What Is Troubling Sandy? Did You Experience This With Your Dog?

by Luanne Pelletier

Sandy is 13 yrs old, will be 14 yrs old in February. 

She's a Lab mix and weighs 50 lbs. Spayed at 6 months of age, has had incontinence all her life, many allergies; intollerances to food, environment, seasonal etc. Otherwise, Sandy has always been a healthy, happy, outgoing girl, fun, active, energetic and loving.

In Feb/March 2013 she started to tuck her tail and my male dog, Toby, became very interested in her scent.

He kept trying to hump her and he had never done that before (he knows better because Sandy is the boss but he couldn't help himself due to her scent).

Sandy was diagnosed with a UTI and put on antibiotics. We did another urinalysis 5 days after finishing the antibiotics and it showed the UTI was gone. 

But Sandy was still tucking her tail, still had a mucous discharge and Toby still wanted to hump her.

Since then, Sandy has only declined. I have a video of her in March, being her silly self, running around with Toby and having fun. That's now a rare occurence.

Since the first UTI, Sandy has had a few more as well as major irritation in her vagina (internally, externally she looks fine), a mucous discharge that comes and goes, etc.

She did have a lot of muscular/joint pain back March/April as well but with cold laser therapy, acupuncture and pain med her pain was under control
after a few months

The major discomfort in her vaginal area persisted, though.

Sandy has had her anus examined and there's nothing in there causing discomfort. She got endoscopy of her vagina which didn't reveal anything either, other than the anatomical reason for her incontinence, which is an extra "room" in there where urine pools. But she's had that all her life. 

Sandy also has had full x-rays (chest, abdominal, hips) which didn't show anything, then a full abdominal ultrasound. Everything looks good, aside from sludge in her gallbladder. No uterine stump, bladder, kidneys and liver all appear healthy.

Sandy had a vaginal smear which we thought for sure was going to give us results because the swab came out very discolored and brownish. But nothing grew in culture.

She's had bloodwork done a few times this year and it's good except somewhat elevated liver enzymes. That could be due to the gallbladder sludge. One of the blood test showed  mild anemia but when we rested it a few weeks later it has normalized.

So, here we are, after spending so much money on all these tests, and still no answers. 

We're still thinking vaginitis because of her discomfort in that area but if that's what it is we don't know what to do to help her. 

When she has major discomfort, she walks like a crab.

I say that because her back end is partially lowered as if she's going to scoot but she doesn't. She does this uncomfortable crab walk and it can take several minutes to go away. 

If I touch her in that area when she's doing that, she drops her hind end right to the ground and is sitting directly on her butt/vulva. Sometimes she will scoot like that as well. 

The vets sure it's not her anal glands and due to the color of the swab from the vaginal smear there's something going on in there.

Sometimes think she has something neurological going on but she passes all the neurological tests. 

Sandy's gone from a fun, loving, energetic dog who wants to be with me all the time to a dog who wants to be by herself.

She has no more interest in toys or playing and it's very seldom I can get her to play. My Mom says she has a blank stare at times. Sometimes, if I don't let her go to the foyer or outside, she'll just pace, pant and won't lay down until she gets "away". Then she lays down and settles.

Sandy still loves her food and looks forward to meal times.

She loves her treats and she loves going for walks on the trails. She will run with Toby as much as she can. When I get home from work she's excited and runs around the yard with me and sometimes will chase a ball at that time too. Other than that, though, she goes back into her shell.

When she's walking, Sandy kind of exaggerates placing her front paws and is heavier on them. She has always scuffed her back feet a bit but she does that more now. After a walk down the trails, the top of her back feet are definitely dirty but her front feet aren't.

She doesn't lift her back feet up quite high enough & scuffs them (she always has done that but she does it more now) and I guess she might knuckle a bit and that's why the tops get dirty. But she corrects herself quickly. The way she walks with her front paws at times, like yesterday, is worrisome.

One thing that comes to mind as a potential suspect, as it's been new during all this since Feb/March, are Cartrophen injections. 

Is it possible that Sandy is reacting to them?

I held off a few extra weeks before giving Sandy her last injection and she seemed to had been doing fairly well. Then she got the injection and seemed to have declined again. 

Her incontinence was really bad the following day, the second day she had major discomfort, was doing her crab walk which she hadn't done in quite a while. She also got that blank stare and walking with most of her weight on the front end. 

What role could the Catrophen injections be playing in the situation?

For the past month Sandy has been on DES in case her vaginal issue is hormone related. 

She's also been on PPA pretty much her whole life for her incontinence. Since being on the DES her mucous discharge has almost cleared except after this last Cartrophen injection, I noticed some mucous discharge again. This morning it had a greenish tint. Other than potentially clearing the discharge, I don't feel the DES did much else for her discomfort.

Pain meds (Tramadol and Gabapentin) didn't do anything to help her discomfort in her vaginal area either. 

Her body pain is under control with the cold laser therapy and physical rehab. Although lately I haven't really been doing much physical rehab because she does not like it (even coaxing her with treats, she just has no interest in her exercises/training like she used to). She's so unhappy as it is, I don't want to make her do something she's not going to enjoy.

She still tucks her tail all the time (and it is actually tucked, not just hanging limply), other than when she's running and needs to use it for balance.

When she's sleeping she pulls it away from her body. Toby continues to obsess about her lady parts.

Something else Sandy started to do since March is teeth chattering. 

She had never done that before but started to do it when I'm getting her food ready. I know some dogs do that out of excitement but it's a totally new behavior for Sandy. 

Something is going on but I don't know what else to do to figure out what is going on and how to help her.


  1. Any fungal cultures done or anti-fungal cream used?

    1. Hi Dr Beatty, Several cultures have been done. Is a fungal culture part of the typical culture a lab does or does it have to be requested? The irritation is internal, externally she looks fine.

  2. Wow! That is really strange, Luanne. Living with a VERY neurologically impaired dog, I can say that some of these movements are familiar to me -- crab-walking, scuffing feet, teeth/head chattering, lowered rear (like a German Shepherd with bad hips).

    But, when you throw in all the trouble with her vagina and bladder, that makes things complicated.

    I wish I had some good ideas, but I don't. I'm so sorry. Having Sandy withdraw from life is definitely worrisome.

    1. Hi Roxanne, I do see a lot of Sandy in Lilly's posts & photos but she passes the neuro tests. I did notice you wrote head chattering in one of your posts recently & was going to ask you about that. Is that the same as teeth chattering or something else? The first time Sandy did it I had no idea where the noise was coming from & then realized it was her. The crab walking/lowered rear walking seems to happen when she has a lot of discomfort in her vajayjay, poor girlie. She's not the dog she used to be at all. Would never leave my side now she doesn't want to be with me. Makes me feel bad :(

    2. Here is the weird thing. Some of this looks very similar to how Jasmine was (or more accurately was not) walking at the end. She could just do couple steps before collapsing on her bum.

      But it also was deemed not to be a neurological problem. I didn't seem to be to me either; it wasn't that she didn't know what her legs were doing, it was that she could make them to hold the weight. To me it seemed either like pain or extreme weakness, not lack of communication into the limbs.

    3. Yes, Luanne, when I say "head chattering," I essentially mean that Lilly's head is shivering (for lack of a better word), but only her head, not the rest of her body. Her teeth don't actually click, but it's right on the border.

      I've only had one other dog chatter teeth, and that was when she was in extreme pain, after a major surgery.

  3. Have specialists looked at this dog? It does sound neurological, and an MRI of the spine may reveal the source. It's expensive but worth it

  4. prednazone caused my dog to act just like this
    once I took him off of it he did get better
    it also causes cancer in a dog too is what I researched

  5. Reading & reading all I can about this... A few vets who have seen Sandy are thinking that the anatomical reason for her incontinence (vaginal strictures I think it's called?) could be the reason for her vaginitis. I don't understand how something she's had all her life could be causing so much discomfort now. She has never experienced this before. A lot of the sites I've read do say that strictures can cause vaginitis but if that's the case with Sandy, wouldn't it have caused her these issues all along & not just this past year? I don't know. I wish I knew what to do to help her to feel better. :(

    1. No, not yet. I was looking at her website & it says you also need your current vet available for the consult. Sandy has vet records at several different clinics so I'm trying to get everything together & then I 'm not sure which vet I would like to be part of the consult if I decide to try her.

    2. I see. Yes, a primary vet is needed. She is very thorough, reviews everything. That's they only way to do it, really.


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