It is always scary when the senior animals we love exhibit symptoms that may herald the start of a new set of health challenges. As I sat watching the news on TV tonight, Sadie suddenly got up from her usual resting place near the patio window and started staggering around the livingroom.
I immediately noticed her back right foot dragging, toes under and pointing behind her. I knelt down beside her as she staggered and she collapsed onto her side, her head resting on my foot. However, she did not lose consciousness, her body did not twitch, her eyes did not roll back and she did not lose control of her bladder, symptoms I have observed in both dogs and humans having strokes or seizures.
She lay beside me for about 2-3 minutes, panting heavily. When her breathing became normal, I stood up to grab one of my animal health books and she slowly (but without staggering) walked over to her water dish and had a long drink.
I believe her behaviour likely was symptomatic of a mild stroke, though I suppose it is possible her leg had just gone to sleep. I will be watching her closely for the next few days, and will also call her vet in the morning.
My summer hiatus is over and I am now back at work; this was the first time in a couple of months that I’ve been away from the house from early morning until late afternoon. A friend came to let the dogs out for a while in the middle of the day, but no doubt Sadie felt a little stressed at the changed routine and my lengthy absence. There is some evidence that stress can help trigger a stroke.
It is worrisome - my sweet, gentle Sadie is the youngest of my seniors and has so much life left to live. Stay well, Sadie, please stay well.
One footnote: Lily, the little dog who is staying with us and whom Sadie befriended on her last visit, was tossing a toy around the room moments before all this happened. Just before Sadie collapsed, Lily stopped mid-toss and sat completely still right beside us staring at Sadie. I have read of "seizure alert" dogs who sense the change in "aura" around a person with epilepsy - I can't help but wonder if Lily sensed a change around Sadie. Even as I type this, Sadie is lying behind my chair and Lily is standing right beside her.