When dog owners see the the symptoms of Vestibular Disease, they often confuse these symptoms with a stroke. In reality, true strokes are very rare in dogs, which is great news for you and your pooch… Vestibular Disease is a condition far less threatening to your dog.
The Vestibular System is what keeps the head and body oriented with gravity (and spatial faculties). This system includes sensors in the inner ear that provide a sense of balance and equilibrium.
Vestibular Disease seems to be caused by an inflammation in the nerves connecting the inner ear to the cerebellum. It typically lasts between a couple of days and a few weeks, but some dogs may show residual signs beyond this time, such as a head tilt.
- staggering and stumbling
- head tilt
- rhythmic shifting of the eyes from side to side (called “nystagmus”)
- facial paralysis
- head tremor
- body weakness
- refusal to eat or drink*
* NOTE: most dogs will not eat or drink unless given water or food by hand because the movements necessary to eat or drink from a bowl are challenging for them.
Other important things to know:
- There are no warning signs.
- This syndrome normally affects dogs that seem healthy and normal up until the signs appear.
- Symptoms come on suddenly, drastically and are frightening to witness.
- This condition is sometimes even misdiagnosed by vets, and affected dogs who would have recovered, have been put to sleep.
- As long as they are nursed through this condition, almost all dogs will recover.
If your dog is showing the above symptoms, please go to your vet for diagnosis, treatment, and procedures for home-care. And PLEASE make sure your vet is familiar with Vestibular Disease!