View Full Version : need help with symptoms and diagnosis

19th December 2009, 04:57 PM
I have an 8 year old male CKCS.

As a pup, he had a hernia and needed minor surgery.

At 5 years old, he began limping. He was bout 7 or 8 pounds overweight at this point. His front legs seemed to have problems, there was pain and he would not jump and some days wouldnt walk at all. His limping continued for several weeks.

We took him to several vets at this time and the Veterinary School at the University of Missouri Columbia. He had an MRI and was diagnosed with a slight Chiari Malformation. They suggested a new diet to lose weight and not much else.

We changed his diet and he began losing weight. The limping went away and we thought everything was great. However, he continued to lose weight and it was to the point of being unhealthy.

We took him back to vet for numerous tests. He was diagnosed with pancreatitis and now he is permanently on Viokase enzymes to help with digestion.

He has no problems except for a few days of minor limping in the last 2 or 3 years, and his weight is ideal.

Yesterday, he started acting funny, wouldnt walk, bumping into walls, walking like he was drunk. He couldnt focus on anything or see anything right infront of his face.

I took him to the vet within 15 minutes and the blood work all showed normal. His pupils were dialated. His spirits were good but he obviously could not see. It seems he could see larger, further away objects better than smaller, closer objects.

He went home and seemed to improve a little by this morning, however he is still having obvious vision problems and now his hearing seems to suddenly have gotten bad, yesterday, there was no hearing problem that anyone noticed.

He still seems in good spirits, wagging tail, etc. but has the vision and hearing problems.

This was a sudden onset and he has never had any previous vision or hearing problems.

Any help or advice would be appreciated.


19th December 2009, 05:46 PM
I am sorry I can't offer you advice, I am assuming your Cavalier is called Jack! This be must be very distressing for you. I am sure someone will offer you some advice soon.icon_welcome

19th December 2009, 05:55 PM
I can think of several possible causes of the symptoms, but I cannot think of just one cause that would affect both vision and hearing.

I recommend that he be examined by an ophthalmologist. He may have progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), also known as progressive retinal degeneration (PRD). Read about it here: http://www.cavalierhealth.org/retinal_atrophy.htm You may locate a veterinary ophthalmologist on this webpage: www.acvo.org/locate.htm

His hearing loss may be due to PSOM (http://cavalierhealth.org/psom.htm) or degeneration of the hearing nerve (http://www.cavalierhealth.org/deafness.htm) both of which disorders are believed to be genetic in Cavaliers.
Rod Russell

19th December 2009, 06:09 PM
If the onset was sudden though, I'd be thinking a neurological cause. It sounds almost like a stroke. One possibility might be development of SM since the MRI three years ago -- but again I really don't think that would be connected to so many things happening all of a sudden, on one day. We have a couple of people who know a lot about pancreatitis as well --I don't know if those symptoms might show with that condition or not. Hopefully someone more familiar will read this. I am really sorry you are having these problems.

19th December 2009, 09:38 PM
Thanks for the replies so far.

The onset was very sudden. Everything occurred within a few minutes.

Now we are noticing the hearing and vision are worse on the left side.

It does sound almost exactly like stroke if he was a human, the Mizzou Vet School said that strokes in dogs are almost nonexistent that wouldn't consider that as a possibility before investigating other neurological problems.

Thanks again for any additional help.

21st December 2009, 08:29 PM
This might be helpful as it goes into stroke in dogs and also lists other similar causes of this type of behaviour but also notes that while it used to be thought that strokes were rare in pets, that they are being diagnosed more frequently.


I wonder if it could be stroke connected to his pancreatic condition?

Kate H
21st December 2009, 11:28 PM
I wonder if his Chiari Malformation is causing dilated ventricles, which are then causing pressure on the eyes and ear? I've also read that weakness in the front legs can be caused by such pressure (and not necessarily by a syrinx). I'm mentioning this because my Oliver has seriously enlarged ventricles, had a sudden episode of eye pain in the summer (though he has always been mildly light phobic), is deaf on the same side, and has a weakness in his front leg which makes him lame from time to time. The eye pain his neurologist definitely attributed to his dilated ventricles.

Kate, Oliver and Aled

21st December 2009, 11:52 PM
.....the Mizzou Vet School said that strokes in dogs are almost nonexistent that wouldn't consider that as a possibility before investigating other neurological problems.

FWIW, I know people whose dogs have suffered strokes.

25th December 2009, 02:41 PM
I have followed up and reported progress directly with a canine neurologist and it seems that with this most likely was a stroke. I spoke with an assistant the first time, but this time had a long conversation with neurologist.

At this point I can only wait and see how much of his vision and his hearing recover. It does not seem to be coming back quickly.

The doctor made a very good point.... she asked me

Vet: I know you are worried about your dog and his hearing and vision, but let me ask you this, is he happy?

me: Yes, actually, his spirits are perfect, if I didnt know, I would assume nothing was wrong with him.

Vet: There ya go. IF he is happy, that is most important.

Good point. I think it is bothering me more than him.

Thanks for all the help.

25th December 2009, 03:02 PM
What a great vet! :)

That is such an important point.

I think you will find that your dog quickly will adjust to the changes, even if his sense don't recover fully (remember it can take weeks for a slow recovery so don't get too concerned). We worry far more than they are bothered.

The most important sense for a dog is neither hearing nor sight but smell. I know people with full deaf dogs (I have one!) and half or fully blind dogs and even a fully blind dog can live a life that seems so normal an onlooker will likely not realise the dog is blind.

I have links in the lIbrary that you can find on living with deaf dogs. The single most important thing for a hard of hearing or deaf dog is: keep him on a lead. I have a dogtag made up for my deaf dog that says :"I am deaf! If you find me, please keep me on a lead and call my owner." I'd do something similar for any problem or need for medication. For blind or poor-sighted dogs, we need to also keep them on a lead and remember they cannot see or judge curbs, grates, poles or objects that stick up... and also are very confused if furniture is rearranged. But they can memorise a house very quickly.

Both deaf and blind dogs greatly benefit from having another dog pal in the house as they can let them take the lead.

Please let us know how thing go.

25th December 2009, 03:51 PM
I'm so sorry to hear about your worries with Jack.

I have dealt with both pancreatitis and pancreatic insufficiency, also with SM, but I didn't feel that anything I knew was relevant to your original post.

It sounded like some sort of sudden episode which would be unusual in SM.

I'm pleased that you have more of a diagnosis - you are so right, it is us that bother more about these things, the dogs just get on with it. I think once we have a diganosis we deal much better with it, no matter what the diagnosis.

Your neurologist sounds fantastic!!! What a lovely way to deal with things...

Just enjoy every day, I hope Jack recovers more of his senses, but it sounds like he's a happy boy and enjoying life anyway.

Karlin is right that dogs manage amazingly well with loss of senses. I too have had a totally deaf dog - Rupert went deaf at 2. We changed everything over to hand signals, we even carried on working obedience and did some agility. He was very responsive and watched my face and body for clues. He did eventually have quite a lot of freedom off lead, as we are lucky that where we live we have quite a few safe places to let the dogs off. You obviously have to be extremely careful.

The oldie I foster now has gone totally deaf and doesn't see terribly well, but she gets around fine. Obviously we try not to move furniture or leave large things lying. If they have very limited vision you can do things like put their bowl down so it touches their paw, try not to make them jump when you approach them by always coming from the front and perhaps always touching them in the same place initially.

Wishing you all the best with Jack, hope you're enjoying your Christmas. Please keep us posted.