Vestibular syndrome in dogs

  • Vestibular syndrome is a fairly common condition which leads to a pet losing their balance and coordination

  • Often the cause of vestibular syndrome is not identified

  • Vestibular syndrome generally occurs in older dogs 

  • The vestibular centre is in the ear and brain and controls balance and coordination, vestibular syndrome occurs when this is nor functioning normally 

  • Vestibular syndrome can occur for an unknown reason in older dogs, be associated with disease of the inner ear or there may be an issue with the brain

  • Always contact your veterinarian immediately if you think your pet is displaying signs of vestibular syndrome

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  • Symptoms 

  • Nystagmus

  • Nystagmus is when a dog's eyes flicker to one side when the head is still

  • Vomiting 

  • When the vestibular system in the ear and brain is not function normally it can make an animal feel extremely nauseous 

  • Ataxia 

  • Ataxia means an abnormal gait, it may look like your pet is drunk or very wobbly 

  • Wide based stance 

  • Head tilt 

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  • Treatment is dependant on what has caused the vestibular syndrome. 

  • In older dogs the cause may be unknown (idiopathic) and treatment is generally symptomatic, the symptoms tend to improve in 24-72 hours. 

  • If the cause is an inner ear infection, then this will need to be treated. Your pet will also require symptomatic treatment. 

  • If symptoms are then not improving then further investigation may be indicated, such as advanced imaging.