- Pet forum for dogs cats and humans 


Ataxia (please help)

May 9th, 2006, 03:50 PM
Hello, my 8-month old bichon frise puppy has been experiencing ataxia (lack of balance), along with general clumsiness, drunken-like walk, tilted head, etc. She is also vomitting somewhat frequently (maybe a few times a week). Other than that, she is very happy and playful except she cannot walk straight or go down stairs, etc. She seems to get tripped up in her back legs, and can't keep her balance.

The vet suspected a hepatic shunt, but her initial bloodwork doesn't seem to support that he said. Before doing more bloodwork he is going to put her on antibiotics to see if it was an inner ear infection. But in the meantime, I am really hoping some other people might have an idea of what is going on.

Her bloodwork showed a low white blood cell count. I should note that she has been having the symptoms for a while, more than a couple of weeks or so, because the vet first thought it was because she had just gone into heat and was clumsy because she was quite swolen in back.

The only other thing on her blood test that stood out was that one of her liver alkaline enzymes (?) was at zero, and I guess the normal level is 10-150. But the vet said that doesn't really point to anything. The vet seems to think it could still be a hepatic shunt, but maybe it's too early on to see it in the blood tests.

Our puppy does not eat much, but apparently that is normal for her size. She eats about a half cup of food a day. She is gaining weight at a seemingly normal rate, though she is still a bit small for a bichon (about 7lbs).

When she was a few months younger, she seemed to have an enlarged heart, which the vet thought might indicate heart disease, but her symptoms (coughing, hacking, etc.) stopped after a couple months so I am assuming this is unrelated, that she may have sort of "grown into" her heart.

Again, her only symptoms are the clumsiness and wobbliness and the head tilting. Sometimes it's like she wants to roll over but just can't for some reason. And also the occassional vomitting, maybe because she is dizzy, I'm not sure, but maybe that is just normal.

I've looked up ataxia online and there are just so many things it could be, and I don't want to waste any time finding out what it is. Please, please let me know if you have any ideas. Thanks so much!

the gang
May 9th, 2006, 04:49 PM
please take your baby to another vet for second oppion, i went through something like this with my little f. min pin,i dont want to scare you but this needs to be checked, my nickys eye poped out of her socket, due to a fatty mass, and were unable to save the eye, it sounds like it might have something to do with the brane, fingers crossed, come back and let us know how your little one is doing brenda.

May 10th, 2006, 08:45 AM
The symptoms can indicate a lot of possibilities as you have realized your vet is like a detective, he will have to do a step by step process to try and find clues that will help him figure out what is wrong , which it appears that he is doing. He did the bloodwork hoping to see values that would narrow down the possiblities, blood values that are high are much more worrying to a vet than seeing some that are slightly low, for example if the liver alkaline enzymes where at 500, he would be worrying but it would have also given him and idea where the problem lies. So being the bloodtest does not indicate something serious he checks for possiblities that would not show up on a bloodtest like an inner ear infection, if a trial on antibiotics does not help then he will know he has to look at other possibilities and maybe run another blood test later and compare the 2 to see if something has changed to give him possible clues