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Ask Dr. Michael Salkin Your Own Question
Dr. Michael Salkin
Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian
Category: Dog Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 30348
Experience:  University of California at Davis graduate veterinarian with 45 years of experience
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I have a 9 yr old male Boston Terrier,. Starting about 4

Customer Question

I have a 9 yr old male Boston Terrier, Jack. Starting about 4 weeks ago he suddenly began a series of episodes which started out .... While standing his front legs would begin to spread out and back legs would appear weak. He would eventually fall over and dirt if dig paddle as if trying to stand. This would occur in a matter of seconds and he would get back on his feet. These episodes repeated about once or twice a week. Took him to Vet. Upon exam it was noted that Jack yelped when the vet pushed his head downward. All other signs and blood test were normal. Doctor put him on a 10 day round of steroids. A day later Jack had a seizure...howled, eyes rolled back, legs extended. Only lasted seconds. Another visit to doctor. Placed on Phenobarbetal. Noted that upon exam this time Jack exhibited pain not only in his neck but back right leg when extended backward. He is still having "falling" episodes now several times a day. Walks and stands unsteady most of the time. Will not jump on furniture anymore and if food is dropped on the floor I noticed he will not pick it up. He also had two more seizures both about 1 hour apart. He also urinates when he has them. No seizures in the past 3 days. Because the cost of an MRI is beyond my pocketbook, the doctor has no way of knowing what exactly is causing this. I am asking for your opinion and sny advise you may have. I do not want my friend to suffer and don't know what I should or can do to help him. He walks around looking so sad and depressed. He seems restless. Still has a good appetite. Sleeps in my bed and seems to sleep soundly through the night.
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Dog Veterinary
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 2 years ago.

I'm sorry to hear of this with Jack. While an encephalopathy (brain disorder) surely exists - and brain tumor is relatively common in a 9 year old Boston - his yelping when his neck was ventroflexed also suggests myelopathy (spinal cord disorder). When both of these areas of the central nervous system are involved in the disease process we look for a tumor in the brain stem or a meningoencephalitis such as granulomatous meningoencephalopathy (GME) - a common, idiopathic (unknown cause), inflammatory, noninfectious disorder of dogs. This inflammation is steroid responsive but an immunosuppressive dose of prednisolone (0.5-1 mg/lb twice daily) is necessary. Current treatment protocols also include azathioprine, cyclosporin, and/or procarbazine. Yes, an MRI is necessary to clarify the etiology of such a presentation but it's reasonable to see how that dose of prednisone in conjunction with his phenobarbital affects him.

Please respond with further questions or concerns if you wish.