I am often asked this question by my friends, family, neighbors and a good number of people I meet when they find out what I do! Often, people are generally surprised that there is more to veterinary care than vaccines and itchy skin!
Most of the time you will be referred to see a veterinary neurologist, like myself, by your family veterinarian, however, you are always encouraged to seek out additional advice on your pet. The following are some of the reasons to see a veterinary neurologist.
- Your pet has a neurological disorder that is not getting better or is getting worse despite multiple visits with your family veterinarian.
- Your pet has an abnormal gait and the cause of which has not been clearly determined.
- Your pet has lost the ability (partially or completely) to use one or more leg.
- Your pet has seizures that are not well controlled with medication.
- Your pet has an unexplained change in behavior.
- Your pet is experiencing a balance problem.
- Your pet has had a “stroke”.
- Your pet has a brain tumor or head trauma.
- Your pet has had a spinal cord trauma or back fracture.
- Your pet has been experiencing pain and the source of which cannot be identified.
- You want to be more certain about the advice you’ve received from your family veterinarian.
- You want to do advanced testing such as electrodiagnostics, MRI, or spinal fluid analysis.
The exam done by a neurologist is quite unlike what you have typically seen at your family veterinarian. We assess the cranial nerves (nerves going from the brain to the face), reflexes, and ability for the patient to know normal from abnormal positioning. We do this to figure out where in the nervous system the abnormality is. This will help direct us in advising which diagnostics are necessary to determine the best treatment options.
As a board certified veterinary neurologist, I have completed a rotating internship (1 year), a neurosurgical internship (1 yr) and a residency (3 years) this is of course, after obtaining a 4 year degree in veterinary medicine (DVM). During this time I became adept at diagnosing and treating such problems as brain tumors, epilepsy, meningitis, and intervertebral disk disease (among many others). Not only am I able to treat my patients medically, but I also do the most intricate of surgeries in and around the brain and the spinal cord!