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Idiopathic Vestibular Disease in Dogs

happy dog with tongue sticking out

If your dog has difficulty walking or balancing, seems to be tilting his head to one side, and displays an odd rolling eye movement, he may have idiopathic vestibular disease. The cause of this disease is unknown, and it can appear suddenly in older and, sometimes, middle-aged dogs.

Symptoms to look for

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

Does your dog have idiopathic vestibular disease?

If you suspect your dog has this condition, 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, which can cause your dog to display symptoms that mimic those of idiopathic vestibular disease. If your vet suspects that your dog has this disease, it's likely that he or she will conduct an ear examination and diagnostic tests to determine the cause of your dog's behavior. You and your dog may be referred to a veterinary neurologist for evaluation and treatment.

Treatment and Recovery

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

  • When Should You Switch Your Senior Dog to Soft Food?

    smiling lab sitting in front of brick wall


    As your dog ages, you’ll likely notice changes in your best pal’s energy levels, routine and even muzzle. Older pets may require adjustments to help them get around, exercise and live their best life as a senior. One important aspect of caring for a dog entering their golden years is diet.

    When it comes to diet, every dog has unique, individual needs, regardless of age. So, there's no one easy answer to the question of soft food versus hard food. Both types of food can provide your dog with the nutrition they need — as long as you feed your dog a high-quality dog food that’s nutritionally balanced and complete.

    two dogs eating from two bowls

    Signs Your Senior Dog May Benefit from Wet Food

    If your dog has very specific health concerns, such as aging joints or weight issues, consult with your vet for more information about what type of food best addresses your dog's needs. That being said, there are a few reasons why you may consider switching your senior dog to soft food.
     

    fluffy brown dog yawning showing teeth

    Teeth Sensitivity

    As your dog gets older, their teeth may become more sensitive, which can make chewing kibble more difficult and even uncomfortable. Switching to a soft food can help to alleviate your pet’s oral discomfort when eating.

    However, if your dog is experiencing serious pain at mealtime from a condition like tooth decay or gingivitis, switching to soft food won't remedy the problem. Make sure you talk to your vet about oral care and dental treatment.

    Digestion Aid

    Digestion begins in the mouth with saliva, so if your dog has a tendency to scarf down meals, they may not be adequately chewing the food or adding enough saliva to it. Soft food can aid with digestion because it's more easily chewed.

    Hydration Help

    It’s no surprise that wet food has a higher moisture content when compared to dry kibble. If your senior pup is prone to urinary-tract issues or simply needs a little help staying hydrated, canned dog food may be a good choice.

    girl kissing older dog on the head

    Slower Metabolism

    Aging dogs tend to have a slower metabolic rate compared to their younger years, which puts them at a higher risk of becoming overweight or obese. Many nutritionally balanced wet dog foods offer high protein content with fewer carbs than dry food, which can benefit older dogs with slower metabolism. Always talk to your vet if you have concerns about your pup’s weight.

    Picky Eaters

    While wet food may be less than appetizing to humans, the opposite is true for dogs! If your aging best friend has started turning their snout up to dry food, wet food tends to be more appealing to picky eaters. Mixing wet food and kibble offers your pup a variety of flavors and textures; try adding wet food as a topper on dry food for a real treat!

    Whether you choose dry food, soft food  or a mix of both, ask your vet before making any transition. And when it's time to switch your dog's food, remember to do it slowly — even if it's the same brand and flavor — to help prevent stomach upset and allow your dog time to adjust.

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