MOLLY’S JOURNEY – My dog has a persistent cough? Why?

Molly has always been special, despite the fact that she has never been the “only” dog in our family. She has always been – larger than life – in body and in soul. She is the first to jump for joy when the dinner bowls come out of the cupboard, the first to sledge down a snowy slope on her tummy in winter and the first to wade into the river to cool down on a hot sunny day. She has no interest in balls and goes on walks with the other dogs only because, ” that’s what polite dogs do”.

Molly’s life revolves around food! Eating as much of it as possible, as quickly as possible, manipulating the family with her soulful eyes to give her more of it, and inciting her “partner in crime”, Gibbs, to open a cupboard so they can steal lots of it! She has had a few health issues over the years but nothing unusual for a greedy and thus, rather well padded, labrador of 11 years old.

In January, Molly had a cancerous mammary tumour removed, but was given the “all clear” from our vet in terms of any possible spread. In May she had a small, non cancerous, tumour removed from her cheek……. and then she started to cough.

At first we weren’t particularly worried, and i think neither was the vet. She was a little slower on our walks and a little less interested in family activities, but not enough to make us worry. Molly happily took her antibiotic tablets and her cough médicine but after two weeks of treatment her cough was actually worse. It had sounded dry and almost as if she were choking at times and was always worse at night. It now sounded wet but she never actually coughed anything up. After changing to a different antibiotic for another two weeks and a course of anti inflammatory drugs , there was still no change so the vet decided to do a chest x -ray. The result was inconclusive. There was alot of fluid in the abdomen and around the heart and the lungs did not look good, although there was no obvious tumour – just a lot of white specks. We went to see the heart specialist next, since a persistent cough can often be a sign of early to mid stage heart failure, but her heart was fine. The cardiologist pointed us back to an issue with her lungs but as a precaution also treated Molly for heart worms. These too, can cause coughing and lung damage. A test for heart worms proved negative and so our vet recommended a further three weeks of strong, targeted antibiotics together with a cortisone injection to see if this reduced the coughing.

And so here we are, at the end of July. The antibiotics have had no effect on the cough, although it is back to a dry hacking cough with bouts of choking. We went to the vet yesterday and a further chest x-ray showed that the lungs had significantly deteriorated………….and we are seriously worried! Our vet has proposed an MRI scan followed by a bronchioscope, in light of the new x-ray picture. She is non commital as to what she thinks is the problem and due to holidays, we cant get an appointment for another 10 days!

I think i’m just like everyone else and as soon as i get worried i go to the internet and start my research. Number 1 diagnosis, based on the symptoms and the time she has had them, is a cancer. A cancer originating in the lungs is very rare in dogs ( less than 1% of all lung cancers). The majority of lung cancers have come from somewhere else and are a secondary source of the cancer. Labradors are more prone to lung cancers like this, and one of the common places for the cancer to have come from is a mammary tumour. So now my alarm bells are ringing in view of Molly’s operation in January. When i asked the vet directly if she thinks its a cancer she was evasive but she gave us an appointment with a vet who is a specialist in dog cancers…….. I think i have my answer!

I always prefer to “do” something in the face of a problem ………. and so our Journey with Molly begins. I have started my research into natural foods and treatments that can help a dog with cancer, which i will cover in this blog, together with regular news and updates about Molly and her journey. Already today ( day 1), i have found so many positive things to try out, and a wonderful meal full of cancer fighting ingredients is cooking in the steamer as i write!

I d love to hear from dog lovers and to exchange expériences, ideas and tips. Feel free to leave your comments or to get in touch via mail at Talk again soon.

Love Jo and Molly xx