Vestibular disease in dogs is divided into two categories: Central, which
is caused by an abnormality in the brain, and Peripheral, which is caused by
an abnormality in the nerves of the inner ear. Most cases of vestibular
disease are peripheral, but at present no cause is known for this variety.
Symptoms of Vestibular Disease
Vestibular disease usually affects older dogs around 13 years of age. The
most common symptom is excessive shaking of the head from side to side. Other
- Stumbling while walking
- Eyes drifting from side to side or up and down
- Lack of coordination.
Diagnosis and Treatment of Vestibular Disease
Because the symptoms of vestibular disease in dogs can also be signs of other
conditions, your veterinarian will take a complete medical history before administering
a thorough neurologic examination via the ear canal. This will be followed
by blood tests to determine your dog’s general health and to check for
any other underlying conditions.
Once the type of vestibular disease is determined, your veterinarian will
recommend a course of treatment. Peripheral vestibular disease usually slowly
improves over one or two weeks, so little treatment is needed, though, a motion
sickness medication such as dyphenhydramine might
be prescribed to relieve dizziness. For central vestibular disease, the treatment
is tailored to the cause of the illness.
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