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Ataxia in Canines

January 13th, 2012, 02:49 PM
Hello! This is my first post here so let me give you some background on my canines. I adopted an aprox 2 y/o Sheltie from someone on CL who said they were about to take her to the pound due to their HOA. She told us she had been a family pet/spayed/yadda yadda. We got an iffy vibe from her as the dog seemed terrified and was literally shaking. We paid her and took the dog b/c we knew the dog needed out. Well, a day after I get Hadley home, we notice she's urinating blood! We took her to the vet and, of course, the poor dog was in awful condition in terms of earmites/mats/flea sores/UTI. Vet gives her antibiotics and then because I didn't know better at the time went ahead and got her u2d on her shots. Turns out also the lady was a dog flipper/backyard breeder. Anyway, long story short a month later, Hadley went into LABOR! Yes, labor. She was three vets and none of them noticed she was a month pregnant... crazy. She weighs 20lbs now and weighed 17lbs then so maybe she was just too underweight. As shocked as we were, we raised the puppies up and three went to wonderful homes where they will be performance dogs and one will be a pet. We ended up keeping two, Lily and Theo.

When Lily was about 4 weeks old we noticed she would be playing and then get very wobbly and lose her coordination but we just assumed it was a puppy thing and she wore herself out. When she was 12 weeks old we found her in the trash one night. There were some cigarette buts in the trash and we got concerned. Then within ten minutes Lily started displaying symptoms like she did as a puppy but worse. Wobbly on front feet/head bounce and unable to hold still/scared. So we gave her peroxide within ten minutes and she did vomit but nothing came up. We went ahead and rushed her to the ER b/c we were terrified she had eaten a cigarette. They then pumped her stomach and also didn't find anything abnormal. They wanted to keep her overnight and we said no, we'll keep an eye on her. She snapped out of it by the next morning. Then three days later it happened again and this time we knew something was wrong b/c we knew she didn't get into anything. Took her to the vet the following day and she had everything tested from liver shunt/blood sugar/etc... vet found nothing wrong and said it must be seizures... although these "episodes" last around 8 hours each time. She continues to this day to have them on and off. She will sometimes go two months without one and then have three in the same week.

The weirdest thing is when her brother was close to five months old, I came home one day from being gone 30 minutes or so and found him in a really bad episode. He couldn't walk at all/urinated on himself/threw up from being dizzy and just all around in bad shape. We got him to the vet during an episode and they kept asking if i was sure he didn't get into something... I was b/c he had been in a crate but I let them pump his stomach just to be sure and they found nothing. He continues also to have them but they are less often.

Some of their episodes their just wobbly and some they can't walk at all and puke b/c so dizzy and urinate on themselves b/c they can't stand on their feet to urinate. The vet is puzzled and referred me to a specialist with whom we haven an appointment with next month. It's a four hour drive from us so I hope we get some answers.

They are on a raw diet/no heart worm/no vaccines/no flea medicine. We've been houses and out of state so we're certain it's not environmental. Doctor says it's neurological... I think it's episodic ataxia (well, obviously!) but vets don't believe me so far... They are 16 months old now and overall they've gotten less severe but my girl had a BAD two nights ago. The worst one yet. She had been in her crate (that's one pattern we notice, she's in the crate some of the times before but not always and we've bought multiple crates so it's not that) and she couldn't walk AT ALL. They've always been able to stumble around but this time she didn't feel the ground below her at all. She would try to walk and would almost walk on her tippy toes and then her legs would just spread apart. I'm attaching some videos and if anyone has seen this before, please, let me know. If anyone has suggestions, let me know.

Oh, we did the DNA test and they are 1/2 sheltie, 1/2 Cavalier King Charles, 13% Siberian Huskey (that's funny if you see them!) and 7% Chinese Crested and the rest is Dandi Dinmont Terrier. They look identical to a powderpuff most days. You'd never guess sheltie or cavlier or husky! Cresteds are prone to ataxia I've read so I thought that was interesting...Ąt=MVI_3803.mp4Ąt=MVI_3801.mp4Ąt=VID_20110509_134857.mp4

Thanks so much in advance,


January 14th, 2012, 03:51 PM
Just a few thoughts, very strange situation!

I would take the dogs to a certified canine chiropractor. I would test for tick disease, and maybe even treat as a trial, since some tick diseases have a hard time showing up on tests. Thyroid rarely in a young dog like that, very rarely.

I would test for the mdr1 genetic mutation, from the sheltie side, to see how sensitive they are to meds.

From the Cavalier side, they might be prone to heart issues, or certain brain issues, where there is something goofy with spinal fluid and the brain.

I hope you can get this figured out :(

January 15th, 2012, 02:59 AM
In some ways it looks a bit like Vestibular Disease ( but that is typically in senior dogs.

Have their inner & middle ears been checked for abnormalities? A lot of balance issues stem from ear problems, and the vestibular system also affects the ears.

Those videos are hard to watch :( I sure hope you can figure out the cause & a workable solution :grouphug:

January 15th, 2012, 06:28 PM
In some ways it looks a bit like Vestibular Disease ( but that is typically in senior dogs.

Have their inner & middle ears been checked for abnormalities? A lot of balance issues stem from ear problems, and the vestibular system also affects the ears.

Yes, that was the first thing they checked. Then liver shunt. Then low blood sugar/etc and nothing. Everything internal has been ruled, or so says my vet. Next step is Neurologist...

January 15th, 2012, 11:38 PM
Do you have a copy of the bloodwork and any other labwork?

I have seen, many times on the forums, wonky bloodwork that the vet has said was fine. I'll never undertand that, but worth a second look maybe?

January 16th, 2012, 09:01 AM
Some of the tick diseases can have neurological symptoms. I agree with MaxaLisa that testing and maybe even a trial treatment with doxycycline might be worthwhile. Some of the emergent tick-borne diseases won't show up on the tests yet, but still respond to treatment.