Hospitals

Comprehensive Care + 24 Hour Emergency

Neurology & Neurosurgery

Canine, Feline, Exotics/Wildlife
A veterinary neurologist and technician examine a dachshund

Meet Our Specialty Team

Dusty the dachshund wearing a stethoscopeWe truly cannot thank Cornell University Hospital for Animals, and specifically the entire neurology team, enough. Your responsiveness, knowledge, compassion and care cannot be matched anywhere else! We honestly rave about how incredible the whole experience was and we are so grateful for everything they did for our dog Dusty. They saved his life, helped him to walk again and treated him like he was their own personal dog. I never had to worry for a second while Dusty was in their care. From the informative first phone call from Dr. Folk that was filled with kindness to the discharge and follow up, we were in awe of our entire experience. I share our positive experience so often and would recommend them 10/10 times to anyone. We are forever grateful and blown away by our experience. Thank you for everything! The extraordinary care for our little pup meant everything to us!

The Cornell University Hospital for Animals’ board-certified veterinary neurologists and neurosurgeons are experts in diagnosing, treating, managing neurologic disorders. They have access to specialized equipment that includes an MRI and work closely with specialists throughout the hospital to ensure comprehensive care, from diagnosis to treatment to rehabilitation and post-operative care. Our state-of-the art diagnostics and imaging options enhance our abilities to diagnose difficult and complex diseases.
Neurology & Neurosurgery Photo Gallery

Client Reviews

Gus

This is Gus! We brought him to Cornell for the first time one super late evening about a year and a half ago. We were so lucky that Cornell was able to take him in and get him the care he needed. For over a year now we have been working with Cornell's neurology team! They are all incredibly knowledgeable and unbelievably caring people. Without these dedicated people Gus would not be with us today. We are eternally grateful for everything that the neurology team has done and continues do for Gus.

black french bulldog wearing a halloween sweater


Joule

Two days before Halloween, 2018, our cat, Joule, started acting strangely (hiding). We brought her to our local vet and they couldn’t initially find anything wrong. Her condition continued to deteriorate, to the point that she wasn’t eating, or walking. We thought we might have to have her euthanized.  Our local vet put her on a heavy regimen of steroids, and she rallied enough so that we could get her to Cornell University Hospital for Animal (2 hours away) where an MRI determined she had a Meningioma on her brain the size of a golf ball! The neurosurgeons performed a craniotomy and removed the tumor.  

Post op, we received phone calls four times a day, giving us updates of her condition and behavior. Within five days she was well enough to come home. When we picked her up, we were given medication to administer three times a week, and she has responded beautifully, with no evidence of any cancer recurrence or neurological impairment. We take her back to Cornell annually for a neurologic follow-up. 

Joule was a rescue, and we had her about a year before she got sick. Since her surgery, Joule has demonstrated a remarkable recovery.  She’s gained weight, her fur is lustrous, she’s more playful and loving than ever before. All this we attribute to the exceptional medical treatment and care provided by her neurology team. Not only did they save Joule’s life, they increased the quality of her life, and we are forever grateful. 

black and white cat laying on a blue blanket


Aslain

My handsome boy had a rough start in life. At a young age he had severe head trauma that neurologically impaired him for life but he triumphantly grew up into the amazing adult dog that he is with no signs of concurrent problems until he turned a year old. When Aslain had his first generalized seizure I was terrified and worried for his quality of life if his neurologic signs progressed. Understanding the urgency of the situation, the neurology service at Cornell University Hospital for Animal (CUHA) were able to book me in earlier than expected and do a full work up on my boy. Taking me through their thought process I felt very reassured about our plan moving forward to take care of Aslain’s seizures and the expectations of treatment made me understand that while this will be a lifelong disease he could live a happy and healthy life pain free from these scary episodes. Today Aslain has a seizure only once a month and the neurology department is always so responsive and helpful with any of my concerns and worries. I am so grateful to the doctors and staff at CUHA and would highly recommend them to anyone who is worried about their pets' health.


Kona

At the age of three Kona was diagnosed with Meningoencephalitis of Unknown Etiology (MUE) and needed chemotherapy infusions. Staff made sure I understood the treatment plans and clearly addressed all my questions and concerns. It was evident they genuinely cared about her.

Kona is now seven and  off chemo for the last one and a half years. She continues to take seizure medications and have routine check ups, but she’s one happy girl! 

Thank you to all the staff at Cornell Neurology for saving her life!

 black dog standing on a paddle board

 

Enza

After many dead ends and misdiagnoses this past winter trying to figure out the source of Enza’s pain and discomfort, an equine veterinarian friend of ours (and proud Cornell Alumni) recommended that we take her to Cornell for a full work up to see if we could get any answers. Once we got Enza checked in, the neurology team at Cornell did an initial exam and were confident in which direction they needed to go with their testing. During the testing, Enza was under anesthesia and they called every step along the way with status updates on how she was doing and how the tests were going which meant a lot to us. Within days the team got the results and gave us an effective treatment plan, in which we began to see improvement almost immediately. She was back to work being a traveling horse show dog! We could never thank Dr. Korff, Zoey, and the rest of the staff at the neurology team enough for your professionalism and for taking such great care of Enza!

bernese mountain dogveterinary team members sitting with bernese mountain dogbernese mountain dog sitting under an umbrella at the beach
Enza

What to Expect at an Appointment

Your animal will be seen and cared for by one or both of the board-certified neurologists. Because we are a teaching hospital, veterinary students and residents will also participate in caring for your animal with three experienced licensed veterinary technicians (LVTs) assisting and providing additional support during all aspects of the visit, diagnostics and treatment. Veterinary students have graduated from four-year colleges and are in the midst of an additional four years of medical education to become DVMs, or Doctors of Veterinary Medicine. Neurology residents are experienced veterinarians who are taking two to four years of additional training specializing in the neurological diseases of animals, much like residents in human medicine. Our team also provides 24-hour emergency care for animals with immediate neurological and neurosurgical needs. There are many veterinary specialists practicing at our hospital with whom we collaborate as needed for each patient.

When you have a scheduled appointment please bring your pet fasted, meaning no food in the morning prior to the appointment. Allow your pet to have free access to water. The visit begins with the veterinary students on rotation. They will ask you questions about your pets medical history the problem they are experiencing. The student then provides that information to the the neurologists and will take your pet to have a physical and neurologic exam performed. The team will discuss their findings with you along with diagnostic and treatment recommendations. Some components of comprehensive diagnostics and treatment options may require your pet to be anesthetized and thus unavailable the same day. This includes MRI, which we will schedule with our anesthesia and imaging teams as soon as possible. We will always offer you a chance to go home, and discuss the options with other family members. We are here to help and want provide the best care for both you and your pet.

Success Stories

gray catRoscoe

Roscoe, a 13-year-old male neutered Russian Blue feline, was brought to the neurology service at the Cornell University Hospital for Animals (CUHA) in March 2021. He had a wobbly gait (ataxia) and vision abnormalities, and was having trouble navigating and jumping. An MRI of his brain revealed a large mass consistent with a type of tumor called a meningioma (a tumor of the lining of the brain), which was later confirmed from histopathology results. After discussing options with Roscoe’s owner, the large mass was surgically removed from Roscoe’s right forebrain.

Roscoe recovered from surgery and anesthesia as expected and was able to go home three days later. He went home on anti-seizure medication, pain medication and prednisolone. At his one-month recheck appointment, Roscoe showed significant improvement. He was playful, had a good appetite and seemed comfortable. He started taking oral chemotherapy medication to help prevent regrowth of the tumor, and is doing well.

Roscoe’s owner, Sarah Bauer, thanks CUHA and says: “the Cornell neurology department is the BEST and your services saved Roscoe's life. Now he is back to normal, if not better than before. I cannot praise Dr. Rebecca Sandler enough! She realized that our cat isn't just a pet but a family member.”


Franklin

Franklin, a 2-year old Golden Retriever, first presented to Cornell University Hospital for Animals (CUHA) emergency service in July of 2020. He had been wobbly, losing some control of his movements (ataxic) and lethargic for several days at home. After being transferred from emergency to the neurology service for further examination an MRI of Franklin's brain was recommended. MRI was performed the next day under general anesthesia. The images captured by MRI revealed marked patchy bright areas in his forebrain and cervical spine. While Franklin was still anesthetized, a spinal tap was performed and a sample of cerebrospinal fluid was sent to the Clinical Pathology lab at Cornell's Animal Health Diagnostic Center. Franklin was diagnosed with Menigoencephalitis of unknown etiology (MUE). He was started on steroids and was able to go home the next day. Patients with MUE often experience seizure activity which was true for Franklin. He began receiving monthly cytosar infusions and anti seizure medication. Cytosar is a well-tolerated and effective chemotherapy to control inflammatory central nervous diseases. Franklin responded well to this treatment plan.

During one of Franklin's regularly scheduled cytosar appointments in the fall it was noted that he had been vomiting and having diarrhea at home. He was lethargic on presentation and had a fever. The neurology service facilitated an initial work up to see what might be going on. Radiographs of his chest showed aspiration pneumonia and an abdominal ultrasound showed blood clots throughout his abdominal veins. He was anemic and his white blood cell count changes were consistent with an infection. Franklin was transferred directly to the internal medicine specialists at CUHA. He received 2 blood transfusions and oxygen supplementation. The supportive care and treatment he received had him feeling much better the next day. He was ready to go home again soon after.

Franklin's health conditions are being well managed at home by dedicated owners and at Cornell by the neurology and internal medicine teams.

We wish Franklin a happy life and love to see that he continues to do so well!


Two veterinarians sitting by a golden retriever Willow

Willow, a 5-year-old female spayed Himalayan, presented to the Cornell Neurology & Neurosurgery service in November of 2020.  She could move three of her legs but was unable to walk on her own.  The neurologists recommended Willow have imaging of her cervical spine.  Radiographs of her cervical spine showed an abnormal bony growth in her cervical vertebrae.  She went on to have an MRI and CT scan performed that confirmed there was a fluid filled mass at her C3 vertebrae.  Neurosurgery was performed to reduce the bulk of the mass relieving compression on Willow’s spinal cord.  Samples were submitted to Cornell’s Animal Health Diagnostic Center with a resulting diagnosis of osteosarcoma. 

Willow was referred to our colleagues in the Oncology service and began radiation therapy.  Over the last few months Willow has returned for recheck appointments with neurology and oncology. Her follow up radiographs show there are no signs of osteosarcoma regrowth.  Willow has gained the ability to walk around on her own and is getting stronger daily. 

We are so happy to work collaboratively with the oncologists in continued support of Willow’s recovery and care.   

A Special Tribute

a chocolate lab mix laying on a couch

We adopted Sam in the fall of 2010 from a local rescue when he was approximately six months old.  We believe that Sam was a lab/chessie mix. From the minute that we got Sam, we knew that he was not that typical happy go lucky lab. He just seemed off occasionally and was having periodic aggressive episodes that we now believe were partial seizures or linked somehow to his epilepsy.

Sam had his first generalized seizure about a month after his second birthday.  We immediately contacted his vet and we did the standard blood work looking for a reason why he had a seizure.  Nothing remarkable showed up on his blood work so we were hopeful that this seizure was a one off.  I then started researching anything and everything that I could find that might prevent another seizure.  I cleaned up his diet, added supplements and then six months later his seizures reappeared with a vengeance. This is when we began treating him with phenobarbital.  Pheno worked for a while and then it didn’t so his vet added Zonisamide.  At that time, our primary vet sensing that Sam might be a difficult case recommended that we go to Cornell for a consult.

In April of 2013, Sam had his first check up with Cornell’s neurology service.  At this first visit, it was determined that Sam probably had presumptive idiopathic epilepsy. After that visit, I felt a sense of relief that although there was no cure, Sam could lead a normal full life. I also had a sense of security knowing that I would have the assistance of Cornell to help us through this unknown journey.  We visited Cornell once a year throughout his life for his rechecks and in between visits they were always a phone call away when we were struggling.

Sam fought epilepsy for about nine years and later on in his life was also having issues with mobility and a painful vertebrate.  Throughout his life, he had many ups and downs. His epilepsy at times was uncontrolled even though he was on a cocktail of four different anti-seizure medications that made him sleepy and impacted his mobility and stability.  At times, early on he struggled with cluster seizures which were so scary. Last fall he survived a mast cell cancer. Through it all he was a fighter and did not let epilepsy or his other health issues define him.  Sam led a full life.  He earned his Canine Good Citizen Certification, excelled at agility and he loved to travel.  He was an awesome dog who was so loyal and provided so much love to our family.

Sam lost his battle on May 17, 2021 at the age of 11 but not before he took one last beach vacation. He led a full life and he left behind a family that loved him dearly. Having a dog with chronic health issues is challenging and stressful but so rewarding.  They often say, and I agree, that epilepsy is harder on the family than it is on the epileptic dog. In addition to the help from Cornell, I found that the following helped me manage his epilepsy: setting a firm medication schedule, journaling his seizures and trying to find possible triggers, seizure tracker apps, price shopping for meds using drug discount cards and finding a good online canine epilepsy forum.

Our home feels so empty without Sam but I am grateful that he is finally running free with no more pain and no more seizures.

-Beth

Labrador mix Sam wearing a hat at the beach

If you are looking for support after the loss of a pet, we are here to help.

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Related Info

American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine
A specialty organization created to enhance animal and human health by advancing veterinary internal medicine through training, education, and discovery.

European College of Veterinary Neurology
The European Society of Veterinary Neurology (ESVN) was founded in 1987 and serves as a forum for persons interested in all aspects of the nervous system of animals, promotes training programs in veterinary neurology and provides an opportunity for collaborative clinical research throughout Europe.