Pet Vet: Dog’s symptoms are consistent with neurological problem

December 14, 2015

Jennifer is from Williams and has a 9-year-old mixed breed female dog named Alice who has recently and rather suddenly developed some changes in her face.

Alice’s head is tilted to the left and her face on the left side seems to be drooping. She also has a drooping lower eyelid on the left and is having trouble holding food in the left side of her mouth. It seems that Alice was totally normal one evening and the next morning awoke with the described symptoms.

I’d like to commend Jennifer for her very thorough and detailed description of Alice’s problems. This is something that I encourage all of you to do when you write or email in with concerns about your companions. It makes it much easier to try to help when I can have as much information as possible.

Of course having said that, Alice’s case presents quite a diagnostic challenge.

The drooping face on the left along with the eyelid droop, drooling and difficulty holding food in left side of the mouth can all fit together with a problem in a specific area in part of the brain. The head tilt however does not fit with a problem in the same area of the brain.

We can say with confidence that Alice’s symptoms fit with a problem associated with her neurological system. This is the system including the brain, the spinal cord and all the nerves, which allow control of all motion in the body as well as much of the sensations the body feels, not to mention all the things going on in the body that we do not have direct control over.

Malfunction can occur from primary damage to any part of the nervous system or secondarily if part of the nervous system, especially the brain, is deprived of oxygen. In the case of oxygen deprivation to part of the brain, a stroke occurs and the area of the brain affected will cause problems in the area of the body served by that portion of the brain.

Alice may have had a stroke. From the description of her symptoms, it is possible that the brain stem may have been deprived of oxygen and caused her symptoms. This can happen as a result of a blood clot to one or more blood vessels supplying this area.

Another possibility explaining these symptoms could be a tumor growing in the area of the brain associated with control of the parts of the face involved.

Alice needs to see her veterinarian for a thorough examination including a full neurological exam. This may be a case for referral to a veterinary neurologist. These specialists can perform imaging studies of the nervous system that will aid in determining a cause. This might include an MRI study or a CT scan, studies often used in human medicine to determine the cause of brain lesions.

Hopefully, Alice’s situation will be correctable and she can return to her normal self.



McClatchy-Tribune Information Services