Sick African Basenji, no vet access. Insight appreciated!

  • Hi all:

    I have spent some time searching the web for insight into my dog (Zoe) 's health problems and I came across this forum. I would truly appreciate any help that readers have to offer!

    I have been working in West Africa for a few years and adopted Zoe, who is now 3 1/2. She is 'local breed', and while her ears and tail are a different than American Basenjis, I assume they have common ancestors. As I stated in the post title, there are no true vets in any sort of manageable distance from where I live. Alas, there are very few human doctors in the entire country. This was never a problem for Zoe in the past, as the local health services provided rabies vaccines for dogs, and she was never sick.

    About 5 months ago, and rather suddently, Zoe started experiencing weight loss and chronic diarrhea. I started increasing her food (meat, fish, etc.) and she maintained a somewhat normal weight for a while. Her diarrhea changed to 'soft stool' for some time. Then, in a foul turn of events, she began consuming her own stools, and maintained a voracious appetite. About a month ago, her diarrhea returned and she has since lost even more weight. Her stools contain a significant amount of oil, which can be almost orange in color. She continues to eat a substantial amount of food.

    I've tried: less fiber, more fiber, withholding food, increasing food, de-worming tablets, and an antibiotic shot, to no avail. I have been planning to bring Zoe back to the US for some time now, but I fear that she won't make it another month until our return.

    Any insight would be greatly appreciated! At this point, I'll try anything!

    Thank you–

  • Do you have a vet you intent to use in the states? You could email them directly. There is an excellent animal hospital is Charleston, South Carolina you may want to reach out to via email. Its called Charleston Veterinary Referral Center. Good luck and I hope your Basenji pulls through.

  • I think a parasitic infection, such as giardia, could cause these symptoms. I'll run it by my vet and see if she has any other thoughts about it. I believe Metronidazole is the antibiotic of choice, also Fenbendazole (anti parasitic) is sometimes used with the antibiotic.

  • Seeing if you can email a vet in the States as soon as possible is probably the best advice. There are even vet sites online that can advise you (though not prescribe meds.)

    But I agree with eeeefarm. I had a dog that contacted giardia (from drinking out of a pond), and the symptoms were exactly like Zoe's. It was a nasty infection, but it responded quickly to treatment. The vet prescribed Metronidazole. I withheld food for 24 hrs (very hard!), then fed a bland diet of chicken and rice for a week, supplementing it with fiber (pumpkin) to firm the stools. I made the food into a soup, because dogs with giardia get very dehydrated and often do not drink enough water. Ideally, the dog receives IV fluids, but since that probably isn't possible for you, I would try to get as much water into her as you can. Lightly flavoring the water by heating it with meat or vegetables makes a broth that is more palatable to them.

    Stopping her from eating her own (or any other animals') stools will prevent her from reintroducing the parasite into her system while you are trying to get it out. And be sure and wipe her feet and fur to keep her from licking anything contaminated (soil, grass, water). If it is giardia, it is contagious, and the parasites can live a long time in the environment, so it's important to prevent reinfection.

    I wish you and Zoe well. It sounds awful for you both, and I know how helpless you must feel.

  • Top of my vet's short list for those symptoms was parasites. The other choices (IBD or EPI) are not terribly common in Basenjis. Considering where you are, I think giardia is a good possibility, or perhaps some other parasite common to your area that a North American vet would not be familiar with. Metronidazole (Flagyl), if available, is probably the drug of choice (12/15 mg/lb orally every 12 hours for 5 to 7 days). Fenbendazole (Panacur, Safe-Guard) is often used with the antibiotic in stubborn cases. Or Fenbendazole alone, if that's all you can get hold of (22 mg/lb orally for 3 to 5 consecutive days is the dosage suggested). I'm not a vet, so it would be better if you could get definitive advice from one, but I know what it's like to search for information and not be able to obtain it! Good luck with her.

    I just picked this up off a Border Collie forum, and I have no idea if it is accurate, but for what it's worth,:

    "Did some more research on coconut and turns out it's pretty amazing stuff. THe lauric acid in the coconut has all kinds of benefits. It's an antimocrobial, anti bacterial, anti viral and antifungal…the list goes on, Lauric acid is suppoesd to kill giardia, so I thought I'd check out, I tossed a handful of shaved c in with her morning she was back to normal. I've started putting a little coconut in all the dogs feed now, as we go down to the pond quite a bit...they also claim it will kill tape worms...I'd really be curious to check that out too."

    So perhaps if you have access to coconut, it would be worth a try?

    Our studies have confirmed that the MCSFA, dodecanoic acid (C: 12) (common name: lauric acid), is anti-giardial, with an LD50 concentration comparable to that of metronidazole, the drug of choice in the treatment of giardiasis.

  • Great, Thanks to all for the suggestions. The vets with whom I was able to speak were not comfortable with suggesting anything without examining a stool sample. I will try and get my hands on Metronidazole (it looks like those designed for humans could also work for dogs!) and go from there.

    Thank you again for the insight!

    – update: Metrondiazole acquired (and easy over-the-counter in these parts). And will have her on 250mg 2x/day for seven days. Again, much appreciated. I hope this works!

  • Hi all, I just thought I'd follow this up incase anyone came across a similar issue and was looking for insight. My pooch did end up having EPI! Her pancreas was only at 5% capacity, but she's on enzymes now and doing fine. Thanks for your help.

  • Thank you so much for updating us on her health! I am so happy she is doing better! Very good news indeed!

  • I am glad to hear the poor pup is on the mend. And that she has such a caring, resourceful owner!

  • Really glad to hear of a good outcome. So often, people disappear and we are left wondering how the situation resolved. Thanks for posting!

  • @zoe2104:

    Hi all, I just thought I'd follow this up incase anyone came across a similar issue and was looking for insight. My pooch did end up having EPI! Her pancreas was only at 5% capacity, but she's on enzymes now and doing fine. Thanks for your help.

    Thanks for the update… glad that you found out what the problem was... it is not uncommon to many breeds of dogs, not just Basenjis. Most every one that I know of, once on the enzymes live a normal healthy life... and it is not just a genetic problem... there are many other causes that destroy the pancreas.... Of course it can be genetic...

  • So glad you were able to find what ailed your girl, that's why I like this forum people helping others in need, hope I never need help but if I do I know where to come for advice, well done everyone. Love a happy ending.

    Jolanda and Kaiser

  • Hi,
    Lots of good advice here already. For the time being: I found in the Animal Desk Reference Manual (Essential Oils for Animals) by Melissa Shelton under Giardia on page 417 a list of possible remedies. One that you may have access to is Clove oil - you can put a drop or two in her water daily or in her food. Essential oils are very effective against parasites.

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