View Full Version : Cav Puppy-episodes of extreme weakness

Christina Kennedy
28th October 2010, 07:03 PM

This is my first post. My husband and I have a 6 month old puppy Piper! Very happy dog that just wants to play. We have taken to the partk and she has had several troubling epsidoes. She will run and play but at the end once we get in the car. She will just collapse on our laps, look totally out of it glassed over, and generally not want to move for several hours. She cannot walk during this time either. She will then occasionally cry. We of course rush her to the vet who thinks it could be sugar related but is running tests. Has anyone seen this? Thse same episodes only occur after bouts of extreme excitement. She is fine with her twice daily walks in the park. She had an episode after going to the groomer for the first time as well. After we give her some dextrose she typically comes out of it after a few hours and it is like nothing happened.

We are so worried! Any tips or experiences would be helpful!

28th October 2010, 07:13 PM
Welcome :flwr:

Sorry to hear about your worries though - two things spring to mind, either low blood sugars or Episodic Falling Syndrome.

How many meals per day are you feeding? Generally at 6 months we go down to three per day from four, with a biscuit at bedtime - but your wee one may still need 4...

How long are you exercising her for? Puppies need 5 minutes per month of age - so at 6 months, that would be around 30 minutes of off lead exercise, up to two times daily. obviously if left, many will play for far longer and then totally exhaust themselves, which is not good. The 5 minute rule allows healthy development of joints etc, whilst making sure they do not overtire themselves.

There is lots of information on this site about Episodic falling

http://www.episodicfalling.com/ it may not be something your vet is familiar with, as it's specific to Cavaliers.

ANother possibility is diabetes, your vet will be able to do a very simple test for this.

I hope it is nothing serious, please let us know how Piper is doing [and post photos, we love puppy photos :) ]

31st October 2010, 09:30 PM
How is Piper doing? A couple of other possibilties for you [having spoken to another experienced Cavalier person!] - PSS, portosystemic shunt [liver shunt] and PDA [Patent Ductus Arteriosis]. Both are persisting blood vessels which should have closed at birth and occasionally fail to close or only partially close.

if you google you will find lots of information about both conditions, this is a good explanation of PDA http://www.heartydog.co.uk/diseases/en/patent_arteriosus.shtml

Christina Kennedy
31st October 2010, 09:43 PM
Thank you for all of the information! So far, she has not had another episode, although we have not been taking her to the park out of caution. Just her usual walks and playing around the house. She went in this morning for a series of blood and stomach bile tests as well as a urine test. THey had us not feed her for 12 hrs prior, then they took blood, fed her, then took blood and measurements again. Hopefully we will find out the results in the next couple of days. I will certainly keep everyone posted. I wonder if these tests would show shunting issues?

I am starting to think about where she will be staying for Thanksgiving as we will be out of town and can't take her with us on the airplane. We had arranged to leave her with our dog trainer,but with these episodes I am worried she would get too excited around her two other dogs, so we may leave her with the vet.

Thanks for the support! I am just worried about our little pup!

1st November 2010, 01:30 AM
Another thing to consider (which has been the discussion on another cavalier email list recently) is DM -- degenerative myelopathy. There can be limb weakness but generally no pain. Some breeds like German shepherds are prone to it. I asked neurologist Clare Rusbridge about it this week (as there was some concern that it might be misdiagnosed as SM, syringomyelia). She says she has seen occasional cases of DM in cavaliers; however she says the presentation is quite different from SM. However it might be something for them to check and there is a DNA test.

1st November 2010, 08:01 AM
Glad to hear she is doing a bit better Christina - maybe mention the shunt issues to your vet, but it's something they probably will have considered anyway . Liver shunt would show up in the blood tests as the values would not be normal.

I thought that DM generally appeared in slightly older dogs but it is something else to consider -

Degenerative myelopathy is a progressive disease of the spinal cord in older dogs.Onset of DM can be between 5-14 years of age, but has shown up as early as 3 yrs of age. It begins with a loss of coordination (ataxia) in the hind limbs. The affected dog will wobble when walking, knuckle over or drag the feet.
Checking the innermost nails of your dog for uneven wear on the rear paws can provide an early tip-off to DM - we should be checking nails at least monthly anyway, and any signs of uneven wear should be noted and mentioned to the vet.

It's difficult to know what to advise in terms of accommodation for your trip away - if your vet has someone on the premises overnight, it might be better to leave her there - I don't really like them being left unattended for hours overnight though.

Christina Kennedy
4th November 2010, 01:13 PM
We got test results on Piper. No sign of hypoglycemia or diabets. However, there was a bile test that was a bit hight after feeding. 27.1, where normal is 20. Although the vet said that liver shunts don't normally present unless that number is 100. They are referring us to have an ultra sound of the abdomen.

I mentioned episodic falling to her and she had not heard of it but would look it up.

She also said that Piper did not have a murmur.

So it sounds like we still don't know much. We do know that if she doesn't have these periods of extreme hyperactivity or stress, ie the groomers, that she seems to avoid the episodes for now I suppose that is what we will stick with.

On another note, Piper discoverred mirrors yesterday. After first looking really confused she started growling at it and acting like she was trying ot protect me. Is that normal?

Thanks for all the tips! I guess this remains a work in progress! :o

4th November 2010, 11:31 PM
Yes the growling at mirrors is not uncommon. :lol:

Fron your description of this happening after stress or activity I am thinking thsi really sounds like episodic falling. Did you check the videos etc on the website? Anything seem similar?

5th November 2010, 08:09 AM
Thanks for the update Christina - at least you have been able to rule some things out.

It is probably sensible to check for the liver shunt - sometimes they are only partially closed which could explain this..they can also have a good look at the liver to make sure it is looking normal.

It does sound more like Episodic Falling though - I think Karlin is right.

Hopefully your vet will research this - did you give them the website?

Christina Kennedy
5th November 2010, 01:53 PM
We provided the vet the information and she left us a message this morning that while they cannot rule out the liver issue without the ultrasounds, she thinks it may be Episodic falling. While Piper does not per say, fall, she just stays in the down position and is generally lethargic. Plus it is only caused after a period of stress of extended exercise. We will still get the ultrasound just to be safe on the liver issue. If it is EF, we at least seem to understand what triggers it for her and can manage it by simply not letting her do those things!

She has been super playful lately. Uusally, after her evening walk she would pay some and then snuggle up with one us. Lately, she just plays the whole time, running from one end of the house to the other exploring. We obviously keep a close eye on her but she seems more adventurous! I will try and get a picture to the computer so I can post it. She is blenheim, with some blenheim freckles right above her nose. She weights just under 10 lbs, and my guess is that she won't get all that much bigger considering she is 7 months old.

5th November 2010, 02:36 PM
If it is EFS and she is having regular and fairly severe sessions I'd see a neurologist to consider medications. Some can help control these sessions -- it is very hard and a poor quality of life not to let a dog play and exercise in the way that often brings on sessions and pretty much impossible to do so with a puppy, so eliminating the activities that cause episodes is not really feasible except for stress issues. It is generally treated with the same meds as epilepsy I bleive and this can work well for many dogs.

5th November 2010, 05:42 PM
I'm pleased that your vet did research EFS - it does sound the most likely explanation.

However Piper's size [just under 10 lbs at 7 months old] does also concern me. Was her breeder deliberately breeding very small Cavaliers? Do you know the size of her littermates?

Small size [failure to thrive] can indicate either Liver shunt or PDA...

Piper should fill out a bit and put on some more weight as she grows up - usually reaching full weight at 18 months or so. However she probably won't really grow too much taller now.