Good luck with your specialist visit. It would be really helpful for the veterinarian if you had video of at least one of the collapses. Also, this article gives some helpful observations you can record. Hopefully, that will make your first visit more productive.
Episodic Weakness and Collapse
by expert Jon Wray on April 1, 2013 category Weakness and Collapse
What is Episodic weakness and collapse?
Essentially, ‘episodic weakness and collapse’ refers to involuntary falling over! Dogs are more commonly presented to veterinary surgeons with this problem than cats. Syncope (pronounced sin-coh-pea) is the technical term for fainting when the patient temporarily loses consciousness. Collapse, such as fainting, may be completely benign and require no treatment. However, in some circumstances it is due to a life-threatening situation that requires a specific treatment.
We need to be sure we are not just dealing with an isolated incident of exhaustion! However, don't take a chance. You must call your vet if you are concerned.
We need to be sure we aren’t just dealing with an isolated incident of exhaustion! However, don’t take a chance. You must call your vet.
Remember these conditions are both Involuntary (the patient has no control over them) and intermittent or ‘episodic’ and the patient may be completely normal between bouts. There are no seizures or fits as we see in Epilepsy. Also, before starting our investigations, we need to be as sure as possible that involuntary collapse is truly occurring. If a dog is choosing to lie down, for instance because of tiredness or heat exhaustion, or because of feeling faint after pulling hard on the lead this is not collapse.
What causes episodes of weakness, collapse or fainting?
The causes are many and varied and can involve:
The heart and blood vessels
The nervous system – brain, spinal cord, peripheral nerves
The muscles, bones and joints
A malfunction of one or more chemical processes occurring in one of a number of body organs (these are usually referred to as ‘Metabolic’ causes).
To further complicate matters there are plenty of potential causes of collapse within each of these broad categories. So, what might seem to be a relatively ‘simple’ clinical presentation can turn into the proverbial search for a needle in a haystack when it comes to finding out the cause of the problem.
Investigations can therefore be costly, frustrating and extremely time consuming for all concerned. For example, it is quite common for blood samples to be sent to more than one specialist laboratory and some of these may be outside the UK. Finally getting all the results together can take several days or even weeks. It can be a trial of patience waiting for such tests but it is better to wait for accurate results than to choose a more rapid but less helpful alternative.
How can pet owners and carers help in getting to a diagnosis?
You can help a great deal by giving an accurate account of events leading up to the collapsse
You can help a great deal by giving an accurate account of events leading up to the collapse
Getting to a diagnosis is clearly very important so we know how to treat effectively. You can help your vet a lot in this regard! It is often very helpful if video footage of the events occurring can be provided as sometimes this may show important information which to the untrained eye may not be obvious. Your vet may well not see the event you are concerned about as by their very nature these are intermittent events.
It is very helpful to know the following:
What a pet is doing just before he or she collapses?
What he or she does during the collapse?
What he or she does just after the collapse?