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Ask Dr. Michael Salkin Your Own Question
Dr. Michael Salkin
Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian
Category: Vet
Satisfied Customers: 33288
Experience:  University of California at Davis graduate veterinarian with 45 years of experience.
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I have a 9 year old Border Collie who has had two sudden

Customer Question

I have a 9 year old Border Collie who has had two sudden episodes of neurological symptoms.
About 2 weeks ago, I noticed what I think was a brief occurance of nystagmus. Quick horizontal eye movements, with head held still? He quickly went back to his usual lively self so I wasn't really aware that there could have been anything untoward.
He has since been absolutely fine until about three days ago. He was chasing his ball across the floor when he lay down and looked very panicked and a little disoriented. When he stood and began to walk he was quite wobbly and seemed very off balance. This was very short lived and he quickly regained his balance in a few seconds. Following this he seemed as though he was going to vomit before making a quick recovery and going back to his normal self.
I immediately phoned the vet who managed to see him that evening. The vet did a neurological examination and took some bloods (LFT, U&E and FBC) all of which came back normal. He has suggested that we continue to monitor for now as he was not too concerned and that if any further symptoms arise, we could consider an MRI for further investigation. He also explained that many neurological symptoms in dogs are idiopathic and have no identifiable cause.
I have been reading about various causes for these episodes and am really worried. Many things mention vestibular disease or vertigo like illness but I'm concerned about more serious causes like a brain tumour. Can vestibular symptoms be brief like the ones experienced by my dog and not be related to a tumour?
He is otherwise healthy and full of beans.
Thank you
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Vet
Expert:  Shantal-Mod replied 1 year ago.
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Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Hi there!
I'm happy to continue waiting.
Thank you
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 1 year ago.

I'm sorry that your question wasn't answered in a timely manner. Tyler's altered mentation (mental status) in conjunction with autonomic signs (nausea/seeming to vomit) indicate a complex partial seizure rather than one of the vestibular syndromes we see in dogs. We can see nystagmus with these seizures although nystagmus is usually associated with vestibular disorders. Complex partial seizure (previously called petit mal and now also called psychomotor seizure) is described as abnormal focal or asymmetric sensory or motor activity affecting any part of the body and which may be associated with autonomic signs, (salivation, vomiting, e.g.) and is associated with a change in mentation (mental status) and/or behavioral abnormalities. Sleep is the most common post-ictal (post-seizure) symptom. Mark your calendar for this event and for just what you witnessed. Tyler's vet will need all the information you can gather when deciding if Tyler should be prescribed an anticonvulsive drug. Most of us will accept one mild (lasting less than 5 minutes, no thrashing about, no loss of consciousness) event monthly before prescribing such a drug. Should Tyler suffer another event within 24 hours of a previous one clustering is diagnosed and that may presage status epilepticus - the state in which seizure activity doesn't abate unless I heavily sedate or anesthetize my patient. He would then need the attention of a vet at your earliest convenience.

Seizures first arising between the ages of 1-5 years are usually considered idiopathic (unknown cause) epilepsy. Seizures arising after 6 years of age are often caused by brain tumor or, less commonly, adult onset epilepsy. Please respond with further questions or concerns if you wish.