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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited by Moderator)
Josie's a 9-month old havanese pup and a major sweetheart. Regrettably, she also developed a perplexing neurological condition not long after she came to us (at about 9 weeks) from the breeder. The key features:
  • recurring episodes, each lasting between 4 and 8 hours.
  • each episode starts with lethargy, a bit of urinary incontinence, and a "bobblehead" tremor that lasts through the entire multi-hour episode. You can see the tremor here.
  • That's accompanied by wobbliness and weakness in her hind legs, which you can see in the first 30 seconds here.
  • Her neck and head seem itchy and bothersome to her.
  • Suddenly she'll go from lethargic to manic, engaging in super-intense "zooming" behavior that also can include distressed sounds and some spinning.
  • If we take her outside in these short manic phases, she's on overdrive. See here.
  • The manic bursts are short -- usually no more than 10 to 15 minutes. She appears to exhaust herself and then falls into a long, deep sleep from which it's hard (but not impossible) to rouse her.
We've had an array of tests, including MRI and spinal fluid, and the neurologist says everything comes back normal. Regrettably he's not offering us much in the way of possible diagnoses, courses of treatment, etc.

We adore our little girl, but have major challenges in our lives with sick humans, and we feel desperate to know what this is and whether it's something we'll be able to handle.

Please -- if you've ever seen or heard of anything like this, do let me know. If you feel more comfortable writing privately than posting here, you can reach me at [edited by mod].
 

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I do see the tremor in the first video, as well as the hind legs kicking out in the second. Certainly weird.

However, are you sure the zoomies in the following videos are unnatural? What did your vet say about them? Please note, I am not a vet and I don't know your dog as well as you do (I also watched the videos with the sound off), but they look a lot like a young dog blowing off the last of their energy. My own dog would launch himself off the back of the couch in his manic zoomies and then fall asleep shortly after, too. Periods of craziness and unruliness are not an uncommon occurrence in young dogs, so it may not be related to the other symptoms you noted. Obviously go with the advice of your vet first and foremost, and you know better than I do what she was doing before/after the video, but if you showed me those zoomie videos without context I probably wouldn't notice anything amiss and chalk it up to a young, energetic dog.

Has your vet discussed the possibility of epilepsy with you? It's not always the jerking seizures we see on TV, sometimes it can look like head shaking, sudden loss of muscle tone, or other weird behaviors. Although sometimes there is an underlying condition that causes it, it can also be idiopathic, meaning they have no idea what causes it. Has the vet prescribed any medication?

If you feel unsatisfied with your current vet, you can always seek a second opinion. But, it's also my understanding that neurological issues can be difficult to diagnose in dogs. They can't tell us what's going on, we can only interpret what we see. It can be an excruciating "wait and see" or "lets try this and see if it works" game that is frustrating for owners. Also, vets can sometimes have a less than satisfactory bedside manner, and we have to work a bit to pull information out of them. It may help to directly, but politely, ask the neurologist "Why are we delaying forming a treatment plan?". The answer will likely help you determine if the vet is simply being cautious and wanting to do their due diligence in figuring this issue out, or if they are well and truly stumped and a second opinion might be in order.

I hope you find some answers soon!
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I do see the tremor in the first video, as well as the hind legs kicking out in the second. Certainly weird.

However, are you sure the zoomies in the following videos are unnatural? What did your vet say about them? Please note, I am not a vet and I don't know your dog as well as you do (I also watched the videos with the sound off), but they look a lot like a young dog blowing off the last of their energy. My own dog would launch himself off the back of the couch in his manic zoomies and then fall asleep shortly after, too. Periods of craziness and unruliness are not an uncommon occurrence in young dogs, so it may not be related to the other symptoms you noted. Obviously go with the advice of your vet first and foremost, and you know better than I do what she was doing before/after the video, but if you showed me those zoomie videos without context I probably wouldn't notice anything amiss and chalk it up to a young, energetic dog.

Has your vet discussed the possibility of epilepsy with you? It's not always the jerking seizures we see on TV, sometimes it can look like head shaking, sudden loss of muscle tone, or other weird behaviors. Although sometimes there is an underlying condition that causes it, it can also be idiopathic, meaning they have no idea what causes it. Has the vet prescribed any medication?

If you feel unsatisfied with your current vet, you can always seek a second opinion. But, it's also my understanding that neurological issues can be difficult to diagnose in dogs. They can't tell us what's going on, we can only interpret what we see. It can be an excruciating "wait and see" or "lets try this and see if it works" game that is frustrating for owners. Also, vets can sometimes have a less than satisfactory bedside manner, and we have to work a bit to pull information out of them. It may help to directly, but politely, ask the neurologist "Why are we delaying forming a treatment plan?". The answer will likely help you determine if the vet is simply being cautious and wanting to do their due diligence in figuring this issue out, or if they are well and truly stumped and a second opinion might be in order.

I hope you find some answers soon!
Thanks so much for this thoughtful response. Just one note: she does normal "zoomies" -- what you see on the video is far outside her normal range of "zoomie" behavior.
 

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Thanks so much for this thoughtful response. Just one note: she does normal "zoomies" -- what you see on the video is far outside her normal range of "zoomie" behavior.
Ok. And I'm sure you've shown all these videos to your vet, right?

At one point my dog had brief neurological episode that we were not able to record, and my vet said keeping a log of any and all weird behavior and videoing it whenever possible would help her immensely in making a diagnosis. It also helps to note what they were doing before the occurrence, because sometimes these things can be environmental (such as getting into pesticide on the grass, eating something poisonous, etc.). Log times, dates, everything, and sometimes a pattern develops. Luckily, that was the one and only occurrence of the issue with my dog and I never had to use that notebook, but I remember how frustrating it was when I brought him into the vet and they could find absolutely nothing wrong with him and couldn't explain why it happened. But, they can't draw conclusions from evidence they can't see!
 

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Ok. And I'm sure you've shown all these videos to your vet, right?

At one point my dog had brief neurological episode that we were not able to record, and my vet said keeping a log of any and all weird behavior and videoing it whenever possible would help her immensely in making a diagnosis. It also helps to note what they were doing before the occurrence, because sometimes these things can be environmental (such as getting into pesticide on the grass, eating something poisonous, etc.). Log times, dates, everything, and sometimes a pattern develops. Luckily, that was the one and only occurrence of the issue with my dog and I never had to use that notebook, but I remember how frustrating it was when I brought him into the vet and they could find absolutely nothing wrong with him and couldn't explain why it happened. But, they can't draw conclusions from evidence they can't see!
Yes, I've shared the videos with the vet.
 

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I am not a vet. Please do continue to explore this with your vet, or get a second opinion if your vet is not being as responsive as you'd like.

I'd say, as Lillith has, that the first few videos (and the incontinence) are consistent with seizures and post-seizure behavior. Seizures can be a symptom of an underlying ailment, like poisoning, brain tumors, or blood sugar regulation issues, but it's also pretty common for dogs to just have idiopathic epilepsy. (Worth noting: sometimes dogs that have idiopathic epileptic episodes as puppies grow out of them.) If it were my puppy, I would want a complete physical including blood work and possibly scans to eliminate other common causes of seizures, and if those were ruled out, then would explore epilepsy treatment options. There are various preventative meds and intervention meds and they each have their pros and cons. What's needed depends on the severity/frequency of the seizures and the dog's individual response to the various options. Good news is, the meds don't tend to be very expensive.

Physical wobbliness after a seizure is typical - it's called the "post-ictal" phase (the three main phases of a seizure are pre-ictal, ictus, and post-ictal) and the person or dog is typically tired, confused, disoriented, uncoordinated, agitated, etc.

Honestly, I agree with Lillith: the zoomies videos you posted look like pretty ordinary puppy zoomies to me. They might be uncharacteristically over-the-top for YOUR pup, if you have a more mellow baby, but they'd have been mild for my most recent psycho puppy. Since zoomies tend to happen when a dog is overstimulated and/or overtired, it wouldn't surprise me that a pup might have big zoomies followed by completely crashing to a sound sleep when coming out of the post-itctal phase of a seizure episode, since seizures are stressful and exhausting. Totally worth showing to a vet and discussing, and might be the result of the a seizure episode, but maybe not indicative of disorder itself, if that makes sense.
 

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Just watching this and reading all you have done I would want to try to get the Vet to do a blood sugar test when the puppy starts the bobble head behavior. The two videos that looked abnormal to me were the head bobbling videos and the last one of the spinning that seemed uncoordinated.

Another thought.. does any of this happen after you have cleaned with a specific cleaner? Is there something you have done just prior to the head bobbling starting such as cleaning, laundry, spraying plants or house with a pest product or an essential oil etc.?
 
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