Vestibular Syndrome

What is it?
Vestibular Syndrome isa disease commonly seen in the older dogsin which they lose their sense of balance. Their ability to coordinate movement is also impaired. The vestibular systemof the dogconsists of part of the inner ear called the semi-circular canals and regions of the brain that process the sense of balance. As it is more common in older dogs, it is sometimes also called Geriatric Vestibular Syndrome.
Vestibular Syndrome, The Signs
There is sudden loss of balance in many dogs and they are not able toeven stand up. The common symptoms are circling, falling, vomiting, nystagmus (rhythmic eye motion), tilting of the head and uncoordinated body movements.  Dogs may be nauseous from the "sea sickness" effect of vestibular disease. At first, the symptoms may be subtle, almost unnoticeable to the owner. The drunken staggers and vomiting may lead the owners to think that their pet has been poisoned. Slowly, the owner sees an apparently healthy dog fall over, try to get up, fall over again and then wander around if it is willing to make the effort to walk, but staggering like a drunken sailor. Most dogs do not eat or drink unless hand fed or given water by hand as their fine motor movements are impaired. Sometimes the signs are confused with stroke even.
Whatare thecauses of Vestibular Syndrome?
It is thought that this syndrome occurs because of the inflammation of the nerves connecting the inner portion of the earand the cerebellum, where balance is controlled. A history of chronic ear infections increases the chance of development of the vestibular syndrome. Other common causes can be hypothyroidism, toxicity of some drugs kept in the ear, cancer or encephalitis. However, in most casesthe cause is not knownand hence referred as Idiopathic Vestibular Syndrome.
How serious is it?
Usually the prognosis is very good for full recovery. However,  it can be different ifother parts of the brainareaffected at the same time. Generally, if the dog can  recognize its owner and is  partly aware ofthe surroundings, it will recover eventually;although they may not have the coordination to eat normally. As long as the dogs are well nursed throughoutthe duration of the condition, almost all dogs recover. Some dogs do have relapses but most do not.
What is the treatment ofvestibular disease?
Treat the underlying cause, if any. Routine treatment includes the administration of intravenous fluids and electrolytes. The vets generally give drugs for motion sickness like Meclizine. The vets also give supplements like Cholodin tablets, or pain killers like Rimadyl or steroids like Winstrol V in some cases. No treatment can hasten the recovery, but medications can only makethe recovery period more comfortable.Antibiotics can be given if there is a history of infection. In most cases recovery occurs with time, but nursing is very important during this phase. One of the most common causes of treatment failure is not treating long enough.


This pet health article is for reference only.

If your pet is showing any symptoms or distress, and you suspect your pet is ill CONTACT YOUR VET IMMEDIATELY.