Species: Dog Breed: standard poodle Age: 11-15 years
3 days ago my dog, who was being taken on a walk in the morning, suddenly started shaking, acted confused and tucked his tail and tried to hide. We soothed him and the trembling subsided but he was still confused. Every day since, he does his morning walk without incident but when he comes home, he seems afraid, tries to hide under objects, is fidgety, won't drink or relax until I sit with him and even then it's temporary. He's a inside dog and has had no trauma. We suspect a small TIA but don't how to determine the next course of action. The nearest Catscan or MRI is 175 miles away. What to do and will he get better with time?
Dr. Marie replied:
Thank you for your question.
Has Yazzi had a vet exam yet? If so, does the vet suspect a TIA? We don't often see strokes in dogs.
My first thought, if I was seeing Yazzi would be to look for subtle signs of back pain. Back pain can definitely cause trembling and can come and go.
I've also seen dogs have similar symptoms if they have a problem in their anal glands.
Feel free to write back and let me know if Yazzi has had a visit with the vet. If so, let me know any details of his exam and whether or not any tests were done.
If he hasn't had a vet exam then I would definitely advise one.
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He sees a vet regularly and is current on all his meds and tests. However, we have not taken him to a vet for this attack because there is nothing that can be done for the wierd behavior he is exhibiting. It's not the shivering that bothers us and his back is fine , he's not in pain. We pet and rub him constantly and he shows no signs of back trouble. He eats and eliminates well and sleeps well once he gets relaxed. It's the appearance of fright and cowaring that is most severe. The dazed and confused stance he takes. The need to be coaxed to follow. With all that said, h woke up this morning after an 8 hr. sleep and was alert and normal. We live in Florida and walk him on the beach and he will be great at the beginning of the walk and when he returns home, reverts to the hidding, confused, uncooperative,dazed yazzi. As if he's forgotten what to do next. Again, let me repeat that this just came on with no warning leaves and returns just as quickly. If no pain, what else could cause this behavior?
Dr. Marie replied:
Well, with these symptoms my first guess would still be back pain. With dogs it can be very subtle and can come and go.
I did, however, have a case recently of an older dog who had extreme periods of anxiety that would come and go. We never did figure out what was happening but my instinct was that it was a brain tumor. (As you know, we would need a cat scan or MRI to diagnose this.) This dog responded really well to an anti-anxiety medication called clomicalm. It worked for a few months but then the symptoms came back and the owners ended up putting him down.
There really is no other medical condition that would cause a dog to have these symptoms - at least not that I can think of. It really does sound like there is some intermittent pain somewhere.
A thorough vet exam may be able to determine the source.
I hope things are better soon!
Thanks for your promptness and insight. We have found a condition that explains the symptoms and we have scheduled an appointment for a check to see if it is what we think it is. The problem we have constantly is that most vets around here have never seen,treated or studied standard Poodles and they are unique in a lot of ways from the dogs they see.
As described in the text we've found it seems to mimic Idiopathic Fear and Withdrawal. A condition which is genetic in the breed and is often brought on with age. Apparently the autonomic nervous system is affected causing these episodes and they can be controlled with the anti anxiety medicine you mentioned. With the vet visit and bloodwork, we can hopefully rule out brain or thyroid problems and possible toxic substances.
To let you know what happened this morning, we took him on his walk and half way through he reverted to the confused and fearful stage. He is just now calming down but still insists on staying within 1 foot of me at all times. I am still sure that there is little or no pain involved but the vet will hopefully find the causes.
Dr. Marie replied:
You're very welcome. There really is no medical condition called idiopathic fear and withdrawal. "Idiopathic" means "We can't figure out the cause". So, what "idiopathic fear and withdrawal" means is "There's fear, but we don't know why."
Just to be sure, I did some research for you in my textbooks as well as the latest information I have access to for veterinary research and could not find specific information on a condition with this name.
So, really we are back where we started. There is fear and we don't know why. It could be because of pain (i.e. back). But again, if the vet can't find a source of pain they may prescribe some anti-anxiety medication.
Dr. Marie, just a followup on Yazzi. I took him to the vet this morning and I want you to know that you were spot on. His anal glands were overwhemingly full with what can only be described as a huge volume of dark matter. It was the worst the vet had seen. She also recognized an apparent pain in his spine for which she prescribed some pain medicine and stated that it possibly was from the gland condition. We brought him home with the promise that in 2-3 days we would return for the senior blood work up and Xrays. He is already better acting and has not reverted to his withdrawal mode as of yet.
I will sing your praises and direct all who ask for guidance or information to your web site. Thank you again Leon W
Dr. Marie replied:
YAY! Thanks for the update. I'm glad to hear that Yazzi is feeling better! I can't imagine what dogs feel like when their glands are super full!
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Dr. Marie is a veterinarian who practices in a busy animal hospital in Ottawa, Ontario. She created Ask A Vet Question as a resource for good, accurate veterinary advice online. Dr. Marie treats dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pigs, and rats. She has been a vet since 1999.
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