Originally Published in the SAGE Centers’ Newsletter. To have future newsletters delivered to you free via email, please click here.
Most of our pets will live happy and healthy lives without ever experiencing a complex neurological problem. For those that do, though, there is good news.
Advances in veterinary neurological science and increased access to board certified veterinary neurologists, combined with improved imaging and other diagnostic techniques, offer new hope for appropriate diagnosis and treatment.
Still, as pet owner, you remain on the front lines of your pet’s neurological health as the person most likely to notice critical early signs that something is amiss.
These warning signs include, but are not limited to, the following:
1. Neck and/or Back Pain. Your pet might cry out or yelp when you touch an impacted area. More likely, you’ll need to look for other pain clues, including a reluctance to turn the head, decreased willingness to jump up, climb stairs or even walk. You might notice a low tail carriage, reduced tail wagging, and difficulty posturing to defecate.
2. Balance Issues. This includes lack of coordination, head tilt, leaning, circling, or falling to one side.
3. Abnormal eye movements.
4. Disorientation. Evidence includes staring into space and/or getting stuck in corners.
5. Confusion. Your pet may appear generally confused or act as if he or she doesn’t recognize you.
6. Mobility issues, particularly in the hind legs. Watch for stumbling episodes, apparent weakness, lameness, trouble standing and (in the extreme) paralysis.
7. Phantom Scratching. Scratching the air, often near the ear, neck or shoulder region, without making contact with the body.
If your pet exhibits one of more of these warning signs – even episodically — or anything else that seems unusual, please contact your primary veterinarian as soon as possible for advice regarding next steps.Depending on the perceived severity of the situation and the time of day it occurs, next steps may include a regularly scheduled exam with your primary veterinarian, an evaluation by a veterinary neurologist and/or an emergency visit to SAGE Centers for immediate evaluation.