View Full Version : My dogs are staggering around!

05-11-2008, 12:33 PM
Okay, you guys, this is really weird. Maybe someone here will have some clue as to what's going on, because the vet doesn't really know.

One morning back in February I woke to find the youngest of my three old dogs (12, 14, and ?) staggering around, unable to walk. It looked like one side of her body was paralyzed, and of course she was very scared -- as was I. I got her to the vet ASAP, but by the time we arrived she was totally back to normal. We thought she may have had a small stroke, so I was told to keep an eye on her and bring her back if this reoccurred.

Everything was completely normal, until this morning. My DH woke me up at 7:30 and told me that Pinkie was staggering around again. It was exactly the same thing! This time I noticed that her head was tilted to the left, and she was panting heavily, but no drooling or vomiting or upset stomach.

My DH left with our big male dog, and I was left babysitting Pinkie, trying to keep her calm. I phoned the vet and left a message . . . and then shortly after that I discovered that our third dog, another female (the mother of Pinkie) was having the EXACT same symptoms! She wasn't panting but her head was tilted to the left and she couldn't even stand up, let alone walk.

Okay, this can't possibly be a stroke, it must be something they ate in the yard. But we've had these dogs all their lives and lived in the same house the entire time, and all of the sudden these two incidents occur?

By this time they're both gradually getting back to normal, just like the last time. I did talk to the vet on the phone and make an appointment for later this afternoon, but by then I don't think either one will be having any symptoms.

So, what do you think? Any ideas about plants that are poisonous to dogs? I know there's info on the internet but I'm terrible at plant IDing, so I'll really appreciate any feedback you guys can offer. :??

05-11-2008, 12:56 PM
CECS is a disease that occurs among border terriers sometimes that sounds like what you describe. You didn't mention what type of dogs you have but does this sound like it fits the symptoms you see in your dogs? Also there is a video on Youtube showing the symptoms.



05-11-2008, 01:14 PM
I'm leaning toward a plant, too, or maybe a chemical around that they coud get into. The vet should maybe do some bloodwork.

05-11-2008, 01:20 PM
Wow, the symptoms do sound very similar. I looked at some of the videos and I'm not sure it's that, though. My dogs are terriers but not border terriers -- the older one is a Staffordshire and the younger one (Pinkie, who first showed symptoms) is a mix of Staffy, Doberman, and Rottweiler.

Thanks for the idea; I'm going to mention it to the vet to see if he thinks there's any possibility this might be what's going on.

05-11-2008, 01:20 PM
I know from watching animal shows on tv that in Australia there is a type of tick that causes paralysis, don't know if you have ticks in the US. Ours aren't the paralysis kind here.

05-11-2008, 01:23 PM
I'm leaning toward a plant, too, or maybe a chemical around that they coud get into. The vet should maybe do some bloodwork.
I think I'm going to have to learn something about the weeds in our yard; both dogs like to graze, and they've been doing it on a regular basis all their lives. I saw on one web site that wild oats are poisonous to dogs and might cause similar symptoms, and I think we may have some of those weeds (we've given up on having a "perfect" lawn, with three dogs that's a losing battle).

I wasn't looking forward to spending Mother's Day at the vet, but getting blood work is probably a good idea.

05-11-2008, 01:25 PM
I know from watching animal shows on tv that in Australia there is a type of tick that causes paralysis, don't know if you have ticks in the US. Ours aren't the paralysis kind here.
Yes, we definitely have ticks and spring is the bad season for them. Not sure if they cause paralysis. I'll check into that, too. Thank you!

05-11-2008, 05:12 PM
Any close (within a couple hundred yards) neighbors upwind? See if they've been spraying any insecticides or pesticides or leaving any rat- or mousebait out.

I nearly lost a cat to eating a poisoned mouse, and did lose a pet tarantula (seriously!) when I got fresh dirt out of the back yard for her terrarium---not knowing that the neighbors had sprayed tick poison all over the adjoining yard the day before.

I hope you find the cause, and therefore the cure, soon.

05-11-2008, 06:39 PM
I'm not sure if this will help at all, but the same thing has happened to my dog and my vet thought it could be a seizure due to a collapsed trachea. When it happens his body squishes up, his head leans to one side and it's as if his left side is paralyzed. It takes a little while to get over, but he does. Possibly your dogs could be having seizures?

05-11-2008, 08:25 PM
Years ago I had a mixed breed dog who all of a sudden started staggering and sometime couldn't stand. It was a tick in her ear. She was given medicine and I made sure to get the tick out and she did get better for a little while but the damage was done and she finally did die a few weeks later. But the staggering did not stop and then start again. So it may not be ticks. Sounds more like something they are eating. I hope your doggies get well and live a long life.

05-11-2008, 08:32 PM
Thank you for all your suggestions, I truly appreciate it.

Country Kitty, I'm so sorry about your pet tarantula. I've never had spiders for pets but I'm sure it hurt to lose her that way.

Staceyk9, that does sound sort of like what my dogs experienced.

They both went to the vet this afternoon and had blood tests done, so hopefully by tomorrow I'll know more. In the meantime, both are apparently back to their normal selves. The vet did suggest that I videotape them the next time this happens -- if it does -- which is a great idea. I'm sort of kicking myself for not thinking of it myself!

Thanks again to everyone who posted with suggestions. It's great to know you guys are here for things like this! :muah:

I'll post an update when I find out more information.

05-11-2008, 11:06 PM
Wow - hope your vet figures something out !! This most likely won't help - other than to say I understand your worry .... My old shepard/dobbie mix had a similar issue after his battle with rocky mountain spotted fever, but they think his is due to a herniated disk in his neck. His does not spontaneously recover either - he goes on prednisone and duramaxx.

05-12-2008, 05:58 AM
Do they wear flea collars? I had a cat once... that did that very thing.. leaned to one side/etc.. realized that she was allergic to the collar. She almost died and really wasn't quite the same... I think she got a little 'addled' by the chemicals and wasn't her mental sharp self afterwards.

Poor thing.

05-12-2008, 11:02 AM
Actually - that's a great point about flea collars...Our doggie school trainer told us the other night there is a new flea/tick medicine that is causing dogs to have bizarre attacks and a couple have died. We use Frontline which is okay - it is something else, my impression from them was it just came on the market....

Debra Michelle
05-12-2008, 12:23 PM
Also along the flea collar line...my dog had two seizures before we finally figured out that it was the Zodiac Flea and tick shampoo that we were using. There is an ingredient in it that causes seizures. I now only use Frontline and the Lyme disease shot that my vet gives her. I will never use pet store flea and tick medication again. You may want to keep track of what the dogs have done up to the attacks, that is how we were able to figure out that it was the shampoo. She only had the seizures after baths.

05-12-2008, 01:48 PM
I used to only use Frontline but have changed vets and they are giving her something else whose name I can't think of but that is very similar. It's a holistic vet so maybe their preferences are just different. I have used flea shampoo but you guys have me wanting to throw it away. Never used flea collars.

05-15-2008, 11:53 AM
Do they wear flea collars? I had a cat once... that did that very thing.. leaned to one side/etc.. realized that she was allergic to the collar. She almost died and really wasn't quite the same... I think she got a little 'addled' by the chemicals and wasn't her mental sharp self afterwards.

Poor thing.

We had a poodle that had problems with flea collars too.

It's been forever ago but I'm pretty sure his problem was a paralysis type thing.

05-16-2008, 06:26 AM
When this happened to my cat--- and it was about 20 years ago? (the Front Line hadn't been invented yet... nor the stuff to put on the back of their necks.. which is great-- they can't lick it) Maybe the stuff on the back of the neck application is: FRONTLINE?? I don't know-- sorry, If I have forgotten-- but, I haven't had a pet in years.. other than the sweet very much OUTSIDE cat... that came w/ the house that I rented in Italy.

He was my Villa cat. I did buy the flea meds that go on the neck for him... and I would have adopted him when I moved- but, I think a really wild tom cat, that lived on the mountain, killed him?? :*<

Anyway, we'd used flea collars on all of our other pets, when I was growing up and before I moved overseas to work-- since, we lived in the country and the animals went in and out of the house and it was a way to keep the fleas at bay...

But, after that happened (and I felt so bad- because I had bought the collar for the kitty and put it on her myself) I won't use them ever again-- whenever, I finally move back to the states and get a pet again.

05-16-2008, 08:13 AM
Well, you mentioned that they like to graze, and the symptoms do sound a lot like poisoning, especially since it wears off after a while. There are a good number of plants that are toxic to dogs. I would be checking out the plants growing in your yard as well as any house plants you may have.

05-16-2008, 01:47 PM
I keep thinking plants and chemicals. DO any neighbors treat their lawns?

05-20-2008, 01:01 AM
Sorry it's taken me so long to post again; it's been a crazy week. But the good news is that my dogs are doing great, no more symptoms since Mother's Day.

The not-so-good news is that their blood work didn't show anything that would give us a hint what caused the symptoms. I'm seriously looking at what plants they may have grazed on. But it's just weird because they've been grazing in the same yard for more than 10 years and this never happened before.

Someone asked about neighbors spraying chemicals. I'm pretty sure the neighbors to either side of us don't, but not so sure about the people behind us (we live in an older tract neighborhood with relatively small yards). We very often see the guy mowing and trimming -- seems like he does it every couple of days! -- so it's possible he's using chemicals. It's a scary thought, and I'm going to keep a careful eye out for this now.

I do have to take the youngest of my dogs back to the vet for further testing. I'm not sure this is related to her staggering symptoms, but her blood work showed evidence of liver disease and she has several swollen lymph glands. She's acting perfectly healthy, so I'm hoping it's nothing too serious.

Of course, when you have three dogs that are 14, 13, and 12 you have to expect that bad things are going to start happening eventually. It's just amazing to us how much energy and enthusiasm all three still have. Since we don't have children, our dogs have become our family, and our best friends as well. And since the three of them are a family (father, mother, and puppy) there's a really strong bond between them, and being together helps keep them all healthy and happy.

Anyway, thanks to everyone who shared ideas and offered encouragement. If you're curious to see what my two girls look like, you can check out my blog: http://cristina61.livejournal.com/3199.html

05-20-2008, 08:23 AM
Thanks for the update! Glad to hear that they are doing better. I do hope your little one is ok, and that you are able to get to the bottom of all of this.

If your neighbor is using chemicals that are bad for your dogs, they can't possibly be good for his family or yours! Maybe he would be willing to check out http://www.gardensalive.com (http://www.gardensalive.com/) or other similar sites for products that are effective and safe.