look like physical pain, but isn't.

Best of luck with this. It must be horrible to watch this and not be able to help him. I really hope you find some answers.
Thank you for your message.

As much as I wish it was this, I do not believe it is the case in this instance. It would go completely against his tendencies and characteristics as a whole. Outside of the vets (where nerves are understandably high) he is a very calm dog at home, loves sleeping, very playful, etc. The actual first recorded event of this 'episode' was on a walk as well, so it is not directly associated with being at home. I have even been keeping a diary and I cannot see any link or pattern, it is very odd. Hopefully we can get there one day, I am just taking each days as it comes with Max.
 

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Hmmm. If it happened on a walk... might it be possible that he picked up something (A thorn maybe? Or a metal sliver of some sort?) that most of the time does not bother him but if he shifts a certain way, stabs him and makes him afraid he's being "attacked" by something? If it's something tiny or organic, it might not be picked up on an x-ray...
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Hmmm. If it happened on a walk... might it be possible that he picked up something (A thorn maybe? Or a metal sliver of some sort?) that most of the time does not bother him but if he shifts a certain way, stabs him and makes him afraid he's being "attacked" by something? If it's something tiny or organic, it might not be picked up on an x-ray...
I could understand that if it was perhaps the one occasion but this has been ongoing for well over 12 months and is seemingly random throughout the year.
 

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I could understand that if it was perhaps the one occasion but this has been ongoing for well over 12 months and is seemingly random throughout the year
I understand, but I know I've occasionally picked up a splinter or something that doesn't bother me 90% of the time... until something pushes against it or catches it and then suddenly it hurts like hell. I also occasionally get a rib out of whack that doesn't bother me until I turn a certain way and then suddenly I have a sharp pain in my side that lasts anywhere from seconds to hours (I usually need my PT to put it back where it belongs). If Max has something like that going on and it's in a spot that doesn't often come in contact with something that irritates it, it could conceivably be something that comes and goes...

Anyway... just a thought...
 

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I would take him to another neurologist. This could certainly be a type of focal seizure, they can present very strangely, and there are many different types. We have a child with epilepsy and it’s not easy. Im sorry you are dealing with this, and glad that your pup seems great otherwise. Please keep us updated!
 

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As much as I wish it was this, I do not believe it is the case in this instance. It would go completely against his tendencies and characteristics as a whole. Outside of the vets (where nerves are understandably high) he is a very calm dog at home, loves sleeping, very playful, etc. The actual first recorded event of this 'episode' was on a walk as well, so it is not directly associated with being at home. I have even been keeping a diary and I cannot see any link or pattern, it is very odd. Hopefully we can get there one day, I am just taking each days as it comes with Max.
My other thought, apart from anxiety, was a cardiac issue. Again, the symptoms are not unlike your dog's. If you're still stuck for answers, it might be worth having his heart checked out. Heart problems can show up sporadically and would cause the type of reaction you're seeing.

Again, best of luck with this.
 

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Are there any veterinary schools anywhere near you that might take him on as a diagnostics training patient?
 
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I can hardly imagine the amount of money you've spent..... is the suggestion of a teaching hospital or vet school an option? And you didn't specify exactly but I'm guessing you've had second and third opinions on this? Asked your vet if he would share the video with colleagues? I just feel so bad for you and for your boy....

Also, the reason I mentioned the idea of a home made diet with single protein and low carbs is that I have seen people who have mentioned in discussion groups that they have dogs with seizures who absolutely are triggered by high carb food. The keto diet was originally developed for helping people with epilepsy. It just made me wonder if that would be something to think about.
 
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