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Ask Dr. Michael Salkin Your Own Question
Dr. Michael Salkin
Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian
Category: Dog Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 25190
Experience:  University of California at Davis graduate veterinarian with 44 years of experience
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Please help! One week ago, out of nowhere, my 3 year old Pomeranian

Customer Question

Please help! One week ago, out of nowhere, my 3 year old Pomeranian has started obsessively sniffing... for hours at a time he will sit on the couch/bed/wherever, and frantically sniff everything- any blanket/carpt/ect that he's on top of, his legs, himself.. he will shuffle around backwards circling snd circling till he topples over sniffing. We thought maybe it was a shampoo his new groomer used but realized it started before the groomer and we reshampooed him with his usual shampoo and the sniffing continued. Sometimes the sniffing is so intense he becomes out of breath but keeps going. This happened around the same time he started having what seems like some sort of anxiety attack- a period of 1 to 4 hours where he becomes wide eyed, ears back, rigid, antsy and seemingly in a state of panic where is eyes dart back and forth across the room. He's antsy but not fearful, fidgety, he won't eat- if I try to feed him a special treat like a piece of cheese, he sniffs it and leans forward as if he wants to take it then fakes back like he's disgusted by the sight of it. The sniffing and the "anxiety attacks" do not happen at the same time but I can't help but feel as if its possible they are related? He is a very sweet and quiet dog, he loves people but does not spend much time around other animals besides out other dog, a 4 year old Ital***** *****house who he loves and plays with, and a hamster he doesn't like but also doesn't have to be around much. He's always been a good sleeper and is active but could probably get a little more exercise. He's been generally healthy. Everyone Ive asked replies that this is "normal dog behavior" but the intensity and obsessiveness of the sniffing is definitely not normal to me, and Ive owned dogs most of my life. I work nights and my husband works days, so the dogs aren't alone very often (when they are they're together) but these things never happen when we are getting ready to leave the house. I admit the sniffing can get pretty annoying, but honesty Im mostly worried that he is in some kind of distress, or maybe trying to tell me something I can't understand. I know stress can be hard on small dogs and this pup is my heart and soul- like my own flesh and blood child! So if the sniffing and "anxiety" are the symptom of a bigger problem that I can do something about, please any advice you be so greatly appreciated! Thank you for your time
JA: I'm sorry to hear that. Have you looked to see if there is a wound on their foot?
Customer: no wounds anywhere
JA: The Veterinarian will ask you more detailed questions to find out what is causing this. What is the dog's name?
Customer: James dean
JA: Anything else I can tell the Veterinarian before I connect you two?
Customer: is there a charge to talk to the vet?
JA: You just pay a $5 deposit now and the rest only when you get a reply from the Veterinarian. All of this is 100% satisfaction guaranteed, so you can get a refund if you're not happy for any reason.
Customer: whats the rest of the total
cost for the reply?
JA: You just pay a $5 deposit now and the rest only when you get a reply from the Veterinarian. All of this is 100% satisfaction guaranteed, so you can get a refund if you're not happy for any reason.
Customer: are these automated responses or are you a real person...
JA: I'm an assistant to the Veterinarian. I work with them to help customers like you.
Customer: what will the total charge be
JA: You just pay a $5 deposit now and the rest only when you get a reply from the Veterinarian. All of this is 100% satisfaction guaranteed, so you can get a refund if you're not happy for any reason.
Customer: ok but how much do you pay after the $5
JA: You just pay a $5 deposit now and the rest only when you get a reply from the Veterinarian. All of this is 100% satisfaction guaranteed, so you can get a refund if you're not happy for any reason.
Customer: alrighty
JA: I'm sending you to a secure page on JustAnswer so you can place the $5 fully refundable deposit now. While you're filling out that form, I'll tell the Veterinarian about your situation and connect you two.
Submitted: 9 months ago.
Category: Dog Veterinary
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 9 months ago.
Thank you for the thorough history you provided. The clue to his sniffing behavior is, indeed, his "panic attacks" which are likely to represent complex partial seizure rather than panic attacks. Complex partial seizure (also called psychomotor seizure) is defined as focal or asymmetric sensory or motor activity involving any part of the body and which may be associated with autonomic signs (salivation, vomiting, diarrhea,"licking his chops"/nausea/acid reflux) and is associated with a change in mentation (mental status) and/or behavioral abnormalities. When seizures first rise between the age of 1-5 years, idiopathic (unknown cause) epilepsy is most often diagnosed.His obsessive sniffling, then, would represent the abnormal sensory activity associated with this type of seizure which isn't abating in a timely manner. This is called status epilepticus and when it interferes with normal activity as appears to be the case, needs to be stopped and this is done with anticonvulsive drugs such as phenobarbital, levetiracetam, or zonisamide. We do also see obsessive/compulsive disorders in dogs and those are addressed by behavioral reconditioning but in his case I can't ignore those symptoms you've described as "panic" which I'm going to attribute to abnormal electrical activity in his brain. James Dean's vet is likely to refer your dog to a specialist veterinary neurologist (please see here: www.acvim.org) for advanced testing. Videoing his behavior will be very useful to the neurologist (and me). Please respond with further questions or concerns if you wish.
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 9 months ago.
Hi,

I'm just following up on our conversation about your pet. How is everything going?

Dr. Michael Salkin