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Friday, 24 February 2012

Please help Berkeley to breathe easily

I am hoping to get some help regarding my dog Berkeley’s breathing. Three years ago his in-breaths became noisy and tight and he had to work quite hard to breathe in, when at rest. When he is up and active his breathing is normal.

Over the past three years we have seen five vets who have said that it is different things, from heart failure to lung disease. The latest vet we feel is finally on the right track. He says it is something in Berkeley’s nasal passages like a restriction, inflammation, old scarring, maybe even a polyp. He has been treating him with Rhinocort Aqua (or Beconase) and Cirrus.

To begin with the Cirrus (antihistamine plus decongestant) really helped but unfortunately after 3-4 months it has now stopped working as well as it did. Also the side effects of the decongestant part of the drug are hard to live with. Berkeley gets very anxious and manic on it. So with Cirrus not working very well anymore he is struggling to breathe again and we still have no definite diagnosis and have been given no alternatives things to try.

The vet feels the restriction is likely to be scarring from an old nasal infection and says nothing more can be done. He feels the original infection is probably long gone. I don’t feel comfortable with this theory or with doing nothing. Berkeley’s breathing is often tight and wheezy but can also sometimes sound quite blocked up. I have been trying saline up his nose and on one side it doesn’t seem to go up at all. His eyes have also recently started to water, just a small amount. His lymph nodes have been up in his neck and chest for 4 months now (tested and not lymphoma). I feel this all points to the fact that he is fighting something and surely something can and should be done?

I have tried suggesting an endoscopy so someone can look and maybe take swabs as well but am told that won’t be easy to find a facility to do that (we live in Malta).

So I simply do not know what to do next. I have a feeling his immune system is low so I have started to look at holistic remedies to try to get him back in condition and more able to fight say recurrent infections or improve things if he is having say an inflammatory reaction to something. I have considered buying Thorne Small Animal Antioxidant but I have no idea if it could really help? I don’t want to keep throwing good money after bad or constantly putting Berkeley through ideas and meds that never work, wasting time and energy on blind alleys.

I would really appreciate any help, ideas or thoughts at all about nasal breathing problems in dogs or general immune system support, what we could do next and what might help.

Sorry for the long post.

Thank you for any help at all.

Jenny (and Berkeley)

Richard Allport, alternative vet, advises:

I’m sure you’re correct in thinking Berkeley will benefit from natural supplements to strengthen the immune system. For any dog with these symptoms I’d recommend the following anti oxidants and immune enhancing supplements:

Selenium with Vitamins A, C and E – the best combination of antioxidants, in my view
Royal Jelly – the ideal immune system modulator
Coriolus (a ‘magic’ mushroom) – gives a strong immune boost
DMG (DiMethylGlycine) – an amino acid that helps fight infections

I’d also suggest two homoeopathic medicines – Myristica, which is often known as the homoeopathic disinfectant, and Silicea, a medicine for chronic persistent infections and scarring.

I’d also look at diet, make sure it’s wheat free and give as much fresh food and as little processed food as possible.

There are many other natural medicines and supplements that would be more specific for Berkeley, but more information about precise signs and symptoms would be required, Sadly, I suspect vets with knowledge of holistic medicine are few and far between in Malta


  1. Hi
    What breed of dog is Berkeley?
    Have you had him tested for allergies?

  2. Dear Jenny

    I'm so sorry to hear of all the problems you're having with Berkeley. I've used what I thought was a very good product called "K9 Immunitas" for immune system support, now produced by this company: They also do K9 Immune Factor which gives additional support.

    My dog has a breathing condition called laryngeal paralysis, which apparently is very common in older large breed dogs (particularly labradors) and is often mis-diagnosed so it did cross my mind when reading your post that it could be that Berkeley has? My dog has very noisy breathing, like snoring, when he's at rest but it quietens when he's active. LP is caused by a degeneration of the long nerves so wouldn't have an affect on lymph nodes, unless there was an additional problem though. Might be worth googling it to see what you think (but don't scare yourself as most info online implies an operation is always needed but I've discovered that many dogs manage without it - mine has regular cold laser treatment and homeopathy.

    Best wishes to you and Berkeley


  3. So sorry to hear about poor Berkeley, I am not an expert but I suffer from a bunged up nose almost all the time to due to hayfever and soot allergy (I have 3 horses so am exposed every day!) anyway, all my nasal sprays have stopped working but I have recently been trying a room spray based on essential oils. It does work, instead of spraying myself you spray the room, only one or two squirts and for me it works. I am sure an expert in essential oils could come up with a formula for dogs that you could use in a diffuser? Have you tried contacting Hilton Herbs they do all sorts of herbals for dogs, cats and horses - I use a lot of their products with great success. They have a website but are also on Facebook. Hope this helps, good luck! Sonia

  4. Thank you very much for all the replies. It looks like after 3 long years and seeing 6 different vets I have my answer. Berks went to the animal hospital today for an endoscopy and he unfortunately has a tumour under his tongue and it has spread to his soft palate and beyond, causing bleeding and inflammation, hence the breathing difficulties. The better news is that the cancer is currently benign so he could live a few years yet if it stays that way. He also tested positive for Ehrlichia and is starting meds for that tomorrow. With regards the cancer, it can't be removed and we have been offered chemo for him but it was all too much to take in today so we will discuss things further another time. I will be sure to only do what is best for Berkeley. I am certain of that.

    Richard, thank you so much for your reply. I really appreciate it and would still like to help boost Berkeley's immune system if I can. I hadn't seen your reply until now. I had said today that I wanted to help his immune system as much as possible. The vet gave me Vetri-DMG Liquid and said to give 5 drops a day.

    Thanks again everyone.

    Jenny & Berkeley x