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Ask Dr. Michael Salkin Your Own Question
Dr. Michael Salkin
Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 27436
Experience:  University of California at Davis graduate veterinarian with 44 years of experience
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I have an 8 year old Chihuahua that has been losing his

Customer Question

I have an 8 year old Chihuahua that has been losing his balance for the last 2 months. He is very well trained and started having accidents in the house so we took him to his vet, full blood work done and came back ok. She diagnosed a UTI and prescribed antibiotics, a muscle relaxers and Tramadol.
He hasn't had an accident since finishing the antibiotics but he still has balance issues.
He will not sit or lay down. When we go to bed he stands until he is so tired that he has to lay. He does not have a head tilt or eye problems, he has lost a pound though and on him that's a lot.
Vet is recommending a specialist but I can't afford unnecessary you have any advice or clue as to what it might be?
Submitted: 7 months ago.
Category: Dog
Customer: replied 7 months ago.
He had a bad reaction to the Tramadol and the muscle relaxer, seemed to make him scared and confused and he hid under the bed until they wore off. Discontinued the pills and his mood improved.
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 7 months ago.

You're speaking with Dr. Michael Salkin. Welcome to JustAnswer. I'm currently typing up my reply.

Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 7 months ago.

I'm sorry that your question wasn't answered in a timely manner and I'm sorry to hear of this with Chico. Can you elaborate on "losing his balance" for me, please? Is he ataxic ("drunken sailor")? Does he fall to the side even when resting? Does he shake his head? Is this behavior exacerbated by exercise? Is there a change in mentation (mental status) such as disorientation, confusion, or a change in social interaction? Is Chico aimlessly wandering, circling, staring at the walls, becoming trapped in corners?

Customer: replied 7 months ago.
It is a bit drunken sailor. Sometimes it looks like his back legs want to go a different direction than his body. I first noticed in the morning, he would do his "wake up shake " and fall straight over. he would be fine the rest of the day but has gotten progressively wobbly.
He doesn't shake his head but he will sort of bury his head in my neck and stay that way for a while when we are laying down.
He does fall to the side when resting.
His behavior has changed slightly, he is skittish and seems confused sometimes, like he is hearing things and will get up to investigate. He also seems confused by his food bowl so I have been putting his food on a plate and he will eat it then.
He isn't aimlessly wandering or getting trapped in corners that I can see.
The changes were so slight that I didn't notice but I saw him yesterday after being away for a week and the change in his gait and his skittishness were definitely much worse.
By skittish I mean noises scare him, when I reach for him he cowers and seems very unsure of himself which is very different from his usual personality.
I got him to lay down last night by rubbing his neck and spine until he seemed comfortable, but right now he is on a pillow and will lay down and jump right back up.
Sorry for the long answer, I know it's a lot of info!
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 7 months ago.

I appreciate your nicely thorough history. His symptoms of burying his head (headache, dizziness?) and appearing confused and experiencing such behavioral changes indicate myelopathy (brain disorder). These can be a challenge to clarify without advanced testing such as cerebrospinal fluid tap and analysis as well as MRI. This type of advanced testing is best performed by a specialist veterinary neurologist (please see here: who is best equipped to perform such testing. Unfortunately, I'm looking for brain tumor at Chico's age as well as a steroid responsive brain disorder such as granulomatous meningoencephalomyelitis (GME) and steroid-responsive meningitis-arteritis.

Please continue our conversation if you wish.

Customer: replied 7 months ago.
That's what I was afraid of hearing but thank you for your response. Will get him into a specialist asap
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 7 months ago.

You're quite welcome. I can't set a follow-up in this venue so please return to our conversation - even after rating - with an update at your convenience. You can bookmark this page for ease of return.

Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 7 months ago.
Hi Kristin,

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

Dr. Michael Salkin

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