What I learned about dogs from horses
If you have an older or senior dog, it is possible at some point you will see him or her standing in the corner, looking stuck, staring at the wall or down at the ground. Some people think this is just because dogs get old or maybe because they suffer from senior dog dementia.
This article will help you understand what this staring may be about and how to solve it. My approach is based on 28 years of experience treating many dogs and isn't described in any canine textbooks.
Almost twenty years ago, I worked in a mixed animal veterinary practice in Whistler, British Columbia. The area is well known for world-class skiing, but it is also becoming known for organic and sustainable farming in the nearby town of Pemberton. This beautiful town is nestled in a lush and fertile valley surrounded by rugged mountains and snow-covered peaks and it is absolutely glorious in the summer.
I used to treat horses in Pemberton and one of the biggest problems I saw was horsetail poisoning. Horsetail, also called Mares Tail or Equisetum in Latin, is a prehistoric-looking plant that can cause neurological and liver damage when ingested. Poisoning mostly occurs when horsetail is mixed into hay.
One of the common symptoms of horsetail poisoning is that affected horses 'get stuck in the corner' staring into space. As I progressed into working mainly with dogs, I noticed that many older and senior dogs have the same symptoms of standing and staring in the corner, zoned out, looking a little confused. Interestingly, the same dogs also had either liver diseases or signs of body and liver toxicity. Such toxicity often originates from processed food, medication or just old age.
It became apparent that the symptom of staring is not specific to horsetail poisoning, but more so to liver damage, toxicity and vitamin B deficiency in dogs that do not get vitamins and other essential supplements.
Dogs gather a degree of toxicity during their lifetime and this may present itself through many different symptoms, such as sensitivity to touch, irritability, a tendency to poor healing, immune system weakness, confusion, lack of mental clarity and staring in the corner.
So what should we do when we see these symptoms, especially in middle to older age dogs?
The answer is simple. Get a physical examination and essential blood work and urine test to rule out serious problems. After that, you can follow the natural diet and liver cleansing protocol in the article here.
In most dogs, the symptoms disappear very quickly.
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© Dr. Peter Dobias, DVM