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This is a discussion on Older dog issues within the Dog Health forums, part of the Keeping and Caring for Dogs category; My mixed breed dog (12 years old) has become unsteady on her feet and recently fell down a few stairs. She has always been an ...

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Old 01-09-2011, 11:23 AM
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Older dog issues

My mixed breed dog (12 years old) has become unsteady on her feet and recently fell down a few stairs. She has always been an anxious dog and easily flinches at sudden noises. Her recent blood work was normal and xrays of her spine were taken. The doctor gave her prednisone for the inflammation. We were told to have her stay calm for a few days and she must be feeling better because she wants to run and she climbed the stairs even though they were blocked...jumped over everything. She gets very excited when she's about to eat and shakes. I noticed that when I touched the side of her neck she began to shake and when she shakes her head she loses her balance. We're not sure if she had a seizure or if the fall effected her nervous system. Does anyone have a similar story ? I plan on having her evaluated neurologically. She shakes continually when we take her to the vet or to be groomed and as soon as we leave she stops.

Any advice or similar stories to share would be greatly appreciated. I feed her an all natural diet of lean meats, fruits, grains and vegetables with glucosamine and other nutrtitional supplements.

Thank you in advance.
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Old 01-09-2011, 12:44 PM
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I noticed that when I touched the side of her neck she began to shake and when she shakes her head she loses her balance.
Thank you in advance.
Is she conscious when she looses her balance? Does she get right back up?
Are there are other symptoms besides loss of balance?
Typically during a seizure a dog will be unconscious and will not get back up until it has regained consciousness.

To me it sounds like something is not quite right with her balance.
I would imagine that this could be the result of hitting her head when she fell down the stairs. Perhaps the vet can take a close look.
Also, something else to consider...
An inner ear infection can often affect balance. It is not uncommon for a dog with an inner ear infection to shake its head and loose its balance.
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Old 01-09-2011, 04:17 PM
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Yes she's conscious when she looses her balance and she doesn't always fall to the ground, she catches herself as she stumbles. She was diagnosed with Cushing's of the Pituitary Gland in 2009 and has not had any clinical signs and the vet I take her to now thinks that the diagnosis was wrong. Her recent blood work was all within normal ranges. She will stand and put her head low and just stare as if something is happening. Her eyes tear alot so I want her eyes and ears looked into. The vet squeezed the bottom of her back foot expecting her to react and she didn't...this was last week. I also read that hypoglycemia can cause dizziness and imbalance with shakes. She's just been a very nervous dog her whole life...we rescued her from the pound when she was 8 weeks old. She developed Parvo after she had the shot and she survived it. I was wondering whether this had anything to do with all of this.

Thanks for the input.
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Old 01-10-2011, 08:35 AM
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Maybe it is something to do with the fall. Did she shake her head and lose her balance before the fall. When my dog has an ear infection. He will shake his head alot and he loses his balance too. Also when he gets up sometimes he tilts his head to the side of where the ear infection is. They also seem to itch at there ear that has the infection. I also have a very nervous dog and the slightest noise and he will take off and slip and slide everywhere. I would definately have his ears checked for an infection. Mindy
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Old 01-10-2011, 08:48 PM
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Maybe it is something to do with the fall. Did she shake her head and lose her balance before the fall. When my dog has an ear infection. He will shake his head alot and he loses his balance too. Also when he gets up sometimes he tilts his head to the side of where the ear infection is. They also seem to itch at there ear that has the infection. I also have a very nervous dog and the slightest noise and he will take off and slip and slide everywhere. I would definately have his ears checked for an infection. Mindy
I didn't know that she had climbed the stairs so I don't know if she shook her head I just heard her fall. We have the doors closed to the foyer so she can't come up the steps. I've been sleeping downstairs to keep an eye on her and it seems that when she sneezes she shakes her head and she stumbles.

You might be interested in a product I found on line..if your dog is nervous...it's called a Thundershirt...it's a stretchy lycra material vest that wraps around like a hug...the compression is supposed to calm them down. It worked well the first time I put it on her during a storm but tried it when we went to the vet and it didn't help. But it might be worth looking into for your dog. She liked having it on. I want to try holy basil on her to calm her anxieties. She flinches at noises... I will make sure the vet checks her ears. She always rolls in the grass and rubs her ears and face on the ground. I was advised by a vet to use Black Tea for her itchy eyes and it works. I make the tea and dilute it with more water and squeeze a few drops in her eyes...she likes it and lets me put the tea in. The doctor said it was conjunctivitis but her eyes are always red...not on the eye itself but on the side where her skin droops a little...Her eyes tear all the time. Thanks for the input.
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Old 01-10-2011, 08:53 PM
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I am confused, you said your vet gave meds for inflammation. What inflammation? Did your vet check her ears? Could be a severe inner ear infection
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Old 01-11-2011, 11:29 AM
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Old Dog Issues

The doctor gave her Prednisone since she fell down the steps, and she was unsteady on her feet. I suppose he assumed there was inflammation to the spinal chord because when he examined her she seemed to react when he pressed on her spine and she did not react when he pressed on her back paw. He thinks she has spinal chord issues and said that the Prednisone would help her to heal a bit until we can do more tests. I am going to have her ears checked. I thought he did check her ears when he took her back for the xrays. This is why I don't like when they take the dog away...some vets do everything in front of you so you can see how they handle the dog.
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Old 01-11-2011, 12:09 PM
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My mixed breed dog (12 years old) has become unsteady on her feet and recently fell down a few stairs. She has always been an anxious dog and easily flinches at sudden noises. Her recent blood work was normal and xrays of her spine were taken. The doctor gave her prednisone for the inflammation. We were told to have her stay calm for a few days and she must be feeling better because she wants to run and she climbed the stairs even though they were blocked...jumped over everything. She gets very excited when she's about to eat and shakes. I noticed that when I touched the side of her neck she began to shake and when she shakes her head she loses her balance. We're not sure if she had a seizure or if the fall effected her nervous system. Does anyone have a similar story ? I plan on having her evaluated neurologically. She shakes continually when we take her to the vet or to be groomed and as soon as we leave she stops.

Any advice or similar stories to share would be greatly appreciated. I feed her an all natural diet of lean meats, fruits, grains and vegetables with glucosamine and other nutrtitional supplements.

Thank you in advance.
There is something called canine vestibular syndrome that can affect a dog as you describe. Its reasonably common in older dogs. It makes them off balance, sometimes fall down, and sometimes have a head tilt. It often clears up on its own. Maybe you can ask your neurologist vet about that.

Is the inflammation in her hips and joints? The prednisone would help her feel a lot better and might account for her increased activity. You want to be careful with long term use of prednisone though as it does have side effects. At her age though, if a little bit is helping her to feel a lot better, it may be worth it.

You might also ask about having her thyroid level checked. Low thyroid hormone is common in older dogs and can increase their fear/startle response. Other symptoms of hypothyroidism are weight gain, fatigue and feeling cold more easily.

Let us know what you learn at the vets. We really do love updates!
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Old 01-11-2011, 12:19 PM
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Yes she's conscious when she looses her balance and she doesn't always fall to the ground, she catches herself as she stumbles. She was diagnosed with Cushing's of the Pituitary Gland in 2009 and has not had any clinical signs and the vet I take her to now thinks that the diagnosis was wrong. Her recent blood work was all within normal ranges. She will stand and put her head low and just stare as if something is happening. Her eyes tear alot so I want her eyes and ears looked into. The vet squeezed the bottom of her back foot expecting her to react and she didn't...this was last week. I also read that hypoglycemia can cause dizziness and imbalance with shakes. She's just been a very nervous dog her whole life...we rescued her from the pound when she was 8 weeks old. She developed Parvo after she had the shot and she survived it. I was wondering whether this had anything to do with all of this.

Thanks for the input.

OK, I just read this part. Cushings is related to thyroid function. Is she being medicated for the Cushings? If the vet thinks the diagnosis is wrong, I would look again into hypothyroidism as a possibility. Left untreated, hypothyroidism can lead to some neurological symptoms. You should also know that prednisone can make the symptoms of Cushings worse.

Head low, staring blankly... definitely neurological stuff, possibly small seizures. You are smart to be going to a neurologist. She may have a brain lesion of some sort, or some metabolic problem. Definitely all these possibilities (and there are likely more...) need to be worked up by a specialist.

Good luck and do let us know what the neurologist learns.
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Old 01-14-2011, 05:45 PM
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OK, I just read this part. Cushings is related to thyroid function. Is she being medicated for the Cushings? If the vet thinks the diagnosis is wrong, I would look again into hypothyroidism as a possibility. Left untreated, hypothyroidism can lead to some neurological symptoms. You should also know that prednisone can make the symptoms of Cushings worse.

Head low, staring blankly... definitely neurological stuff, possibly small seizures. You are smart to be going to a neurologist. She may have a brain lesion of some sort, or some metabolic problem. Definitely all these possibilities (and there are likely more...) need to be worked up by a specialist.

Good luck and do let us know what the neurologist learns.
We had our follow up appt today and the vet thinks (not neurological vet) there is a big improvement. We will begin to wean her off the Prednisone. The vet checked her ears and smelled them and thought they were fine. When our girl shakes her head she stumbles but we couldn't get her to do it during our appt. The vet put water up her nose, we sprinkled some water on her head but she did not shake or sneeze. Her eyes water every day. The vet thinks that Benadryl might help and I questioned whether or not Prednisone and Benadryl can be taken together and she seemed to think it was ok. I did some research and there are differing opinions on this. Does anyone have experience with this ? When we are weaned off the Prednisone I'm going to have her evaluated ...the vet said we should wait to get an accurate assessment. I feel that it might be an inner ear infection, do all ear infections have an odor ? She might have fluid in her ears that is causing her to be off balance when she shakes.
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