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Ask Dr. Michael Salkin Your Own Question
Dr. Michael Salkin
Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian
Category: Dog Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 29012
Experience:  University of California at Davis graduate veterinarian with 45 years of experience
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He is staggering and holding s head to the side. s eyes 't

Customer Question

He is staggering and holding his head to the side. His eyes don't appear to focus. Won't eat or drink Saw MD and only lab off was severe low platelets.
JA: I'm sorry to hear that. Have you looked to see if there is a wound on their foot?
Customer: Didn't look What kind of wound am I looking for?
JA: What is the dog's name and age?
Customer: He is 8 years and named Forrest. He is a Pitbull, mix
JA: Is there anything else the Veterinarian should be aware of about Forrest?
Customer: NO, all of his blood test were normal except the platelets. MD put him on prednisone, ultram and gave fluid SubQ
JA: OK. Got it. I'm sending you to a secure page on JustAnswer so you can place the $5 fully-refundable deposit now. While you're filling out that form, I'll tell the Veterinarian about your situation and then connect you two.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Dog Veterinary
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 1 year ago.

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Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 1 year ago.

I'm sorry to hear of this with Forrest. His staggering (ataxia/"drunken sailor") and holding his head to the side (head tilt) are pathognomonic (specifically indicative) of vestibular (balance) disorders in dogs. Nystagmus (eyes flicking back and forth) is also characteristic of vestibular disorders. Not appearing to focus, however, is worrisome for a more serious type of vestibular disorder.

The most common of the vestibular disorders is the idiopathic (unknown cause/"old dog vestibular disorder"). It arises quickly but usually improves within days and many dogs will normalize within a couple of weeks. Head tilts may persist, however. Peripheral vestibular disorders involve the inner/middle ear(s). If Forest has a history of ear infection, a peripheral disorder should be an important differential diagnosis. A central vestibular disorder involves the brain stem or cerebellum and usually causes more severe symptoms - seizures, a change in mentation (mental status), and perhaps his eyes not appearing to focus.

It can be a challenge clarifying where the primary lesion is. A careful physical and neurologic exam is necessary and advanced imaging in the form of MRI might be necessary. Referral to a specialist veterinary neurologist (please see here: should be considered if you didn't see a good improvement with the tincture of time and the prednisone and tramadol (Ultram). Please respond with further questions or concerns if you wish.