Health & Wellness

Neurological Disorders in Dogs

Neurological disorders in dogs are rare, but they do happen. And when it happens, you really feel sorry for your buddy as it experiences many bad symptoms throughout its life. However, it is not that easy to diagnose such symptoms and distinguish the diseases from one another, because some of these symptoms are common is several of these disorders. To assist in diagnosis, one thing that pet owners can do is to document/video their dogs experiencing the symptoms or the “episodes” of their disorder.

Neurological Disorders in Dogs

According to an article in

neurological disorders can affect any part of the dog’s central nervous system, including the spinal cord, brain and nerves within the body. Some disorders are congenital while others are idiopathic, meaning the cause is unknown.

According to the article, some of the neurological disorders which can occur are Degenerative Myelopathy, Dementia, Epilepsy, Granulomatous Meningoencephalomyelitis (GME), and Hepatic Encephalopathy. Obviously, these have to be sorted out by a qualified veterinarian. Some are treatable, some are not.

Neurological disorders in dogs can be truly frightening, especially the epilepsy/seizures. Dogs have no control of their bowels, fall and toss on the ground back and forth, and make scary noises. However, if epileptic instances are not very long, then it isn’t very lethal. It is just a matter of cooperating with your dog and vet to find cure for the seizures.

Stroke in dogs is also a cause of panic, especially when the dog was okay throughout the day and suddenly collapses like nothing. Elder dogs are the usual targets of stroke. There is, however, a more horrific disease called canine vestibular syndrome. In this disorder, the dog’s eyes circle and move around in weird patterns.

Dogs with such diseases often have difficulty in walking, along with excessive drooling and nausea. There is a type of movement called compulsive spinning, a.k.a. tail chasing, in which dogs rapidly chase their tails as if it is an anxiety disorder. It also needs a different approach in treatment.

All owners will be saddened about the fact that their dog suffers from trouble in walking and other symptoms of such neurological disorders. There are a number of serious disorders for dogs, including canine wobblers’ syndrome, which is seen with the dog’s lack of coordination. Another is intervertebral disk disease which also hinders normal walking procedures of a dog but a lot easier to diagnose. And then, there is the lethal head trauma, and even the poisoning, both of which can occur to your dog the least you expect it, and usually have no cure.

Diagnosis of neurological diseases are very hard for vets because some symptoms are similar and the fact that they don’t always see the dog’s symptoms. There is usually no clear and definite diagnosis, and this is where you can really help by videotaping your dog’s actions.

Usual actions of a vet will include treatment that starts from the symptoms themselves, since there is typically no definite diagnosis made at the beginning. A dog’s responses will the basis of the diagnosis, as well as a couple of blood tests.

Always ask your vet for further clues and explanation about your dog’s disorder, but do not complain to them when they cannot make a definite diagnosis and are unsure of their findings about your dog. Vets will be honest when that time comes and all you can do is just cooperate with him/her to find out about your dog’s disease.

Vets have the obligation, however, to explain the possibilities and ways of getting the right diagnosis and the steps to be taken for it, such as treatments and tests. In this way, the owner should be well-informed about how things are going to work out for his/her dog. Not only that, dogs and owners also get to learn more about how a dog’s nervous system works and the many diseases that occur.

Fortunately, I have never witnessed any neurological disorders in dogs, either mine or those of friends. Have you?



  1. Shelly

    Apr 25, 2016 at 3:16 pm

    My ten year old dog has episodes lasting several weeks where he becomes very weak to the point he can’t walk more than about thirty feet before his legs start shaking and he needs to lie down and rest for several minutes before getting up to continue walking, and he can’t climb the stairs. The first time coincided with a fall down the stairs, so we thought he’d hurt his back — brought him to the vet for X-rays and the vet saw nothing unusual, all bones and joints looked good, no signs of arthritis or unusual positions or spacing, so concluded it was a “soft tissue injury” of some sort and prescribed anti-inflammatories and pain meds. After several days, he fully recovered. Now, about six months later, he had the same symptoms but with no trauma preceding it, so initially we figured he’d aggravated the injury and brought him back. Two weeks of anti-inflammatories and pain meds showed no improvement, so brought him back for more x-rays. The vet saw nothing and referred us to a veterinary teaching hospital. He has been there for a week and has had complete blood work, more x-rays, ct scan and ultrasound of an abdominal lipoma (not invasive and deemed unrelated) and his spine which revealed nothing unusual. They suspected myasthenia gravis, so did the tensilon test and said he showed some limited improvement from that (thought not as dramatic as they often see), so took blood for the antibody test to confirm that and while they are waiting for the results to come back they have been giving him the MG med in increasing doses but as of a couple days ago told me they hadn’t seen any improvement so, though they’d continue giving him the meds until the results come back, they were thinking that was not it because he should have improved by now and he was still the same. So, they have not increased dosage since then, and then suddenly he jumped up this morning and began acting completely normal — able to walk long distances unassisted even on the slick hospital floors. The doctor told me this morning they did not think it was the MG med because it usually has its full effect immediately, not the kind of thing to suddenly kick in several days later.

    We are still waiting on the MG test to come back (I hear it can take a week and a half), and the doctor says she will consult with the cardiologist, but it sounds like they’re rather stumped at the moment. For background, he does have a history of idiopathic seizures (about once every other month), and hypothyroid, but was just tested about two months ago and his thyroid levels were perfect at the dosage of meds he is currently on.

  2. Lindsey

    Apr 24, 2016 at 10:58 am

    My Westie is 9 and suffered a stroke Christmas Day since then she has been constantly spinning to the side of the brain where the problem is
    Has anyone else had this problem
    I’m taking her hydrotherapy for making her back legs stronger but the spinning is getting a nightmare I wake up to find her spinning in circles in the early hours and she spins in the garden

  3. Anna

    Apr 14, 2016 at 7:06 pm

    My puppy runs in circles… A lot. And not like she’s hyper, like she can’t help her self. I feel helpless for her. She also moves her head a little odd when looking around. Kind of like how you feel when you spin around a lot, only she looks like it. She was born this way and I am just heartbroken about it.. I want to help her.

  4. sarah

    Mar 4, 2016 at 9:30 pm

    My dog is in the exact same situation. Hrs a yorkiepoo . It’s like you wrote every thing from the symptoms to the vet visiit to the medication and the expense of the mri. We are heart broken too. It’s all in Gods hands but we are hoping for a miracle!!! We will pray for you and your baby it’s devastating!!!!

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