The Pet Doctor

How Vestibular Disease Affects Your Dog

Vestibular disease can seriously impact your dog's life. This condition is otherwise known as "old dog disease" because it often affects older dogs. However, dogs of any age can develop this condition. Here is more information about what vestibular disease does to your dog, its causes, and prognosis.

What Is Vestibular Disease?

Vestibular disease is a condition that affects your dog's balance. There are two general types of vestibular disease. One is peripheral and the other is central. Central vestibular disease involves the nervous system and the part of the brain that controls balance. Peripheral types, which are more common, affect the inner ear which is the part that controls balance and coordination.

How Does Vestibular Disease Affect Dogs?

Dogs with vestibular disease show problems with balance and often act dizzy. Some dogs will run around in circles, and their eyes may dart around abnormally. Your dogs may vomit and lose their appetite even though nothing is directly wrong with their stomach. A dog with this condition may also tilt his or her head in an odd way. Peripheral vestibular disease often causes dogs to stand with a wide stance like they're afraid that they're going to fall down.

Which Dogs Get Vestibular Disease?

Despite it's nickname, this disease affects any age dog from puppies to elderly individuals. For the peripheral kind, the causes are less known but may be related to trauma to the ear. Some experts say that even aggressive ear cleaning is a possible cause. With the central kind, the cause may be related to having a tumor, infection, or bleeding in the brain. Some dogs with thyroid problems may also have inflammation that could cause problems with the inner ear.

What is the Outlook for Dogs With Vestibular Disease?

Puppies with peripheral vestibular disease are often able to adapt. For older dogs, the condition may start to improve after a couple of days. Anti-nausea medications may help with appetite issues. For central vestibular disease, the problem will not improve unless the underlying cause is treated. For example, if a tumor is causing the problem, then shrinking or removing it may initiate the healing process.

If your dog is showing signs of vestibular disease, then see your veterinarian right away. Depending on your dog's age and health condition, he or she may benefit from medications that can make him or her more comfortable. Your veterinarian will also give you advice on how to feed and handle your dog during this time. With help and good advice, your dog will be better in no time.