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We have a nine year old shepherd mix that has been experiencing a decline in health. After a week away where she stayed with very familiar family members, she began having slight facial paralysis, head tilt, and abnormal bark--and of course abnormal, anxiety behavior. Scared of the stroke-like symptoms, we saw the vet as soon as possible and she was given an antibiotic and a steroid in hopes of clearing a possible inner ear infection.

She received all the medicine for the following week and a half while experiencing slight improvements within the first few days, however conditions seemed to worsen. Although her facial paralysis was worsening, she could operate normally if not messily eating/drinking. We raised her food and water dish to mitigate the difficulty she experienced leaning over to eat, but ultimately decided to get x-rays and a second opinion at a larger animal hospital.
Here, they diagnosed her with peripheral vestibular disease and said it either will go away or stay with her--all vitals and organs were functioning beautifully. This would be fine if the characteristics of this problem stayed as is. However, within the past few days her conditions have worsened: she cannot rise by herself any longer, her balance is completely off when walking (falling often), she has difficulty finding her feet when lifting her to stand, and although we've let her walk (very unsteadily) outside she doesn't seem to want to urinate or defecate.

It seems the paralysis is spreading and her balance is becoming worse. If advanced imaging is recommended and a tumor is found in the brain or spinal cord (that's the cause I think this is coming down to), should the surgery take place with an older dog?
 

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I'd want more diagnostic test, to figure out what is going on, and determine if surgery would improve quality of life, before even considering it. If surgery is warranted, and would improve quality of life, then I'd want some test to determine just how healthy my dog was and if he was a good candidate for the surgery.

Have you discussed getting a CT Scan for your girl? That or an MRI, might be the best diagnostic test to try and see what's causing her symptoms.
 

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You, IMO, need to get her to a neurological center. I don't know where you are located, but we have had ours under the care of a neurologist since April for an auto-immune disorder that attacked her central nervous system. After an MRI and a spinal tap, I happy to say that she has been and is responding to the medication. Our Vet recognized a neurological problem and referred us, as he could not effectively deal with her disease. Taking her to the neurological center, I'm sure made the difference, as I'm sure had we not done that she would have been gone some time ago.
 

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I agree that a neurological specialist is needed. When my cousin's son was about 3 years old he suddenly lost his ability to walk. He had no muscle control. He was immediately sent to a specialist and as weird as it seems, it turns out all that was wrong was his diet. Once he had vitamins and changed his diet he was perfectly fine again. Your dog may have something serious going on, but maybe not and you need to get the correct diagnosis.
 
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