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Dog circling & sunken head
slp637 posted:
My 12 1/2 yr old male German boxer (yes, born in Germany has developed a sunken head appearance on his left side. His left eye has sunken into its socket & he continuously circles & is very restless. He will collapse after circling, then 5 minutes later he is up again walking a few steps & then circling. He has started vomiting his water & now sometimes his food. He does not have trouble eating or opening his mouth. He has started to lose weight because now his spine is showing & his back hind part is starting to atrophy & his ribs are starting to show. He is well loved & taken care of. He is very restless at night, up & down all night, & I don;t know if he is in pain. I also think his sight in his left eye is affected. He has also started to tumble down the stairs so my husband or I have to be in front of him to guide him & catch him in case he does fall. I don't have the money right now to take him to the vet but know I will have to so I am putting money aside. In the meantime, is there anyone who has similar problems or can anyone tell me what is going on? Thank you.
Sandy Willis, DVM, DACVIM responded:
Hi and thanks for writing in,

You provide a very thorough constellation of clinical signs, thank you. I am worried that the circling and loss of muscle mass on the left side of your dogs head, the temporal muscles, if due to something affecting the nerves on that side, perhaps even a tumor. Those signs are very localizing. This could be just outside the brain or perhaps inside the brain. There are some diseases that cause similar signs and result in a difficulty opening the mouth, and as you mentioned there is none, but they cause atrophy generally of both sides and no circling. The muscle mas otherwise, all over his body, may imply that the disease is local and systemic. Sometimes cancer cause cachexia. It is really hard to say. Sounds like you are taking care of him and keeping him safe. Now, the most important part for me of his veterinary care is that initial physical exam and history, which is the cost of an office call. Brain MRI's are very expensive, but an office call is not and your veterinarian may be able to give you some very good information before additional testing is done. Sounds like your dog might be nauseous as well, and we should treat that. And sometimes we use palliative care like steroids if we suspect neoplasia and additional diagnostics, treatments are limited. All depends on what your veterinarian thinks. I would try to get him in for that appointment before he gets much worse. Let us know what happens. Dr. Sandy
slp637 replied to Sandy Willis, DVM, DACVIM's response:
I am sorry to report that my beloved Kaiser passed away this past Saturday, 11 Jan 2014. His head was completely sunken in & he had trouble standing. I had taken him to the vet & after examining him & doing a bunch of blood work & a physical exam, said he probably had a brain tumor. She said MRI's could be done but they would be expensive (as you had graciously pointed out.) She also advised that if further testing did find a brain tumor, an operation would be expensive & she did not feel - because of his physical condition - that he would survive. She advised me to give him lots of love & keep him comfortable. She gave a prescription for MEYPLEX for pain & GABAPENTIN for circling, restlessness & confusion. I was also giving him 10 mg of melatonin to help him sleep. I can't stop crying as he was my baby & I loved him so. I know he is better off & not suffering. I did not want to have to make the decision to put him down & I guess God made that decision for me. Thank you very much for your help & advice.
blossom2 replied to slp637's response:
I am so sorry about you losing Kaiser. You did all that you could. I am glad he isn't suffering. I have a 14 yr old German shorthair pointer that is having seizures and circles when she comes out of the seizure. I know she is getting worse it's just so hard to do the right thing. Maybe she will meet Kaiser over the rainbow bridge. God bless and RIP Kaiser
Sandy Willis, DVM, DACVIM replied to slp637's response:
I too am so sorry to hear about Kaiser. IT does sound like your veterinarian and I were in agreement. I know it is so hard to lose a beloved pet, one of the worst times I have ever had to deal with, but the joy and love they give us over the years I feel makes up for the sadness and pain at their passing.
Please take care, Dr. Sandy
slp637 replied to Sandy Willis, DVM, DACVIM's response:
Thank you all for your kind responses about Kaiser's passing. I never knew that his death would have such a profound impact on my life. Each day I feel like I am in a daze & the house is so very quiet. My baby is no longer greeting me at the door, resting on his special bed, waking me up to go out. I still have not given his toys, food, treats, bed or special blanket away yet. I just can't seem to do that. My daughter has a dog & I will probably give them to her, but not just yet. I know eventually the pain & tears will lessen. I had him cremated & his ashes are in a special urn with his picture. Picking up his ashes was very very difficult & I just held them & kept crying. I loved my little boy so much & I miss him terribly, but I know he is in a better place, hopefully romping & playing with all the other dogs. Thank you all for caring & your kind thoughts.
slp637 replied to blossom2's response:
Blossom2, I know what you are going through. It is very difficult watching a beloved pet being sick, experience pain, seizures & circling. If they could talk to us & let us know what is happening, how they are feeling, if they are in pain, etc. it would be so much easier"026on us & on them. I know that it is very hard to "do the right thing" as you said. I kept praying that I would not have to make the decision to put Kaiser down, & each day I kept putting it off, even though I could see him deteriorating. I still could not bring myself to make the decision to end his life. I am glad that God took him for me, even though now I realize it was selfish of me because I saw him suffering. God Bless You & I will keep you in my thoughts & prayers during this difficult time.
STOTTY replied to slp637's response:
So sorry about Kaiser. My dog is going through the same thing now, she is 14. She won't pee and staggers and has slept all day yesterday and most of today until this evening when she drank water and ate a little of her food. I honestly thought she wouldn't be here this morning but she is still with us. Just hate the thought of a vet ending her days.


William Draper, DVM, better known as "Dr. Will," is a well-known small animal practitioner in the Atlanta, GA area. He grew up in Inglewood,...More

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