Sam - Shetland Sheepdog

This is a chronology of Sam's sickness. I wrote this so when asking for advice in the internet I had something to refer to.
Since Sam died some time ago I am keeping this just to remember and for historical reasons.
We never found out what he really had and are not at all sure that the symptoms I am describing here are related to each other at all.

Sam - Kimba from the Olympic Mountains" was born on the 12th of december in 2006.

Apart from a cold he had in early 2008 he had never been sick as far as I remember.


In december 2008 (probably there much earlier) we found a nodule on his front paw. Slightly reddish and scaly but apparently without pain or itching: no scratching, no licking.

Nodule front paw

What he also repeatedly had were swellings on his nostrils, which also were slightly red. The nose was dripping more than usual and a bit tender.

Nose trouble

Then we found a balding spot on his shoulder. It apparently had started with some black substance (a bit like tree resin; coagulated blood?) that stuck his fur together. Later on the fur just fell out and wouldn't grow again for a few months. The skin itself seemed entirely undamaged. Around the lesion there were tiny honey coloured scales.

bald spot

Around end of may 2009 he started uttering cries of pain when playing and feeding. He lost appetite, was apathic, had pain when yawning and also when we tried to open his muzzle. The vet didn't find anything unusual apart from that. She thought of an inflammation of the jaw and gave him injections and tablets: cortisone and painkillers (carprodyl).
When we came home from the vet he was as he'd always had been: no pain, good appetite, good spirit, he played with us and so on.

For a few days after that he was entirely well again. After stopping the pain killers he started to be sick again: pain when chewing, lethargy. The vet this time took blood (signs of inflammation in his blood? Borreliosis?), nothing wrong. Again injections and tablets. Again he was like he used to be.
When he had the next relapse we contacted another vet who found a massive atrophy of the jaw and facial muscles on his left side. He did an X-ray of his jaw ...


... which was o.k. He also did a biopsy on the skin and muscle above his eye [the wound healed quickly but the fur never regrew ...]. No signs for a myositis. Also took hair and scales from the bald spot: no signs of parasites. In his blood again no signs of inflammation but a slight anemia.
After reducing the cortisone we had been giving him he quickly was worse again.

At the beginning of august we found another nodule, this time on a hind leg:

nodule hind leg

And we found another balding spot, now above his hip, just like the first one.

balding spot

Also, the fur on the tip of his tail seemed to be a bit thin [we thought about DM, and that would have fitted ...]. There too were the honey coloured skin scales we had noted earlier:

nodule hind leg

During one of his worse phases he started choking when eating and drinking. At times so bad he wouldn't even take his favourite foods. And not just choking but the water just ran out of his muzzle again when he tried to drink. This got worse over time so near the end he occasionally couldn't drink at all (we had to put additional water into his food so he got enough to drink).
When we went into holidays with him (walking in the forests) he would not rise until he had had a Carprodyl tablet. I must remind You, he was not quite three years old.
On and off, he had trouble walking, especially when he took the stairs. He seemed clumsy.
And at times his left eye would not open fully. All symptoms of the pareses he had.
Under cortisone that we tried he would depending on the dose be a bit better but all in all he didn't get well. Not even nearly so. He couldn't play his favourite games, wasn't happy anymore.
One day, near the end of october he had trouble standing up. His hind legs were to weak and it started on the front legs too. When I carried him down the stairs he had pain again.
So we took him to the vet and had her put him to sleep.
As I wrote: we didn't find out what it was. We felt that it didn't matter anyhow at that time: it might have been a tumor, for example at his brain stem. That would have fitted some of his symptoms. Or some rapidly progressing degenerative neural disease.

Either way. We saw no chance to save him, especially since his health deteriorated so rapidly under cortisone.
In hind sight, today I would probably go all the way in diagnosing him. Not for him, I am sure but for us. It would have been a tiny bit easier for us if we had known exactly what his disease was ...