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Dr. Bruce
Dr. Bruce, Veterinarian
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 18768
Experience:  15 years of experience as a small animal veterinarian
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I just brought my dog home from the vet. She presented this

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I just brought my dog home from the vet. She presented this past Tuesday morning with "intoxication" like symptoms--staggering and unable to balance. My vet said that it is possible that it is a "seasonal Vertigo" that some older dogs get. Well, she stayed at the vet 3 nights and I brought her home yesterday. The main symptom of the vertigo, they head and eye shifting, have ceased. They ran a CBC and a Blood Panel 17. The only thing that showed up was a slightly elevated WBC count.

She seems to have an insatiable thirst and no appetite. Unable to hold her urine and not letting us know when she has to go. She will just lay on her bed and urinate. She's really not that responsive when I call her name and just seems to want to lay around...still somewhat unstable on her feet when I can get her to move around.

We did some reading on diabetes insipidus (sp) but haven't found much else. She has lost most of the muscle tone in her temporal area, both sides. She also has lost what seems to be alot of weight over the past few days of not eating.

Mollie is a 10 year old Choc Lab/Chesapeake cross and she means the world to me. With that being said, there is no way I will let her suffer just so I have her around...I want her to have a good quality of life, not just be alive. My wife and I both travel with our work and it's difficult to make time to stay home during the day very much as well. I just don't know what to do.

Welcome. I'm Dr. Bruce and I've been a small animal veterinarian for over 12 years. Thank you for your question. I'm hoping that Mollie is feeling better here soon too. As far as the "seasonal Vertigo", this is what I typically call idiopathic vestibular disease. Here is an excellent link on it.

In dogs that have it (it is diagnosed when no other issue is found), time is the biggest thing for getting them back to normal for it. Some can take up to a week to be fully back to normal.

As far as her not eating as well as she should, hopefully this is something that will improve in a couple days - as she gets further past this vestibular event. The weight loss will hopefully come back when she starts eating again. It is good that her blood panel 17 didn't show anything off as that is the bigger thing I look at in these cases than the CBC. As far as the insatiable thirst, that is due to the prednisone (it is a steroid). It causes increase in drinking and urination. Why she may be leaking where she is resting / sleeping is due to the increase urine volume in her bladder and this is stressing her sphincter. I would hope when she comes off it, the accidents and drinking get back to normal. Diabetes insipidus can show like this, but the prednisone is a million times more suspect.

I would wean her off the prednisone as directed by your vet and see how she is doing over the next week. I would hope that she's improved greatly. I wouldn't make any quality of life decisions at this time.
Dr. Bruce and 4 other Dog Specialists are ready to help you
Hi James,

I'm just following up on our conversation about Mollie. How is everything going?

Dr. Bruce
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

This is James' wife. She is better. She still tilts her head to the left a bit and is not as steady on her feet as she was prior. She continues to have a bit of a leakage problem at times generally later in the day. She is eating well. We have made adjustments in her lifestyle. We no longer let her be with our much younger stronger dogs as they notice her weakness and are somewhat aggressive towards her. She is more spoiled than ever. But, she is living and seems to be happy.


Hi again,

Thanks for the update on Mollie. If she is still having urinary incontinence issues, you should speak with your vet about her possibly being started on a drug called phenylpropanolamine. It is a very commonly used oral medication that can help girl's her age with urethral incontinence. Here is a good link on it.

If no other issue is causing the leakage like an infection or other urinary issue, then the urethral sphincter may be weak and it can be strengthened with this medication.