Vestibular Disease

Health

Vestibular-Syndrome

One of my BFF’s is a fellow epi-warrior named Riley. Like me, Riley lives with canine epilepsy. Recently, my furriend was diagnosed & treated for Vestibular Disease. I had no idea what that was so I had to do some sniffing about.

Vestibular disease affects the body’s balance system, it is most often due to a disorder affecting the inner ear. Symptoms can include head tilting, loss of coordination, circling or staggering, falling, rolling as well as involuntary, rhythmic, jerking eye movements from side to side or up & down. This abnormal eye movement is called nystagmus.

Causes of vestibular disease include middle or inner ear infections, drugs that are toxic to the ear, trauma or injury, tumors & hypothyroidism. The disease can also be present from birth as a congenital defect. When no specific diagnosis is found, the condition will be called idiopathic vestibular syndrome. These cases are distinguished by the sudden onset of clinical signs & the subsequent rapid improvement with little, if any, medical intervention.   An infection of the middle ear is the most common reason the disease occurs in younger dogs.

Vestibular disease in geriatric dogs is often mistaken for stroke. The vertigo caused by the disease can be particularly intense in older dogs with symptoms of nausea, difficulty or complete inability to stand up, head tilt, nystagmus, & circling.

Treatment is directed at the underlying cause, if one can be identified. In severe cases, supportive therapy such as intravenous fluids & hospitalization may be required until the dog can eat & walk on its own. Drugs that help combat nausea or motion sickness such as dimenhydrinate may be beneficial. Antibiotics may be used in cases suspected of having middle or inner ear infections.

The clinical signs associated with vestibular disease are often most severe during the first twenty-four to forty-eight hours. Many dogs begin to improve within seventy-two hours. The head tilt & stumbling often improve over a seven to ten day period. Most dogs are completely recovered within two to three weeks although some will have residual symptoms such as a head tilt or mild “wobbling” for life.

 CEO Olivia

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