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Suddenly disoriented.

Species: Dog
Breed: Min Schnauzer
Age: 5-8 years
our approx 8 y/o schnauzer is partially blind and partially deaf(we adopted him a yr ago) I woke up to hear him running into things. He is acting like he can't see, going into corners and when he runs into a stopping point keeps trying to continue on. He seems to favor his left side a little funny but can walk without losing his balance. He knows the layout of the house so now it's like he doesn't even know where he is. His skin felt warmer then normal when I picked him up and his breathing is almost anxious sounding. Any suggestions?


Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

Hmm...these are unusual symptoms.

While I won't be able to tell you for sure what is going on I can give you a few ideas.

My first thought was that he may have something called vestibular syndrome. We usually see this in elderly dogs, but I have seen it in 8 year old dogs as well. We don't know exactly what causes vestibular syndrome but somehow a part of the brain is affected and we can see dogs be very disoriented. They often will walk in circles, but not always. If this is vestibular syndrome then most dogs make a complete (or close to complete) recovery within a few days.

The next possibility is if he has a problem with his inner ear such as an inner ear infection. This can cause disorientation and could cause a fever as well.

It's also possible that he had a seizure. Often we don't know why seizures happen. But, when they do, it's not uncommon for a dog to be very disoriented for hours afterwards. If this was a seizure then it is not likely an urgent situation, but if he is having more of them then it is something that needs to be addressed.

It is also possible that his blindness has progressed. If this happens quickly then dogs can be very out of sorts. It shouldn't explain why he feels warm though.

And one final thought. Have a look at his gums. Do they look pink or white? (Sometimes with schnauzers it's hard to tell because they may be black due to pigment). If they look white then it's possible that Archie has some internal bleeding. One possible reason would be a spleen tumor that has ruptured. The blood loss into the abdomen can cause him to be disoriented and distressed and can affect his breathing.

At this point, what you do depends on how he is doing. If he seems to be getting better then it is ok to wait and see if he continues to improve throughout the day. But if you feel like this is not getting better then I would definitely have your vet take a look at him.

I hope that everything is ok! Please let me know if you have more questions.

Dr. Marie.


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Disclaimer: Although Dr. Marie is a qualified veterinarian, the information found on this site is not meant to replace the advice of your own veterinarian. AskAVetQuestion.com and Dr. Marie do not accept any responsibility for any loss, damage, injury, death, or disease which may arise from reliance on information contained on this site. Do not use information found on this site for diagnosing or treating your pet. Anything you read here is for information only.

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Dr. MarieDr. 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.

Is an online vet visit just as good as a trip to your veterinarian? No! But, many times, asking an online veterinarian a question can help save you money. While Dr. Marie can't officially diagnose your pet or prescribe medications, she can often advise you on whether a vet visit is necessary. You can also ask Dr. Marie for a second opinion on your pet's condition.