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Ask Dr. Michael Salkin Your Own Question
Dr. Michael Salkin
Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian
Category: Dog Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 29691
Experience:  University of California at Davis graduate veterinarian with 45 years of experience
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My chihuahua is 10 years old and the past few days he has

Customer Question

Hi my chihuahua is 10 years old and the past few days he has been acting strange. His head trembles very slightly every once in a while. The other day his jaw was shaking. Also he seems very depressed. Not active (usually he is extremely active) and when he walks he looks like he loses his balance and stumbles a little.
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Dog Veterinary
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 2 years ago.

Mickey is demonstrating signs of encephalopathy (brain disorder). His head "trembles" are likely to be tremors and his shaking jaw either tremors or simple partial seizures - these can be difficult to differentiate. He's also ataxic ("drunken sailor") which can represent both encephalopathy and myelopathy (spinal cord disorder) but the presence of his tremors/seizures should place encephalopathy on the top of my differential list. Encephalopathies can be intracranial (within the skull) such as brain tumor or extracranial (outside the skull) such as a poorly functioning liver which is intoxicating his brain (hepatoencephalopathy). Mickey's vet can perform a senior/geriatric diagnostic panel of blood and urine tests in an attempt to spot an extracranial disorder. If nothing untoward is found in such testing, an intracranial disorder is assumed and MRI is then necessary for clarification of that disorder.

Please respond with further questions or concerns if you wish.

Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Oh my god. But how can this happen all of a sudden?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
He's always been very healthy
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 2 years ago.

Too many disorders can remain subclinical (not apparent) for quite some time and eventually become clinical (apparent) after they've continued to worsen. For example, a brain tumor might have to reach a certain size before it causes symptoms in pets and people. It's wonderful that he's always been very healthy but he's never been 10 years old before. Please continue our conversation if you wish.