Since my baby girl Nellie was 2 years old (she's now 5.5), we've been dealing with this extremely scary health issue that affects her when she plays fetch games. It starts just after we stop playing fetch with her....she walks around kind of dazed, and then goes completely numb. It's like she can't see us or hear us. Then, she starts the tell-tale "stagger", where it literally looks like she's drunk. She starts to walk in only in the direction of walls, cupboard doors, dark corners, etc, will run into these walls and/or cupboards....usually falling to the floor a few times, and then she tries to bury her head as far in any corner as she can. While this is happening, my hubby and I are frantically trying to snap her out of it--we've found that spraying her with a cold water bottle from the fridge seems to help, or if my hubby is home, he can carry her upstairs to the bathtub for a cold shower.
It is just really scary, and about gives me a heart attack every time it happens. It's happened maybe 4 times over the past 3 years, b/c we've learned what her limit is with the fetching...usually no more than 20 throws. But this evening, I threw her maybe 15 or so outside, and decided to quit early, b/c our new puppy, Duke was annoying the crap out of Nellie. (She wasn't helping her situation any by dropping the rope right in his face every time she retrieved it! ) Well, I'll be damed if she didn't start walking in the opposite direction, struggling to keep all four paws on the ground. SO, I'm trying to juggle the puppy, and run after her, as she staggers across the street (luckily, we live in a one-street subdivision with very little traffic) and into my neighbors yard, where she proceeds to crash into his shrubbery. It was truly terrifying. I was finally able to lead her back to my house, but she crashed on the concrete a couple of times on the way. My poor sweetie.
Has anyone else ever dealt with this condition? We've asked several vets about it, and unfortunately it is still a mysterious condition to them. The only way they can really study it is to get dogs who have it and induce the staggering to check vitals as it is happening. She will normally snap out of it in about 5 minutes or so, like nothing ever happened, and will be tail-wagging, and her normal self. And there doesn't seem to be any lingering effects right after she comes out of it, or the next day. She even wants to play fetch again right away.
Sigh.....she loves her fetch. I'm afraid we're going to have to cut it out of her life completely if this keeps getting worse.
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Sorry, I'm of no use as I've never encountered this. One of my breeders dogs did this, after swimming a LOT on a very hot day, but it only happened one time.
Has she had her heart checked? Just curious.
Sorry I can't offer any help but good thoughts for you guys. What does your vet say about continuing to play fetch with Nellie? I hope somehow you can continue to play fetch with her even if it is for abbreviated sessions.
Also curious...is there a common weather condition when she has these spells? Like always hot and sunny? Just trying to see if maybe there is something common going on here...
Wow, I'm sorry to hear that your dog has this strange condition. I have never heard of this before so I am of no help. I too was thinking heart related though. Is it possible she has a heart murmur or something? Did any of your Vets suggest possible lack of certain vitamins or something along those lines?
I sincerely hope you discover the reason soon. My thoughts are with you and your Nellie.
My Jordan used to have this when she was alive. We thought the first episode was heat stroke (my SU had her at the park, I was at work, I got home to find her panting and acting drunk, and began hosing her with cold water) After a trip to the vet, we all thought it was heat stroke. After the second and third episode, we knew it was something different. Then we began to keep a diary of when she'd have them, and we deduced it was EIC. Our vet actually gave us valium in a syringe to give to her rectally to knock her out of them, much like when you have an epiliptic dog. You may want to ask yours about this, I'm not sure.
We began to really monitor Jordan's exercise levels, much like you do, but they are so hard to predict. We were out hiking one day with some friends in the woods, and Jordan began to tug on some grapevine hanging from the trees, and the excitement and exertion triggered one while we were there. Sometimes you just cannot predict how much exertion or excitement or exercise will do it.
Me, Abzilla and the Helomonster.
I know--that's the scariest thing...we just can't predict it, or prevent it 100% of the time....we have not had her heart checked yet...we had all kind of deduced that it was EIC from what little we knew of it. To answer the weather question...it does seem to happen more quickly when it is very hot out. But she has still had spells when it was cold...probably b/c we thought she could handle more throws since it was cold. I hate to stop playing fetch with her....she is absolutely INSANE about her dang ratty rope!
Thanks for the fast responses so far! We appreciate it!
Here is a good article about it.
What an excellent article. Real informative. I hope Nellie has had her last episode of EIC. Maybe as she gets a tad older, the symptoms will just never occur again. In the meantime, I guess you just have to keep her fetching even a little more short each time? I wish you the best of luck!
Interesting that our dogs have the same name and same problem. Several years ago I spent about $5,000 with an ortho vet and a neuro vet. They never conclusively said exercise induced collapse or partial seizures but when they wanted to put dye in her spine and do an MRI I called a stop to the testing.
Since then I have controlled how much she runs and fetches and we have had no more problems. She also lives to run and fetch but that's too bad. I don't want her collapsing again.
I was going to give you the link that Raian posted.
You can Google "Exercise Induced Collapse" and find some others such as this:
At our weekly LabFests, one of our members (a vet) comes with his Lab. He's employed by Science Diet (a local firm) and he was given his Lab as a pup on the condition it would not be fed anything other than an experimental food SD provides.
"Duncan" (the black Lab) is a bench line, apparently from a breeder near St. Louis. As far as his owner knows, none of the other sibs have the condition. Duncan is obsessed with fetching and, when he got "too much", he'd stagger and sometimes need to be carried to the car. His owner/vet thought at first it was a matter of low blood sugar but it was not.
Now his owner restricts the number of retrieves Duncan gets and that helps a lot. He keeps the total number to less than the number that produces the symptoms.
He says he's enrolled Duncan in the EIC study.
PS -- It's worked best with Duncan to restrict fetching to just the last 5-10 minutes of our Labfest, just before going home. Otherwise, he pesters his owner incessantly to sling the training dummy again and again.
Puff [YF, AKC field line (from competing HT/FT breeder) 62 lbs, dob: 8-'01]
Bess [BF, AKC bench line (from competing show breeder) 55 lbs., 1967-1981] "Poor Bess, the Wonder Dog":