Veterinary Neurology of the Chesapeake | Jay McDonnell, DVM, MS, Diplomate ACVIM | Annapolis & Towson, MD


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Veterinary Neurology Articles


By Megan Davis, DVM and Jay McDonnell, DVM, MS, DACVIM


The Article: Clinical Characterization of Epilepsy of Unknown Cause in Cats. A.M.Wahle, et al. J Vet Intern Medicine 2104; 28: 182-188


This study tries to determine the prevalence of Epilepsy of Unknown Cause (EUC) in cats. Idiopathic epilepsy in dogs and humans is presumed to be genetic. [See Dr. McDonnell's previous articles, Canine Epilepsy: An Information Guide and Geriatric Onset Ideopathic Epilepsy, for more on this subject.] However, causes for feline seizures haven’t been systematically reviewed. 

By Jay McDonnell, DVM, MS, Diplomate ACVIM (Neurology)


Epilepsy, convulsions, fits, and seizures are alarming and disturbing events to both dogs and their owners.  A seizure can have several manifestations, from a far-away look or twitching in one part of the face to a dog falling on its side barking, clenching and unclenching its teeth, urinating, defecating and paddling all four limbs. 

Dementia—a clinical state in which cognitive function declines—is well-known as a disease that afflicts aging humans. There’s less awareness that dementia is a disease seen in companion animals, especially dogs. In fact, dementia, also known as senility or cognitive dysfunction, may be a normal aging change in older pets. There does appear to be a substantially accelerated form of dementia seen in some dogs.

By Drs. Randy Cross, DVM and Jay McDonnell, DVM, MS, Diplomate ACVIM (Neurology)


Spinal cord diseases in cats can be incredibly frustrating.  The adventure starts with the uncooperative patient, winds its way through the dreaded neurologic examination interpretation, and ends in the sea of diseases that could be causing the clinical signs. It’s not easier for a board certified neurologist, but there are some things that we can share that might be helpful.

By Megan C. Davis, DVM


The Article: Magnetic resonance imaging features of Great Danes with and without clinical signs of cervical spondylomyelopathy Paula Martin-Vaquero, DMV, PhD, and Ronaldo C. da Costa, DMV, PhDJAVMA, Vol 245, No 4, August 15, 2014

By Megan Davis, DVM


The Article: Clinical signs and outcome of dogs treated medically for degenerative lumbosacral stenosis: 98 cases (2004-2012) Steven de Decker, DVM, PhD; Lauren A. Wawrzenski, BVetMed; Holger A. Volk, DVM, PhD JAVMA, Vol 245, No4, August 15, 2014

By Laura Landstra and Jay McDonnell, DVM, MS, Diplomate ACVIM (Neurology)


1. What are idiopathic head tremors?
Idiopathic head tremors are a series of repetitive, horizontally (“no” gesture) or vertically-directed (“yes”), involuntary muscle contractions involving the head and neck. A typical episode lasts about three minutes (yet may seem to last much longer as you are watching it!). 

A much anticipated study describing the distribution of Canine Degenerative Myelopathy (DM) across a huge spectrum of canine DNA covering 222 breeds has been released. The genetic marker SOD1 alleles has previously been associated with the progressive neurological disease of Canine Degenerative Myelopathy. DNA samples from over 35,000 individual dogs representing 222 breeds and and cross-bred dogs were reviewed.

Degenerative myelopathy (DM) is a poorly understood, progressive neurodegenerative disease seen in many dog breeds. Onset of the disease is typically is seen in dogs age 8 to 14.

By Jay McDonnell, DVM, MS, Diplomate ACVIM (Neurology)


When older pets (age 10 year or older) have a seizure, the owner's first thought typically is, "This has to be a tumor or something else bad. This must be a death knell for my pet." I'd like to assure you: This isn't necessarily true.

Veterinary neurologists often evaluate, diagnose, and treat patients that are referred to us for back pain and/or weakness. Polyarthritis is often considered the Great Imitator as patients suffering from this problem can appear very similar to patients with intervertebral disc disease, myopathies, meningitis, and even myasthenia gravis.

By Jay McDonnell, DVM, MS, Diplomate ACVIM (Neurology)


There’s exciting, ground-breaking research on brain tumors in dogs being done by G. Elizabeth Pluhar, DVM, PhD  and John Ohlfest, PhD and their colleagues at the University of Minnesota. 

By Jay McDonnell, DVM, MS, Diplomate ACVIM (Neurology)


1. What is Feline idiopathic vestibular disease?
Feline idiopathic vestibular disease (IVD) is a disease of uncertain cause that affects the peripheral (outside the brain) vestibular system. 

By Jay McDonnell, DVM, MS, Diplomate ACVIM (Neurology)


1. My dachsund is having trouble walking. My vet suspects that it's a problem with his spine. Is there anything that can be done—or will my dog end up in a doggie wheelchair?

Dogs that can barely walk and those that can't walk at all due to disk disease have an 80% to 95% chance to return to normal function with surgery.

By Jay McDonnell, DVM, MS, Diplomate ACVIM (Neurology)


1. Why is my dog trembling or shaking? Could it be a seizure?

There are many reasons your dog may be shaking or trembling including stress or anxiety, cold, pain, muscular weakness, a neurological problems, chronic kidney disease and Generalized Tremor Syndrome (GTS). GTS  is a condition that was first seen in small, white dogs such as Maltese and West Highland white terriers, but it can occur in dogs of any size, breed or color. The cause of GTS isn't known, but it is treatable with corticosteroids like prednisone.

In July, Shannon G. and her family brought home two Yorkie puppies, Benny and his sister, Pippa. After having Benny groomed, they noticed Benny started to wobble. His condition worsened over the next few days to the point where Benny fell and couldn't get up.

By Jay McDonnell, DVM, MS, Diplomate ACVIM (Neurology)


For more than 15 years, I’ve had a special interest in the definitive treatment of cervical spondylomyelopathy (CSM or Wobbler Syndrome). The two most commonly recognized forms of the disease include the static form (young Great Danes and Mastiffs) and dynamic CSM (middle-aged Dobermans, Rottweilers and retrievers).

By Jay McDonnell, DVM, MS, Diplomate ACVIM (Neurology)


1. What is a spinal arachnoid cyst?
A spinal subarachnoid cyst is not actually a cyst; instead it is a fluid-filled dilation within the subarachnoid space. It's best referred to as an Arachnoid Diverticulum (plural=Diverticula).  The term “pseudocyst” has been used to describe this abnormality as well.

By Jay McDonnell, DVM, MS, Diplomate ACVIM (Neurology)

The most common neurosurgical cases for dogs are those of the thoracolumbar (T3-L3) spine, the cervical-cervicothoracic (C1-T2) spine and intracranial surgery. Knowing when to refer your neurosurgical cases can be the most artful of the art and science of veterinary medicine.

Discospondylitis is an infection of the intervertebral disk and adjacent vertebra and may be associated with significant illness and neurologic impairment if definitive diagnosis and initiation of appropriate antimicrobial treatment are delayed. 

Metronidazole is a synthetic nitroimidazole compound used in small animal practice for the treatment of inflammatory bowel disease, gastritis associated with helicobacter, giardiasis and empirical treatment of diarrhea. Metronidazole is also used to alter intestinal flora in dogs with hepatic encephalopathy and exocrine pancreatic insufficiency.

Tinker’s owner, Hank, knew immediately that there was something seriously wrong with his two-year-old male neutered Chihuahua when he returned home from work on Wednesday. Rather than greeting Hank at the door as usual – jumping and barking — Tinker was crouched in his bed, shaking and whimpering. When Hank encouraged Tinker to move, he cried out and pulled himself out of the bed using just his front legs. His rear legs dragged uselessly behind. When Hank picked him up, Tinker screamed and tried to bite his beloved owner. 

By Jay McDonnell, DVM, MS, Diplomate ACVIM (Neurology)


Seizures are one of the most common complaints in veterinary neurology. While canine seizures may be caused by head trauma, brain tumors, toxins, infections, birth defects and many other identifiable causes, the vast majority of seizures in young dogs (one to three years old) are idiopathic or genetic epilepsy.

Part 1: Overview & Diagnosis


The diagnosis of brain tumor in a much-loved dog or cat can be overwhelming for an owner—and it can be a great concern for the family’s veterinarian who typically doesn’t see this type of condition frequently.

There are thousands of cases of Canine Cushing's Disease in the U.S. each year, but the current medical treatment is medication given daily or several times per week that treats the symptoms.

Board Certified Veterinary Neurologist Dr. Jay McDonnell | Annapolis & Towson, MD