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Ask Dr. Michael Salkin Your Own Question
Dr. Michael Salkin
Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian
Category: Vet
Satisfied Customers: 28554
Experience:  University of California at Davis graduate veterinarian with 45 years of experience.
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We have a 10 year old springer spaniel. She is deaf to all

Customer Question

We have a 10 year old springer spaniel. She is deaf to all but the whistle and the sound of cutlery (ie food) - in the last six months she has begun to have episodes approximately every two weeks when her legs give way and she is very wobbly for around 10 minutes. During these episodes she seeks comfort with either me or my husband as she becomes confused and so buries her head in one of our laps.At other times she runs like a puppy! I think it may be a brain tumour which if removed may give her another four years but my (farmer) husband thnks it might be a type of alzheimers and inoperable.
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Vet
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 3 years ago.
Aloha! You're speaking with Dr. Michael Salkin
I'm sorrr that your questions wasn't answered in a timely fashion. Molly's ataxia ("drunken sailor") and mentation /mental status change ("confused") indicate complex partial seizures and you're correct to consider a brain tumor at her age. There are also extracranial (outside the skull) etiologies for these seizures such as a poorly functioning liver which can intoxicate the brain (hepatoencephalopathy) and poorly functioning kidneys which can intoxicate the brain (uremic encephalopathy). These extracranial disorders, however, aren't likely if Molly normalizes as you've described in between her seizures.

Molly's vet will want to perform diagnostics in the form of blood and urine tests in order rule out extracranial etiologies but if nothing untoward is found, an MRI will be necessary to identify a brain tumor or other intracranial disorder. If a tumor is found, surgery might be helpful; this is ascertained by determining where the tumor is found in the brain and whether it has metastasized or not.

Cognitive dysfunction in dogs ("Altzheimer's") should be considered when our dogs become disoriented, exhibit changes in social and interactive behavior - becoming "needier" or, conversely, more aloof - and when you see changes in locomotor and sleep cycle behaviors as well as loss of "housetraining".

Cognitive dysfunction can certainly exist concomitantly with brain tumor, however. Please let Molly's vet know what you're seeing. I would expect anticonvulsive medication to be prescribed in the form of phenobarbital, levetiracetam, or zonisamide.

Please respond with further questions or concerns 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 week for an update. Feel free to return to our conversation - even after rating - prior to my contacting you if you wish.

Please disregard the info request.