If your dog begins to appear off-balance, stagger or walk in circles it can be quite concerning. These are all symptoms that point to vestibular disease which can affect the brain and inner or middle ear of your dog. In today's blog, our vet neurologists in Springfield talk about the effects of vestibular disease in dogs as well as the causes and treatment options.
What exactly is vestibular disease and how does it affect dogs?
'Old dog syndrome' or canine idiopathic vestibular disease, 'vestibular disease' is a non-progressive balance disorder stemming from issues affecting the dog's vestibular system within the brain, including the inner ear, and middle ear. Although this condition is commonly seen in older dogs, younger dogs can also suffer from vestibular disease.
Your dog's vestibular system is responsible for controlling balance, which is why dogs with vestibular disease will have difficulties walking normally and experience dizziness. Symptoms of vestibular disease are typically most severe during the first twenty-four to forty-eight hours, with many dogs beginning to improve within seventy-two hours.
Symptoms of vestibular disease may look distressing but try to keep in mind that this condition is not fatal, and most dogs completely recover within two to three weeks with the help of diagnosis and treatment through the pet neurology department.
Typical Symptoms of Vestibular Disease in Dogs:
- Head Tilt
- Lack of coordination
- Continuous circling in a single direction
- Standing with legs spread wide
- Loss of appetite or unwillingness to drink
- Loss of balance / falling over
- Rapid eye movement while awake
- Choosing to sleep on hard surfaces
If your dog shows any of the signs listed above call your vet or veterinary neurologist in Springfield for advice on whether you should bring your dog into the office for an examination. Based on your dog's medical history and overall health, your vet may suggest waiting to see if the symptoms quickly improve without treatment.
That said, communication with your vet over these symptoms is essential. While the symptoms listed above are typical of vestibular disease, they may also indicate a different more serious condition.
How does vestibular disease in dogs occur?
In many cases, the cause of vestibular disease is unknown and diagnosed as idiopathic vestibular disease. In other cases, the condition may be triggered by an ear infection, perforated eardrum, hypothyroidism, trauma, tumors or possibly as a side effect of antibiotics.
Dog breeds known to be more prone to developing vestibular disease include Doberman Pinschers and German Shepherds.
What are the treatment options for vestibular disease in dogs?
While vestibular disease may cause your dog to feel dizzy or nauseous, it isn't painful or dangerous and will likely clear up on its own within a couple of weeks without treatment. Keep a close eye on your dog and if the symptoms do not appear to improve then your veterinary neurologist may look into other potential causes of the symptoms.
If your dog suffers from nausea due to vestibular disease, your dog neurologist in Springfield may prescribe an anti-nausea medication, or IV fluids if your dog is having difficulties drinking from their water bowl. However, when all is said and done the main treatment for vestibular disease is waiting while your dog gradually recovers.
What does recovery look like for dogs with vestibular disease?
To help your dog stay comfortable while they recover from vestibular disease provide her with a comfy place to rest and easy access to water and food. Since vestibular disease is a balance issue, it is helpful to keep the floor clear of obstacles and block off stairs to keep your pooch safe.