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Maltese: In walking he staggers somewhat...We put him on steriods

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Our Maltese started geting dizzy and having trouble being steady while standing still. In walking he staggers somewhat...We put him on steriods and it stopped the dizziness, but it make him overeat and become very obese. WE have again stopped the steriods and are looking for a better fix. Please help us. Thanks...XXXXX XXXXX
HelloCustomer-What was the reason for putting him on the steroids? Thanks, XXXXX XXXXX
Customer: replied 11 years ago.
Reply to J. Leonard DVM's Post: Steriods suggested by vet to stop the falling over. This was offered after taking anitbiotics for possible inner ear problems with no good results, then x rays that did not show anything of value...We could not afford 1200.00 for mri. The steriods did stop the falling over, but it caused him to overeat extensively, and causes him mood swings and breathing problems.
Thanks
XXXXX XXXXX
Hello Larry--It is good that the xrays did not show any heart disease which can cause symptoms similar to what you are seeing. Vestibular problems (inner ear imbalance) can also cause these problems. An infection would be responsive to antibiotics, but there is a condition called labyrinthitis whose cause is not definitively known which your vet may have suspected. This is an imbalance within the inner ear also and often needs time to go away (it happens in people also and just medication for vertigo symptoms is given and the rest is waiting for it to be done). They also can have stroke like problems, which can result in head tilt and inability to stand and staggering. Brain tumor is also on the list. Some veterinarians will put a patient on steroids for conditions such as these when the definite diagnosis is not known but they wish to relieve inflammation. Normally the patient does not need to stay on the medication. It can certainly lead to all that you have seen. Most patients do wean off these meds as directed by their vet.

Were you told that the dog would need to stay on permanently? Were you told an actual definite disease diagnosis? Have the episodes reoccurred since he has been off the medication?

Full blood tests are a good thing to consider. Low blood sugar and low calcium can cause weakness and staggering. The tests will also give organ functions such as kidney and liver, which if compromised, can cause weakness, and with the liver specifically, staggering. Geriatric dogs generally have a full CBC, chemistry panel and thyroid level done.

If it was vestibular disease, once the episode is done, it is done. There can be reoccurrences down the road sometimes, but they do not stay on medication.

Keep me posted. Thanks, XXXXX XXXXX
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Customer: replied 11 years ago.
Reply to J. Leonard DVM's Post: Question to Dr Jo Leonard
To answer your questions, We were not told he would need to stay on the steriods permantly, nor did they find any definite disease. It is still all a great mystery. Our vet is usually very good at diagjosis. Actually, the dog does not usually get sick. His diet is on organic paul newman dry dog food.
HelloCustomer-Perhaps you should talk to your veterinarian about the benefits of a referral to a specialist clinic, where you can get the benefits of any needed specialists, such as possibility of a neurologist and the benefit of advanced equipment, such as MRI or CT. North Carolina also has a very good veterinary school. It is very frustrating to not get a definite diagnosis, but sometimes that happens. That is what referrals are for. Good luck to you all and keep me posted. Dr. Jo

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