Yesterday, April 23, 2012, I was surprised to see a 12-year-old Miniature Schnauzer I had not seen since 11 years ago. A young couple in their mid 20s came with the dog whose head tilted or turned left at around 90 degrees to the neck. I recognised the name of this dog which was one of a kind and recalled the father who brought this dog specially for the young daughter who was 12 years old then.
As he lived quite far from Toa Payoh, it was understandable that I had not seen this dog. There could be other reasons but this is expected.
"Was the dog walking in circles?" I asked.
"Yes," the young lady said. "At first wide circles near the wall. Now, in small circles. Always circling to the right."
Sudden onset 2 weeks ago said to have fallen from the couch. Vet 1 examined and said nothing was abnormal. Soon the dog started walking in smaller circles and crying. The daughter decided to consult me. The father wanted euthanasia as the dog was whining the whole day and restless.
Yet he ate and had not lost much weight. He vomited the food recently.
What's the cause of this circling? Is there a solution?
There was mild pain in the spinal area on palpation esp. T/L and inside the ears when I applied a cotton bud. Other than that, no cervical pain.
Blood tests were not taken by Vet 1 and no medication or injection was given as the dog was "normal."
This was a puzzling case. Middle ear infection or trauma? Ears were quite clean. Infection from bad teeth's bacteria into the brain via the Eustachian tubes to the brain?
The dog had two dentals, the recent one being in January 2012.
Diazepam 1.5 ml sedated the dog for around 2 hours. The dog started to paddle. I gave Domitor+Ketamine at 20% to let him sleep. His neck was now straight due to diazepam. Will wait till blood test results come in today and see what's the problem.
No spinal fluid test is done yet. There's a big below gum upper molar tooth embedded.
Could this tooth be rotten inside the gum, causing bacteria to go up the maxillary sinuses into the frontal sinus and to the brain? Now, there is no bad breath. Ear canal had little yellow wax and grooming was done 2 weeks before the appearance of clinical signs.
It is a difficult situation as the cause is still hard to find without X-rays and scans which would cost money.
Blood test - significant results were the high eosinophils and monocytes.
The dog was warded two nights and went home. The head had not tilted 90 degree to the left. When I called him, he could turn his head to the right. So far, he could walk straight and his head pointed normally forward. What is the cause of his circling? He circled from larger circle to small tight circles to the right. He could circle no more in the sense that the circle had become too small. A very rare case reminding me of "scrapie" in the sheep shown by the professors when I studied at Glasgow Vet College some 40 years ago. The sheep was walking in circles and it was quite unforgettable even now.