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Dr. Kara
Dr. Kara, Board Certified Veterinarian
Category: Vet
Satisfied Customers: 18138
Experience:  Over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian.
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My 9 year old lab has developed strange behaviour - cannot

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My 9 year old lab has developed strange behaviour - cannot settle- pants excessively and seems to see things that are not there. He will not lay down. Local vet has run bloods - slight raised liver - but they feel this due to course if steriods for ear allergy. He seems to hardly recognise us and nothing calms him. Vet can find no cause of pain and he us eating and body functions normal. But he us just not himself at all. Could it be neurological?
Hello, my name is***** and I have over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian. I'd like to help with your concerns about your fellow's inability to settle, excessive panting, and seeming to see things that are not there. It would be reasonable to look for pain, or metabolic organ disease that can lead to these changes in behavior.
If his liver enzymes are only mildly elevated it is unlikely that his behavior is related to liver disease. To make sure this isn't related to liver disease your veterinarian could test his liver function with a test called a bile acids test. If his bile acids test is normal then you will know for sure that this isn't related to liver disease.
He is a bit of an older fellow, so this may be related to primary brain disease, which could include a brain tumor or granuloma, or early senility. I think it is worth seeing a veterinary neurologist, they can see things things that a general practitioner may miss simply because of their additional training and experience. They may also recommend an MRI to help diagnose his condition, which a general practitioner won't have access to.
Please let me know if you have any further questions.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
I do not have pet insurance and gave been told cost of neurologist and scans will be very expensive. Us there any medication that can help with symptoms. I would not want to put my dog through surgery at his age. Equally I would hate to think he is suffering. Diazepam seems to calm him but not sure this is a long term solution?
Usually an examination by a neurologist isn't really expensive, you could call and ask what an exam would cost.
Diazepam is a short acting drug, and dogs quickly build up a tolerance for it, necessitating higher doses that eventually won't be very effective. It is also metabolized by the liver, so I wouldn't consider using it long term.
Things that might help include phenobarbital and/or alprazolam (longer acting benzodiazepine).
If this is a brain mass steroids like prednisolone, which reduce inflammation and slow the growth of some tumors, can also help. But given his liver enzymes are elevated we need to be careful with using them.
I would recommend at least a referral to a neurologist for an examination, and then go from there.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
My vet has given diazepam short term just to calm him down as he had not slept for two days and could not even sit still. We have to take him back tomorrow and she is suggesting trying epileptic drugs? Would this be similar to ones you have suggested? I am concerned that while in this distressed state although not in physical pain he could be suffering. He is an old boy and I want to do the best for him.
Poor fellow, it made sense to try something short term like diazepam just to see if it would work, and I am glad it did. I don't know that he's in pain so much, he may be suffering from generalized anxiety/confusion, or he may have a headache if this is related to a brain tumor. I agree that we want him as comfortable as possible, and it is worth looking at drug therapy, especially if we know surgery isn't an option.
Yes, phenobarbital is a drug that we use to prevent seizures in drugs, and we can use alprazolam as a longer acting anti-anxiety medication.
Prednisolone would reduce inflammation and it may slow tumor growth, depending upon the type of mass.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
Thank you so much. I will talk through the drug options with our vet tomorrow . Just one last question... He has been on steriods long term for his ears so I think I would like to try and avoid more of those if possible - is there any other anti inflammatory drug more like human ibroprofen that could be used with epileptic drugs instead? Thanks
You are very welcome.
We cannot use steroids and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs at the same time. That can cause severe gastrointestinal ulceration and organ failure. Nonsteroidal drugs (like ibuprofen) aren't as effective in dogs at relieving inflammation in the brain unfortunately.
We don't use human nonsteroidals (acetaminophen or ibuprofen) in dogs because they aren't very effective for them, and their therapeutic doses are close to toxic doses in dogs. There are nonsteroidal drugs that are formulated for dogs (piroxicam, rimadyl) that could be tried but he would need to come off steroids first.
Dr. Kara and other Vet Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
Thank you so much. Your advice has been really helpful and reassuring. I will definitely recommend this service to friends.
You are very welcome. Best of luck keeping your fellow comfortable, and please let me know how things go for him, Dr. Kara.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
Just a quick update... Cadbury seems alot better
He is still having odd "episodes" but the are far fewer and less servere.
Our vet has given us more Diazepam just for these times - but at most he has one a day. I also asked my vet for a course if antibiotics just incase Cadbury had an underlining infection.
We are just taking it a day at a time - but do far things are looking positive.
Thanks again for your advice - I was able to go to my vet armed with the information you gave me. I really feel this helped me to get the best possible support for Cadbury. 😄😄
Thank you for the update on Cadbury, I am glad to hear that he seems more comfortable. At this point the most important thing is his quality of life so I am glad to hear that you are approaching this one day at a time and doing your best to keep him happy, he is a lucky fellow. Please keep in touch and let me know how things go for him, Dr. Kara.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
Thank you , yes his quality if life is of paramount importance to us
We have had Cadbury since he was 8 weeks old and my children have grown up with him - so a big part if our family.
He is back to playing with toys and rolling around on the floor and generally just seems content again (I think Labradors are forever puppies!!)
If his condition does deteriorate we won't hesitate to get him back to the vet. 😄😄😄
I agree that labs tend to keep their sweet puppy behavior long after they they are "adults", and it makes us love them all the more. His name is ***** ***** assume he looked much like a Cadbury egg at 8 weeks of age when he came to you. Please keep let me know how things go for him, thank you, ***** *****
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
Dr Kara ,
Just a quick note to keep you updated .... Cadbury seems back to his old self and yesterday was his Birthday - a very special one as we feel we came close to loosing him! 😄
Thank you for the update on Cadbury. I am so pleased to hear that he is doing well, and I hope he had a wonderful birthday. I am sure the best gift he received was the chance to spend more time with his family.
Looking back on this I wonder if your fellow suffered a small stroke, and the continuing episodes were due to brain damage and inflammation which eventually healed. It sounds like one only because he has recovered so well, and most other types of brain disease we don't see that sort of recovery with. Strokes in dogs are pretty rare, and even when they occur the way that their vascular system in the brain is so well designed we may not even see symptoms because their brain is so well supplied with blood.
I am very, very glad to hear such good news. Enjoy your boy, I am so pleased for all of you.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
Thank you Dr Kara. Yes I think you are right with your diagnosis. He had a little weakness in his back legs and also lost his " itchy" spot on his tummy that when we tickled him used to make his leg kick involuntarily!! So I think a stroke! We are just grateful for your input in getting him back to health - and my teenagers are appreciating him all the more 😄😄
You are very welcome. I am glad to hear that your teenagers appreciate their pup. Dogs are fantastic, nonjudgemental friends, which teens can sometimes very much need. (I have two teenagers of my own, and I suspect the dogs knows a lot more than I do about their troubles). Give your fellow a hug for me and I hope to hear that he is with you for at least another few years.