All Things Dog

Common diseases in older dogs: Vestibular Syndrome

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If your dog has difficulty walking or balancing, seems to be tilting his head and displays an odd rolling eye movement, he may have vestibular syndrome. This disease is caused by an inflammation of the vestibular nerve, which connects the inner ear to the brain and affects balance. There is no known cause for vestibular syndrome, and it can appear suddenly in older and sometimes middle-aged dogs.

If you suspect your dog has vestibular syndrome, it's important to have him checked thoroughly by your vet. Inner ear infections can also cause dizziness and nausea; and certain cancers can affect the brain and inner ear - causing your dog to display similar symptoms. Your vet will likely want to conduct an ear examination or x-ray to determine the cause of your dog's behavior.

Treatment and Recovery
If your dog has vestibular syndrome he will feel extremely "seasick" and may have a hard time walking or even standing up. Most dogs with vestibular syndrome will also refuse to eat or drink as they have a hard time coordinating their movements - and find eating or drinking from a bowl difficult. If your dog is afflicted with this disease, you will have to administer food and drinking water by hand.

Luckily, dogs who are nursed through this disease usually recover within a couple of days and three weeks. Dogs who do not fully recover from vestibular syndrome can normally adapt to the head tilts and other symptoms and continue to lead a good life.

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