Archive for Sunday, June 30, 2002

Signs of stroke can be deceptive

June 30, 2002


My 13-year-old German shepherd mix had an episode of canine peripheral vestibular syndrome.

Without warning, she began falling down, arching her body to one side, and her eyes darted rapidly back and forth. Within hours, she became unable to stand or walk and barely seemed to recognize her surroundings. I initially thought my aging pet was experiencing a stroke, which this terrifying condition strongly mimics.

Luckily, my veterinarian had a 12-year-old Labrador that also experienced this problem.

Please explain this condition so that others may recognize it and understand if it happens to their pet.

It's been exactly a week, and my dog is nearly recovered. She still leans her head to one side, is a little wobbly and seems to have somewhat lessened hearing and comprehension. My vet said the dog should recover completely during the coming weeks.

I'm glad to hear your dog is doing well. The condition you describe is very common in older dogs (and sometimes in cats and rabbits).

The term idiopathic is used when we don't know the cause (which is usually the case).

Sometimes ear disease and thyroid disease can cause similar signs, so pets should be checked for these as well.

In my practice, I use nutritional supplements to support the peripheral nervous system as the pet heals.

Within a few weeks, most pets have recovered from the disorder.

Since true strokes rarely occur in pets, it is important not to misdiagnose this problem.

Shawn P. Messonnier, author of the "Natural Health Bible for Dogs & Cats" (Prima, $24.95), is a veterinarian and pet care advocate.

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