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Dr. Kara
Dr. Kara, Veterinarian
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 18169
Experience:  Over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian.
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Hi , our springer spaniel is two and half years old .

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Hi ,
our springer spaniel is two and half years old . For the last few days he has been lethargic and not eating . Today he looks unsteady on his back legs , is falling over and looks as if he's slightly drunk and uncordinated . my husband has felt his hips and back and there is no reaction so he doesnt appear to be in any pain . Just wondered if you have any ideas on possible causes ?
Thanks Anne .
Hello, my name isXXXXX and I have over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian. I'm sorry to hear that Bailey hasn't been eating and was lethargic for the past two days and now is behaving as if he is drunk and uncoordinated.

If a dog's organ systems (kidneys or liver, pancreas causing diabetes) aren't functioning normally, and waste products that their organs usually filter out build up in the blood stream that affects brain function. They may behave much differently because their brain function isn't normal.

Organ disease can be related to a toxin ingestion, such as antifreeze toxicity or rodenticides, an infection or a congenital malformation.

I would treat Bailey's condition as an emergency at this point given the way things have progressed. I would have him examined by his veterinarian and a complete blood count, biochemistry profile and urinalysis checked as soon as possible.
Best of luck with your fellow, please let me know if you have any further questions.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Thank you for your reply . Althoug he will not touch his food he has just eaten some cooked meat and he appeared to be quite ravenous so at least he has eaten a little something . My husband wondered is he tooyoung for vestibular stroke ?

I may have misunderstood your initial post. I thought that he was uncoordinated in his rear legs and lethargic. I didn't understand that his front end was affected.
Is his head tilted?
When he tries to walk is he circling?
Does he have rhythmic back and forth or circular eye movement? (like this dog : )

He is quite young for vestibular disease. We usually see that in old dogs. But we can see it in younger dogs with very severe middle ear infections.
Does he have an ear infection?

With vestibular disease they can get very nauseous because they are so dizzy such that they don't want to eat.
Vestibular disease is a disturbance in the balance system. It can be due to a problem in the middle ear or along the pathways that send information from the middle ear to the brain or in the brain itself. Dogs with vestibular disease feel like they have just stepped off a merry-go-round, very dizzy and nauseous and the more they try to move the worse they feel.

There can be several causes of vestibular disease. They range from very benign causes such as idiopathic (meaning we don't know the cause but they resolve on their own with supportive care) to middle ear infections or polyps, brain infections (bacterial, fungal or viral) or even a primary brain lesion (seen much more in old dogs, but still rare) such as a blood clot, bleeding or a tumor.

If we cannot identify a cause then we will often treat the patient symptomatically (anti-nausea drugs, anti-inflammatories and antibiotics) as most dogs do get better with supportive care.

Prognosis if this is caused by a lesion outside the brain is very good in most cases. We will check bloodwork to make sure organ failure or low thyroid hormone are not the cause of his symptoms.

At home you can give Gravol also known as Dramamine (dimenhydranate) to control nausea, which is also used for carsickness. The dose is 4mg to 8mg per pound of body weight every 8 hours. Side effects are mild sleepiness and dry mouth.
Or you can try Benadryl (diphenhydramine) at 1mg per pound of body weight orally every 8 hours. Side effects are sedation and dry mouth as well.

To stimulate his appetite start a bland diet of 1/3 boiled, lean hamburger (or boiled, white skinless chicken), all fats and juices drained off the meat, mixed with 2/3 boiled, plain white rice. Feed several small meals a day.

If after a week’s time there is no improvement or he is worse then he needs further diagnostics to try and identify the cause. Serious central nervous system (the brain) causes are more likely and thus prognosis is much more guarded.
Things such as an MRI or spinal tap are indicated at that point.
If he is not improving a referral to a neurologist is best as they can perform this advanced testing.

Please see this link if you would like to read more about vestibular disease:
Please let me know if you have any further questions.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Thank you for that

His front end is not affected. One point, he loves like all springers his walks and this morning my husband said although subdued he was excited ans enjoyed it. His stool was very hard and dark with a slight discharge of loose. As he hasnt eaten much we wondered if a bowel issue was an option . My husband has checked his stomache and in no way is it distended or on his response tender. We have another springer who is the dominant one and tentatively thought perhaps he was not eating due to a sort of bullying as Charlie dominates the eating area However i moved Baileys out of room but wouldnt eat (no change in dog foods)

We will go to vets first thing however wondered due to your last response if we feed him more


The hard and dark stool can point toward dehydration and the fact that he hasn't been eating well. But if it looked it all like tar (black and sticky) then that can indicate gastrointestinal bleeding.

I would encourage him to drink, but I'd hold off on trying to feed any more until we know whether what you have already fed is sitting well with him. In many dogs that haven't been eating well if we try to introduce too much food too quickly they end up vomiting.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Thank you for your help

You are very welcome.
Please follow up and let me know how things go for your fellow, thank you, XXXXX XXXXX
Dr. Kara and other Dog Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Hi it was an inner ear infection He's much better now Ty
I'm so glad to hear that it was a treatable condition like a middle ear infection. Thank you for getting back to me and letting me know,
Dr. Kara.