There are some weird and scary behaviors your dog can display that come from canine vestibular disease. If your dog has a dizzy spell or can’t stand or walk, take it seriously, but don’t freak out. They may just be having inner ear trouble. Read this post to learn about vestibular disease in dogs, its symptoms and treatment.
Canine Vestibular Disease: An Overview
Canine vestibular disease is a problem with the inner ear that impacts the dog’s balance.
Vestibular comes from the word vestibule, a hallway or anteroom. This is a very descriptive name for the complex parts of the ear. There is a whole vestibular system in dogs, and humans, that is located in the brain and the inner and middle ear. This very delicate system detects subtle changes in atmosphere and the dog’s body and has a powerful impact on their balance.
Have you ever been dizzy or had a stopped-up ear? You couldn’t move normally, or even stand or sit normally if it was bad enough. You felt weird and nauseated, maybe even anxious and irritable. This same thing happens to your dog. With dogs, it impacts their balance and the rhythm of their paws.
Canine vestibular disease is more likely to impact older dogs because things just don’t work like they used to anymore, but it can impact dogs of any age.
It is not dangerous in itself. The causes, such as an infection, may be dangerous. The biggest threat to your dog with canine vestibular disease is injury as they are likely to hurt themselves. While you don’t want to overly alarm yourself, you should always take symptoms of this disease very seriously and get the dog emergency care because these symptoms are shared by very serious diseases and immediate diagnosis is needed. Also, even though vestibular disease is not dangerous, you need to know how to care for them to keep them calm and safe and ensure that they eat and drink normally.
Canine idiopathic vestibular syndrome
Vestibular problems can be caused by infections, toxins, or other factors influencing the ear. Many times, there is no identifiable cause of the vestibular problem, the dog just clearly has it. This is known as canine idiopathic vestibular syndrome and it is quite common, particularly in older dogs. If your dog has vestibular disease, rather than another condition causing a vestibular problem, the dog will probably be diagnosed with canine idiopathic vestibular syndrome.
Vestibular disease in puppies
While it’s most common in older dogs, vestibular disease in young dogs is possible and it can even be a congenital thing with puppies. It is very rare in puppies, only appearing online in scattered scientific cases.
Always take a dog to the vet for symptoms of vestibular disease to rule out other diseases and to learn how to care for your dog.
Vestibular episode in dogs
Thankfully, vestibular disease, the idiopathic kind that isn’t caused by another factor, is mainly episodic. The dog has acute symptoms for a while and then the problem corrects itself. The downside is that it will likely come back. Some dogs never fully recover, keeping a slight head tilt or always being slightly unstable. Allowances may have to be made for them to remain safe and active and there may be some things they can’t do anymore. The latter is more common in older dogs.
Vestibular disease caused by another factor should go away when the factor is addressed.