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  #1  
Old 02-16-2008, 09:53 PM
C3 C3 is offline
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Can dogs get migraines? or What's wrong with my dog? (very long)

My dog, Charlie, is having some really weird symptoms and the vet is, at this point, stumped. A couple months ago, we took her in with what we thought was a back that was out or some other mechanical injury. X-rays were done, the vet tested ranges of motion and, although nothing was found, she seemed to be injured somehow. We were sent home with some anti-inflammatories and pain meds. She took her medicine and was completely back to normal by the next day. Well, ever since then, about every ten days, she has one of these spells. They consist of her just not moving. She just lies on the floor, won't lift her head, only responds to us with her eyes (doesn't move her ears, wag her tail). There doesn't seem to be any other symptom. Bodily functions are normal. No weight loss. The incidents last for about 24 hours and then she acts completely normal.

Yesterday, at about 10 am, she froze in mid-stride, sort of put her head down and started licking her lips. I moved her to her bed and laid her down. I called the vet and made an appointment for today. She lied on her bed all day and all night without moving. We brought her water bowl to her and she drank while sort of lying down. We carried her outside to go to the bathroom, which she did (all normal). She didn't seem to be in any pain. My husband is a physical therapist and he did his PT thing - manipulated her joints, checked her spine, etc., and she didn't have any problem with him doing that or any protectiveness. By the time her vet appointment rolled around, she was completely back to normal...bouncing around, doing tricks for a treat, playing with her toys.

The vet has no idea. She thinks it may be something neurological...tumor? Premature senility? Epilepsy? She's asked us to bring her in mid-spell next time and they're going to get vitals and draw blood while she's in the midst of it. The vet said they could check her eye dilation and a couple other things and they then might refer us to a dog neurologist (who knew?), if we wanted to take it that far.

So, the whole thing is very mysterious. Anyone have a dog experience this sort of thing? Can dogs get migraines? My husband and I were just sort of brainstorming and we were wondering about that. Any other ideas we could ask the vet about?

Our dog, by the way, is eight, has always been in perfect health (vets always comment on her outstanding muscle tone and general well-being), and is a Border Collie/Lab mix. She's fixed, fully vaccinated, and on regular heartworm medicine.

Last edited by C3; 02-16-2008 at 09:54 PM..
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  #2  
Old 02-17-2008, 01:00 AM
Sailboat Sailboat is online now
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Oh, the poor thing. I don't have much to suggest except to advise you to check the environment for things that happen consistently when she's having these attacks. Like is there a noise in the neighborhood, air-raid siren, a visitor, special food cooking, anything that seems to correlate?

Also, what's her exercise status? I had a beagle once who laid down and was unable to rise during a weekend in the country; vet eventually diagnosed exhaustion and dehydration from running like a lunatic for several hours.

Best of luck to your baby!

Sailboat

Last edited by Sailboat; 02-17-2008 at 01:01 AM.. Reason: dog gender issue
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  #3  
Old 02-17-2008, 01:30 AM
Pullet Pullet is offline
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When you say that she acts like she is injured somehow, can you describe it? What does she do exactly?

Talking with the vets around me, there are a lot of options.

Infectious option: Dog has some sort of low-grade infection that overwhelms here periodically and makes her feel like crap until her body gets it tacked down again, only to pop up again later. If the infection was in her spine, it would explain the neurologic like symptoms of her last attack.

Neurologic option: dog has a tumor or other problem that is causing epilepsy in the form of small seizures.

Blood problem option: dog has a small gastric bleed (tumor origin or otherwise) that lets her bleed into her abdomen slightly, makes her feel like crap until it clots up again during the course of the day. Dog is ok until the bleed breaks again. Or dog has a cyclical deficiency in white blood cells that is causing a normally controllable infection to break out as described above (the difference here being that the primary problem is with the body's ability to fight infection instead of the infection per se.)

Toxin option: this would include the dog getting exposed to something cyclically, and the dog's body being, for some reason, unable to deal with normal metabolism cyclically (this last idea is a long shot).

Did your local vet do any other diagnostics besides xrays, like bloodwork? If not, I'd suggest trying that ASAP, even if the dog is acting normal. At best, it will provide clues. At worst, it will give you a baseline to compare to when the dog is acting strange again.

And yeah, going to see a veterinary neurologist would be reasonable at this point.

Last edited by Pullet; 02-17-2008 at 01:34 AM..
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  #4  
Old 02-17-2008, 08:40 AM
C3 C3 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pullet
When you say that she acts like she is injured somehow, can you describe it? What does she do exactly?
The first time this happened, it looked like she was limping slightly when she walked. It was very slight, though, and we (the vet, the vet tech and I) were having trouble determining which side it was favoring. When the vet felt her legs and moved them around, Charlie had normal range of motion and didn't act like it hurt. The whole thing, though, seemed to come on her so suddenly that we thought maybe she had tweaked something jumping off the couch or running around.

Thank you for your suggestions. I'm going to bring those up to the vet and at least it might be something to check. Her last bloodcheck was actually just a couple weeks before the first incident, at her normal annual checkup. It was pretty comprehensive, because they consider a senior and do a more thorough workup because of that. I admit, though, that I don't know what they check for exactly. Our vet wants her next bloodwork done in the midst of what's going on, so we're just watching and waiting right now.

Sailboat
, thanks for your suggestions and concern. We're not in a place where Charlie's getting a ton of outside romping. We're in an apartment right now, so she gets several good walks a day, but she's pretty far from exhausted . In fact, my husband (facetiously) was wondering if she was having attacks of ennui. We've always had a fenced backyard for her, but we moved internationally a little over a year ago and we haven't bought a house yet (still looking). Here's a picture of Charlie doing her favorite activity (with my littlest).
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  #5  
Old 02-17-2008, 11:52 AM
Acid Lamp Acid Lamp is offline
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The lip licking would suggest something neurological, or poison to me. If at all possible, next time she has an episode, catch it on your cell phone camera to show to the vet. Behaviour can be a help in diagnosing mysterious illness. Keep careful track of the spells too. See if they occur within a timely regularity. Keep a journal of what you feed her and when. It may not give you any answers, but you never know. I hate to suggest this, but is she an outside dog? Occasionally horrible people like to poison dogs. There might be a chance of her getting into some baits as well. FTR this sounds EXACTLY like the symptoms my mother's puppy had when she got into one of those toilet scent stick-ems in the bathroom. Temporary bouts of "paralysis" that cleared up mysteriously.
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  #6  
Old 02-17-2008, 01:23 PM
C3 C3 is offline
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Acid Lamp, we did consider that maybe she'd eaten something she shouldn't have. She's an indoor dog and is only outside on a leash, so she's always supervised. Neither my husband nor I could remember a time that she'd eaten something while taking a walk, but that was actually one of the first things we considered when this last incident happened. I can't imagine that she's gotten anything in our house. We have two small children and I'm pretty obsessive about toxic stuff inside. I don't even use toxic cleaning agents (baking soda and vinegar is my standard). There is nothing below shoulder height except Tupperware and books and we're fairly well child-proofed (bathroom, laundry, pantry and refrigerator are all inaccessible).

I'll take your suggestion of keeping a journal...I think that may offer us more clues.

Last edited by C3; 02-17-2008 at 01:23 PM..
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  #7  
Old 02-17-2008, 02:33 PM
valleyofthedolls valleyofthedolls is offline
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Have you checked her for ticks?

Tick-borne diseases can cause some very odd symptoms including paralysis though I have no idea whether they can cause the kind intermittent paralysis you're describing.
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  #8  
Old 02-17-2008, 03:10 PM
Sailboat Sailboat is online now
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Another thought toxin-wise: any houseplants at all within reach? Any above reach that might drop a leaf?

Sailboat
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  #9  
Old 02-17-2008, 03:23 PM
C3 C3 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sailboat
Another thought toxin-wise: any houseplants at all within reach? Any above reach that might drop a leaf?

Sailboat
The extent of my green thumb is one small cactus that my son begged me for. We've managed to keep it alive for about 6 months now...pretty good for us! It's out of reach (up on top of the microwave).
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  #10  
Old 02-17-2008, 05:14 PM
j666 j666 is offline
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Did anyone else suggest a stroke? (I only scanned the replies.)

That sounds like a human stroke. Do dogs have strokes?
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  #11  
Old 02-18-2008, 07:08 PM
hotcoldhot hotcoldhot is offline
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A stroke is what I thought to. I had a neighbor and they said she was having "mini-strokes" and fortunately her doctor recognized her and they treated her and she's fine now. But she had very similar symptoms. She's be fine and then she'd stop, stare, say her head felt odd, but didn't hurt, then in less than 10 minutes she'd be fine.
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  #12  
Old 02-19-2008, 07:11 AM
C3 C3 is offline
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Huh, stroke wasn't brought up at all. I'll put that on my list of things to ask about next time this happens.
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  #13  
Old 02-19-2008, 06:36 PM
Pullet Pullet is offline
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My admittedly limited understanding is that animals don't get strokes the way people do. Different physiology and life spans.

However, it is possible that your dog has some sort of clotting disorder or infection that is causing neurologic signs.

It would work like this: the clot or infection is in a large blood vessel, say the aortic valve, which is the last valve of the heart that the oxygenated blood goes through before going out to the body. Every now and then, a little bit of the Evil Wad breaks off and goes floating along in the blood stream until it gets caught in a small vessel. It then cuts off blood supply to the section of tissue supplied by that vessel.

Something like this could cause the shifting leg lameness you saw before and the neurologic like signs. It could also cause abdominal pain. It all depends on which vessel gets blocked today.

However, any of the other things I listed before could also cause your dog's signs.

Any luck with more diagnostics?
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  #14  
Old 02-19-2008, 09:10 PM
MLS MLS is offline
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I was told by a vet that cats don't get strokes, and was under the impression that it was a rare to never event for dogs also.
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  #15  
Old 02-20-2008, 11:56 AM
C3 C3 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pullet
Any luck with more diagnostics?
No, we're just waiting for it to happen again. So far, so good. She started licking her lips again last night, which freaked us out, but then she just got up and got a drink of water and all was good. We're a little on edge.
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  #16  
Old 02-20-2008, 12:32 PM
Pullet Pullet is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by C3
No, we're just waiting for it to happen again. So far, so good. She started licking her lips again last night, which freaked us out, but then she just got up and got a drink of water and all was good. We're a little on edge.
Fun stuff
Good luck! And report back!
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  #17  
Old 02-22-2008, 10:18 AM
C3 C3 is offline
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She's having another episode today and things are looking pretty grim. Some additional clues have been a high heart rate, low temperature, and very pale gums. They've run a full blood panel and have done chest and abdominal xrays. They just called to get permission to do a 3D abdominal because they think they're seeing a mass near her spleen & liver. Even before they did the xrays, the vet was starting to lean toward a tumor on the spleen causing internal bleeding. So, we're going to get as complete a diagnosis as possible, but if it's a tumor on the spleen we probably won't have surgery done. Our vet said that although some dogs do really well with that, there's a very good chance that it would only give her a little extra time (a few months).

So, not good. Thank you all for your help.
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  #18  
Old 02-22-2008, 10:20 AM
Omega Glory Omega Glory is offline
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Sorry to hear that, C3.
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  #19  
Old 02-22-2008, 11:46 AM
Pullet Pullet is offline
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{{{C3's dog}}}
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  #20  
Old 03-03-2008, 12:29 PM
C3 C3 is offline
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I thought you all might be interested in the update on this. Charlie never got 100% back to normal after the episode I described in Post #17, but she was up and about in a couple days and doing stuff like greeting us at the door, barking at things outside, and going for small walks. This past Friday (so, exactly a week after the last episode), she went into her "catatonic" state again. After consulting with the vet every day through this last week, we decided it was time to have her euthanized and I took her to the vet on Friday night to have that done.

Because the vets at the clinic were truly stumped as to exactly what was going on, they performed an autopsy (with my permission). It turns out that I'm glad we decided to have her put to sleep. She had tumors in every major internal organ, including a bleeding tumor on her spleen. There was fluid around her heart and that, plus all the tumors, had caused her heart to be smushed up into a very small area. The vets were surprised that she presented as well as she had, considering the extent of the disease.

So, we're all very sad, but a bit comforted knowing there was nothing we could have done to fix this. I stayed with her while they put her to sleep, and I'm glad about that, too.

Thank you guys for all your help and kind words.
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  #21  
Old 03-03-2008, 03:37 PM
Gulo gulo Gulo gulo is offline
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Well, dang. I'm very sorry for your loss.
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Old 03-03-2008, 06:35 PM
j666 j666 is offline
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I went through this last winter. My condolences.
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  #23  
Old 03-03-2008, 08:10 PM
Raspberry, NOT Rhubarb Raspberry, NOT Rhubarb is offline
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C3, so sorry to hear of your loss, but I know that getting a positive diagnosis that she was incurable made you realise that the decision you made was hard, but the right thing to do.
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  #24  
Old 03-04-2008, 10:51 AM
JohnT JohnT is offline
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I'm so sorry, C3.
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