Old Dog Vestibular Disease: 10 Symptoms & 3 Home Remedies

Dog vestibular disease is a term that reflects abnormality in the vestibular part (balancing) of the nervous system. Moreover, the central nervous system (a few brain parts, inner ear, and middle ear) is affected. 

For those who don’t know what is the vestibular system-

The vestibular system is a kind of sensory system. Therefore, it is responsible for balance and spatial awareness. This vestibular disease is also known as the old dog’s disease as it usually affects aged canines. 

How does a canine with a vestibular disease feel?

A canine with dizziness or vertigo finds it difficult to stand. This happens due to the lack of a sense of balance. Moreover, this is due to the disturbance in the inner ear. 

Additionally, they can get confused about things happening around them as they lack perspective. A canine with this issue feels sick when he wakes up. Moreover, you may also notice his eyes rolling and confused expressions. 

However, the good news is that if you understand this earlier, symptomatic and palliative treatment are considered options that can help with some sort of recovery. Also, there are many medicines available to control vomiting and nausea related to vestibular disease. Additionally, rehabilitation also helps.  

However, some canines(majorly larger breeds) do not cope well with the disease. Also, the recovery time is more than usual. Moreover, there is no guarantee about the degree of recovery. 

Old Dog Vestibular Disease

Common symptoms of vestibular disease in dogs

  • Staggering 
  • Head Tilt 
  • Vomiting
  • Lack of coordination 
  • Standing with legs spread wide
  • Continuous circling
  • Loss of balance
  • Loss of appetite
  • Choosing to sleep on hard surfaces
  • Rapid eye movement while awake

If your canine shows any of these signs, talk to your vet for the diagnosis and further procedure. Based on your canine’s medical history, your vet will suggest some treatments and home-based remedies. 

What Causes Vestibular Disease?

This problem is also referred to as idiopathic. This means that the cause is unknown. Moreover, sometimes it can be due to side effects of antibiotics, ear infections, etc. Luckily, this disease is not fatal and can be handled with proper care and treatment. 

How Veterinarians Diagnose Vestibular Disease in Dogs

The vet will need your canine’s medical history, current medicine, and some neurological tests. Then the physical test will confirm the signs of vestibular disease. If the disease is confirmed, then the neurological tests tell if it is a peripheral dysfunction or a central dysfunction. 

Therefore, based on that, the vet will determine the specific test. These tests can include:

Complete blood count: Confirms if there are any blood-related abnormalities or systemic infections. For instance, anaemia can cause similar signs as a vestibular disease. 

Ear cytology: The vet will take a sample of debris from the ear to identify bacteria, yeast, or mites that cause ear infections. Based on the symptoms and the test results, the vet can tell you if an ear infection has caused the disease or not. 

Urinalysis: Urinalysis, with other tests, can identify the exact cause of the disease.

Internal organ function or biochemistry test: It cannot find cancer location, the test can tell if further cancer or any other organ dysfunction test is needed.

Advanced imaging: X-ray or CT scan can confirm the doubt of tumours.

Treatments for vestibular disease in dogs

If your canine has an idiopathic vestibular disease and he cannot eat or is dehydrated from vomiting, you must consider keeping him in the vet clinic. If he starts eating and drinking well, the vet will send him home. 

To be honest, time is the best cure for dog vestibular disease. However, this does not mean your canine has to suffer. The vet will provide some anti-nausea medicine or sedatives if the canine is too stressed. 

Moreover, you need to protect your canine by making the home safe for him to move around. Keep the furniture at a distance, do not let him use stairs, keep sharp objects away, etc. also, you need to take him outside for pee and poop. Place food and water bowls close to him so that he can access them easily. 

In the past, vets used to prescribe Corticosteroids. However, now scientific evidence shows that it is not that effective for vestibular disease. 

Management tips for dogs with vestibular syndrome 

Safer homes include:

  • Monitoring eating, drinking, defecation, urination, ambulation, etc. 
  • Easy access to food and water
  • Quiet place to sleep
  • Avoiding major changes
  • Surface for mobility aids
  • Keeping the dog in a safe space

For end-of-life care:

  • Evaluating quality of life
  • Monitor discomfort
  • Keeping the canine safe
  • Track progression of health
  • Give proper hydration and nutrition

In difficult situations:

Talk to your vet if your canine is not eating, vomiting, vocalising in pain, or collapsing. Before the situation gets worse, it is better to have an end-of-life care discussion. 

How Do I Know When To Euthanize My Pet?

It is unnecessary to think of euthanizing the dog immediately. If you see his health decline, you must have a word with the vet first. If he suggests the same, then you must go for it. Putting your canine to sleep is best in some cases, it relieves them from the immense pain. 

Several factors like age, severe symptoms, the severity of the disease, and overall health are taken into consideration before euthanizing the pet. Therefore, it is better to let the vet decide what is best for your canine suffering from dog vestibular disease. 

Final words

In conclusion, I would say that dog vestibular disease is not a fatal disease. However, if you do not pay attention at the right time, it can cause major issues in your beloved canine. Therefore, it is better to track the symptoms at an early stage. 

Moreover, it’s best to take suggestions from the vet in case you doubt your canine is having the vestibular disease. The vet can guide you through the correct procedure.

I hope you enjoyed the article. I will be back soon with more interesting and informative articles. Till then, stay connected. Thank you

Frequently asked questions

How long do dogs live with vestibular disease?

Dogs with vestibular disease do not die in most cases. It is not a fatal disease. Additionally, it requires 2 to 3 weeks to recover from it completely.

What triggers vestibular disease?

Most common causes of vestibular disease include infections and medicines. Ear problems like poor circulation in the ear can cause this disease in your canine.

Are dogs with vestibular disease in pain?

No. Vestibular disease is not dangerous or painful. However, it causes huge discomfort and sickness to your dog. Additionally, there is a loss of coordination in your canine. Also, it will be cured in 2 to 3 weeks.

Can Benadryl help vestibular disease in dogs?

Yes, somewhat. Benadryl can reduce the seriousness of head tilts during vestibular disease. It helps the canine and is completely safe for canines to consume. Additionally, benadryl decreases anorexia and anxiety in canines

Is vestibular disease in dogs a stroke?

Vestibular disease in dogs looks like a stroke. It is a small inflammation of the vestibular nerve. Additionally, this nerve goes to the ear and brain. Hence, if this nerve is affected, the body balance of your canine will be affected.

Can vestibular disease cause death?

No. Vestibular disease is not fatal. Moreover, many of its symptoms heal themselves. However, it is better to talk to the vet to mitigate the seriousness of the disease.

Can dogs with vestibular disease sleep?

Yes, dogs with vestibular disease do sleep. However, they may opt to sleep on the floor rather than their bed. This is because the hard surface will help them to mitigate being awakened by the signals of vestibules.

How many times can a dog get vestibular disease?

Vestibular disease occurs only once in a lifetime. However, there are some rare cases where the disease has occured 3 or more times.

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