Q: My Chihuahua keeps having these weird moments that look like she’s not all there. She stares into space and her head bobs up and down. Sometimes she also has these attacks during which she looks like she can’t catch her breath. She also has some strange-looking stools. I was wondering if all this is related.
A: That’s a lot of information for one little Chihuahua. But rest assured it’s not uncommon for dogs to experience a variety of issues at once, none which is necessarily as problematic as you might think they’d be. The one thing they all have in common may surprise you: It’s your smartphone.
Sure, you’ve got to see your veterinarian. No doubt about it. But before you go, be smart and whip out your smartphone so you can take videos of these events and pictures of the stool. This way you’ll have something for your veterinarian to examine.
It’s perhaps the one time I’m pleased to see my clients being hyper-fixated on their personal technology. Except for taking notes, it really has no place in the exam room otherwise. Here’s a brief list of other instances in which I’ll recommend that my clients use their tech:
▪ Yes, we really do want to know what that diarrhea or vomit looks like.
▪ Display of intermittent issues like coughing, sneezing, breathing patterns, etc.
▪ Filming seizures can help us diagnose underlying disorders and target treatment.
▪ Visualizing sleeping, eating and other “normal” behaviors can be enlightening.
▪ Behavior problems are often visible only on video.
▪ Pictures of surgery sites that may look worrisome.
▪ Keeping track of the size and appearance of visible masses.
▪ Pics of strange skin and mouth lesions or anywhere else they may appear.
▪ Videos of that magical disappearing limp (the one that always goes away when your pet sees the vet).
▪ Evidence of possible geriatric changes like slowing down, difficulty rising, etc.
Now back to your Chihuahua. Yes, it’s time to see your veterinarian. There are many possibilities for the signs you’re observing: The head bobbing can be considered a benign neurological issue, especially in certain breeds. It may take a visit with a neurologist to be sure. The stool, however, can mean anything. You should bring a sample with you along with the pic. And as to the last behavior, it sounds like benign reverse sneezing, but videos are great. YouTube has lots of them.
Dr. Patty Khuly has a veterinary practice at Sunset Animal Clinic in South Miami. Her website is drpattykhuly.com. Send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.