Disease and Medicine

Long haired chihuaha tilting head

Why Foxy Woke Up With a Tilted Head

By | Disease and Medicine, RIKKI "Tails"

Foxy was perfectly fine when I put her to bed the night before, but when I went to get her the next morning, she could barely walk, and kept stumbling and falling down. Her head was cocked at a 45° angle and she had pooped and thrown up in her bed.

My first thought was that she had had a stroke or perhaps a spider had bitten her. My next thought was to call Marc. He knew what it was just from my description of her symptoms and a trip to the clinic only confirmed the diagnosis.

Foxy had “Idiopathic Old Dog Vestibular Syndrome”

a disease found primarily in dogs seven years and older. It comes on suddenly and dramatically with ‘idiopathic’ meaning ‘arising spontaneously’ and ‘from an unknown cause’.

Telltale signs include:

  • Loss of balance – stumbling, staggering, even falling down or rolling around
  • Head tilt
  • Nystagmus or erratic eye movements, where the eyes have trouble focusing and can’t stay still
  • Loss of appetite due to nausea and/or vomiting

Now there could be other reasons for these ailments such as an ear infection, a perforated ear-drum, a virus or an adverse reaction to a medication. It could even be something really serious like a stroke, polyps, a tumor or brain damage.

But since my 12 year old dog was normal and healthy only the day before, odds are it’s a vestibular problem. The vestibular system is comprised of parts of the brain and ear and is responsible for maintaining a sense of balance so when something goes wrong the dog experiences vertigo where everything is spinning.

Marc assured me that while the condition is frightening (both for me and Foxy) and there’s no specific treatment or cure . . .

Most Dogs Do Improve.

Meanwhile though, I had to help Foxy get around since she could barely walk or even position herself to go potty.

It took a few weeks but Foxy did get better, and while she’s left with a bit of a lingering head tilt, she can run and jump again and her quality of life has not been affected.

Marc did warn me however, that it is possible for dogs to have more than one episode of idiopathic vestibular disease. If it happens again at least I’ll recognize what it is.

Have a question about your pet or its behavior?
Contact us at Johnson Ranch Animal Clinic by
texting or calling 480-987-4555.

Brown Dog Tick nymphs under the microscope at Johnson Ranch Animal Clinic. They look like crabs without pincers and have six legs.

Monsters Within

By | Disease and Medicine

MONSTERS WITHIN – – – Pet Parasites in San Tan Valley, Arizona.

Any dog or cat in San Tan Valley could easily be harboring Monsters within its body and we may not know it. These Monsters are the parasites that can afflict our pets. Under the microscope, they look as bad or worse than the monsters that Hollywood dreams up. Johnson Ranch Animal Clinic tests for, diagnoses or treats parasites in cats and dogs daily. Commonly encountered parasites in San Tan Valley include:

  • mites in the skin and ears
  • ticks and fleas in and on the skin of the pet.
  • worms and protozoans (one celled animals) in the gastrointestinal tract
  • heartworms in the blood vessels and heart
Demodectes mite on a skin scraping from a dog. High power under the microscope Cigar shaped with legs and thick tail. Johnson Ranch Animal Clinic in San Tan Valley.

Demodectes mite on a skin scraping from a dog at Johnson Ranch Animal Clinic. High power

Mange mites (Demodectes)

Can cause areas of the skin to lose hair and the skin to become red and scaly. Sometimes they can cause “itchiness”. They are a consideration in almost any skin abnormality.



Ear mites

Common finding in outdoor cats and some dogs. They cause ear infections, scratching and head shaking


Brown Dog Tick nymphs under the microscope at Johnson Ranch Animal Clinic. They look like crabs without pincers and have six legs.

Brown Dog Tick nymphs under the microscope at Johnson Ranch Animal Clinic. Taken from a dog in San Tan Valley.


Brown Dog Ticks

Suck the blood of its host and transmit other diseases like Tick Fever. Tick Fever can affect the dog in many ways, including just “not acting right”, lethargy, eating less and sudden bleeding episodes.




Front end of this flea looks like a monster under the microscope at Johnson Ranch Animal Clinic

Flea taken from a cat at Johnson Ranch Animal Clinic in San Tan Valley. Low power under the microscope.



Occasionally seen on cats or dogs, but our dry climate does not allow them to multiply as easily as in other areas of the country.
Unless an owner uses “swamp cooling” they are easily handled once identified.




Intestinal parasites

The various worms and protozoans of dogs and cats can effect the eating, weight, activity level and stool consistency. Some can even be transmitted to people from the pet.



Heartworm Positive Snap Test

Positive heartworm test at Johnson Ranch Animal Clinic.

The staff at Johnson Ranch Animal Clinic diagnoses a number of heartworm cases each year.  Only half of these heartworm cases receive proper treatment because of the cost and involved treatment protocol. These pets can suffer from decreased energy and activity caused by lung and heart damage. Eventually it can kill the dog.






Johnson Ranch Animal Clinic uses thorough examinations, microscopy, stool parasite screening and blood testing to detect these monsters in our pets. They can be treated and preventive measures taken once identified.

Our goal is to keep the pets of San Tan Valley healthy and happy so they and their owners can enjoy the special bond that develops between people and their pets.

For more information, visit the Pet Health tab of this website or call or text us at 480-987-4555

Contact Us

270 East Hunt Hwy, Ste. #4
San Tan Valley, AZ 85143