Neurological Disorder in Dogs: A Guide

Neurological disorders can be scary and dangerous for both humans and dogs. While you may be familiar with some of the most common neurological disorders that can affect people, many pet owners are unfamiliar with neurological conditions in dogs and how to recognize the symptoms. The onset of symptoms can be swift and worrisome, which makes it vital to recognize the issue early and get help quickly. To make sure you have the information you need to get your dog medical care, it can be helpful to know some of the neurological disorders that dogs can develop and what behaviors to look for. The below guide will provide you with introductory knowledge about neurological disorder in dogs, the symptoms to keep an eye out for, and how neurological disorders in dogs are diagnosed.

An Introduction to Neurological Conditions in Dogs

Just as with human beings, neurological disorders in dogs can stem from a variety of different disorders and begin with age, but what exactly is a neurological disorder? Neurological disorders in canines are a category of illnesses that affect your dog’s peripheral or central nervous system, which can cause a variety of dangerous and uncomfortable symptoms. Some of the areas most affected by neurological disorders in dogs are the nerves, brain, and spinal cord. Neurological disorders can be frightening for both dog and owner alike, but by knowing what to look for and some of the different types of neurological disorders in dogs, you’ll be able to provide your dog with the help he needs as soon as issues arise.

Symptoms of Neurological Disorders in Dogs

The best way to recognize whether or not your dog may be suffering from a neurological disorder is to know the most common symptoms. As a pet owner, it can be a challenge to help your dog when he has an issue or isn’t feeling well because he can’t communicate with you. Instead, you have to use the knowledge you have and assess his  behavior and any deviations from his normal attitude, habits, and actions. It’s also vital to be mindful of when certain symptoms start occurring and whether or not they are worsening in severity, particularly for neurological disorders since the onset of symptoms can be sudden and can sometimes progress rapidly. Below is a collection of different symptoms that can indicate a neurological disorder in a dog, symptoms can vary depending on what type of neurological disorder is causing them.


If you see your dog exhibiting any of the symptoms above, it is important to make sure he is seen by a veterinarian to get a full assessment and diagnosis. Some pet owners can attribute some of these symptoms to the process of aging when in fact an undiagnosed neurological disorder could be to blame. There are many different types of neurological disorders that can affect dogs and each presents unique symptoms and requires a catered treatment plan to resolve the symptoms. Providing your veterinarian with the information they need to make an accurate diagnosis can make a world of difference for your dog.

Types of Neurological Disorders in Dogs

Because of how complex the nervous system is and the many different ways it affects the body, canine neurological disorders can vary significantly depending on the type of neurological disease. Below are a handful of different neurological conditions that can affect dogs, though there are many more than those outlined below.


One of the most recognized and well-known neurological disorders in both human beings and dogs is epilepsy. Canine epilepsy is a neurological condition that presents with recurring seizures. Epilepsy can stem from a number of different factors, such as an underlying metabolic issue, a head injury, trauma, or an unknown cause. If your dog is suffering from epilepsy, a veterinarian will work to control the frequency and duration of the seizures so that your dog can maintain a high quality of life and avoid the discomfort and fear that often accompany a seizure. Epilepsy can usually be controlled and managed with veterinary intervention to allow you and your dog to go back to enjoying your time together.

Tick Paralysis

Tick paralysis develops when a dog is bitten by a female tick that bites it and passes poison into the dog during the biting process. When the poison enters his system, the dog will begin to lose feeling and the ability to move, which can lead to paralysis and issues with respiration. The poison that the tick transmits to the dog can quickly affect the nervous system and symptoms will generally begin to present within days of the bite. If the tick is found and carefully removed, the symptoms will usually begin to resolve on their own, but in some cases, the dog may need to be hospitalized and monitored during his recovery.


Another neurological disorder to watch out for in dogs is canine distemper. Distemper is a virus that is extremely contagious and dangerous for dogs. Distemper is more common in puppies and young dogs and affects their skin and brain cells. If a dog has distemper, he can present with a number of different symptoms, including an inability to eat, difficulty breathing, eyes that appear an abnormal color, lethargy, and in some cases, seizures. Vaccinations protect dogs from developing distemper, but once a dog contracts distemper, it is rare that they will recover. If you think your dog may have distemper, it is vital that they see a veterinarian as soon as possible to begin receiving treatment.


Another virus that poses a neurological risk to dogs is rabies. Dogs can contract rabies if they are bitten by another animal that has rabies. Canine rabies is a dangerous disease that will require immediate quarantine of the infected dog to avoid spreading to other animals. Rabies attacks a dog’s nervous system, which causes a swift progression of increasingly concerning symptoms. If a dog has been infected, he may begin to display different behaviors and restlessness, as well as aggression. As the virus progresses, this may escalate to the desire to bite and attack other animals or human beings. Dogs may also develop a fever and become increasingly sensitive to light, sound, and touch. From there, dogs will often begin to experience paralysis of their jaw and throat muscles and foam at the mouth. As the rabies symptoms in dogs progresses, they may also begin to stagger and wobble. If a dog has been vaccinated for rabies, then they will be quarantined for a designated amount of time, usually a period of ten days. However, if a dog has not been vaccinated for rabies prior to being infected, then the virus can be fatal.

Facial Nerve Paralysis

The name of this disease gives an ind