How Long Does Old Dog Vestibular Disease Last?

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Vestibular disease in dogs, is also known as idiopathic vestibular syndrome or canine vestibular disease, is a condition that affects the vestibular system, which is responsible for maintaining balance and spatial orientation. This disease is not only a canine disease but also effects humans.This disease can cause a range of symptoms in old and young dogs, including dizziness, vertigo, and loss of balance. It is typically seen in older dogs, but can affect dogs of any age. In this article below we will go over what it is, how it’s treated and how long the symptoms usually last in our canine friends.

What is Old Dog Vestibular Disease?

The vestibular system is made up of the inner ear, the vestibular nerve, and the vestibular nuclei in the brainstem. The inner ear contains the vestibular organs, which are responsible for detecting movement and changes in the position of the head. These organs send signals to the brain through the vestibular nerve, which is then processed by the vestibular nuclei in the brainstem.

When the vestibular system is not functioning properly, it can lead to a range of symptoms in dogs, including dizziness, vertigo, and loss of balance. Dizziness is a feeling of lightheadedness or unsteadiness, while vertigo is a sensation of spinning or moving, even when the dog is still. Loss of balance can make it difficult for dogs to walk or perform other daily activities as they normally would.

Vestibular disease in dogs is typically idiopathic, meaning that the underlying cause is unknown. Vets believe it to be caused by inflammation or damage to the vestibular organs in the inner ear, but the exact cause is not 100%. Vestibular disease can also be caused by underlying conditions, such as ear infections, head injuries, or tumors.

The 4 main causes of this disease are:

  1. Neck injuries: In the long run, injuries from falls or other dog equipment such as chain collars can lead to the stiffening of some muscles, resulting in poor balance.
  2. Perforation in the eardrum: If a dog’s eardrum has holes, or perforations, it can affect the normal functioning of the ear and lead to a loss of balance. The eardrum is a crucial part of the ear and plays a vital role in maintaining proper functioning.
  3. Ear infections: In some cases, a dog’s ear(s) may be affected by viral or bacterial infections, which can affect the normal operation of the ear and lead to a loss of balance. This loss of balance may be observed as a manifestation of the infection.
  4. Adverse Drug effects: Some medications used to treat certain dog ailments have been known to cause vestibular syndrome. Therefore, it is important for dog owners to be aware of the potential side effects that these drugs may have. It is advisable for them to be informed of the risks before giving their dogs any medication.

How is Vestibular Disease Treated?

Treatment for vestibular disease in old dogs depends on the underlying cause and the severity of their symptoms. In most cases, vestibular disease will resolve on its own without treatment, but this can take several weeks or months depending on the severity. However, there are several things you can do to help your dog manage their symptoms and improve their balance and coordination quicker.

One of the most effective treatments for vestibular disease in dogs is vestibular rehabilitation therapy (VRT), which is a specialized form of physical therapy that focuses on the vestibular system. Therapy can help improve balance and coordination, and reduce dizziness and vertigo in dogs. VRT typically involves a series of exercises that are designed to retrain the brain to process information from the vestibular system more effectively.

In some cases, medication may be prescribed to help manage symptoms. For example, antihistamines can help reduce dizziness and vertigo, while medications such as benzodiazepines can help with anxiety and insomnia, which are common symptoms of vestibular disease.

How Long Does the Vestibular Disease Last in Dogs?

Dogs that have vestibular disease can expect the symptoms to last for a few weeks to months, it just depends on the severity of the disease.  Vestibular disease can be a chronic condition that requires ongoing treatment and management.

It is important to see a veterinarian if your dog is experiencing symptoms of vestibular disease, as early treatment can help improve their symptoms and prevent complications. Your veterinarian will perform a thorough evaluation to determine the underlying cause of your dog’s symptoms and recommend an appropriate treatment plan.

Vestibular Syndrome vs. Stroke

Does my dog suffer from vestibular disease or vestibular syndrome? This is a question that many pet owners have asked in online forums. The reason for this confusion is that the loss of balance is a common symptom in both conditions. To help clarify the differences between vestibular disease and vestibular syndrome, the table below provides a comparison of the two conditions.

Vestibular Disease Symptoms

Stroke Symptoms

  • The dog’s movement speed cannot be assessed
  • Loss of appetite
  • Normal peripheral reflexes
  • Head tilts towards the side
  • Horizontal eye movement
  • Dysfunction of the cerebellum causes the loss of balance
  • Diagonal or vertical eye movement



Old Dog Vestibular Disease Recurrence

Does vestibular disease recur after it has gone away? There have been reports of idiopathic vestibular disease recurring in dogs after they have been declared healed. However, this is a rare occurrence. In cases where a stroke has caused the loss of balance, the likelihood of recurrence may be higher. It is important to consult with a veterinarian if your dog has been diagnosed with vestibular disease to understand the potential for recurrence and to develop an appropriate treatment plan.

FAQs on Old Dog Vestibular Disease

Below are some of the commonly asked questions about the old dog vestibular disease and how it affects the lives of our dogs.

Old dog vestibular disease not eating

If you have noticed that your dog has lost their appetite or developed poor eating habits after losing their balance, this could be a symptom of vestibular disease. As previously mentioned, loss of balance is a common symptom of this condition. Vertigo, which is a sensation of spinning or moving, can cause loss of appetite in dogs. It is important to consult with a veterinarian if you suspect that your dog may have vestibular disease to determine the underlying cause and develop an appropriate treatment plan.

Dog Vestibular Disease Panting & Seizures

Dogs with vestibular syndrome may experience heavy panting, even after short walks. This, along with seizures, may require immediate attention from a veterinarian. If your dog is experiencing heavy panting or seizures, it is important to seek veterinary care as soon as possible. The veterinarian will be able to determine the underlying cause and develop an appropriate treatment plan to help manage your dog’s symptoms.

Is it canine vestibular disease or stroke or tumor?

As mentioned earlier in this article, the differences between vestibular disease and vestibular syndrome can be identified by observing the symptoms that are present. In general, eye movements can provide an early indication of which condition a dog is experiencing. In dogs with vestibular disease, the eyes will move horizontally (nystagmus), while in dogs with a stroke, the eyes will move vertically. By carefully observing your dog’s symptoms, you may be able to determine which condition they are experiencing. However, it is important to consult with a veterinarian for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.

Canine Vestibular Disease Homeopathic Remedies

It’s important to note that homeopathy is a controversial practice and its effectiveness is not supported by scientific evidence. In general, it’s always best to consult with a veterinarian for proper diagnosis and treatment of any health issues in your dog. The remedies mentioned above may provide some relief for your dog, but they should not be used as a replacement for proper medical care. Additionally, it’s important to provide your dog with plenty of water and fluids to avoid dehydration, and to make sure it has access to food to keep its strength up. It’s also important to monitor your dog’s condition closely and to seek veterinary care if its symptoms worsen or if it shows any signs of discomfort.


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