MSPCA-Angell Headquarters

350 South Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA 02130
(617) 522-7400
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Angell Animal Medical Centers – Boston

350 South Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA 02130
(617) 522-7282
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Angell West

293 Second Avenue, Waltham, MA 02451
(781) 902-8400
For on-site assistance (check-ins and pick-ups):
(339) 970-0790
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Angell at Essex

565 Maple Street, Danvers, MA 01923
(978) 304-4648
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Animal Care and Adoption Centers – Boston

350 South Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA 02130
(617) 522-5055
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Animal Care and Adoption Centers – Cape Cod

1577 Falmouth Road, Centerville, MA 02632
(508) 775-0940
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Animal Care and Adoption Centers – Nevins Farm

400 Broadway, Methuen, MA 01844
(978) 687-7453
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Animal Care and Adoption Centers – Northeast Animal Shelter

347 Highland Ave., Salem, MA 01970
(978) 745-9888
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Neurology FAQs

Can my pet eat prior to the appointment?

Prior to arriving, it is recommended to fast your pet for 12 hours prior to your scheduled appointment time. Your pet may have water during this time but no food. This will help expedite some laboratory tests that may need to be done, and if needed, potentially allow surgery or other tests requiring anesthesia, to be done the same day as your appointment. Please be aware that most anesthetic and surgical procedures are not performed the same days as your pet’s appointment, unless deemed an emergency. If your pet is presenting for a seizure disorder and is older than 4 years or age, please try to fast your pet for 24 hours. However, if your pet has a seizure during the 24 hour fast, please feed you pet.

What If I am running late?

Because we have a busy schedule, we may not be able to see you if you arrive late for your appointment. If you know you are going to be late, please call 617- 541-5140 to find out if we can still accommodate you. Please be aware we may need to see other patients prior to seeing your pet.

Will it be possible to have an MRI or CT scan of my pet done the same day as my first appointment with the neurologist?

On occasion, after prior consultation with your referring veterinarian and if you pet has not been fed for 12 hours before your appointment, special arrangements may be able to be made to do an MRI or CT scan the same day as your appointment.  However, general anesthesia is required for an MRI or CT scan to be done.  The procedure requires careful pre-anesthesia evaluation by our anesthesiology staff and careful monitoring during anesthesia.  Your pet’s neurologist also needs to be present to help interpret the scan and help guide the selection of images to be done.  A thorough scan of the brain or spinal cord takes one to two hours to complete.  It is difficult for your neurologist to see outpatient appointments and properly supervise and interpret your pets scan during the same day.  If the urgency of your pet’s problem requires that a scan be done the same day, then the appointment will need to be scheduled as early in the morning as possible and special arrangements will need to be made in advance of the appointment day.

Can my pet’s seizure disorder be completely cured?

In some cases when a specific cause for the seizures can be found such as low blood sugar, low blood calcium, lead poisoning, or encephalitis, the seizures can be completely eliminated by curing these underlying causes. Also, anticonvulsant drugs can completely stop seizures from occurring in some epileptic dogs and most epileptic cats.  However, most epileptic dog’s seizures can only be made less frequent and less severe with medication but cannot be completely eliminated.  For many dogs, reducing the seizures to one or two seizures a month is the best that can be accomplished even after many medication dose adjustments. Some epileptic dog’s seizures are very difficult to control even with high doses of medication and several seizures still occur more often than monthly on a regular basis.

Will my paralyzed dog ever be able to walk again?

The ability to walk again after paralysis all depends on the cause and the duration of the paralysis. Each case is different. However, in most cases if the paralysis has only been present for a very short period of time (i.e. hours to days) recovery to walking again is possible with proper therapy. Dogs and cats do have a remarkable ability to recover from a paralyzed state that is much better than for humans; so the prognosis for walking again is far better for pets than for people. However, not all pets do recover. A complete neurological exam of each pet needs to be done to give an accurate estimate of the chances or recovery in your pet’s case.

If my pet has severe, encephalitis (GME) (brain inflammation) is he likely to survive and be normal again?

Yes. In most cases a complete recovery is possible if an accurate diagnosis and aggressive therapy is started and maintained for an adequate period of time. Remission in most cases is life-long leading to a pet that is cured.  However, a small percentage of cases do not survive or, relapse each time therapy is withdrawn.

Should I put my old dog or cat through brain surgery to have a brain tumor surgically removed?

Unlike humans, most brain tumors of dogs and cats grow from the lining tissue that surrounds the brain and not from the brain itself. Therefore these tumors can generally be removed without causing any brain injury. Brain surgery also causes almost no pain since the brain itself does not have any pain sensitive nerve endings. Most dogs and cats that have brain surgery are awake, standing, walking and eating within a few hours after surgery and go home the next day. Brain surgery is far less painful and bothers your dog and cat much less than chest, abdominal or fracture repair surgery would. Most dogs and cats generally recover completely within one to two weeks after the surgery and recovery lasts for at least 1.5 to 2.5 years.

What will the recovery be like for my dog’s neck after Wobblers correction surgery?

At Angell, a ventral (underneath the neck) surgical approach is used to stabilize all Wobblers.  This approach causes very little post operative discomfort and does not involve direct spinal cord manipulation like the more common dorsal (top-side) approach to this condition.  Because of this, dogs that have this surgery do not experience a set-back in their neurological function from their pre-surgery state and they are very comfortable the day after surgery.  Almost all dogs are able to go home the day after the surgery feeling the same or better than they were before surgery.

Since my dog has been sick, (s)he has a fine body tremor whenever (s)he is lying still trying to rest, why does (s)he do this?

Dogs commonly have a fine body tremor when they are emotionally upset about something.  They can be emotionally upset because they are worried, feel uncomfortable because of their illness, or are anxious about their illness. The key to resolving the tremor is to resolve the underlying disease that is making them upset.

Why does my dog constantly pant, drink, eat, and urinate large amounts since prednisone therapy was started to treat his/her neurological disease?

These symptoms are common adverse effects of prednisone therapy especially at the initial high doses needed to treat some neurological conditions. The symptoms occur because the medication makes your dog feel warm, thirsty and hungry all the time even if they are in a cool place and just ate or drank. In some case, the precise amount of water your dog needs a day can be calculated by your dog’s neurologist so the water can be limited to the right amount and offered evenly throughout the day to prevent excessive drinking and urinating so your dog does not urinate in the house. The panting generally cannot be stopped. If the adverse effects are very bad, sometimes switching to a slightly more expensive steroid drug called methylprednisolone will reduce this adverse effect in some dogs, but not all. None of the above is true in cats. Cats should not have any adverse effects on steroid (generally trimacinolone) therapy. If your cat drinks more or urinates more on triamcinolone medication it is because they may be developing diabetes from the strain the medication puts on the pancreas. You should notify your neurologist immediately if you cat starts to drink more or urinate more while on triamciniolone therapy.

Should my dog or cat be confined in a crate while recovering from spinal surgery?

No. Only very rarely is crate confinement necessary. Most dogs and cats recovering from neurosurgery should be allowed to get up and walk as much as they want. They should not be pushed to do more than they want to, but should be allowed the freedom to walk around normally. They should not engage in any athletic type of play with other dogs or be thrown things to catch or retrieve. They should not be allowed to jump up and down from things. It is ok to take them outside on a leash for short walks on level ground. Around the house on level ground they can move around as much as they feel comfortable. They can also go outside in a small fenced yard to exercise off leash if they are well observed. Your neurologist will let you know when normal activity can be resumed post-surgery.