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Gen B.
Gen B., Retired Veterinary Technician
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 2227
Experience:  Lhasa,Shih Tzu Breeder/ B.A.Neurophysiology & Animal Behavior/I use plain English!
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my dogs eyes started moving back and forth (side to

Customer Question

my dog's eyes started moving back and forth (side to side, as if she was following a fly) and she started to move around, almost squirming. this lasted only a few seconds, what kind of tests should she get, and how concerned should i be?
Submitted: 10 years ago.
Category: Dog
Expert:  Gen B. replied 10 years ago.

What breed is this?

How old is she?

How long did the Rapid Eye Movement last?

Is there any sign of dizziness when she tries to get up or walk?

Is her head turning to one side?


Customer: replied 10 years ago.
Reply to Gen B.'s Post: she is a toy poodle, about 10 years old now. the eye movement lasted about 10 sec - she was not responsive to my visual cues while this happened. and yes, her head would turn to one side, then back to the front, then back to the side again. there are no signs of dizziness when she wakes up or gets up to walk.
Expert:  Gen B. replied 10 years ago.

Hello and thanks for researching this very important question!

There are a few possibilities for what happened to this dear pet at this age:

1) Vestibular disruption...there are some structures deep in the ears that help the brain maintain balance. A number of things can cause a disturbance of the "vestibular" system in the brain, which is responsible for balance, among other things. These conditions include: ear infection, cancer, OR contamination of the brain with waste products usually handled by healthy kidneys and liver.

The chance of more severe problems increases with increased age of your dog.

Symptoms of vestibular disturbance include rapid eye movement from side-to-side, inability to stand or walk due to dizziness, nausea and/or vomit (with refusal or inability to eat), spastic head movements, and a tilt in the orientation of the head. Affected dogs prefer to lie on one side of the body only.

There is such a thing as "Idiopathic Vestibular Syndrome"...(idiopathic--pathology which doesn't make sense)...which does not have a cause that we can find. This is pretty common in middle-aged and older dogs. The most severe symptoms fade (or become adjusted to!) over the course of a few weeks, and the most prominent thing we see is the head-tilt...looks weird, but is not a serious problem long-term.

2) Seizure...Some seizure disorders have a cause, such as previous illness (diabetes, kidney or liver failure, hypoglycemia), toxins, tumors or physical injury (like being hit by a car) that has damaged the brain. Some seizure disorders are what we call "Idiopathic" (sickness without a known cause). Sometimes a dog will have one seizure, and never another. Most dogs with simple epilepsy can be well treated with drugs.

Seizures can be brief (sometimes there is not even loss of consciousness), or prolonged. They can be mild in their appearance or physically violent. The more vigorous and the more prolonged a seizure is, the more dangerous it is to the brain.

An older pet experiencing a violent seizure, or repeated seizures, is more likely to be harboring a serious health problem, such as cancer, brain hemorrhage, or organ failure.

Diagnosis can be as simple as running some blood tests, or as complicated as undergoing an MRI to find a tumor or other brain-threatening condition.

***The first step to finding out what happened and if it will continue to be a problem is to have this little one examined by your regular veterinarian.***