Vestibular Disease in Dogs


Vestibular disease is a condition that affects the vestibular system and is responsible for the body to remain balanced. There are two types of vestibular disease, which includes peripheral vestibular disease and central vestibular disease. The major forms of vestibular disease in dogs are said to be a peripheral vestibular disease. It is the disorder which occurred due to the chronic inner and the middle ear infection which leads to the damage of nerves connected to the brain from ear. Usually, dogs suffering from this disease, may experience loss of body balance, dizziness and vertigo. This condition seems to be scary for the dog’s owner at the beginning, but it is not a critical condition and it can be cured.

In Central vestibular disease, it is mainly found to be rare in dogs which seems to be a serious condition. This type of disease will affect the Central Nervous System (CNS) and thereby, it affects the multiple body parts which finally leads to the various symptoms.

Symptoms of Peripheral Vestibular Disease

  • Chronic or Recurrent middle and inner ear infections.
  • Excessive cleaning of ears may cause the eardrum to tear.
  • The ear cleaners and loop diuretics are used in case of torn eardrum.
  • Head injury Trauma.
  • Frequent usage of certain antibiotics including neomycin, amikacin, gentamicin and tobramycin.
  • Sometimes, the presence of brain tumours are said to be the cause for idiopathic vestibular disease, which are found in older dogs.

Symptoms of Central Vestibular Disease

  • Infection.
  • Inflammatory disease.
  • Loss of blood flow.
  • Trauma or bleeding in the brain.
  • Cancer.
  • Polyps.

Causes & Symptoms of Vestibular Disease in Dogs

It affects the ability and balance of the body and the common symptoms of this disease ahead continuously. It happens if there is a problem in the dog’s inner ear.

Other symptoms includes

  • Staggering
  • Loss of co-ordination
  • Rolling
  • Falling
  • Dizziness
  • Nystagmus (Involuntary jerking eye movements)
  • Nausea
  • Drooling
  • Vomiting

Breeds that are at the risk for Vestibular Disease

As a reason of injury or trauma in the inner ear area is a cause for peripheral vestibular disease. Hence, there is no specific breeds that are most at risk for causing this kind of disease.

The another form of this disease is also called as Congenital Vestibular Disease, which has been acquired, “in utero” .So that it can be seen almost in all puppies from their birth and it would be continued till three months old. Hence, breeds such as German shepherds, Smooth Fox terriers, Doberman pinschers, English cocker spaniels, Akita’s, Beagles and Tibetan terriers are found to be at risk with this type of diseases.

An idiopathic vestibular disease is the condition that are usually seen in older dogs. Most of time, the dogs which are suffering from this form of disease are frequently get confused because of the stroke condition. Older dogs with this type of disease, would often find difficulties in eating, drinking and even in passing urine and motion. Due to this reason, it is often recommended that, the foods and the water bowls are need to be kept closer. If possible, you can also help your dog by lifting it to the bathroom. Sometimes, only few older dogs need an additional support therapy like, IV fluids for nutritional supplementation.

Diagnosing Vestibular Disease in Dogs

The Diagnose for the vestibular disease might be difficult. Even though, some of the following tests, are as follows:

  • Estimation of Complete Blood Count (CBC) for checking out some possible blood-related disorders and infectious conditions.
  • Clinical evaluation of kidney, liver, pancreas, and the sugar level.
  • Electrolyte tests for electrolyte imbalance.
  • Thyroid hormone test which determines the amount of thyroid hormone produced in the thyroid glands.
  • Urine tests are taken to check Urinary Tract Infections (UTI).
  • Ultrasound analysis to check for Tumors.
  • Cortisol test is preferred to find out Addison’s disease.
  • The parasitic infections tests.

Once the expected possibilities have been ruled out, then the vet will examine for the neurological assessment for determining, whether the vestibular disease is the problematic condition of central or peripheral disease. If they have been diagnosed in the peripheral vestibular disease, an otoscope test would be used for looking the infections deep into the dog’s ears or if they have been diagnosed for the central vestibular disease, the vet will recommend for various diagnostic procedures such as MRI, Spinal fluid tap, CT scan. Sometimes a surgical biopsy is recommended to see the presence of any Tumors or Polyps. In the meanwhile, the vet will even look for other symptoms of infection which might be the major reason for this type of vestibular disease.

Treatments for Vestibular Disease in Dogs

Since Vestibular Disease have been caused by different reasons, the treatment would be based on the deep analysis and reason for this disease.

In general, the dogs that are born with Congenital Vestibular Disease, have already accustomed to it and in such cases, they are not cured because of their age. So, their problem will be cured or reduced if they are aged. The dogs suffering from idiopathic vestibular disease, would probably clears up on its own, within a couple of weeks. Although, some dogs may suffer terribly from this disease and for those dogs, proper nursing care and homeopathic treatment are available. Sometimes, the medication for nausea could be provided to alleviate stomach related problems. Besides, the other symptoms are also getting treated in order to make the dog more comfortable to improve their health.

In most of the vestibular disease, the underlying issues can be identified by the treatment. Mostly, it will get cleared up, on its own. Usually, the antibiotics are prescribed both for the inner and middle ear infections and even, the thyroid therapy and medications are given for thyroid problems. Or else, if there is presence of the cancerous tumors or polyps, a surgery is required for removing them and proper treatment should are given.

If the central vestibular disease is found to be untreatable and have dangerous infectious, which occur due to some damage in the brain.

Preventing Vestibular Disease in Dogs

Even though, nothing can be done virtually for preventing the few forms of vestibular disease. But, still there are some ways for preventing Peripheral Vestibular Disease. They are over cleaning of your dog’s ears because, sometimes it could cause trauma to its ear or head. Once, if you find any infection on their ear, immediately take them to the vet. So that, you can prevent the possible conditions which leads to the Vestibular Disease.

In general, the Vestibular disease in dogs could be scary for the dog owners and also for dogs, which are get infected for the very first time. Often, consult your vet for keeping your dog’s health in a good condition with a regular physical check-up. By doing so, you can help your dog to improve his health by giving a regular treatment.


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