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older dog with weird symptoms

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  • older dog with weird symptoms

    Let me preface this by stating that my dog has a vet appt scheduled for Jan 25 (his vet only works part time and I needed a specific time so all the right people can come with him).

    12 (approx) yr old chihuahua cross. Has had hypoparathyroidism since he was approx 2-3 yrs old. Has been treated religiously since then and generally does very well. Has always been a picky eater, and has always been on the thin side, just can't get any fat on his bones!

    about 6 months ago he started acting like he was having senility problems. we feed him in a separate room (picky eater) so he can eat undisturbed. Well he has started coming out growling, barking, and baring his teeth. It's getting worse and worse, and he keeps it up for almost an hour after now.

    then several weeks ago, he started having occasional spells (like once a week that we have seen) where all of a sudden he just stops, and starts crying like something hurts real bad, and he doesn't want to move. Then after a couple minutes it is over and he goes on.

    then yesterday, my daughter said she was holding him and he started kicking his hind legs like he couldn't control them. that lasted for about a minute, then he just laid there all limp for about twenty minutes. By the time I got home tho he was all bright eyed and bushy tailed and ate his whole dinner which he hasn't done in over a week.

    Clearly something is going on, but have no clue what. He is getting older, has the chronic illness, but I am not ready for him to be going downhill. The thing is, inbetween these spells he is just like normal.

    Any ideas for me to bring up to the vet or ideas on how to manage him or things to look for while we wait for the appt?


  • #2
    It sounds like seizures to me. Now I'm not a vet and I don't play one on TV. So take it with a grain of salt. But there are varying levels of seizures and the barking/growling/limpness/disorientation is not uncommon in a post seizure (postictal).
    A good horseman doesn't have to tell anyone...the horse already knows.

    Might be a reason, never an excuse...


    • #3
      It sounds like a seizure to me also.
      My blog: Crackerdog Farm


      • #4
        To elaborate, there can be focal type seizure which often present with "fly biting" or snapping. Sometimes, they just seem like the dog is behaving like they would if dreaming and "running in their sleep". You can have petite mal seizures that are a little more severe, and then grand mal seizures where they tend to get quite rigid, often lose control of their bowels and bladder and can have a lot of saliva output.

        With any of the 3, the postictal confusion can cause them to be pretty disoriented, even bite the people they know. A seizure can last anywhere from seconds to minutes. More than 2 min though and it's emergent.

        Were I in your shoes, I'd keep a journal of these episodes, perhaps even video them, and keep track of how long they last. Also, I would start keeping him in eye shot even when you feed just so you can have a better feel for what's happening.

        Lastly, when a pet does have a seizure, additional stimulation via talking to them, petting them, etc can actually exacerbate the issue. If he IS having seizures, the best bet is to remove objects he could hurt himself on, let him have the seizure, be quiet, don't touch, just keep him safe. Then give him a quiet space to recover in.

        There are triggers for seizures too. So you might keep track of what is happening before the seizures. My dog started having seizures and after a lot of testing, we think it was due to a preservative or dye in some treats my neighbors gave him. But other things can cause seizures too. Like liver shunts (typically seen in younger dogs), brain tumors, blood sugar issues, other illness, etc. So there's some stuff to be ruled out.
        A good horseman doesn't have to tell anyone...the horse already knows.

        Might be a reason, never an excuse...


        • Original Poster

          Thanks BuddyRoo for the detailed suggestions! The episode that my daughter described to me yesterday definitely sounded like a seizure to me. the previous episodes that I saw with crying made me think something pinched in his spine or neck like he moved wrong and got a zing from a pinched nerve. I don't think the after dinner barking is a seizure, because everyday right after dinner, for an hour!!! But he is fine if we keep him locked up no barking after dinner.

          What I am really worried about is the possibility of a brain tumor given the personality change and the freezing/possible seizures. We love this little guy dearly. He thinks he is a little person. I go to bed at night and he is in there already with his body under the covers and his head on my pillow. And he puts himself there, it isn't something we do for him!

          Blood sugar issues could be a possibilty since he isn't a good eater. I actually had my daughter give him some can cat food the other day since he had eaten so poorly for so many days previous. I figured it may not be the best food for him but he needs something in his system!

          A journal is a good idea. Will start doing that today if we see anything happen.


          • #6
            The barking though could be part of his postictal psychosis. I'm not sure...
            A good horseman doesn't have to tell anyone...the horse already knows.

            Might be a reason, never an excuse...


            • #7
              Sounds like a neurologic problem to me. Maybe a referral to a neurologist may be able to give you some more information? I have seen a few dogs with similar symptoms present with cervical pain as a diagnosis, but chi's are known for getting other neuro problems as well. Meningiomas (most common brain tumors) are generally slow growing and often controlled with meds. A proper neuro workup is likely indicated. Jingles!!!


              • #8
                I will echo Squish and say that this sounds potentially neurological. Starting with a visit to a neurologist may be a good idea.


                • Original Poster

                  Thanks Squish and Marsh - we will start with reg vet who knows him but luckily uc davis is very close so if we need a consult we should be able to get any kind of workup needed. Neuro something is what I am afraid of

                  He just did it again, was laying in my daughters lap watching tv, and out of the blue starts yelping with a pain yelp. less than a mnute later he is fine and moving, no more crying. Weird. I gave him some metacam just in case but....


                  • #10
                    I'm sorry!

                    Hope you can get it figured out.
                    A good horseman doesn't have to tell anyone...the horse already knows.

                    Might be a reason, never an excuse...


                    • #11
                      I pray it isn't so, but I too would be worried about a brain tumor. Some of what you are describing sound just like what happened to our little Boston terrier when he got a brain tumor, specifically the freezing/yelping. He would be walking along then just scream and back up at the end. When it got so frequent we felt it was really affecting his quality of life, we helped him over the bridge. It was a very difficult time and I don't wish that on anyone. I love chihuahuas and understand the deep love these little dogs can inspire in us. I am sending many, many jingles for your little dog!
                      Where in this wide world can man find nobility without pride,
                      friendship without envy or beauty without vanity?
                      Ode to the Horse. ~ Ronald Duncan


                      • Original Poster

                        Thanks for the jingles everyone. My poor boy ended up having 3 seizures last night, so he now has vet appt at noon today. Please jingle that whatever he has is treatable!


                        • Original Poster

                          Well we saw the vet, she is doing complete bloodwork/urinalysis. She did not want to start on anti convulsants until bloodwork comes back but she did give us some valium which she hopes will keep him calm enough to ward off some of the seizures. She seemed to think a brain tumor was a strong possibility tho. UGH. Keeping fingers crossed for a simple infection that we can cure.


                          • #14
                            Jingling for you guys.
                            A good horseman doesn't have to tell anyone...the horse already knows.

                            Might be a reason, never an excuse...


                            • #15
                              So sorry you're going thru this...I lost my miniature pinscher to a supposed brain tumor...from the time the seizures started until she passed was only 2 weeks. I will hope this is not your little man's outcome, but prepare for it, as the research i did "back then" points to a high probability of a brain tumor being the culprite for sudden onset of seizures in older dogs .:'(


                              • #16


                                • #17
                                  Im so sorry If you are hoping to treat, I would request a neuro consult ASAP. Some brain tumors are very slow growing and can be managed with drugs such as keppra and phenobarb. The cyberknife is also an option with some meningiomas, as is traditional radiation. Other tumors can be faster growing and are often more difficult to treat/manage. Jingles for something managable!!


                                  • Original Poster

                                    Well vet called and we have good news!!! Sunny's calcium level has tanked. So the meds that were controlling it for so long are not being effective anymore. So we are upping the doseage way up to try to bring his blood calcium up. If htat doesn't work he will have to have some Ca IV. It will take some some and money (eg lots of repeat blood tests) to get the doseage calibrated again, but HOPEFULLY my boy will be fine. Thanks for all the jingles, they are working!


                                    • #19
                                      Great news!!!!


                                      • #20
                                        Low blood Ca is a much better answer than a brain tumor!! Hope the upped meds gets the neuro issues under control.
                                        There is no joy equal to that found on the back of a horse.