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Ask Dr. Michael Salkin Your Own Question
Dr. Michael Salkin
Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian
Category: Dog Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 28936
Experience:  University of California at Davis graduate veterinarian with 45 years of experience
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My dog is 13-1/2 He is a miniature schnauzer Cairn Terrier

Customer Question

My dog is 13-1/2 He is a miniature schnauzer Cairn Terrier mix. His head was tilted and he has a yeast horn tumor on the top of his head. He looks like he has had a stroke. He on Monday would turn around in circles and could not get his balance. Now on Sunday his hind legs are stiffening.I take him out and carry him. I try to let him get up but he falls down. Would you be able to tell me anything to help him out?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Dog Veterinary
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
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Customer: replied 1 year ago.
What can I do to help our dog Jon Luke?
He is 13-1/2 yrs. young and he can not stand up. He could on Monday but he was very dizzy and circling. His back legs keep going straight and stiffening. His bark is like he has a cold or stroke. He is alert, but I do not know if he can hear because he does not respond to noises. He can sit up. He has a yeast horn on his top head. Darlene
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I want to know if I can give him some of people valarian root to keep him relaxed and if it is safe?Darlene
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
The yeast horn on top of his head our vet had said not to worry about it that it would go away. Well it did not go away and now she says it is a tumor and that she can operate to remove it. But he is 13-1/2 yrs. young. She does not know about the dizziness and the possible stroke as it is the weekend.
He also is very thirsty. He is being fed soft cat food at this time as that is what he can eat.Darlene
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Monday through Friday he could go to the bathroom by himself. Of course circling and dizzy. Now he pees on himself outside. He has not had a bm in two days. M-F he did have a bm small but still he had one. Darlene
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I am trying to constantly watch him. I am trying to make him comfortable. He is not crying like in pain. I put cocoanut oil and calamine lotion on the yeast horn tumor. I feed him and give him lots of water. I carry him every where when he moves except outside I try to let him stand up and go to the bathroom. I will try and help him. Darlene
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I know that the soft cat food is probably not the best but he does not want to eat his dog food and his teeth at this point are not great, but his mouth seems a little funny also and that is another reason why I feel he may of had a stroke. I am just trying to keep him eating. Darlene
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Jon Luke has a Grand Father that is 15-1/2 yrs. young and a Father that is 14-1/2 yrs. young and a brother who is his age and a niece and nephew that are 12-1/2 yrs. young. They have all been raised together. They do have longevity. Thank God. Darlene
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 1 year ago.

I'm sorry to hear of this, Darlene. His head tilt and circling are pathognomonic (specifically indicative) of vestibular (balance) disorder in dogs. The three major types are "old dog vestibular disorder" which is idiopathic (unknown cause), peripheral vestibular disorder which involves the middle/inner ear, and central vestibular disorder which involves the brain stem or cerebellum. Vestibular disorders are often though to be strokes by owners. They most often aren't but I do have to consider a possible stroke in the brain stem or cerebellum. The vestibular disorder in Jon Luke should be assumed to be a central one because his legs have become stiff. This isn't seen with the old dog or peripheral vestibular disorders. His increased thirst can result from a host of metabolic disorders but also a brain problem involving his hypothalamus.

You're going to have quite a challenge managing a dog with a central vestibular disorder. Stroke and brain tumor are the two main differential diagnoses and neither have any specific therapy. Your good husbandry and keeping him eating is as much as I can ask you to do. The horn on his head isn't likely to be related to his central vestibular disorder. Valarian root won't be harmful but it isn't expected to be helpful enough for such a serious problem at his age. Please respond with further questions or concerns if you wish.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thank you. I had read on the internet about vestibular disorder. So I was aware of that. Is there anyway I can exercise his legs to help him to strengthen them. Will he get agressive? He is living with this can he have quality of life? Darlene
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
How much valarian root can I give him and how many times a day. I have human capsules that I can break open?
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 1 year ago.

Physical therapy - flexion and extension exercises - is smart in these cases. I can't know if he'll become aggressive; we do see behavior changes when brain disorders exist. I do worry about his quality of life. If he can't rise from a prone position after a week, his prognosis must necessarily be very guarded. Here's information on valarian root and dogs: Note that dosing is anecdotal. We don't have studies substantiating the most appropriate dose.

Please continue our conversation if you wish.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thank you for all your help Dr. I appreciate it. It is in our Dear Lords hands. Thank you.Darlene
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 1 year ago.

You're quite welcome, Darlene. 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.