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Ask Dr. Michael Salkin Your Own Question
Dr. Michael Salkin
Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian
Category: Dog Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 24467
Experience:  University of California at Davis graduate veterinarian with 44 years of experience
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I have a 15 year old dog that is blind and cannot hear. The

Customer Question

I have a 15 year old dog that is blind and cannot hear. The last couple of nights she has not been sleeping. She walks and just falls, stays for a few seconds then gets up and falls again.
She did have a very bad ear infection over 10 months ago. I do know she also has arthritis.
Any idea what I should do to help her.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Dog Veterinary
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 1 year ago.

I'm sorry to hear of this with your Shih Tzu. Her nighttime aimless wandering and falling (ataxia/"drunken sailor"/collapse) are indicative of cognitive dysfunction as seen with both senility (sundowner's syndrome if this behavior is apparent only at night) and encephalopathies such as brain tumor or systemic disorders that affect her brain. Her ear infection might have affected her inner/middle ear (otitis interna/media) and extended into her brain causing an encephalitis and a peripheral vestibular (balance) disorder may have arisen as well. It would be best that her vet take a look at her. Advanced diagnostics such as MRI might be necessary to clarify why she's behaving in this manner but I would be circumspect about performing such advanced imaging in a dog of her age. Instead, I would examine her ear(s) carefully and if there were evidence of otitis interna/media begin antibiotics and an anti-motion sickness drug. If her ear weren't responsible for her behavior, a sedating benzodiazepine such as alprazolam should be considered prior to bedtime so everybody can get some rest.

Please respond with further questions or concerns if you wish.

Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 1 year ago.
Hi Toni,
I'm just following up on our conversation about your pet. How is everything going?
Dr. Michael Salkin