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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
This isn't a beagle story but I hope you will forgive me - it is also probably going to be a bit long and please forgive me if I don't get the terminology completely right. But I want to share the information with as many dog owners as possible just in case anyone else finds their dog in this situation.

My friend has a 6 year old German Shepherd Katya who has been in great health all of her life. She isn't spayed and during her last heat in February my friend noticed that she seemed to be retaining water and swelling noticeably in the abdomen. Her mother, who has also had several German Shepherds, said it looked like the false pregnancy one of her dogs had once had, and therefore my friend trotted her off to the vet.

The vet examined her and said it wasn't a false pregnancy, and there were only two causes for fluid like that in the abdomen - congestive heart failure and advanced cancer. Obviously my friend was devastated. They scheduled an ultrasound for a few days later and drained as much of the fluid as they could but it was still hard for the ultrasound to show much of anything because there was still too much fluid. Nevertheless, they thought that her ovaries were abnormally large, and saw what they said were tumors in the stomach. The did some more tests and basically pronounced that it clearly wasn't congestive heart failure and therefore must be cancer - and everything they saw was consistent with this diagnosis. They recommended against surgery as it was clearly much too advanced - and basically told my friend that Katya had weeks left - at most.

Now my friend's personality is such that she is not going to simply accept that diagnosis without investigating further, plus other than clearly being uncomfortable from her swollen belly Katya just didn't seem like a dog with weeks to live. Also, with the internet available there are many resources out there. So she started doing some digging and found a paper published in the last year or so in a veterinary journal in the US that had documented a newly discovered third cause for fluid in the abdomen - an infestation of tapeworm larvae that had made its way through the intestine into the stomach. It also just so happens that Katya had had a worm infestation in the fall and had gone through several rounds of drugs which, as she read further, were NOT going to kill the larvae but only would kill adult worms. The treatment in the article was simply a larger than usual dosage of a particular drug.

My friend tried to find a vet who would listen to her theory and explore the possibility that it might be a tapeworm infestation and not cancer (including meaning that the tumors might be larvae) but was unsuccessful - they all said that there was absolutely no chance it wasn't cancer and to simply put her down. Luckily my friend works for a (human) doctor and so she showed him the article she had found and Katya's test results to him and he said that she might be onto something... and in particular he said that nothing in her test results was conclusive for cancer - although he also agreed that the results were not inconclusive for cancer and given the traditional view that there were only two causes of the fluid, and congestive heart failure had been ruled out, cancer was a reasonable diagnosis. But he also said that the drug for the treatment for the tapeworm larvae would not hurt her - and for lack of anything else positive to do at this point he agreed she should at least try the drug, and that if it was indeed tapeworm larvae she should start to see results in 3 or 4 days. He also helped her get the equestrian version of the drug rather than the canine one - saving thousands of dollars in the process (what is up with that?!).

Well, to make a long story slightly less long - she tried the drug and within 3 days the swelling in Katya's abdomen started to go down - and two weeks later she is back to normal size and she is clearly on the mend.

Now my friend just wants to get the word out so that if anyone else is faced with this situation they make sure that their vet is aware of this third possible cause of fluid in the abdomen - and if there is any chance it could be a tapeworm larvae infestation to try the treatment - it apparently can't hurt and it might just save your dog's life.
 

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Wow, so glad to hear your friends dog is o.k. and Thank You for sharing this.
 

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I appreciate hearing this information. I wish I could find a different answer as to what is wrong with my Sam, but I guess a visible tumor on the leg is probably exactly what the doc says.
Thanks for sharing.
 

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Good on her for her perseverance in getting the correct diagnosis for her dog, and thank you for sharing her story with us.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Oh, one thing I forgot to mention - if not treated a tapeworm larvae infestation like Katya had is usually fatal - so had my friend accepted the diagnosis and done what was recommended (nothing) Katya most likely would have died as predicted. Sends shivers up my spine thinking about it.
 

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i would think that your friend should go back to that vet and give them a full report on what happened. not everyone would do as she did, and maybe it would prevent death in other pets
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Originally Posted By: cheezyridri would think that your friend should go back to that vet and give them a full report on what happened. not everyone would do as she did, and maybe it would prevent death in other pets
She is definitely going to do that - and has asked me and anyone else who knows her story to get the information out as well. The thing is it wasn't just one vet, it was at least four of them as she took the article around and tried to find someone who would listen to her theory - but because she isn't a vet herself no one would listen to her. She even contacted the vet who had written the article somewhere in the US who was completely skeptical about it being the same thing without having been diagnosed by a vet. It was only the human doctor for whom my friend works who said she might be on to something - and the key thing he was able to tell her, which made my friend proceed with the treatment on her own (after he helped her get the medication), was that the treatment would not do any harm if it wasn't a tapeworm larvae infestation and therefore in the circumstances without any other options to just go for it.
 

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How many times have dogs been put down for things like this. I guarantee we would do everything possible to save on of our boys.
I admire your friends courage.
 
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