Symptoms of Vestibular Disease in Dogs

Updated on August 19, 2015

An uncoordinated drunk like gait may suggest vestibular disease

Dog vestibular disease
Dog vestibular disease | Source

As a dog owner have you ever wondered how your dog is able to move about, run, jump and play without falling to the ground? Ever wondered how your dog can run around in circles without getting dizzy? Perhaps not, because we tend to take these things for granted.

However, all of this is accomplished thanks to the dog's vestibular system, a complex and effective mechanism that originates in the dog's inner ear allowing the dog (and even us humans) to have good orientation skills. In particular the vestibular system allows dogs to well balance themselves and coordinate their eye movements with their head.

All these great features that allows dogs and humans to walk and lead everyday normal lives go unnoticed generally until problems start to take place. When this happens, often dog owners are therefore quite startled and often really cannot get a grasp of what is going on.

The most common reactions to vestibular disorder in dogs are:

''I think my dog just had a stroke''.

''Something is really wrong with my dog''

''I think my dog is having some sort of seizure''.

Indeed vestibular disease can be quite scary in dogs often producing the following symptoms:

  • Head tilt
  • Eyes darting side to side (nystagmus)
  • Strabismus
  • Vertigo
  • Falling to one side
  • Rolling
  • Staggering Gait
  • Nausea/Vomiting
  • Loss of Appetite
  • Salivation
  • Pain Chewing or Yawning



Causes of Vestibular Disease in Dogs


Owners of dogs affected by vestibular disease of course are very alarmed when their dog starts exhibiting these scary symptoms. More often than not, they will rush their dog to the emergency room thinking their dog just had a stroke and imagining him paralyze for the rest of his life.
Fortunately, often the causes of vestibular disease are not so grim most of the time. In most cases, vestibular disease is due to some problem located in the inner ear (peripheral vestibular disease). However, it is best to have the dog checked out by a veterinarian to rule out problems located in the brain (central vestibular disease).

Here are some potential causes:

  • Ear Infection

Because the inner ear is responsible for a variety of important functions such as balance and coordination, when a dog develops an ear infection he or she may start exhibiting symptoms of vestibular diseases. This is because in some severe ear infections, the infection may spread from the external ear to the middle ear and then into the inner ear, negatively affecting all these important balancing functions.

  • Canine idiopathic vestibular syndrome

Unfortunately, in some cases the cause remains unknown (idiopathic). This often takes place when the dog reaches its senior years, indeed often it is called ''geriatric vestibular syndrome''.In this case, for unknown reason the nerves connecting the inner ear to the cerebellum become inflamed often resolving on their own after a few days or a few weeks.

  • Hypothyroidism

In some cases, low thyroid levels may cause vestibular disease issues.

  • Toxins

Sometimes medications placed in the dog's ears may cause sudden acute vestibular disorders. Known culprits may be the following products: gentamycin, streptomycin, neomycin, erythromycin, polymyxin and ear products containing alcohol. Metronidazole has also been know to be a culprit.

  • Tumors

Tumors in the inner ear or in the brain may cause vestibular disease symptoms.

  • Encephalitis

This term depicts brain infection and may cause symptoms of vestibular disease. Causes may be canine distemper, toxoplasmosis, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Erlichiosis, blastomycosis, coccidiomycosis .


Treatment

In order for the treatment to be effective it must take care of the underlying cause.Thyroid medicine may be prescribed for hypothyroidism, ear infections must be cleared and the administration of toxic ear drops must be stopped.
In most cases, vestibular disease resolves within two months. Often after 4-5 days the nystagmus episodes should subside. However, in some cases the head tilt will remain. Dogs are often prescribed medications that reduce dizziness such as Diphenidramine (Benadryl) or Meclizine (Antivert).


-Affected dogs should be helped to eat, because of disabled motor skills they may be unable to eat from the food bowl. Hand feeding therefore is helpful.

-Dogs with vestibular disease should be kept away from stairs and safe from bumping into furniture.



A case of Vestibular Disease

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    • profile image

      Todd 12 days ago

      My dog may have eaten plastic wrapper or styrofoam from a package of meat

    • alexadry profile image
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      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 8 weeks ago from USA

      Yes, please see the vet a dog who cannot stand may be suffering from low blood glucose or something else that needs immediate attention.

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      Nicole Woodbury 2 months ago

      My 3 year old chiwawa is vomiting yellow bile and can't stand without leaning to the side. What is wrong? Should I take her to the vet?

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      Chelsea 3 months ago

      I have an adopted 1 year old female dog who is suddenly acting dizzy and is breathing fast. She had accidentally eaten a 150 mg fluconasole tablet . What should I do.

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      John 4 months ago

      I have a shitzu, jack. 2 days ago he began showing signs of imbalance. He has been seen by the emergency vet but he is getting worse. I need help and can't see our vet until tomorrow ( hopefully) suggestions? I'm reading a variety of possibilities and asking if their are similar stories out here

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      Susan 4 months ago

      I have an English bulldog, 12 years old. Rocco had been in excellent health until 12 days ago. In the evening he got up started walking in circles, rapid eye movement, unbalanced walking and walking into furniture. Took him to the vet the next day, he did blood work, no ear infection. Vet said to see how he is after a couple of days, otherwise he would put him on antibiotics. Vet did put him on antibiotics, plus a thyroid med. blood work showed slightly low thyroid. Vet suggested we took Rocco to a specialist, which we did. She checked him out, suggested an MRI or we could wait three weeks to see if he gets better. Rocco has improved, eats and drinks well, walking better but still not good on uneven ground, cannot do stairs right now and sometimes seems like he does not know where he is. Do you think we should get an MRI, I do not want my Rocco suffering if it's something worse. How long can this vestibule last? Thank you

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      Patty Adams 5 months ago

      It seemed out of the blue that my dog just started walking in circles and circles in the medicine that the doctor gives a darn thing to be doing a whole lot and we're going on about almost 2 weeks and they're saying he has seizures so I don't know what to believe

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      Brooklynn 5 months ago

      My puppy is doing this. He's a month old it's happened twice now. Lasts for maybe 1-5 minutes..

    • alexadry profile image
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      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 8 months ago from USA

      Brunoshuman, Sounds like in a case like this, it may be helpful to get a second opinion by another vet or even better, a specialist, a veterinary neurologist. Record the behavior on camera and have the vet see it. It could be a petit mal seizure and dogs look startled because they cannot control their bodies and don't understand what's happening to them.

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      BrunosHuman 8 months ago

      Hi. I have a 13 and a half year old pug. 3 weeks ago, I thought he had a stroke. He couldn't even attempt to walk. Head tilt, rapid eye movement etc. Took him to vet, and the first thing the vet pointed out was the rapid eye movement, and said he was sure it was vestibular disease. He also had blood work done to rule out any underlying issues, and everything was normal. The vet said it was most likely ideopathic. He gave me some medicated ear drops and antibiotics just in case it was an inner ear infection. Also was given motion sickness medicine, and anti vomiting medication. He said that Bruno would probably show signs of improving within a few days. Much to my surprise, by the time we got home from the vet, he was vastly improved, with just some unsteady gait, and slight head tilt. By that evening (3-4 hrs after vet) he seemed perfectly fine. I found it odd he would recover so quickly if it was vestibular disease. I gave him the full course of meds as prescribed, but 8 days later, the same thing happened again, with the same symptoms. I called the vet, and he assured me it was possible to recover that quickly, and then have another episode. He felt maybe if it was an inner ear infection, that maybe there was still residual bacteria in the inner ear, and gave me more antibiotics. 9 days later, during the night, he awoke and seemed startled. A few minutes later he was shaking, and trembling, as if he was shivering. His gait was unsteady, but not as severe as the first 2 episodes. I also did not notice the rapid eye movement. This episode only lasted about 15 minutes, and then he was fine, and went back to sleep. Today 2 days after that last episode, it happened again. He seemed startled, and sat up on the bed. He began trembling all over. He did not have the rapid eye movement, his head was only slightly tilted, and his gait was unsteady, but again, not nearly as severe as the first 2 episodes. Again, this lasted about 15 minutes, then seemed fine. I also noticed yesterday, that he had much darker than usual stool, but with a normal consistency. I thought it may be from all the medication he has taken. He hasn't had a BM since then so no idea if it is still dark.

      I was under the impression, that vestibular disease should not cause these sudden, and short lasting episodes, so it has me worried that it may be something more serious.

      Also, his appetite has been hit or miss since the first episode. I assumed it was from the nausea associated with this disorder. For some reason, he wont eat the food out of his bowl. He sniffs it, and seems uninterested. However, if I then scoop the food out of the bowl, and feed him from my hand, he'll eat it. Also, he'll eat it off a plate on the floor. Once I start him off with the plate, or out of my hand, and get him eating, I'll dump it back in the bowl, and he will then continue eating it.

      I feel like if I take him to the vet again, he'll just reassure me it's ideopathic vestibular disease. He did bloodwork to rule out anything more serious, and seems so sure about the diagnosis. What's your take? Is it possible to have these multiple, short lasting attacks if it is vestibular disease?

    • alexadry profile image
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      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 9 months ago from USA

      Lin, you will have to see a vet for dosages of antivert and to determine if your dog is actually dealing with this condition and would benefit from it.

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      Lin 10 months ago

      We have a 10 year old Chihuahua mix who is having the same symptoms. How much of the antivert should be given, what dosage?

    • alexadry profile image
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      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 11 months ago from USA

      Wendy, has your dog seen a vet? It could also be a spinal issue or neck issue causing pain when trying to lie down.

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      Wendy 11 months ago

      my dog keeps crying and falling asleep standing up

    • alexadry profile image
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      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 12 months ago from USA

      Perhaps it may be worth a try to see a specialist, such as a vet specializing in neurology.

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      Rebecca 12 months ago

      My 6 1/2 year old Beagle mix has been exhibiting similar signs and symptoms as Eileen's dog. We have been to the vet numerous times, spent about $1000, he's been on several different steroids, antibiotics, ear drops as well as Dramamine. We have played the roller coaster game. Same days are better than others and there's days or weeks that have just been bad. This last time he went to the vet they performed a myringotamy in his left ear. Pulled out a bunch of debris and junk. Said that he had fluid on the other side of his eardrum. Said that he would probably get way worse before he got better. That's been 2 weeks ago and we've just seen him get worse. We are at a loss. Talked to the vet and they said based on everything that they've done there's nothing else they can do. Said that we should've seen improvements at this point. We can't afford an MRI. I'm at a loss...does anybody have any suggestions?

    • alexadry profile image
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      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 12 months ago from USA

      Traci, what did your vet suggest? What were their findings? I hope by now a diagnosis was made and that your dog is on the mend.

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      Eileen 14 months ago

      My 7 year old golden has been exhibiting these signs for awhile now. He had what we thought was an ear infection in July, his ear was red and irritated. Our vet put him on antibiotics, amoxicillin, I think and an antibiotic pack in his ear. He got better, but then the head tilting, leaning left and going in circles, falling over started, he had not had these symptoms previously. We again took him to the vet and he got another round of antibiotics. After that course, he improved, but soon worsened again. Back to the vet for another round of antibiotics, this time Baytril for 3 weeks. Again he showed improvement until the course was done, then the symptoms returned. The vet then put him under and cleaned out his ears, there was debris in there-cheat grass, etc. Antibiotic packs were put into both ears and he once again showed improvement. It's been 3 weeks and I assume the antibiotics have worn off and now he is back to the symptoms, this time more sever than the previous returns. Would vestibular disease respond to antibiotics, then come back or are we dealing with something completely different? I'm taking him back to the vet on Monday with little hope of them being able to help-any insights??

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      Traci Hosler 14 months ago

      I am freaking out! But reading your article made me feel a little better.. my poor baby, Carlos, an almost 5 year old Chihuahua, is going through these symptoms right now. He is kind of teetering around like the dog in your vide, he has weird , leaky eyes, tilted head, and he cannot go up and down stairs without falling. But he is eating, drinking, peeing, and defecating just fine. The vet just did blood panels and all came back o.k., except the thyroids were a little low. They ran the test twice and it was still a little low. They are sending it out to a specialist to see if they are low enough to be causing all of these symptoms. If not, the next step would be x-rays and blood pressure. And if they would come back o.k., the following step would be an MRI of the brain. This is going to kill us monetarily! UGHHHH!!!!!! But this is my "son"! I want to help him!!! I don't know where I am going to get this money from, but I NEED to HELP my baby! I am a hot mess through all of this...

    • alexadry profile image
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      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 18 months ago from USA

      I don't think you are neurotic at all! Maybe you should see another vet or a specialist as this is not normal at all. Has your vet prescribed anything for your dog?

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      Ginger 18 months ago

      Hello there hope someone can help. I have a 15th year old mini Yorkie and we have recently moved from Europe to Thailand is been over a month now and she's been having issues with the warmth weather she was diagnosed with collapsed trachea since she's 6th but is under control. 3 months ago I discovered on her a swollen node in her neck and I took her to the vet the try to take a sample from the node and only puss came out of it and after a blood work the vet said that the node can stay there or disappear at any time and if not it could de puncture or remove because of the node she's been drooling a bit but the vet put her twice on antibiotics and it has remain something minor. She has always suffer from her tummy as well and last Sunday after our morning walk she vomited and made diarrhea in 3 different spots I gave some liquid and removed her food and that same night her head was tilting for a few moments and she was stumbling around. I got really worry and opened a pack of flagyl (antibiotics) that her vet back in Europe gave in case of emergency is been 3 days and head is not tilting but she still walking unbalanced. She's eating,drinking and doing her stuff but normally but her energy is lower than usual. I'm kind of afraid of the vets here in Asia and I wonder if maybe this episode could be related to the node or worse.

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      marleyrose 18 months ago

      My 13 year old lab has been having spells of unsteadyness for about 10 months now. She will twitch, and suddenly keels over as if she is drunk. She soon rights herself again. The only way I can describe it looks like the feeling you get when you get off a boat and your legs go! She has no head tilt or eye problem just this twitching (usually of her head but can be her body too) and falling over. Her appetite is normal as is her toileting. On a walk she will occasionally stumble but not too bad. The unsteadyness mainly seems to happen when she is standing still? I have had her to my vets on numerous occasions and she has had several blood tests for all sorts, they have also checked thyroid function, but everything came back within normal limits. I think my vet thinks I am neurotic now! I video'd her having a funny turn, she was just standing and suddenly started swaying-she then shook herself and was fine afterwards. Am I missing something?

    • alexadry profile image
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      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 21 months ago from USA

      Only your vet can tell with a physical exam and tests. I hope it's an isolated episode, but if it happens again, record the behavior and take your dog to vet.

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      deanna 23 months ago

      when my lab woke up this morning she put her head into my sons closet. i had to physically remove her from that spot, then i got her to walk down the hallway while she kind of slid across the wall. at the end of the hall is when she started to walk in circles. i couldn't calm her down or stop her at all. she just kept pacing and going in circles. she wouldn't respond to me calling her. i tried to feed her with a no go. i then was able to get her outside and she continued to walk in large circles and paced back and forth. no head tilting that i have seen just walking in circles and kind of walking like a sailor that has been out to sea for awhile. she tripped on holes in the yard and the one step to get outside but didn't fall. after 15 mins. she is fine. she peed and ate a full meal (actually gulping her food like she hasn't eaten in over a month, which she never did before) now she acts like nothing happened. do you think it might be this vestibule disease?

    • alexadry profile image
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      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 2 years ago from USA

      I am so sorry to hear your dog is having these symptoms. Hopefully your vet can sort it out, sometimes it's an ear problem and some dogs may get better with medications that control the dizziness.

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      Tisha 2 years ago

      My 11.5yr old cavalier spaniel has an vestibular disease episode nearly 2 months ago and is also suffering from a horribly severe case of yeast infection in her paws (for probably about 6 months). She hasnt wagged her tail or eaten in her own for weeks. She lays in her bed all day long except when I carry outside to potty. Tonight it seems like the vestibular systems are back because she can't even look in my eyes and doesn't seem to be comforted by my cuddling. She shakes while breathing. I'm going to try to get her into the vet again (4th time) tomorrow. We've done all the blood & urine tests but don't plan on doing an MRI. I'm losing hope that she will recover. I'm just so sad.

    • alexadry profile image
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      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 2 years ago from USA

      Thanks, I am happy to hear that you have enjoyed reading my article on vestibular disease in dogs.

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      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 2 years ago from USA

      Lori F, many cases remain "idiopathic" meaning the cause is often unknown. How is your dog doing now?

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      RichardMn 2 years ago

      Hi my friend! I wish to say that this post is amazing, nice written and come with approximately all vital infos. I would like to peer more posts like this .

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      LoriF 2 years ago

      Just was given Cerenia(maropitant citrate) 60mg Only was give 4 Really did not tell me if I need to give it every day or ? I gave him one waiting to see how it may help She our Vet still seems puzzled what may have caused this. He was fine up until this Past Saturday night When we got up Sunday is when all of this started . He doesn't seem to be any worse If anything he is moving around a bit less than on Sunday,that is when we really noticed it because we went up into the mountains and he was not him self and was off balance and not wanting to eat started Took him in Monday and the rest I have mention. He is only 3 Years old Has always been health,we feed him good food and he gets plenty of exercise .

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      LoriF 2 years ago

      Just was given Cerenia(maropitant citrate) 60mg Only was give 4 Really did not tell me if I need to give it every day or ? I gave him one waiting to see how it may help She still seems puzzled what may have caused this He was fine up until this Past S Saturday When we got up Sunday is when all of this started .

    • alexadry profile image
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      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 2 years ago from USA

      Have you asked your vet for any meds to help with the possible dizziness/nausea? Dogs who are dizzy are often uncomfortable and don't like to move around and can get nausea. Depending on the underlying cause, it may take some time to recover.

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      LoriF 2 years ago

      Our dog Dexter a Spinger Spaniel Was acting fine on Saturday night woke up to a different Dog on Sunday morning.he had an accident in the house which he never does and was walking of balance and bumped into things fell over a few time had little or no appetite Took him to Vet on Monday did blood and stool test all came back normal she looked in his ears said only could see very little inflammation puzzled has put him on prednisone and Enrofloxacin Today saw little on know improvement he ate when I hand feed him this Am but would not eat this evening. doesn't seem to want to move around a lot I am feeling very worried and stressed.

    • alexadry profile image
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      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 2 years ago from USA

      Look for a free exam by VCA by Googling VCA free first vet visit, this can cut the price of the office visit, leaving you to pay for any exams or medications. Call them to check if they still offer this before going. Best of luck!

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      Kerry 2 years ago

      I need advice. My yorkie who is 6yrs old seems to be experiencing this. She walks like she is drunk and has the head tilt and the eyes that dart back and forth. I'm low on money and can't afford another vet bill. Still paying the one for her epileptic seizures and her knee that pops in and out of place. Is there anything I can do at home to help her get through this. She's my baby and has helped me get through everything and I hate I can't afford the vet.

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      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 2 years ago from USA

      Cheri, your vet didn't give anything for the dizziness, if not, maybe worth asking for something? Also, for the walking issues, you can look online for special slings and harnesses to help support their back end while walking. Best wishes for a speedy recovery.

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      Elsie Anne Owings 2 years ago

      Cheri, we wish the best for you and your Lab. Please keep us posted. Whatever happens, we hope to learn from it, as well as encourage and support each other.

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      Cheri 2 years ago

      Our lab went in to the vet for a lethargy and weakness in his rear legs. We initially were told, after blood work, that his platelets were low and he was running a bit of a temperature. They had us take him back 2 days later for follow up blood test and the platelet count had come up a bit and they gave us Deramaxx for what was thought to be arthritis. Last night I took his took his temp when it seemed he was feeling poorly and found it to be 104.9. The on-call vet said to go ahead and give him some additional Deramaxx and check his temp again in the morning. Next morning the temp was 103.2. We took him into the vet and they did chest xrays to rule out that as a source of infection. When we went back to pick him up they told us his eyes were jerking and asked if we had noticed them doing this before, which we had not.They explained to us that it was vestibular disease. Our lab, TJ, was weak in his rear legs to begin with and with and now with the dizziness it's almost impossible for him to walk and potty. I'm not a very big person and I've found it's very difficult to manage him on my own to potty (he is 79 lbs). It's breaking my heart seeing him like this. He already had problems and now this. Our vet put him on 2 different anitbiotics, and something for nausea. I'm hoping that he might show some improvement quickly. The comments from others here have been encouraging.

    • Elsie Anne Owings profile image

      Elsie Anne Owings 2 years ago

      Thank you so very much, Alexadry!

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      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 2 years ago from USA

      Thanks so kindly for Teddy's update!. Your observations about the carsickness are very interesting. Idiopathic (of unknown cause) vestibular disease is quite common, and can be frustrating to deal with because there's really nothing to treat for. .It sounds like you have a great vet and Teddy is blessed to have such caring owners! Paws crossed then that it was only an isolated episode

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      Elsie Anne Owings 2 years ago

      As we expected, our veterinarian was not able to determine an exact cause for Teddy's vertigo episode. He checked Teddy's ears and found only a minor problem with one outer ear; nothing that was likely to cause an inner ear problem. Low thyroid is unlikely, since Teddy is very active and thin. The doctor did find that Teddy's teeth need cleaning, so when the doctor cleans them, I'll ask him to check Teddy's jaw hinge and mastoid area more carefully while the dog is out, since Teddy has been eating more slowly lately. But overall, the doctor said that Teddy's episode sounded like a classic age-related vestibular episode, with one exception: usually these episodes take days or weeks to resolve, and Teddy's was over in an hour or two. Nevertheless, the doctor didn't lean toward any other diagnosis.

      He said if it happens again, try to bring Teddy in during the episode, unless it happens at 4 a.m. again like the last one. :D But since it hasn't happened again within a week, he said it might not happen again at all.

      We'll see. I'll definitely keep an eye on Teddy, because his balance/orientation still aren't quite what they used to be. For example, he got carsick after the drive to the vet and threw up in the vet's office, which he has never done before. Then again, my 96-year-old father gets carsick now, too, and he never got sick during his years in the Navy on a destroyer in the Pacific. Dad's doctor said it's age related, and probably Teddy's problem falls into the same category. We'll hope for no more scary episodes, but thanks very much for getting us through this one!

    • alexadry profile image
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      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 2 years ago from USA

      You're very welcome. I hope all gets sorted out well for your dog's vet visit. Sometimes an exact causes cannot be found.

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      Elsie Anne Owings 2 years ago

      Thanks, Alexadry. Teddy's appointment with the veterinarian is scheduled for Friday afternoon. I will let you know what we find out. So far, Teddy has had no further incidents since the one that occurred late Saturday night. That incident lasted only a couple of hours, and he has been fine ever since. I can't think of anything that could have brought it on; nothing was different from his usual routine. It just came out of the blue. Teddy, who tends to be a nervous type anyway, was terrified when it happened, and we discovered, as others have, that the best thing we could do was keep him calm and comfortable until the event passed. Our next step, if at all possible, will be to try to find out what brings it on and how to prevent or treat it in the future. I'll keep you posted. Thanks again!

    • alexadry profile image
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      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 2 years ago from USA

      Hello Elsie Anne Owings, I hope your Teddy recovers from the episode you describe. He's surely fortunate to have a dedicated owner like you. Yes, please keep us posted on how he does. Fingers crossed it's nothing serious.

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      Elsie Anne Owings 2 years ago

      Alexadry, thank you so very much for this post, and thanks also to all the readers who have shared their experiences. This page has given us hope on a very difficult night.

      Teddy is a 12-year-old Shih-Tzu/Schnauzer mix. (The dog groomer jokingly calls him a "Schnau-Zoo.") I adopted him and another dog 2 1/2 years ago after their original owner, who was a close friend of mine, died unexpectedly. The adjustment was difficult for the dogs (and for us) but after Teddy got used to our home in the country, he decided he loved country living! He does have a food allergy to beef and bison, and some problems with gastroparesis (inactive stomach muscle) but after we figured it all out, corrected his diet and got him on some prednisolone and reglan, he has been eating well and doing just fine. For the past year, he has been a zooming bundle of energy and the picture of health.

      Until tonight. We fed the dogs and took him out for his walk. As he walked toward my husband, Teddy unexpectedly fell down. Then he started walking in circles. When we got him into the house, he was running in circles, shaking, and his eyes were darting from side to side. He also scratched the sides of his head.

      Like so many other dog owners, I thought this was the end of my Teddy. I had a Beagle years ago who died from inflammatory brain disease, and I was afraid Teddy was doing the same. Or, at the very least, I thought it was a seizure. Although those problems remain a possibility, I now suspect that Teddy has canine vestibular disease. An hour after his episode started, it ended, and he looks okay now. It is early Sunday morning, and I will get him into the vet on Monday to try to find a cause and treatment for this problem. Thanks very much to all of you for providing me with knowledge and hope! I will post again after Teddy and I have been to the vet.

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      Craig 2 years ago

      Thanks for your kind words.Bailey was a great dog was so friendly would greet everyone even the mailman and meter reader.It was so hard to let her go but I know it was the right thing to do and I have lots of great memories and stories to share.

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      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 2 years ago from USA

      So sorry to hear about your dog. It seems that once dogs reach a certain age their body just succumbs to something eventually. The say that old age is not a disease, but at some point it just seems that some health condition will affect them and their body will give up. 15 years is a remarkable age for a lab, she sure must have left wonderful memories for your to rejoice.

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      Craig 2 years ago

      just put my 15yr old lab bailey to sleep second bout of vestibular disease 7weeks suffering severe arthritis could walk and eat but the vertigo was the worst could not sleep lay head down jump back all night long.2hrs sleep at most exhausted.quality of life gone.Just wanted to post. Thanks

    • alexadry profile image
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      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 2 years ago from USA

      Keep up updated on your vet's findings! Wishing it's something minor that can be easily treated.

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      susan morrison 2 years ago

      Our 13 year old Nellie, a Terrier Bassett mix spent all last night vomiting - completely out of the blue. We thought it might be due to her obsessively licking our wood floors after I had mopped with Mop and Glo and possibly been poisoned. I called the 800 emergency number on the bottle and spoke with a representative who thought the licking of the Mop and Glo was not serious - but the inability to balance while walking was concerning. Now after reading all these helpful comments, I think it might be vestibular disease instead. Her eyes are darting back and forth and she is unable to stand or walk easily without almost falling over. She has not eaten or drunk water since - but luckily she responds very well to eating ice cubes and hopefully she is not too dehydrated. We have her comfortably propped up for the night with blankets and pillows and are taking her to the vet first thing tomorrow (today was Sunday and only very expensive emergency care available) to see what she diagnoses. So scared to think it might be something worse that an inner ear infection. The ironic thing is that for the past month - I have been experiencing the same symptoms as inner ear infection as well - with dizziness and nausea while sleeping and getting out of bed in the mornings...so I completely sympathize with the poor girl.

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      Carol 3 years ago

      Hi Chris,

      This site was a life saver for me and my dogs!! Alexadry has provided a site and information that all of us can share and use to support each other and our companions. Hope Doxie recovers, and gives you many more years of love and laughter.

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      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 3 years ago from USA

      I hope your vet can pinpoint the problem so your dog has a speedy recovery.

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      Chris 3 years ago

      Hi truth is this article was very informative to me and my girlfriend we have a nine year old doxie named Kiera and today was the first day she showed the more alarming symtoms and it scared us to death we are praying that this is what she is going through cause this is what she has been showing us all day and nitems Thank you so much for everyone's experience and information

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      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 3 years ago from USA

      Glad to hear the vets went to the bottom of this and were able to help your dog get better. Vestibular disease in dogs can be scary.

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      Carol 3 years ago

      This is a great site for sharing...A couple of years ago my 10 year old lab developed vestibular disease and was treated successfully twice. (not having dealt with this previously, it was very scary). Just recently my 8 year old lab developed the same, although, not as severe symptoms with being unable to stand up, and having a few "head tilts". After an emergency visit, she was diagnosed with hypothyroidism!! She did have a small ear infection, that we treated, and started her on thyroid supplements!! She has since thrived, losing 15 pounds and gaining a ton of energy!

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      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 3 years ago from USA

      I don't like how they are handling the situation. Maybe see another vet for a second opinion?

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      Christi 3 years ago

      I am sick to my stomach to learn that my little guy could have had a ear infection! He had been in to the vet for loose stool and low appetite. They told me he should stay so I left him for 4 days; then they told me he had a brain problem because he tilted his head up sometime at a 45 degree angle. They said I should let him rest because of it; the thing is he never had any symptoms other than lifting his head straight up when he laid down. I felt like they didn't even try after this. They didn't even check his ears! They took him off his heart medicine and diuretics and put him on medicine to treat what they believed to be a problem with his brain and didn't test him for it! We went back for the checkup 5 days later and they released him then they called me in the car and said to come back that his kidney levels were high. He was there another 4 days after I insisted they help him, released again, then I had him back in 5 days later! They had the nerve to tell me that "if it was their pet they wouldn't spend the money" after our first visit!

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      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 3 years ago from USA

      Sounds like an ear issue. Diagnostic tests will help you feel less confused and lost. Find a good vet that will go through your pet's medical history (was she on any medications known for causing toxicity to the ear, any recent injuries or accidents?) then perhaps the vet will suggest to run tests to help pinpoint the problem. Blood work, x-rays of the head to check the middle and inner ears, and in some cases, a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or computed tomography (CT) scans are sometimes needed to further investigate.

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      Alexandra 3 years ago

      My 12 year old German pointer is having a really hard time walking. It seems as though she's drunk. She tries to get up and walk but falls back down. This happened twice before in the last 2 years and it goes away within a day or 2. Her eyes aren't doing any rolling however she keeps shaking her head. She loves having her ears massaged and last night I woke up with her pressing her ear against my hand. After massaging her ears this seemed to happen. It breaks my heart in a million pieces. She is my very best friend in this whole world and I can't imagine my life without her. I've been on the floor with her for the last 6 hours watching her sleep and praying that when she wakes up she'll be ok again. Could this be vestibular disease? The last time this happened, we took her to the vet and she told us it could be a neurological issue but wasn't certain. I'm so confused and lost.

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      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 3 years ago from USA

      Your vet is the best person to determine what is going on. It could be she had a seizure or she could even have an underlying heart problem.

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      Debbie 3 years ago

      My 16 year old silky terrier had two episodes of what looked like falling on her right side within minutes of each other. These episodes didn't last long at all and haven't recurred. She hasn't shown any other symptoms other than sleeping lots. Could this be the onset of vestibular disease? She has a gall bladder issue for which she takes ursodiol. Other than that, she's been very healthy.

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      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 3 years ago from USA

      Many dogs do better licking ice cubes rather than gulping water. To reduce nausea, some vets may prescribe Cerenia http://www.veterinarypartner.com/Content.plx?A=279... meclizine http://www.veterinarypartner.com/Content.plx?P=A&a... some may prescribe dramamine; however, because of your dog's age perhaps he was concerned about side effects? Many dogs will refuse regular food, but will be more likely to accept canned food. You can ask your vet for a prescription canned food that is good for dogs with kidney problems. Otherwise, you can try meat- based baby food with no onion or garlic in it as this vet recommends--see also his other suggestions...http://www.justanswer.com/dog-health/5ozrg-dogs-ea... Prescription canned food for dogs with kidney problems or baby food is a good choice as the dog gets more fluid intake versus a dry food, also you can warm it up with some warm water so to increase water absorption. Warming the food up also entices a dog to eat it more as it's more pleasant to eat and the aroma gets them hungry.

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      winnie 3 years ago

      My 15 year old beagle is having a very bad attack of vertigo as diagnosed by my vet who is wonderful. He won't eat or drink as a result of the nauseau. Any ideas on what I can feed him temporarily just to get something in his system. His regular diet is a prescription food for dogs with kidney problems and he won't go near it. I want to get liquids and food in him (it's been 4 days with just a couple of sips per day), but I don't want to destroy his fragile kidneys in the process.

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      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 3 years ago from USA

      You're very welcome, good luck.

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      Samantha Hornsey 3 years ago

      Ty alexadry I will certainly look into this info xxx

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      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 3 years ago from USA

      Look up a free vet visit from Banfield, that's how I got a second opinion for almost free.

      https://hubpages.com/animals/How-to-Get-a-Free-Vet...

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      Samantha Hornsey 3 years ago

      Ty Alexadry we take him to the pdsa as we r on a low income n can't afford a private vet. I don't think they will do tests as the only option they gave us was the steroids or to be put to sleep. I wish they would do tests as he has a strong heart and is healthy apart from that xxx

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      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 3 years ago from USA

      Sounds like a second opinion may be helpful, perhaps more tests need to be run to see what is causing this.

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      Samantha Hornsey 3 years ago

      I have a 13 and a 1/2 old staffordshire x that started with this bk in mid oct the bet diagnosed vestibular and put him on pedisone he was on it a while then they weaned him off. As soon as they weaned him off the steroids it came back. So bk the vets we went and the vet put him bk on 2 pedisone daily for a month and we have to go back to see if vet is to wean him down to 1 or put him to sleep. Is there anything anyone can suggest as I really don't want my dog put to sleep :( xx

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      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 4 years ago from USA

      Have you seen the vet for this? There are meds to reduce the nausea and vertigo if your dog is suffering from a vestibular disorder.

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      Anna 4 years ago

      I've got a 15 year old Jack Russel, and today she started having the eye twitching. I noticed it first, but needless to say my mom and I were freaking out. She's been having problems walking, and has been throwing up the past few days. The amount of detail in this article is reassuring, but sadly not comforting if there's nothing we can do but wait and hope she gets better again.

      Thanks for the info anyway, it's helped us feel a little more at ease.

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      ClaraSue 4 years ago

      Thank you for the informative article. When my dog (age 14 next month) had these very symptoms a few months ago, I immediately though "stroke"! After rushing her to the vet, who didn't help us in the least, I came upon a few articles on the web. Her symptoms cleared up on their own after a week or so. This morning she started exhibiting the same symptoms. Since she came through it just fine the first time, I'm hopeful that she'll come through them again, although is scares both her and me when it occurs. She acts exactly like the dog in the above video. In your opinion, do geriatric dogs go through this more than once?

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      debzen 4 years ago

      After having 3 weeks of seizure type fits (he conscious), several blood, urine tests, and an ear infection, I decided to take my 8 yr old boxer to an ear specialist. He had blockage. He underwent anesthesia and had both ears flushed to remove the hair/wax ear plugs. BUT, one ear had a little hole in the membrane and the canal was so restricted, he said it was the size of a poodle's. It's been 5 days so far of giving Finchy syringes of antibiotics and anti-inflammatory drugs to his ear. All has been well. He's been eating with me spoon feeding him. No seizures, no twitches, no stumbling, no loss of balance, no whining, no excessive drool or runny nose, until today. I was only able to do one ear with the anti-inflammatory, but could not do the other as he would not allow it. He started growling and showing teeth, which is extremely odd, so I read the signs and backed off. That night, I was able to do the antibiotics in both ears because my boyfriend was there to hold him down. So tonight, he had another seizure. I feel I failing his treatment because I didn't do the other ear, and giving him these ear treatments is becoming harder and harder. I'm at a loss as far as treating him goes. I'm afraid I'll have to do more flushes, and I cannot afford the $450 for each of these flushes, after spending nearly $1,000 so far. I make just over minimum wage. I'm afraid the signs of this disease are going to come back if I don't somehow get his ears taken care of.. Any advice/tips on treating his ears and handling his neurological symptoms in the mean time would be much appreciated before I take him back to the vet once again.

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      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 4 years ago from USA

      Thanks for the update PeteK! I really hope those episodes subside. I am sharing with you a website about canine epilepsy that has turned helpful for many, here's the link:

      http://www.canine-epilepsy-guardian-angels.com/sit...

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      PeteK 4 years ago from Yorkshire England

      Thanks for your best wishes. The vet gave Bailey a full examination,everything from the operations is now fine, we still have to continue with 6ml Lactulose 3 times daily, as for the current issues, the vet said the same as you regarding doing a video when he has another episode. They did full range blood tests, and everything was fine. Slightly raised blood count (56) but nothing to worry about. She thought it might be a petite Mal which apparently is not as common as Grande Mal, but also not as worrying. She said if he continues only to have no more than one episode a month it's probably better to leave well alone, rather than resorting to the type of drugs required to treat this type of event, however, if they become more frequent, or more severe, then she will refer us to see a specialist (neurologist) for further investigation and treatment.

      So don't really know any more than before really, except we know Bailey is doing well after his ops, and his bloods show everything is working as it should, which is all good.

      Still fingers crossed that his wobbles stay as infrequent as before, and don't get any more severe.

      We don't have insurance, and we have already paid out over 2500 GBP including 158 GBP yesterday for the blood tests & consultation. We would NEVER take a cheaper option, but it's still stretching us financially, so if for nothing more than that we really need him to stay healthy for as long as possible.

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      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 4 years ago from USA

      I hope they can find a cause so your dog can be treated accordingly. Let me know how it goes, sending best wishes your way!

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      PeteK 4 years ago from Yorkshire England

      Thanks, we will try, I had suggested the same thing, but we are always so concerned when it happens, logic goes out of the window & we just hold him & comfort him until he recovers.

      Worryingly, he had another small episode last night, no eye roll or head tilt apparent this time, but he overbalanced when he stood up & you could see in his face the confusion. It was a very small attack this time, @ 30 seconds, but a worry that it was only 24 hours after the last one. It seems to be his back legs that he loses control over when it happens, and we have noticed his back legs shaking a little on occasion, which is unusal for Bailey.

      We will of course tell the vet everything - but the appointment was actually made as a follow up to the major surgery he had.

      Fingers crossed

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      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 4 years ago from USA

      It would help if you could keep a recording camera ready and record these episodes on tape. Then show them to your vet, this should help your vet tremendously as he can determine if what you're seeing is seizure activity or something else. Let me know what he/she thinks it is. Best wishes for the upcoming appointment.

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      PeteK 4 years ago from Yorkshire England

      My 8 year old Border Collie Bailey has just had his 4th very short incident. Typically these last up to a couple of minutes, his eyes seem to be rolled down, his head tilts backwards over one shoulder, he loses his balance, and has a confused/frightened expression on his face. He is fine immediately after each incident. He has no loss of appetite or incontinence. He has only had 4 incidents to our knowledge over a period of @ 10 months, but they are very frightening when he has them. Could this be Vestibular Disease? We did ask our vet after his first incident, but at the time Bailey was having serious health problems (Rectal diverticulum, enlarged prostate, bilateral perineal hernia & prolapse bladder) he had to have two emergency operations, so to be honest, the vet wasn't really that interested in this. As this now seems to be getting more frequent, we are getting increasingly concerned, and we have a vets appointment for 7th March. It is just that these event only last a few minutes at most, so we don't know if this fits the Vestibular profile, or whether this points to something else. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

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      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 4 years ago from USA

      It's easy to confuse it with stroke as the symptoms are similar, but in most cases it turns out to be a vestibular issue. I'm happy to hear your dog is doing better, best wishes!

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      Brenda Roszell 4 years ago

      Our 14 year old Golden was diagnosed with vestibular disease last summer. We thought she had a stroke because of the symptoms. She was very sick but she made a full recovery within about three weeks. She is still doing well without any of the symptoms except a slight head tilt when she is very tired.

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      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 5 years ago from USA

      Hi Karen, I really hope your vet was able to pinpoint the problem and your dog is recovering by now. Usually, when it re-occurs like that there is an underlying issue that needs to be diagnosed by a vet with some tests. Unfortunately, at times a cause cannot be found and when this happens it falls under the term 'idiopathic vestibular disease".

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      Karen 5 years ago

      Hi Carol,

      Thanks for your advice and best wishes.

      Update from today:

      This third attack has been the worst so far. I spent the night monitoring my dog and I gave him Benadryl (Diphenhydramine) but he was still no better in the morning. He was crying and thrashing about. I took him to the vet first thing this morning and they have decided to keep him in. I called for a check up after two hours and they said they had been able to calm him down but every time they try to examine him he was thrashing about again so they have put him in a padded cage.

      I pray that I will be able to bring him home soon and that he will make another full recovery.

      Thanks

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      Carol 5 years ago

      Hi Karen,

      All I can tell you is that my dog experienced 2 attacks, six months apart. The first attack was unexplained, but the second attack coincided with a confirmed ear infection. Since she is a lab, and I can't keep her out of the water swimming, I am assuming it was from that. Hoping Alexandry can provide you with more info. Best wishes for answers, and a speedy recovery.

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      Karen 5 years ago

      Hi all,

      My dog has already had two episodes of vestibular disease. The first was in January of this year and the last one was 6 weeks ago.

      He has just had his third attack tonight. The vet couldn't find the cause for the past two episodes so I'm not sure why it is re-occurring.

      I will take him to the vet tomorrow morning first thing. I'm so worried about him. He has only just got over his last episode of this disease and now he is unwell again.

      Has anyone experienced a dog having two attacks within 6 weeks of each other?

      Thanks

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      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 5 years ago from USA

      Paul, please don't feel bad, from your description it sounds like she was really suffering and many older dogs that develop this condition are also put to sleep because some of them do not get better and there could also be an underlying brain disorder causing similar symptoms.

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      Paul Brown 5 years ago

      Our border collie dog had to be put to sleep a few months back she had all the same symptoms as mentioned above she was nearly 14. She woke up fine in the morning full of energy then just suddenly her legs went and her head and body became like twisted she was vomiting with lots of saliva. For a number of years we had her back and fourth to the vets with ear problems they never could really get it sorted out she would get better then a few months later same thing again with ear trouble. We rushed her to the vets the day it happened and they told us something had went wrong in her brain and she was in alot of discomfort and the best thing to do would be to let her go. I feel so bad and guilty reading here that lots of dogs get better with this condition and not once did the vet say this is what it could have been. We had her since being a puppy and was the hardest thing i have done in my life. She could not walk at all buti just feel so guilty now.

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      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 5 years ago from USA

      Hoping the best, it's good you know what is causing this (the ear problem), many cases remain idiopathic (no known reason). Best wishes for a speedy recovery!

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      Carol 5 years ago

      Thanks Alexadry...we did go, and otitis media was diagnosed in both ears. We rec'd ear drops, and oral antibiotics. The next day she was much improved. Day 3, more lethargy, and looked like a relapse. Called the vet, put her on antiemetics...holding our breath.

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      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 5 years ago from USA

      Ear infections are reoccurring in many cases, so if this was the trigger the first time, it can happen again if this is the culprit. I would consult with the vet and see if this demands further testing.

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      Carol 5 years ago

      Nothing definitive...we went on the assumption of vestibular disease because the presenting symptoms were "textbook", and there was evidence of an ear infection. The secondary diagnosis was "seizures", not yet diagnosed, but I am assuming because she responded to the treatment of vestibular disease, with antibiotics, and anti-emetics, that was the diagnosis. She has had no sequeli up until yesterday when she became very lethargic. Although her presentation this time has been not as dramatic, I am seeing similar, yet vague symptoms. We were on your site here six months ago, thankfully.

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      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 5 years ago from USA

      What was the vet's diagnosis the first time around? Was is it an ear issue?

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      Carol 5 years ago

      What is the incidence of re-occurrence of this happening? Once again, 6 months later, although much more subtle, my 8 yr. old lab is not "herself". Uninterested in food (which is her life stay), and laying around. She is trying so hard, and it's obvious she is not herself. With thanks...as always

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      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 5 years ago from USA

      Awww.. thank you! It really makes me happy when I hear my articles help out dog owners in need, best wishes for a speedy recovery!

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      Carol 5 years ago

      Hang in there Jamie...hopefully you and your dog will be as lucky as we were. This website is a blessing...good luck!

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      Jamie 5 years ago

      All I can say is Thankyou for this amazing site, as you have given me so much needed info on my dog as well as greatly needed HOPE....

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      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 5 years ago from USA

      There is a form of canine autoimmune thyroid disease which may cause seizures in affected dogs. However, keep in mind that many forms of vestibular disease remain idiopathic, in other words no cause can be found.

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      Sarah 5 years ago

      I was wondering if an Auto-immune disease could cause this. My dog doesn't have an infection or any of the other causes. Every now and then my dog will look as if he's having a seizure. His eyes dart back and forth and he looks as if he can't move

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      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 5 years ago from USA

      You are very welcome, I hope it is just a temporary problem, and your dog feels better soon, best wishes for a speedy recovery.

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      Clarissa 5 years ago

      thanks for the info. my dog recently had a "drunken episode" & he scared me so much I broke out in tears. he's like family & to see him like that hurt me. he's getting old & I was worried we might have to put him to sleep :(

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