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Possible BCC


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#1 TxMom

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Posted 16 June 2017 - 09:39 AM

It's been a long time since I've posted here (I usually just lurk), so I'll start with some background. We adopted Livi from rescue when she was 3-4 months old. Her mother was a Border Collie from somewhere in rural Texas, and her father was a traveling man. The neighbor's Aussie was mentioned as a possibility, but as she's grown up all I see is Border Collie. Livi and her brother ended up in a shelter when the owner didn't find homes for them, and from there to rescue. They went through a mild bout of what was believed to be parvo (they were supposedly vaccinated, but tested positive for parvo). The rescue saw them through and kept them long enough to be sure they were completely recovered and off all medication. Since we've had Livi she's been healthy. She's 2 years old this summer. Until February we lived in a suburban neighborhood so although she did get regular exercise, it was somewhat limited. Playing in the backyard, running around weekly or so in the field where we took training classes, and we had started a couch to 5k program together (very light running on leash... really just trotting for her). In February we moved to a place on 14 acres, which means Livi has a lot more room to run and explore. She's in and out with me wherever I go, and of course if I'm walking out to the barn she's running every which way along my general trajectory.

 

Wednesday evening, we went for our usual walk down to the river and back around sunset. It's a little less than half a mile if you follow the path; quite a bit more the way Livi does it. She was running around as usual, and when we got back near the house she started staggering a little and her rear end seemed floppy. She mostly stayed on her feet, but if she tried to turn much at all her back legs would sort of fail to follow and go out from under her. We got her back in the house where she had water and cool tile to lie on, and she was fine. When I saw it I immediately thought of what I'd read here about Border Collie Collapse. I looked at older threads and watched a few videos and that looks exactly like what was happening.

 

We haven't taken her to the vet yet since she recovered so quickly and completely and we have what seems to be a very likely explanation for what happened and no useful treatment for it -- but should we, to rule anything else out? I'd thought we'd see if it happens again and I can get a video. I don't want to neglect medical treatment if it's needed, but if there's no real reason to go in I'd rather not. (This isn't "just a dog" thinking -- I'm the same way with my kids).

 

I'm also trying to think about what to do going forward, if this is BCC. The exercise that presumably led to her collapse was just her accompanying us on a walk. There was no encouragement or pressure for her to run as much or as fast as she did -- she did it because she wanted to, and she loves it. I can put her on a leash to prevent her from running, but that seems like overkill. Maybe I can let her run halfway and then put her on a leash the other half to reduce the length of her exercise. But it seems like with BCC, I can't just let her self-regulate as I've always done. She does generally reach a point where she slows down -- loses interest in chasing a ball or frisbee, or just walks along with us rather than running every which way. She'd keep going if I encouraged her, I'm sure, but since she's not working or anything there's no reason for her to continue past the point of enjoyment. I'd had thoughts of doing agility with her when we got her, but now that we live out here she seems to get the exercise and mental stimulation she wants and I'm happy with that. We walk around sunset, so it's still hot (Texas in June), but we try not to be out much in the real heat of the day. I haven't found it terribly oppressive yet this year... but I've lived here all my life, so heat is just a way of life.

 

I'm also wondering if I should suggest the rescue mention this to the person who adopted her brother just so they're aware. Again, I thought I might wait to see if there's another episode or if this was just a fluke, but given that it seems to be genetic it seems like it might be worth passing along.

 

I suspect what needs to be said has already been said in the older threads I read, but I just wanted to post in case anyone has advice, particularly on management, or even just to mention it in case it helps someone else.


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#2 waffles

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Posted 16 June 2017 - 11:15 AM

I would wait and see if it happens again.  I have a dog with BCC.  You probably saw my thread and video.  The main signs include ataxia and mental alteration (dullness) and signs occur within 5-20 minutes of excitement/exercise.  I am not sure if something like walking off-leash would be exciting enough, though if she was chasing animals/birds and really working herself up mentally, I could definitely see it.  

 

If she was running around for a long period in the Texas heat, I might first assume, since it is the first occurrence, that she might have just been overheated.  

 

Did her mental state seemed altered?  When Dixie has an episode, as I call them, she is very clearly "gone" mentally, not responsive at all to known commands, wanders while stumbling, eyes look glazed.  She has a loss of control of her limbs (pelvis swaying, legs dragging, knuckling, falling down, etc).  From my reading, the altered mental state is a key sign of BCC.

 

If you are comfortable with it, I would try to induce it-throw a ball for a her for 5 minutes then call the game.  See what happens.  I can (though I don't) predictably induce an episode in Dixie, from mild to severe depending on the length of exercise and the temperature/humidity.  She has had episodes in 60 degree overcast days and of course on hotter days.  The key has always been highly excitable exercise-walking off leash or on leash in high temperatures for an hour or more is completely fine.  But, if I play fetch of frisbee or when she used to chase birds, it could be as little as 5 minutes before she would show symptoms.  

 

Within 5-15 minutes after, she is totally fine.  



#3 TxMom

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Posted 16 June 2017 - 01:21 PM

Your videos were the ones I saw that I thought looked like what happened to Livi -- thank you for sharing them!

 

Walking off leash isn't exactly an accurate description -- we walk, and she gallops all over the place, disappearing into the woods and popping back out, dashing off around the barn, making a loop around the field, etc. She really tears around... I get a kick out of watching her because she looks so happy. She's not always in sight, but she seems to circle back to check in with us regularly and she comes quickly when we call her. I don't know if it's enough to induce an episode of BCC, but it's not insignificant in terms of exercise and excitement, I don't think. Maybe I can get some video to show her level of excitement.

 

It's been in the 90's lately, and somewhat humid. I did wonder about overheating, but she recovered awfully quickly... what I read seems to suggest that those sort of symptoms caused by heat exhaustion would be fairly severe and require a much longer recovery period. I'd also be sort of surprised because this is a normal routine for us since February, although granted it's getting hotter as we get further into summer.

 

As far as mental state, we were walking along and we'd put her leash on because we were going to go up to the road to get the mail, and suddenly she was just sort of aimlessly bumbling around. She knows the route and usually leads the way. She completely lost track of where we were going and what we were doing; just wandering a few steps this way and that, then we noticed she was stumbling and her rear end fell a couple of times. I didn't try any commands, just guided her back into the house.

 

I'll try a game of frisbee with her and see if it repeats itself -- that's been her favorite toy lately. I wouldn't want to regularly cause that sort of thing, but given her quick recovery and lack of ill effects, I'm willing to do some experimentation for the sake of pinpointing the problem and how best to manage it.


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#4 waffles

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Posted 16 June 2017 - 02:07 PM

Dixie as well, does a lot of running back and forth, exploring and such while we walk the field and into the woods then back home.  She has never had an episode during these long off leash walks, that sound similar to yours in terms of her activity level.  Sure she is happy and excited running around but it is not the same focused, excitement as say chasing an animal or a toy (prey drive and focus kicking in).  

I am sure all dogs are different to some degree with this condition, but there is a clear time when I know an episode will be induced and when one wont.  Even on our long walks, her and our other border will pick up sticks and take turns chasing each other.  Again, exciting, but still never has caused an episode.  It really for her seems to be just the fast, continued focused with quick outburst and high drive activities that bring it out.  

 

I sure hope your girl does not have it.  It can be quite inconvenient though there seems to be no known reason to worry about their overall health from it. When I had contacted the UofMinnesota they had asked how many times I had seen symptoms as well.  I think they look for multiple episodes of similar pattern before they would want to (or a vet) say the dog has BCC.  After filling out their questionnaire and sending in a few videos, they agreed that she had it.  I wish I had spent the money to have her blood drawn for the study but never got around to it.



#5 waffles

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Posted 16 June 2017 - 02:09 PM

Also, here is a link to more videos if you haven't seen them already.

 

https://www.vetmed.u...collie-collapse



#6 TxMom

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Posted 16 June 2017 - 02:26 PM

Hmm. I'm torn between hoping she doesn't have it, and hoping there's not a worse explanation for what we saw. We'll keep an eye on things, and do a little (careful) experimenting to see if it can be induced by certain activities... and see our vet if needed. I'll update if we figure anything out.


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#7 GentleLake

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Posted 16 June 2017 - 03:13 PM

I think Bodhi may have a mild case of BCC. The only times I've seen it is when he's been chasing a ball for a long time in pretty hot weather. As with Waffle's dog, I've never seen it when he's just running at his own pace, even when playing chase games with another dog.

 

So I limit the amount of ball fetching he does in hot weather. Or we'll go to a local pond where I use a chuck-it to throw the ball far out into the water. He never has this problem when swimming for a ball, no matter how long we play or how hot it is. It's totally different, with no ill effects.

 

But if, as I presume, there are various degrees of being affected, a dog with more severe BCC may overheat with much less exertion.

 

Best wishes for your dog.


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#8 Gloria Atwater

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Posted 16 June 2017 - 09:39 PM

I would reserve opinion until and unless she has another episode. Dogs can get exhibit signs of heat trouble and yet not be totally debilitated for prolonged periods afterwards.

One time I had my little female, Gael, out for sheepdog lessons and while it was pretty darned warm out, I had no awareness that she had exerted herself beyond the usual. Her lesson was probably about 15 minutes, nothing out of the ordinary. However, as soon as we called her off sheep and she headed towards the water tank, she started crossing her hind legs and getting wobbly in her stride. I got her to the water tank, soaked her down and then set her to lie down in cool shade. She rested comfortably and a few minutes later I gave her some Glycogen Energy Edge water to drink, and you'd never know anything ever happened.

Gael never had an episode like that again, but I think I'd just misjudged how warm it was and how much she was exerting herself. I've also seen dogs come off a trial field and suddenly get wobbly, and a trial course is only 10 to 12 minutes long.

The point to be made here is, it doesn't take all that long for an active dog to overheat in the summer and border collies often have little sense of self preservation. They can literally work or play themselves to death. So it's quite possible that your girl just overdid it playing. Being as you say temps are now in the 90s  - and high humidity is an added factor - and you describe her as "tearing around," you may simply have to choose a cooler time of day, if possible, and regulate how much tearing around she does in summer heat.

Do keep us posted, but what you describe could as easily be from heat as BCC.

~ Gloria


You ask of my companions. Hills, sir, and the sundown, and a dog as large as myself that my father bought me. They are better than human beings, because they know but do not tell. ~ Emily Dickinson

To sit with a dog on a hillside on a glorious afternoon is to be back in Eden, where doing nothing was not boring - it was peace. ~ Milan Kundera

#9 Blackdawgs

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Posted 18 June 2017 - 12:58 PM

FYIW,  my dog had a few episodes of weakness/ incoordination after exercise, all involving toys.  After his hind end gave out in a local park, he was evaluated by a cardiologist and his heart was fine.  I had contacted Univ Minn and based on what I described they thought that he was a BCC dog.  My rehab vet, who never saw an episode, thought that it was a conditioning issue.  I started biking with him, slowly and carefully, and his tolerance to heat has improved and there have been no episodes (yet) this spring/summer.



#10 Liz P

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Posted 18 June 2017 - 06:19 PM

Honestly, I think far too many people jump to BCC when the dog had an episode of heat stroke.  It doesn't have to be hot for a dog to overheat.  We actually see a lot of cases in the ER when the spring temps hit about 70F.  Dogs and people aren't used to that after a cold winter, the weather seems so nice that people can't resist and they play outside.  If that involves really exciting, high intensity exercise for the dog, they can easily overheat.   I've even seen dogs get too hot in temps around 30F when they were running full out.



#11 waffles

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Posted 18 June 2017 - 08:39 PM

Honestly, I think far too many people jump to BCC when the dog had an episode of heat stroke.  It doesn't have to be hot for a dog to overheat.  We actually see a lot of cases in the ER when the spring temps hit about 70F.  Dogs and people aren't used to that after a cold winter, the weather seems so nice that people can't resist and they play outside.  If that involves really exciting, high intensity exercise for the dog, they can easily overheat.   I've even seen dogs get too hot in temps around 30F when they were running full out.

I agree with this.  BCC, at least what I have seen with my dog, has a clear pattern and clear symptoms.  It continues to occur under the same conditions and falls in line with the listed symptoms for BCC.  I think the fact that you describe her as not getting much or the same type of long duration exercise prior to February of this year, makes me think it is a conditioning issue.  If she has never been able to freely run in 90+ degree heat, I would think she was merely overheated and needs to be conditioned to more exercise under high temps.
My dogs are used to being out a lot, getting long 1-3 hour walks on and off leash.  Last year, there were days when I would throw a ball for Dixie no more than 8-10 times (maybe 20 to 30ft) on a 70ish degree day, and she was symptomatic and barely able to walk.  Yet, today it was in the low 80's and she ran around a 50 acre hay field in the sun for 30 minutes without issue. 
From what I have noticed, BCC seems to require a mentally stimulating (something that really gets them focused mentally which is why it is commonly seen in working dogs and sport/agility dogs), mentally exciting exercise/activity and not just free play/free running.  It also typically occurs with just 5-15 minutes of engaging in the exciting activity.  Symptoms don't appear until after the activity is stopped, during the activity she is completely normal. Usually Within 1 min of saying "that'll do", where her brain is clicked off from the activity, she starts with symptoms.

#12 Gloria Atwater

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Posted 19 June 2017 - 08:37 PM

Honestly, I think far too many people jump to BCC when the dog had an episode of heat stroke.  It doesn't have to be hot for a dog to overheat.  We actually see a lot of cases in the ER when the spring temps hit about 70F.  Dogs and people aren't used to that after a cold winter, the weather seems so nice that people can't resist and they play outside.  If that involves really exciting, high intensity exercise for the dog, they can easily overheat.   I've even seen dogs get too hot in temps around 30F when they were running full out.



This.  ^^  I was covering my tomatoes against frost less than a week ago. Now temps are in the 90s with some areas hitting 100. My dogs are totally not used to it. I took them hiking yesterday and although we were at 7500 - 8000 feet elevation, with shady trees and temps probably in the high 70s, at one point our two youngest dogs began to look unusually winded. We leashed them and got them to a stream to splash water on their bellies and they were fine, but we kept them on leash for a good while until their respiration slowed and we were satisfied they were good.

Point being, they didn't realize it was warmer, so they were trying to play as they did when we were up there strapping on ice cleats! :P  So, changes in season and temperature can definitely play into a dog's ability to handle activities that it previously had no problem with. And it doesn't have to be 90 for dogs to overheat.

We just have to look after the silly things, because heaven knows they won't look after themselves! :rolleyes:


You ask of my companions. Hills, sir, and the sundown, and a dog as large as myself that my father bought me. They are better than human beings, because they know but do not tell. ~ Emily Dickinson

To sit with a dog on a hillside on a glorious afternoon is to be back in Eden, where doing nothing was not boring - it was peace. ~ Milan Kundera

#13 ShoresDog

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Posted 21 June 2017 - 12:24 AM

The point about weather changing is worrisome.  It's in the mid-50's here in coastal Oregon this evening, and it's not even been up into the 70's yet this spring.  Or summer, I should now say.  However, this weekend the temperatures are forecast to be 96-97 degrees on Saturday and Sunday at the sheepdog trial we are scheduled to be running in, down near Springfield.  And there's not much more intense for the dog, is there?  I will need to be very careful.  We all need to be!  Thanks for reminding us.  I hope Livi and Dixie have a safe, healthy summer.


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#14 TxMom

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Posted 30 June 2017 - 02:21 PM

Just wanted to pop back in and thank everyone for the advice and observations! It's been a couple of weeks now with no repetition of symptoms despite continued (or increasing) heat and both off-leash "walks" and games with the frisbee, ball, etc.

 

I think it must have just been a one-off reaction to unaccustomed heat and I jumped to conclusions and scared myself. I feel a little silly, but I definitely prefer that to any alternative possibility here! :rolleyes:


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