I have a bit of a mystery of a health issue with one of the pups I bred and wanted to ask if anyone knows what it might be.

I bred this pup (now dog) from my near perfect German Shepherd bitch who has no underlying genetic conditions, and the same for the stud.

He has had several trips to the vet for this 'condition' and they are at a loss as to what this could be.

Here are his symptoms:

  • Low cortisol levels
  • Weight loss (1.5kg this week alone)
  • Lethargy
  • Lack of appetite
  • Visual disturbances
  • High white blood cell count but no infection
  • No signs of swelling
  • Gums appear normal
  • Not urinating often sometimes as much as 16 hour gaps
  • Water consumption is normal
  • No vaccinations since 4 months.
  • Not sensitive to touch.

Here are the tests he has had:

  • X-ray of his bladder - nothing reported unusual
  • Needle in the bladder for direct samples to look for infection - negative
  • Full blood work - returned nothing out of the ordinary
  • Urine - negative for anything unusual
  • Kidney scans - negative for anything unusual
  • Liver test - negative for anything unusual
  • Deficiency tests - waiting on results

Things that have been ruled out:

  • Addisons disease
  • Bladder infection
  • Poisoning

Background on the dog:

  • Male
  • Now 34.4kg
  • 9 months old
  • This has progressively gotten worse
  • Foodwise, he is fed kibble and is a bit of a grazer (eats when he feels like it)

My theory is it could be hormonal - but I'm not 100% sure and I'm not a vet.

Has anyone ever come across anything like this?

Or know of anything that can produce the symptoms above?

UPDATE/edit: The vet has found he has an allergy to cheese, chicken, turkey and potato. They use cheese to train with him so they are exploring if this could be the cause.

further edit 01/05/29: The vets confirmed he has a serious intolerance to Chicken, Turkey and Cheese after the allergy tests from hair samples.

  • 1
    Would you be able to tell me where the weight loss is? Specifically, head, legs, abodmen etc. What's the heartbeat like, fast/slow/normal? Has your vet tested sodium/potassium levels? I'm very interested to know why or how they've ruled out addison's disease specifically as your GSD is definitely hitting most of the symptoms. Please ensure that your pooch is getting enough water in the meantime as they may dehydrate. I would definitely get a second opinion from a different vet as this sounds like the beginnings of Addisons disease to me. Mar 10, 2020 at 15:42
  • @SimplyRedAppaloosa Heart is normal, and had a ALTH test, sodium and potassium levels are normal. I’ll make sure he is hydrated
    – UIO
    Mar 10, 2020 at 17:28
  • That is really, really odd. Most likely not unheard of but I certainly haven't come across it before. I'll do some more digging and see if I can update my answer for you later... Would you be able to answer the other questions I posted in my answer? The more information the better. :) Mar 10, 2020 at 17:40

2 Answers 2


Update: The vets confirmed he has a serious intolerance to Chicken, Turkey and Cheese after the allergy tests from hair samples.


Honestly, I would get a second opinion from a different vet.

I know you've probably built up a strong rapport with your current vet but without further reasoning as to why your vet has ruled out Addinsons I can't happily provide alternative information.

  • Low cortisol levels - Typical in addisons disease,
  • Lethargy and Weightloss also related to addisons disease,
  • Lack of appetite - Addisons disease can cause inflammation of the oesophagus which would definitely affect appetite,
  • Visual disturbances - I'm unsure what you mean by this however dogs with addisons can seem depressed or "down",
  • High white blood cell count - Abnormal white blood cell counts are also typical of addisons disease.
  • No signs of swelling - This is good. However, the swelling with addisons can be so slight that they do not appear on scans. E.G heart and oesophagus swellings.

If your dog becomes stressed you may see these signs or behaviours escalate. This is because cortisol increases with stress and if your GSD has addisons disease they will not be able to increase their cortisol levels to cope.

Alternative options could be:

  • Primary kidney disease - Frequently mistaken for Addisons disease
  • Tumour on the kidney (Although you have scanned and it seems nothing is directly wrong.)
  • If you haven't vaccinated and your GSD has been in water then definitely check for leptospirosis. It should have been raised in the blood test but it can never hurt to double check.

Some other questions:

  • What is his Gum colour?
  • How frequently does he urinate?
  • Water consumption,
  • Has he had is vaccinations/boosters?
  • Would you be able to provide images?
  • Is he sensitive to touch anywhere? E.G abdomen?
  • Would you be able to provide more information on what you mean by visual disturbances?
  • 1
    I have answers to some of those questions. Gums appear normal, not urinating often sometimes as much as 16 hour gaps, although water consumption is normal, no vaccinations since 4 months but the vet has recommended he start them again (can provide more details if needed) and he isn’t sensitive to touch anywhere. Visual disturbances I mean that he looks like he’s following a fly in the room and then distracted by something else in the room - like he’s turning and looking around a lot at nothing in particular
    – UIO
    Mar 10, 2020 at 18:02

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