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High stepping and chattering.

Species: Dog
Breed: Border collie Great
Age: 5-8 years
My dog has suddenly started walking funny. He lifts his paws up higher than normal while walking and seems to walk gingerly and suddenly often slips on our hard wood floors and seems a bit shaky on his paws. At the same time this started, he also started eating less and clicks his teeth together every time he licks himself. At times he paws his muzzle like he is trying to get something off his mouth. He has constantly had this behavior for 5 days. We thought perhaps his nails were too long and got them clipped. It didn't fix anything. We rescued him from the shelter in September so we are in the dark regarding his medical history. He has not now nor ever shown any aggression. Thanks for your help.


Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

Hi and thank you for your question. The symptoms that you are describing are unusual. The high-stepping that you are mentioning could be something called hypermetria. This is usually caused by some sort of problem in either the brain stem or the part of the brain called the cerebellum.

It's hard to connect that activity with the clicking of his teeth. It definitely sounds like there is a serious neurological issue here. One possibility is distemper virus. However, if Socks is vaccinated then this is not likely. There are other unusual neurological problems such as fungal infections or even parasites that can do this.

It could also be that what you are seeing is some type of a seizure.

It definitely sounds like he needs to have a vet visit. If you are able to videotape the episodes so that your vet can see them then this would probably help. The vet will likely want to do some bloodwork and maybe even some spinal xrays. But, there is a chance that no cause can be found without doing even further testing.

This isn't something I would wait on for any longer as it has the potential to be serious.

I hope things work out ok.


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.