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Ask Dr. Michael Salkin Your Own Question
Dr. Michael Salkin
Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 29759
Experience:  University of California at Davis graduate veterinarian with 45 years of experience.
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my wire haired pointer is 10yrs she had been staggering about

Customer Question

my wire haired pointer is 10yrs she had been staggering about and her legs going from her for last 2 days .... she keeps shaking her head and seems confused.... she is still eating... but sleeping all the time .... had her to the vet on tuesday and they said could'nt find anything wrong ..I'm cofused & very worried as something not right.
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Dog
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 3 years ago.
Aloha! You're speaking to Dr. Michael Salkin
I'm sorry to hear of this with Tia. Her ataxia ("drunken sailor"), shaking her head, and confusion certainly aren't normal behavior for a 10 year old. If you notice a head tilt or saw her eyes flicking back and forth at one time I could confirm a vestibular (balance) disorder. Vestibular disorders are classified as idiopathic (unknown cause/most common), peripheral (involving the inner/middle ears), or central (involving the cerebellum and/or brainstem). Because Tia is shaking her head a peripheral vestibular disorder would be considered. A careful examination of her ears might indicate middle ear infection; X-rays of her head, however, might be necessary to identify inflammation in her middle ears.

Because there's been a change in mentation, however - her confusion and sleeping all the time - I have to consider an encephalopathy (brain disorder) other than a vestibular syndrome. Brain tumor and encephalitis must be on our tentative diagnosis list. Encephalopathies can be a challenge to diagnose often requiring advanced testing in the form of cerebrospinal fluid analysis and MRI. Tia's vets may suggest referral to a specialist neurologist.

Please let me know if Tia's head is tilted and if you saw nystagmus (her eyes flicking back and forth) early on and please respond with further questions or concerns if you wish.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thank you for all the info Tia's eyes seem normal, not flickering or moving she is quite lirthagic to she sometimes tilts her head but not all the time, the vet checked her ears and said they were clear and she only shakes her head when she tries to stand like she is trying to shake of dizziness she cant co-ordinate the stairs its like she dosent know how to walk on them . Its the same with the gravel in my garden she wont walk on it.

Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 3 years ago.
Thank you for the additional information. There appears to be a central nervous system disorder present. Her symptoms are subtle at this time and so a careful neurologic exam would be necessary to clarify just where the disorder arises. Most generalist vets don't perform such testing preferring instead to refer Tia to a specialist. Therapy at this time isn't appropriate because we haven't come to a diagnosis. "Watchful waiting", however, is necessary because, unfortunately, it's likely that her symptoms are going to exacerbate and tell us better what's going on. Watch for paresis (weakness) in her limbs, tics, tremors, and even seizure. Log when these symptoms appear and how long they last. Vets will need all the information you can gather.

Please continue our conversation if you wish.
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Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 3 years ago.
Thank you for your kind accept. I appreciate it.

I'm going to check back with you in a few weeks for an update. Please feel free to return to our conversation - even after rating - prior to my contacting you if you wish.

Please disregard the info request.