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Hello - hope someone can offer advice. My sisters Lab has a concave dip appear on one side of his head and has been scratching the side of his head. She has been to the vets and there is no ear infection and the vet felt it might be nerological or a stroke. He has told her to see how it goes for a few weeks - my sister is obviously very worried and the diagnosis has left her in confusion and worry. She asked about a scan on his head etc but the vet seemed a bit unkeen/vague. Max has not been out of my sisters sight so she knows he has not had a fall or knock.
Unrelated - but Max had bloods taken a few weeks ago as he was drinking a lot and was lethargic - bloods came back fine - the only thing was slight stress apparently which my sister put down to having to look after a stray cat for a few weeks. He was well within a few days of this and has been fine for weeks since this dip so possibly unrelated to this new problem.
Max is 7 and always been fit and well and a happy dog with no illnesses.
I thought maybe she should get a second opinion to put her mind at rest so she is seeing my vet tomorrow - but I was wondering if anyone else has had any symptoms/experiences like this with their Labs? Any advice/thoughts would be appreciated.
 

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When did the dip appear?

If he's scratching at it there is a probem and either go for a second opinion or certainly persist with x-ray/scan.

Good Luck.
 

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Thanks for your replies - The dip seems to have just appeared overnight - Yes she is definitely going to get a second opinion tomorrow - its just such a worry for her not knowing what exactly is wrong with her precious boy
 

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Has your vet checked for any parasites, ticks etc. I am sure he has but I'm just asking the question as often the simple things are overlooked.

It could be something as simple as muscle wastage but I don't consider 7 to be that old. The fact that it came up almost overnight is my concern and is it possible he could have done himself any injury, even going back a few months, which is now just manifesting itself?

The fact that he was lethargic and drinking a lot would be my starting point for diagnosing, as I said, things that happen a few weeks/months back can be the start of something. It would be rare that your vet would put that into his consideration, I just work differently. Was there any specific reason he was drinking more or lethargic, were blood tests taken at that specific time as that is when they show more of the problem.

I do think you have to follow up on this without doubt but try and recall, if you can, where you had been or what you had all been doing just prior to the excess drinking. Anything, no matter how small, is information. Mention that that to the vet in case it helps him out though he doesn't sound too considerate or concerned.

How is the dog in himself at the moment other than being irritated at this area of concern?
 

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Discussion Starter #6
No parasites or anything - I will ask my sister to think back though as you suggest. My sister has experience with diabetes which is why she took him to the vets some weeks back when she noticed him drinking more - he just seemed to be thirsty and lethargic for a few days but bounced back without medication or anything. She asked for blood tests at the time as nothing showed up in routine examination - the tests were all clear and he seemed fine after a day or two so it was felt he had just had a few off days.
My sister and her son both left the vets tonight a little bewildered and I guess confused on the dip on his head so we suggested she get a second opinion with our vet who we find very thorough and happy to talk things through in detail with you - I think he can help her better understand what it could be and give her more realistic options to go forward with to find out for sure.
It would appear to lean towards nerve or muscle problems with how quickly it has appeared - but I know I would like a more precise diagnosis myself so at least you would know what you are dealing with etc.
I will update tomorrow when she has been to our vets
 

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How long ago did this appear?

You say a dip, but obviously the bone of the skull cannot depress unless there has been a substantial knock, which you say has not happened. So I'd have to assume this is muscular contraction?? Where exactly is the dip?

OK, strokes are unusual in dogs, but can occasionally happen. But there is something else which I have on my mind which is rather more common. Tell me, when he walks, how does he move? Whet is he like on his front paws? Does he put them straight down flat like normal, or does he sort of double his toes under?

Sorry it's only questions at the mo, but I may be barking up the wrong tree.

Regards, John
 

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Hi TillyTurtle,

My Polly had sudden unexplained muscle atrophy on the top of her head. I literally noticed it within the same day of not seeing anything.
My Vet was puzzled but decided not to do anything for a while other than monitor her weekly, which we did for some time. This was dropped to fortnightly, then 6 weekly. Polly had no other problems with this, she was her normal self throughout.
Over this time (probably around 6 months) Polly improved, she regained the muscle on her head. We did have some anti-imflammatories for a week or two as Polly was itching/rubbing her head lots - this was likely a good thing as she was regaining feeling.

My vet thought that the most likely explanation was a knock to the head, either in the past or recently. This all happened when i'd not had Polly long, shes a rescue and it was quite possible she had been hit on the head - so it kind of matched up to what the vet was saying.

She did however say with older dogs the worry would be a stroke or a tumour. Polly is around 3 yrs.

My Vet wasnt keen on doing an MRI as she said it was unlikely to show anything!
I was also told she may never regain the muscle she had lost, and if she did regain that muscle it could take months maybe years.

If you are concerned maybe seek a second opinion, but just thought i'd share my experience. It is a worry, i think monitoring him and observing his behaviour maybe the way to go, before getting too worried.
 

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Hi Sam,

I think simple muscle wastage would be more symetrical, not appearing as a depression on one side. Also the excessive drinking may or may not be linked to the depression, so think it "may" be a read herring. Something to bear in mind, but not necessarily linked. Personally I think the depression is probably more likely to bear fruit. I figure you can guess what I'm thinking about by the questions I've asked. :) But thats the way my mind is working.

Regards, John
 

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one of my customers dogs has a very raised lump to her head which is more prominent when she is unwell. at the time she was dehydrated.

Presumably the vet did check her to see if the dog was hydrated or not?
Pinch the scruff of the neck to see if it springs back, it should feel silky soft and elasticy. NOT Greasy and remain tented. If you touch his gums they should feel wet NOT tacky.

Definitely seek another opinion.

How is the dog in himself? eating/drinking, weeing/pooing. normal bounce?

Is the dip actually a red herring - is it that the other side of the head is swollen? (abscess??)
 

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John it's a problem for me on boards as I do tend to ask a lot of questions, I'd rather send out our questionnaire as it generally leads me to the problem pretty quickly.

Muscle atrophy can be one sided, it depends on the cause and that's what we don't have.

A stroke would show in other ways but as you've started your sleuthing I'll just sit here quietly :) I am pretty sure you have got a lot of experience under your belt.
 

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The vet would surely have checked both sides of the head and the owner would know if it was swollen. is he scratching the dipped side or the 'swollen' side? could be teeth, a knock, sinus's....it's a long list but I hope it is something very simple.
 

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Don’t sit back Sam. You might spot the answer.

For what it's worth my mind is looking in the direction of Vestibular Syndrome. This can pull the face. Over the years two of mine have had this. The answers to my questions may not confirm it or disprove it as a certainty but could help point in a direction.

The problem with the forum is that un subscribed people only have 5 posts, so where on another forum I would ask rather more questions on here we need to condense things rather. The OP has posted 3 times so only has 2 posts left.

Regards, John
 

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John, it it was/is Vestibular there would be some signs. Often the eyes have this very rapid eye movement which can last from a day to 6 weeks but perhaps this was missed by the owner if it happened at night but the dog would be having difficulty standing/walking, not intereted in eating etc. I'm sure you know the symptoms. It is self healing. Takes about 6 weeks and as I have just treated a Lab. with Vestibular we put him in a harness and helped him walk which he loved. Oddly enough this dog had a prior Kidney issue which the vet wouldn't discuss with me.

As I just mentioned I really don't like doing an on the spot diagnosis, I'd really rather send out a questionnaire which I'd be happy to send you a completed copy of with the owners permission so you can see how I start the process of diagnosing. I find that talking with the owner often brings up this 'aha' moment and is often the answer to the problem so boards are restrictive for me in that way. The more suggestions the more confused an owner can become but at least this dog is going to the vet again for another chance.

Can I just add that I look at everything from ears, eyes, inside the mouth to checking their walking, areas of heat, inflammation, urine and bowel activity regardless of the initial presentation. Only Natalie and Vicki know how I work unfortunately. I miss nothing out and on a board this is not an easy way to work.

I'll look forward to the next vet report!
 

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Sorry it has been a while but have been very busy and had to get round to resubscribing so I could post an update.
Right - my sister took her lab to Liverpool Veterinary College and they had him for a day and ran tests, scans etc and the sad news was he has a tumour at the base of his brain which has caused nerve damage and the dip on his head. The vets there are reluctant to do anything until follow up scans in a few more months so they can see how the tumour is (if it has changed, grown etc). The dip does seem to be effecting his eye socket also and they said the eye might need removing if the dip gets worse.
They put him on medication (sorry cant remember name but understand they said his head shaking is due to an itching sensation in his head) and said to start him on 2 a day and luckily they have not had to increase that yet.
Max is till doing ok but is not quite as energetic as he once was but still plays, eats etc fine at present.
I am trying to load a couple of photo's below as I know some of you were curious/interested in the symptoms and it might help others in the future with similar symptoms. One has Max before the dip and the other shows him with my Pug now with the dip on the left hand side (sorry the quality of the picture is so bad it was off my phone)


For now we just have to wait and see - it is hard for my sister as Max is obviously her 'baby' but he is having much love and the best of care for now.
Thanks everyone for the help/advice/thoughts!
Its lovely to see how dedicated you all are to your labradors! I have a Pug and wish there was a forum like this for me!
Best wishes!
 

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oh gosh what a happy handsome looking chap.

I'm so sorry to read the diagnosis was a tumour :(

I hope the treatment keeps him comfortable and he is able to be a loving companion to your sister for a good while yet.
 

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What a sad diagnosis, and worrying that at the time of posting originally the other vet seemes unconcerned, I am pleased you sister took advice and got a second opinion.

Please keep us posted, you don't have to be a Lab owner to be a member here, many of us have other breeds as well, so don't feel you can't join us. :D
 

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Oh bless him :( and how upsetting for your sister.

I missed your thread first time around but just wanted to say thanks for taking the time to resubscribe and update it, and add to the LF 'library'.

Loving the pug btw :wink:
 
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