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Terri Riba
Terri Riba, Healthcare Expert
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 32666
Experience:  Expert in canine health and behavior. 20 years of experience with dogs
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My chihuahua suddenly started acting scared and it has ...

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My chihuahua suddenly started acting scared and it has progressed to stiff back legs, walking drunkenly and his walking with his back feet turned under. He is very unstable and seems to be overly aggressive. He is also panting (which is weird, he's usually shaking) and his head and body feels hot to the touch, although his nose is feels normal to cold in temperature. What's wrong with him?

how old is your baby?

how much does he weigh?

what and when did he eat last?

Customer: replied 10 years ago.
He (Tucker) will be five in June, he weighs about 8 pounds (we think he is bred with Terrier, not full chihuahua) and last I saw him eat was some milk this morning from my daughters cereal bowl, not much. He is now going in circles...

Dear friend,

Please stand by while I type detailed answer.

areTuckers eyes darting back and forth?


Customer: replied 10 years ago.
Doesn't seem to be except following when noises. He's now falling over, and dragging his back legs. He also does not have a head tilt. I looked up vestibular disease...

Dear friend,

Tucker may be experiencing a disturbance to his equilibrium called Vestibular syndrome. It is similar to motion sickness in humans and is sometimes caused by an middle ear infection.Chi's are also subject to abscessed teeth and roots that can cause pain and disorientation. The mouth ears and throat are all intimately related so one can affect the other. You can read about vestibular here:

Tucker may also be dehydrated and or hypoglycemic. He is acting scared because he is experiencing pain or discomfort. Put a drop of pancake syrup on his tongue to raise his blood sugar. If it is too late to run out and get plain pedialyte add a pinch of salt and sugar to his water to balance his electrolytes. Offer your baby cottage cheese, boiled chicken or meat to motivate him to eat.

Tucker should be seen by his vet first thing in the morning. If he is unable to urinate or cannot stand or you cannot stabelize him tonight he needs to be seen in the ER. I really do not like the leg weakness. I am hoping it is only being caused by dizziness or nausea due to the vestibular disorientation.

Please let me know how your baby is doing and if he responds to the food and hydration and syrup. I will be happy to help further.

Very sincerely,


Terri Riba and 2 other Dog Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 10 years ago.
His back legs are totally useless, not weak. He's only getting around by his front legs, but remains in sitting position as he tries to drag himself forward, often falling sideways or tripping over the back legs. Also, he will not lay down. We can't get close enough to him to get him to eat or drink, although I have offered him cheese and lunch meat on and off all day, he's super aggressive and attacking if we go close to him, even to try and comfort him. I've not seen him urinate since earlier today.

could he have eaten something toxic or non food?

do you have an ER vet in your area?

Customer: replied 10 years ago.
We are worried he's been poisoned, but can't figure out where it would come from. We do have oleanders in the yard, but are not familiar with the symptoms. He does seem to have a twitch to his head, to the right every few seconds. There is no ER vet, just a regular one that is closed today for the holiday.

Is he ever out alone?

do you have any creeps for neighbors?

how long is he symptomatic?

when would he have eaten oleander?It IS on he toxic list!!!!!!

cslll the ASPCA emergency number on the bottom of the page.

Customer: replied 10 years ago.
He goes out alone all the time, in our fenced yard. We also have a german shepherd that is outside full time, and he is fine. Neighbors are okay, can't see them poisoning him. He's actually been kinda "off" for a day or so, but nothing worrisome, until this afternoon around 1 or so. The oleander has been in my yard for a couple of years, but he's never gone around it, niether of the dogs has, they stay away from it, but it's possible??? Do his symptoms fit oleander?

His symptoms do fit a toxin and oleander can shut his kidneys down.

call the aspca emergency number on this link


Dr Smith thinks Tucker may have blown a disc in his spine and she wants you to get him to an ER ASAP!!!
She is going to post to you so stand by.
Please leave your question open because DR Smith wants to write to you.

This is what the DR wrote:

That chihuahua is likely blowing an intervertebral disc BADLY!! It needs IMMEDIATE veterinary surgery/medical attention if the spinal cord is going to be saved!! This means they may need to drive 1-2 hours to get to an emergency vet, but time is so very valuable in saving nerve function!! The dragging of the rear feet and knuckling of the rear limbs and his extreme agitation and incoordination are very strong symptoms of a cord injury that could be permanent if not treated ASAP!!

Please advise them to get to an ER NOW!!