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Dr. B.
Dr. B., Veterinarian
Category: Dog Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 20618
Experience:  Hello, I am a small animal veterinarian and am happy to discuss any concerns & questions you have on any species.
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My female pit, (one of three dogs here) 2yrs old, 87 lbs.

Customer Question

My female pit bull, (one of three dogs here) 2yrs old, 87 lbs. who recently was treated for an ear infection and is no longer on medication, suddenly started acting "skittish" or "drunk" we have looked for any obvious toxic materials, dead animals, trash, etc that she may have gotten into. she seems to go in and out of this state but remains "scared" and she didnt eat or drink like she usually does...what can you tell me?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Dog Veterinary
Expert:  Dr. B. replied 1 year ago.

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

How long was her last dose of ear medication?

How long has she been showing these behaviors?

How long does each episode last?

By drunk, do you mean she is wobbly, dizzy, staggering, has a head tilt, vomiting, tremors, or any other signs?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
her last medication was about 3 days ago, she is wobbly, highly alert, almost paranoid, off balance....she has not vomited, urinated or anything like that abnormally,
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
her eyes seem bloodshot, more than usual and she trembles sporadically she has been like this for a few hours
Expert:  Dr. B. replied 1 year ago.

Thank you,

So this only started a few hours ago?

You noted it waxing/waning before. Is she having periods where it stops over the hours or just worse at some times?

Are her gums pink or pale/white?

Is she urinating at all? When did she last?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
she seems to get more intense at times, her gums seem pink, although they appear whitish or coated as well. she is responsive and wags her tail as she looks around last urination possibly within hour while walking (trying to walk it off)
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
also she appears to have bites all over, she likes to dig during the day with the other dogs and they lay in the holes , possibly insect bite? should we watch her keep her isolated?
Expert:  Dr. B. replied 1 year ago.

Thank you,

First, I do have to say that I am quite concerned about your lass. Her signs at her age are highly worrying of toxicity even if a toxin could not be found (antifreeze being one that could cause these kinds of signs). As well, if those gums are whiter then usual, this does raise worries of potential compromise to her oxygen uptake (a bigger worry if you think she is breathing heavily) or even internal bleeding. Both can cause weakness, wobbliness, and lethargy. So, these would all be major worries here with Coco.

As well, further to the toxins for her signs, we could also see this type of presentation with a dog that has a middle ear infection, vestibular episode (less likely with her age), or possible polyps/growths in either region (again less likely at her age). And less likely here, we could see these signs also with brain based issues (ie head trauma, bleeds, infections, etc).

In this case, with her age and the sudden onset, I'd still be concerned about toxins with her. Therefore, if this was my patient, I'd want to have her checked any potentially treat with activated charcoal (More Info/Dose HERE) to bind any possible toxins. Or if there was any chance of antifreeze (at home or if someone has tossed antifreeze soaked meat into the yard, etc), the we'd want to consider checking bloods +/- IV fluids. Otherwise, if we could rule this out and instead found a middle ear issue, then we could all breathe a sigh of relief and start systemic treatment to address that.

Overall, I do share your concern abut Coco here and we do need to tread with care. Her agitation/skittishness will be because this is making her feel unwell and she doesn't understand why. But the other signs just raise some serious worries that we are best to cover bases on instead of allowing any risk.

Dr. B.

PS- I have just seen your mention of bites --do you mean they look like hives (a sign of allergic reaction)? Are they itchy?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
we have found no evidence of trauma, her gums are not as white and she seems to have an appetite for her favorite snack (pig ears) the ear infection seems like the most logical scenario, in the absence of any toxins or other obvious source of poisonous material. The bites don't seem like a rash from an allergic reaction....
Expert:  Dr. B. replied 1 year ago.

Hi again,

I am glad to hear that they are not hives that you are seeing (since that again would fit with ingestions/exposures), but I'd note that bug bites could irritate to the point of making her agitated/hyper-aware but they'd not cause her other signs. Though if we wanted to try to at least rule out both, you could try her with an antihistamine. Most commonly we use Benadryl/Diphenhydramine (More Info/Dose @ low dose (ie. 0.5-2 mg per pound of their body weight twice daily). We like to keep the dose low, as it can cause drowsiness (not a bad thing if she is this unsettled). And of course, this medication shouldn't be used if your wee one has any pre-existing conditions or is on anyother medication without speaking to your vet first. Otherwise, if we can put that worry of toxicity to the bottom of our list with Coco, then you can try dimming the lights, keeping things calm, trying to get her to settle while monitoring her at this point. If she settles, we can have her seen once her vet is open to confirm if we have a middle ear infection (which I agree fits with her recent history). But if she cannot or worsens at all, then a check sooner would be ideal to err on the side of caution.

Take care,

Dr. B.