6 Symptoms of Neurological Disorders in Dogs You Need to Know

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Neurological Disorders in DogsNeurological disorders in dogs may be difficult for you to recognize unless you know the warning signs to watch for that give you clues your dog may have damage to his fragile nervous system because your dog can’t tell you he’s in pain or if he’s suffering from a concussion, so it’s critical for you to know when to bring your dog to your vet before you’ve discovered you waited too long and your dog has a stroke or he dies because of traumas to his brain or permanent damage to his nervous system.

This news bulletin gives you the most common symptoms your dog may exhibit when he has done damage to his neurological system, so you can watch out for the neurological red flags and bring your dog to your vet immediately which could save your dog’s life.  Note that all dogs at any age can be affected by problems with their nervous system.

6 Symptoms of Neurological Disorders in Dogs

1. Head Pressing – Your dog may compulsively press his head against the wall or a hard surface without any obvious reason.

2. Pacing and Circling – Your dog may compulsively pace back and forth or walk in circles repeatedly which can also lead to sores on your dog’s feet.

3. Changes in Behavior – Your dog may suddenly stop responding to simple commands like “sit” or “heel” while he’s out with you on his leash for a walk or in your yard.

4. Seizures – Your dog may have uncontrollable shaking.

5. Eye and Vision Problems – Your dog may start to bump into walls or objects and may also start to rub his eyes continually which can result in lesions, cuts or injuries.

6. Reflex Problems – Your dog may have trouble catching a ball or going up and down stairs.

8 Causes of Neurological Disorders in Dogs

1. Prosencephalon Disease – your dog may have damage to his forebrain and thalamus parts of his brain.

2. Toxic Poisoning – your dog may have ingested toxic materials in his food, ingested toxic products like sugar free gum in your home or in the street.

3. Metabolic Disorder – your dog may have an imbalance of sodium in his blood such as hyper or hyponatremia.

4. Tumors – your dog might have a tumor in his brain or anywhere in his body that’s affecting his nervous system.

5. Rabies – your dog may have an infection of his nervous system or a fungal infection.

6. Car Accident  – your dog may have been struck by a car. 

7. Head Injury – your dog may have crashed into a hard surface like a wall, glass door or cement floor.

8. Lead Poisoning – your dog may have eaten paint that contains toxic ingredients like lead.

5 Diagnoses for Neurological Disorders in Dogs

1. Eye Examination – Your dog’s eyes can be dilated which allows an examination of your dog’s retina and structures in the back of his eyes that may indicate an infection or inflammatory disease or brain irregularities.

2. Blood Pressure – Your dog’s blood pressure can be tested to see if he has high or low blood pressure that may indicate trouble with his nervous system or circulation.

3. MRI – Your dog can have an MRI which will scan his brain.

4. Urine Analysis – You can ask your vet to do a urine analysis to check for metabolic imbalances.

5. Blood Tests – You can ask your vet to do blood tests which can indicate blood lead counts or toxins.

Treatment for Neurological Disorders in Dogs

Care for your dog with neurological disorders can vary from hospitalization, drugs, treatments and therapy.  If your dog is diagnosed with a neurological disorder you should be prepared for repeat visits to your vet and you will need to monitor your dog’s progress and follow-up care.

One financial strategy you may want to consider that will help with unplanned dog health care like neurological disorders is dog health insurance.

Use this news brief as a guide whenever you think your dog’s behavior has changed or if you have questions for your vet about the causes, diagnoses and treatment for neurological disorders in your dog so you can be proactive about keeping your dog healthy.

Share this news brief with your friends and family so they will also have the information they need in case their dog begins to show signs of symptoms of neurological disorders.  You can always depend on the best dog health strategies from Dog Health News.

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Comments

  1. MY 10 YEAR OLD JAPANESE CHIN UNDER WENT SURGERY FOR BLOCKAGE IN HIS STOMACH WHEN OUT OF SURGERY HE DEVELOPED NEUROLOGICAL DISORDER, URINATION CEASED, STARING INTO SPACE LEGS COLLAPSED UNDER ADVISE FROM VET WE PUT HIM TO SLEEP WAS THIS THE RITE DECISION I FEEL WITH DRUGS HE COULD HAVE BEEN REVERSED PLEASE SEND ME AN ANSWER THANK YOU

    • Hello Elizabeth,
      First of all… thank you so much for sharing your story with Dog Health News and for asking this question. Although drugs may have helped to keep your Japanese Chin alive for a short time, often there are side effects that are uncomfortable for your dog to handle when he gets older. I’m hoping that your vet gave you the best advice due to the age of your dog and the situation around his his health condition. It sounds like you and your dog were very close and you had 10 good years together. Wishing you well and perhaps your comments will help others too. Roberta.

  2. My 5 year old maltese went in for a dental and came out with neurological problem to the brain.it affected the right side of his body and caused it to be slower to response and lack of balance (you’d think he was drunk) and he is currently on steroids, a strict routine and vet vists every 10 days. the vets continually give me advice and help me and my dog especially when he has his bad days . My question is that im more frustrated knowing that these things can happen and could it of been prevented and what is going to happen next, will he get worse? Will he ever get better and back to his old self? And why did a dog who was so healthy never had any issues other than a quick dental clean that he had before, who did agility, who use to jog and play with other dogs and love to do tricks?

    • Thank you for sharing your story about your 5 year old maltese that had dental work that seems to have resulted in neurological problems for your dog. It’s a good warning to dog owners because of the anesthesia required for dental work as well as the risk of damage to nerve endings in your dog’s mouth. Some suggestions are aquatherapy, massage, chiropractic treatment and other alternative health strategies. Good luck!! Please let us know how things are going with your dog. Roberta

    • Did your maltese ever get back to his old self? My dog had an emergency last week and the vets are telling me she could have neurological issues now. She is different acting

  3. The same has happened to my chihuahua, had his teeth done, two weeks later took a fall and now has the same on steroids.

    • Hello Allison,
      Thank you for taking time to read and comment on this blog post. I hope your chihuahua is doing better now. Look forward to more comments from you any time. Take care, Roberta

  4. JoAnn Oram says:

    My four and a half. Year old five pound chi has been behaving in ways that are concerning. She has episodes of extreme shaking (unlike short chi nervous bouts in the past). She often hides in strange place. Also when episodes happen she seems me out and almost climbs as high up as possible.Have taken her to the vet twice. Urine fecal blood tests and xray. They found a little higher white cell count “nothing to be concerned about” ,also she has a disc issue which they diagnosed over a yr ago.
    All of this started after a three day getaway. I am at a loss and think maybe a new vet is needed.
    They recommended anti anxiety meds and maybe antacid.

    • Hi JoAnn,
      Thank you for reading this post and writing to Dog Health News. I would absolutely get a second opinion about the health of your dog before you start giving your dog anti-anxiety meds that may have other side effects and consider looking for a dog behavior specialist after you verify your dog’s health condition. Let us know if we can help further with ideas if you have questions and keep us posted on your dog’s health. Good luck!! Roberta

      • JoAnn Oram says:

        Thank you for getting back to me so quickly.
        we are planning to get all her test results, follow up with a second opinion and rather than any “medice/OTC .
        We are using some natural suplements until we know more.

  5. Dog Health News just received this message and wanted to see if anyone has some incite as to what this dog owner should do. Please respond to info@doghealthnews.com if you have any ideas. Thank you!!

    We have a 4 yr old very active Rottweiler dog, he has had knee surgery on both back legs 2yrs ago. Last week he seemed to be having problems like he walks stiff legged and when he is on our tile floor he actually falls, his back legs go out from under him. Its like his back legs kind of fling out to the side when he walks.

    Our local vet has done x-rays on his back,hips and the knees that has surgery but, did not find anything wrong. He thinks it possibly is a Neurological problem, if so what can we do ? Is there medication or what. We use to walk 2 miles a day but, have stopped afraid it will make it worse.

    Thank you for listening

    • I am going through the same thing with my 4 years old female that has had both rear knees done. I would love to compare notes with you.
      Roberta can you please help me connect with this person?

      • JoAnn… I’m going to publish your comment and see if anyone responds. If not, I’ll try and connect you personally. Let’s stay in touch and see what we can do for your dog. What breed is your dog? Thank you.

  6. My 6 month old lebra male dog is not able to balance his backside legs he usually falls while walking and he is not able to walk only using his legs what to do… doctor said he has difficulty in nervous system he is nt able to coordinate …. pls tell me the tratment… plss I want my sheero to run n play as he was plss help me…. do the needfull as early as possible

    • Reena, I suggest you ask your vet for a reference to a specialist who can prescribe treatment for your dog’s problems. You may need to have tests done on your dog to be able to figure out what’s wrong before you use any medications. That’s the best advice we can give from Dog Health News. As a matter of fact, I’d get 2 more opinions. Good luck and let us know how things go with your dog.

  7. Taunya Williams says:

    I have a 7 year old Shih tzu that has neurological disorder. I’m very concern for him and that we have taking him to the Vet and we first thought it was a inter ear infection and the vet gave us antibiotics and ear drops that didn’t work and now she has him on Steroids. He continues to go in circles he doesn’t go up or down steps and when you come close to him he lays down and piss and I mean he really let’s it go. Another thing is he has a blank face he really doesn’t show any emotion. Now one thing I can say is when get final gets to his bowl he eats all his food. He hasn’t lost his appetite at all and he still likes to be under me. I want to make sure this disease is not curable and is it better fro us to just put him to sleep.

    I need help

    • Hello Taunya….
      This is a really tough situation to deal with for you and your Shih tzu, so thank you for reaching out to get help. One idea is to get another opinion from an expert in your area that deals with neurological issues. Your vet may be able to give you some information unless you’ve already taken this step. The best you can do is to keep your dog safe and comfortable through this health challenge and make sure his quality of life is better than any other option. I hope this helps in some way. Keep me posted and feel free to ask more questions. Good luck…. Roberta

    • please contact me about what you found out I am encountering problem like you ecribe here

    • My dog started going in circles. Diagnosed w/brain scan & spinal tap
      GME Neuro disorder. Rare but common in small white dogs-Maltese, shirty, etc. was given 6mos to live. Began Cytisar injec & has made it 2yrs since diagnosed.
      Good luck!

      • Sarah…. thank you very much for sharing your story and I hope your dog continues to live a long life even though your dog has health issues. Keep us posted and thanks again. Roberta

    • That sounds like it might be undiagnosed GME. That’s how it all began with Cricket

      • Hi Margaret…. I agree. These symptoms are a true indication of all the signs you had with your Cricket. Even people who have had many dogs in their lives don’t recognize subtle changes in their dog’s behavior, so it’s critical to spread awareness. Thank you for your comment and all you are doing. Stay connected. Always good to hear from you. Roberta

  8. I have a 11year old corgi about 4 months ago she started to have problems with her back legs We took her to the vet she said she probley had displeasia she wanted to take xrays but we did not have the money she gave us medicine for her which did not work we put her on glucosamine & chondroitin & omega 3 nothing has worked she drags herself around we also tried a harness to support her legs did not work. what should we do. thank you

    • Hello Colette,
      Thank you for writing about your 11 year old corgi. Back leg problems are common for the Corgi breed and your dog may have Degenerative Myelopathy which is a nerve related illness. The good news is that your Corgi is probably not experiencing pain even though she has mobility issues. One thing you want to avoid is lifting your dog by her tail because you can seriously harm your dog or break her tail. The wheel harness would be the best option to give your dog the best quality of life… and a lot of love and attention. I hope this helps in some way. Keep me posted any time…. all the best, Roberta

  9. My 12 year old Pap/Cav. Mix suddenly started trying to eat everything in the street — leaves, plants, cigarette butts, etc. she then spits them out and then goes after something else. This is not the typical city dog thing where they go after food. She literally lunges after everything that is on the ground, even just black spots. She was pulling me all over to grasp at everything. Her sight is fine. She had a full blood work up a month ago. It included metabolic and chemistry panes as well as thyroid, cortisol, etc. everything came out fine.

    Any ideas would be helpful. Thank you!

    • Hello MaryAnne…. Thank you for reaching out with this dilemma about your 12 year old dog. Since all the tests are fine, it may be an issue related to obsessive behavior. One idea is to check with your vet and see if you can make an appointment with an animal behaviorist expert and see if your dog can be helped. If you like, I’ll be happy to post your question on my Facebook page as well. Keep me posted on your dog’s progress and hopefully this is a temporary problem. All the best, Roberta

  10. Hello – My (almost) 13 year old Lab mix can’t walk by herself anymore. We had some x-rays and 2 exams. Her spine is fine, nothing broken or sprained. Her vet thinks that she might have a neurological disorder so we are going to specialist tomorrow. She’s 70lbs and very old. We are committed to taking care of her for as long as she needs us to, however we don’t want her to hurt herself or be in any pain. She will stand up and fall over almost immediately. When do we consider euthanization?

    • Dear LeAnn,
      What a delicate situation you are in… my heart goes out to your dog and to you and your family. I do hope that your specialist will have words of advice as to how to maintain the quality of your dog’s life and whether she’s in pain. Ending your dog’s life is a decision that’s based on caring at the ultimate level, so the best thing to do is spend time with your dog and you will somehow know what to do so she doesn’t have to suffer. I wish you the very best and please stay in touch. Thank you for reaching out. My best, Roberta

  11. I just adopted a mixed Shih Tzu from a shelter age 11? She was found on the streets. She has one eye missing and the other is cloudy. She is fine if she is busy, but when she goes to rest her head goes back and forth and she has excessive licking of her nose. When she is busy running, eatting, playing, etc. she is fine, shows no symptoms at all. Do you have any ideas?
    Thank you!

    • Hello Laura…
      Thank you for writing about your dog’s problem which is a difficult one to solve. I’d like to suggest that you see if your vet can recommend an animal behaviorist to see if they can help you. Another idea is to find some toys that will keep your dog more occupied when she’s not running around. Something like a kong toy stuffed with a little peanut butter could keep her busy. Hope this helps in some way. Keep me posted. All the best, Roberta

  12. Beverly juan says:

    I have 2 dogs. They were fathered by the mothers father hence they are the son and grandson of the male sole. The eldest exhibited the lesion early. He would walk around in circles and do tumbling even if he doesnt want to. He cant helpf himself. He seems to be awake most of the time
    The other dog was normal at first but after 1 month he started exhibiting the same symptoms. Can you tell me what illness this is?

    • Hi Beverly,
      By the sound of your dog’s symptoms, I think you need a professional opinion on what’s going on. It would help to know the breed of your dog, but these behavior issues need expert help. Let me know how it goes and feel free to ask more questions any time. All the best, Roberta

  13. Yorkie lover says:

    After being away for 3 days we came home to our 13 year old yorkie looking like he may have gone blind. After watching him we noticed he was leaning to the left and walking into walls and unable to make it up stairs we started thinking maybe it was stoke or something like that- after thinking further we realized recently he had missed the curb several times on a walk but we didn’t really think too much about it. Today we went to the vet had blood and urine test done just waiting for the results. Vet is thinking maybe cushions disease or worst case brain tumor – we want our pet to have a good quality of life but how safe is general anesthesia for a possible MRI for diagnosis we feel so bad for him

    • Hello Yorkie Lover,
      After reading your comment I’m sure that others will benefit from your observations. With a senior dog of 13 years, you may want to ask your vet about ” idiopathic vestibular disease “… some of the symptoms you mentioned could be temporary due to aging. The best strategy is to spend as much time with your Yorkie as you can and to make sure he gets as much love and attention as possible. Keep us posted and take care.

  14. I have a 2 year old Boston who started barking uncontrollably and spinning vigourously.,we did a test to see if it he was poisoned, but no signs led to that. We think he has an neurologically problem because he was an inbred. Could that be possible because of right now his quality of life is extremely concerning.

  15. My 9 year old Golden Retriever started slowing down. He struggles to get up and down. Paces and stares into the wall. He doesn’t play anymore or want to go for walks. All his tests were good. Was diagnosed with Horner’s Syndrome and assumption that the rest is also neurological. I am currently giving him Glucosamine, turmeric golden paste and taking him to acupuncture. Seems to help a little so far. He has been to 5 treatments. He used to be on steroids for allergies but he was weaned off because he was still itching his ears. (no infected ears). I read some articles that steroids help. Do steroids help with neurological disorders? Should I put him back on them? Is there anything else we can do to help him? There are no vets in my area that specialize in neurological disorders. What do I do?

    • Debbie, If your Golden Retriever is suffering from all these symptoms, it’s hard for me to recommend anything. You really need to talk with your vet and see what the best strategy is to limit your dog’s pain and increase his quality of life. Keep posted to Dog Health News for more information being published soon that may help. Good luck and sometimes the best treatment is love.

  16. This is really interesting. It’s important to keep an eye out for any changes like this in your dog’s behavior so that you can get the help you need. Nicely said. Thanks so much for the info!

  17. My 6 month old female Labrador was unable to walk and was bed ridden for the past 4 days. Last week we injected the vaccination named nobivac lepto and nobivac dhppi. After two days of vaccination the back legs function gets reduced which slowly affected the front legs and neck and throat. The sound of barking gets reduced. But the legs are shaking if we call the dog by name. We consulted many vet but they don’t know the proper diagnose for this. We are very much worried concerning the health of the dog. Please suggest any treatment. There is no neuro veterinary doctor in my areas. Please help us.

    • Thank you for sending your question about your Labrador puppy. Another vet visit, hydration and rest would be the best first step. Hopefully your dog will be fine in a few days and may have had a reaction to the vaccination. Definitely keep a careful eye on your dog and bring her to your vet if she does not get better in 1 or 2 days. Keep us posted. Roberta

  18. The vet nearby our house took 3 scans, x ray, ecg sugar and BP test. The result for every test is normal. Dog is very tired. But eats properly if we feed.

    • Thanks again for writing and asking for help. Keep a watchful eye on your dog and make sure you bring her to your vet if she doesn’t get better within 24-48 hours. Keep us informed when you can. Roberta

  19. Sure. Thank you so much

  20. My 13 year old pug has been waking from sleep by raising up on front legs with her head straining backwards, then she falls over, and sometimes her legs are flailing wildly. I get to her, and it takes her several seconds to orient herself. Is this neurological?

    • Hello Tammy,
      Just to be safe you may want to take your 13 year old Pug to your vet for a check up. This behavior may be ok, however it could be a symptom that something’s not working right. Quick attention to odd behavior in your dog is the best way to help prevent major health problems down the road and lessen the chance that your dog will suffer. Keep us posted…. Hope this helps in some way. Roberta

  21. Stephanie says:

    Hello everyone,

    My 6-year-old Mini Schnauzer, Kipton, is currently getting tests done that I believe will confirm a neurological problem. He had his annual check-up on March 10 (just 13 days ago) and was perfectly fine. Two days later he totally changed for the worse. He started holding his mouth open at all times, tilting his head, stumbling, etc. I took him back to the vet on March 14. AT that time, Kipton was given meds for a possible ear infection or inflammation.

    Currently, he can’t walk due to severe shaking, he can no longer walk up a single step or jump up and down from his favorite chair, his head is nodding uncontrollably, he can barely grasp food in his mouth or drink water, it seems like his vision has diminished in a severe way…the list goes on and on.

    I’m sick about the whole situation. Kipton has been the best friend and companion to everyone in my family. I can’t help but think this all could have been avoided by not getting vaccines on March 10, and that somehow I should have noticed something was wrong sooner.

    Anyway, I just wanted to vent in a space filled with people who have been in similar situations. The worst part of pet ownership is having to lose someone you love after such a short amount of time. Hopefully Kipton will be ok but at the current moment I am not very hopeful or optimistic.

    • Hello Stephanie,
      My heart goes out to you for Kipton. Although it’s hard to know the cause of your dog’s health challenges, your situation is quite common with thousands of dog owners worldwide. Let’s hope that Kipton will improve with time. Please stay in touch and I’ll post your comments on the Dog Health News Facebook page as well. All the best, Roberta

  22. Kimberly says:

    Hello,
    My three year old chi suddenly developed weakness, stiffening of the neck and back and yelping as if in pain. I would hold him until he was comfortable, and he would stop crying.This left him extremely tired We took him to the vet and was told he is having epileptic seizures. The blood work showed nothing . It did appear that it was some sort of episode. After being on Phenobarbital for 3 long weeks he is still doing all the same things.Finally we took him to an emergency clinic, and they did full x rays, and showed us a tiny separation in his neck vertibrea. He is now on muscle relaxers and pain meds. He seems to be much better until during the nite he had another episode….please help!

  23. Kristina Smith says:

    I have an 11 month old Siberian Husky that has short seizures very frequently. The seizures began 3 days after he was neutered when he was 7 months old. He vomits and then immediately has a 30-40 second seizure. The first vet prescribed Phenobarbital twice per day after a standard blood, urine, and fecal analysis. Diagnosis: Epilepsy. The longest he would go without a seizure was 2 weeks. The second vet tested his blood extensively and tested for a liver shunt. All is normal except that his red blood cells are smaller than normal. Diagnosis: Epilepsy. They prescibed Zonicimide. He went 2 1/2 weeks without a seizure on both medicines. Now we are trying to ween him off of the Pheno and he has seizures every week and a half. The second vet suggests we pay it by ear at this point. He may have to take both medicines, but we don’t want him to die of liver failure at a young age because of it. The only other option is an MRI and spinal tap which costs well beyond what we can afford right now. My question is even if we have an MRI and find out he has some other neurological problem is there really any other medications that will change his status? I know there are other anti-seizure medications, but is there really going to be a light at the end of this? Did the anesthesia from his neutering cause this? Every time he vomits, even if he just ate some grass because his belly didn’t feel good, he has a seizure. At first we thought seizures were his trama reaction from eating things he shouldn’t have like plastic or pieces of a toy. He’s so young and I don’t want to lose him to a grand maul.

  24. My 5 year old mini schnauzer was found sitting on his bottom, front legs stiff and straight out and staring up at the ceiling. We took him to an emergency clinic and they thought he was poisoned. They gave him fluids, activated charcoal, and kept him overnight to observe. The next day his symptoms are still the same, and the vet thinks it might be a neurological disorder. He wants to send him 2-3 hours away for a neuro consult. However, if he is diagnosed with a stroke or neuro disorder there are no treatment options. What?! Why would I have my dog go through all of that 2-3 hours away and then there is no treatment. I don’t know what to do!

    • Desirae…. Thank you for taking time to try and help your Miniature Schnauzer. Although I can’t give you medical advice, I do think it’s a good idea to find out if your dog may be suffering from seizures due to epilepsy. This is common in your breed and your vet or specialist can help you with treatments to deal with this condition. I do hope this helps in some way. Feel free to stay in touch and ask more questions that our readers may be able to help you with. Roberta.

  25. I have a dog with neurological problems from birth. When he has an “episode” he circles and can’t calm down, shakes, heart races, his muscles get tense. Last for up to 24 hours then usually goes on its own. His mother was taken into a shelter when she was pregnant and then given a rabies shot. She was also undernourished. The vet believes this is what caused his issues. He also can’t go down stairs, he’ll climb stairs if he’s on a leash. The vet has us give him anti-anxiety stuff. Other ideas for treatment?

  26. Amber Smith says:

    My dog all of a sudden slowed down eating and is vomiting when give dog food . I’m giving. Bland diet of boiled chicken and rice keeping her hydrated. Seems lethargic and just kinda out of it

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