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Dr. B.
Dr. B., Veterinarian
Category: Large Animal Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 15713
Experience:  As a veterinarian, I have been educated to treat all animals, big and small.
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Have a yearling heifer with blindness. Seems to be otherwise

Customer Question

Have a yearling heifer with blindness. Seems to be otherwise in good health and her eyes seem to be clear. She is also walking in circles continually.
Submitted: 5 months ago.
Category: Large Animal Veterinary
Expert:  Dr. B. replied 5 months ago.

Hello & welcome, I am Dr. B, a licensed veterinarian & I would like to help you with your wee one today.

How long has she had signs?

Any history of head trauma, injury, choke, or exposure to toxins (ie chemicals, drugs, plants, fungal contamination of feed, etc)?

Any fever?

Any injuries or cuts in her mouth?

Customer: replied 5 months ago.
Found her in the pasture yesterday. I had not noticed her before but she was in a big pasture with other cattle. No signs of trauma. No fever. Don't think any cuts in the mouth.
Customer: replied 5 months ago.
Never seen one walk in circles like this
Expert:  Dr. B. replied 5 months ago.

Thank you,

Now the reason for my range of questions is because all the signs she is showing are suggestive of central or brain based blindness. This is why her eyes appear normal on your examination and both are affected.

With these in mind and since we only have one cow affected; we’d be more concerned about differentials of the individual. Of course, we need to tread with care since it is possible she may just be an early case and there is the risk that others could follow.

Now in regards ***** ***** that could cause her signs, we can certainly see this head trauma but also brain based bleeds, swelling, cysts, trauma, or masses. As well, meningitis (Listeria and Histophilus being a common bacterial agents but we can also see this with protozoa and viruses on occasion) would also be a concern. And if she has been deprived nutrition, under a heavy liver fluke burden, or eating odd plants; liver damage or thiamine deficiency also can cause these signs. And to a lesser extent since there is only one affected would be toxicity (ie fungal contamination of food, water contamination, heavy metals, ragwort, etc)

With all this in mind, we do need to tread with care. Since she is at risk without her sight, she should be moved to a pen where she has easy access to food/water. She will need to be monitored for any issues eating/drinking and assisted if she is struggling. As well, we’d want to start a broad spectrum antibiotic (I’d lean to Penicillin for her as it is OTC at most farm supply stores but also good against Listeria) and may need to think about treatment with Dexamethasone to reduce brain inflammation. Otherwise, we’d want to ensure she has been treated for worms/flukes (or consider a stools sample to check for all parasites). And it’d also be worth covering with Vitamin B in case we do have an early stage thiamine issue.

Now we’d want to treat her quickly and aggressively, so you may also want to get her vet involved at this stage. The sooner we can reduce brain inflammation, the better the chance she regains her sight (though her being able to do so is slim). As well, if her vet is involved they can narrow our concerns for us, check her liver function by blood sample and give fluids to flush any toxins from her system quicker.

Overall, in your lass’s case, this is a brain based blindness suggesting the problem is in her brain putting pressure on the visual cortex. So, we’d need to start addressing the above concerns and checking for any of those possible toxins (and removing any to ensure no other cows are affected). And if we can get on treatment quickly, we can give her the best chance of recovering here.

Please take care,

Dr. B.


If you have any other questions, please ask me – I’ll be happy to respond.

**Afterwards, I would be grateful if you would rate my service by clicking on the "Rate my Expert' button at the top of the page as this is the only way I am credited for helping you. Thank you for your feedback!: )

Expert:  Dr. B. replied 4 months ago.

How is everything going with your wee one?

Dr. B.

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