Vestibular Syndrome – strokes in dogs

My twelve year-old collie, Juno had an attack of Vestibular Syndrome this week. These are what we used to call Strokes, but advances in imaging and investigation have led us to realise that they’re not quite the same, even though they appear just as suddenly and with some of the same symptoms.

Dogs can and occasionally do have Strokes, but they tend to be less serious than in humans. In humans, Strokes – or Cerebrovascular Accidents – refer to a bleed in the brain, so that an area loses its blood supply and is starved of oxygen. Damage quickly becomes irreversible and we all know how variable and tough the aftermath can be, for the sufferer and carers alike. Dogs can, rarely, go through the same events, but are more likely to have an episode where, instead of bursting, the blood vessel spasms and shuts down for a short period. Whilst there can still be damage, recovery tends to be quicker and more complete.



Vestibular events are slightly different again, but often something of a mystery. The vestibular system – the inner ear – is about balance and so problems lead to classic signs of dizziness. There is staggering (ataxia), flicking of the eyes (nystagmus) from side to side, up and down or even rotationally, and a head tilt to one side. Facial nerve tics or paralysis are sometimes present. Motion sickness can be obvious, or may present as reduced appetite, which is hardly helped by the confusion and anxiety that most patients experience.

Juno had a sudden onset of these symptoms about four days ago, accompanied by a bit of leaking urine, and has been gradually improving for the last 48 hours. As of today, she’s not too bad when walking in a straight line, but getting out of her basket is still a bit hit and miss and sharp turns tend to become handbrake slides. She’s still eating her food, but for the first time ever seems full up before the bowl is empty. Life isn’t all bad, though – her basket has been moved in front of the fire and with the TLC she’s getting from the whole family, she’s more likely to die of happiness than from dizziness. And hopefully, over the next few days to weeks, she’ll gradually return to normal.

Vestibular disease can have a number of causes: infections, from the brain itself or from the middle ear, cancer, poisonings, parasitism, immune disorders, occasionally as a sign of Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid), and commonly as an idiopathic event. Idiopathic basically means that we don’t know the cause, but know that it isn’t due to anything else. Idiopathic Vestibular Syndrome is something that comes on unexpectedly, for unknown reason, and then usually goes away on its own, albeit often with some residual signs like a minor head tilt.

Currently, it appears that Juno’s condition is the idiopathic version, and not due to something nasty lurking underneath, or else possibly thyroid-related, which is easily treated with thyroid supplements. Juno’s not otherwise ill, has no history of ear disease (although it can sometimes be silent), and doesn’t have any progressing symptoms. I ran some bloods the day after it all started, which were entirely normal. However, if she should relapse, I’ll be looking at more investigation, which may be a lot more complicated.

Testing for brain disease can be very difficult: to make a definitive diagnosis, we generally need to look at sampling the fluid around the brain – the Cerebrospinal Fluid (CSF) – and/or performing an MRI. Both require a general anaesthetic, are potentially risky procedures and can be very expensive. Right now, for Juno they’re not a priority as things are looking OK, but remain as options.

In the meantime, I’m supporting Juno as much as possible, whilst waiting for the results of thyroid tests. Even though we don’t usually know the cause of Vestibular Syndrome, there are a number of useful drugs which are commonly used:

  • Most vets will use anti-sickness drugs, to combat the motion sickness.
  • A fair few use steroids, a common treatment for neurological conditions, particularly when a decision has been made not to investigate further.
  • Some vets will use Vivitonin, which is often used to enhance blood flow to the brain and which we’re using more and more for heart disease. Whilst there’s no solid evidence that it works in vestibular problems, there can’t be any harm in making sure that the blood supply is topped up.
  • Sometimes we’ll prescribe a human drug called betahistine, which is used for vertigo, as it’s reported to speed up recovery.
  • In terms of general boosting of brain activity, there are supplements like Aktivait and Selgian, which are usually used to combat signs of senility in older patients, and essential fatty acids.

Equally, though, nursing and TLC is all-important for these patients:

  • Reassurance
  • Palatable and digestible food
  • Help with movement, but only enough to make up for what’s lacking – if all she needs is a hand under the bum to get up, then she gets it, but that’s all she gets.
  • Promoting the idea of ‘horizontal’ by providing strong visual cues in the house. Juno’s basket is in front of the wide, flat sofa and thin, tall objects have been removed. In severe cases, horizontal masking tape on the walls and doors may help
  • Frequent trips to the garden for balance and urination
  • Keeping pathways through the house clear of clutter, to reduce bump hazards
  • Gentle and short walks in straight lines
  • A nappy, to reduce the anxiety of leaks: purpose-made wraps are available for longer term conditions, but for now we’re using large disposables with a hole ripped for her tail.

It’s important to note that because, by definition, we don’t know what causes Idiopathic Vestibular Syndrome, treatments and care are largely based on common sense and logic. It’s true that if left alone, many patients recover by themselves, although this can take several weeks, but anything which reduces the recovery time, and makes it more bearable, must be a good thing. So far, Juno is responding well and I’m hopeful that we’ll be out of the woods before too long, but in the meantime I’m giving her every chance that I can.

  • Joanne says:

    This site has been very helpful to us. Our 13 year old Sheltie had similar symptoms 4 weeks ago. We took her to the emergency vet hospital and they ran tests which showed everything normal. She had what appeared to be a seizure – unsteady on feet, couldn’t stand, head tilt to right, very rapid flickering eyes, panic, and this lasted a good 10 minutes. Since then, she has spells of panic attacks and mild to moderate rapid flickering of the eyes. She runs to the doggie door but when she gets outside she stands there not knowing what to do. Do you think this might be vestibular disease, too? She has little to no appetite but mainly because the vet has her on a low protein diet due to kidney problems – not very appetizing I’m sure. We have to leave the lights on at night so that she can find her way due to cataracts and I usually sleep on the couch so that she can be reassured that I’m close by – my bed is too high for her to see me.

  • Hi Just a update on Beau
    He hasn’t improved at the moment which is a shame but seeing the vet again on Friday and he is on Ginger root which was suggested to try only been on that a few days so to early to see if Beau get benefit from that.
    Everyone’s dogs are in our thoughts anyway

  • Ann says:

    My 13 and a half year old otherwise fit and active golden retriever had her first geriatric vestibular attack on Tuesday this week and struggled to balance, walk, and fell over when she turned corners. She had a nystagmus but unusually her eyes initially went up and down, by day 2 they were flickering from side to side which seems to be more the norm and by day 3 this has gone. The vet diagnosed the above condition and prescribed Vivitonin for her. She was sick once but only due to her stubborn nature when she determinedly wanted to go for a walk then felt dizzy!

    Three days on she only has a slight head tilt and her balance is almost back to normal. Although her attack doesn’t seem to have been as severe as some dogs it’s a relief to see her back to her playful, happy if elderly self. She managed to walk all the way along the beach today. This site is fantastic for advice and reassurance and helped me understand more of what my vet said. Wishing all your dogs a happy recovery!!

  • Patricia says:

    I found this site very helpful earlier this year when I looked after my elderly daughter’s dog who had VS, having been away, Maxi is back again with me with his second VS episode. Has anyone else had a dog who got VS more than once? he is still very wonky after a week and seems very confused when i take hin into the garden as though he does not know where he is. is this normal?

  • Jo says:

    Boo (15) has been displaying the same symptoms for three days. He’s only vomited once though, and after skipping one meal is eating normally, although with a bit less gusto. He gamely comes on walks, but if he stops suddenly, or looks back quickly, he stumbles over to the side.
    As far as I can tell, there is no nystagmus, and no pronounced head tilt. Are those necessary for a diagnosis of VS?

  • Rosie says:

    I also would like an update on any dogs having a second attack of IVS, as I walk a dog (elderly 15 year old greyhound terrier cross) who is suffering again and will not eat.She is under vet care and is well looked after but any information would be welcome.

  • Poppy says:

    I have an 11year old labrador cross collie. Although ageing she is fit. This morning I noticed she became alarmed and her legs (front and back) seemed to buckle and she had problems with her swallowing initially. Eventually she settled – and even ate soom food though struggling to hold her weight. She has not been sick. She is disorientated, and when she can walk it’s not for long and she appears to start walking backwards and then she walks tottering clearly to the left side. She will then collapse where she is.
    I’ve tried to research online as taking her to the vet is something we cannot afford today and I have no access to transport. She doesn’t seem in any pain or discomfort and is sleeping as she’s very lethargic. I was wondering whether this was neurological or whether she might have had some form of stroke? I’m desperately upset and worried about her. It came on very suddenly this morning – and I’m wondering whether this could be Vestibular diseas??

  • Margaret Jones says:

    This site was so helpful – my Yorkie-X Dylan has recently been diagnosed with vestibular disease and is now on vivitonin and steroids. He’s starting to look a lot better, although he’s still rather confused, and seems to have aged suddenly. Good to hear how many peoples’ hounds are now feeling better.

  • Julie Hagger says:

    My 13 year old had her first vestibular attack on the Jubilee weekend…. My god how frightening, we truly thought that she had suffered a stroke.. The evening before she had been her usual crazy self swimming in the river and constant barking for us to throw her ball! We rushed her to the vets with the symtoms of a head tilt, eyes wizzing from side to side and wobbling like she was drunk! The vet told us to give it time, she would slowly recover and gave us some anti sickness pills…
    After three days she was walking pretty normal other than the odd wobble when she stops for a sniff.., 8 days on and her eyes are back to normal and head tilt almost gone… However…. She is still refusing to eat…. We have tried absolutely everything… Chicken, sausages, cheese, soft squashy dog biscuits, gravy but no nothing, just the odd lick of some cat food! Took her back to the vets today as i am so concerned about the lack of appetite, she has had a vitamin injection and has been prescribed some more anti sickness pills!
    Has anyone else had their best friend in the whole world experience this loss of appetite? Please help… Its driving me crazy…..

  • Julie Hagger says:

    She’s a black Lab by the way……

  • Julie Hagger says:

    Hi, just an update on my 13 year old black lab… I couldn’t hang around any longer waiting for my old girl to get better, she seemed to be getting worse with the lack of appetite and started to get wobbly again..The vet prescribed her drugs in the middle of last week to block the brain from feeling sick but these did not help…By Friday i’d had enough and took her to the vets for blood tests…Sat morn we had a call saying the results of the tests showed kidney problems and that her levels were ‘through the roof’ so we rushed her back over there to get her straight on a drip! She’s still on it at the moment and is making a slow recovery… We have been visiting her twice a day and taking her for a little walk. Her urine is very diluted which means that she struggling to get rid of the toxins although she is drinking and weeing quite nicely which means that they are working to some extent! Please god she will come home soon and go on a special diet so that the kidneys dont have to work too hard….
    The vet seems to think that she already had a small underlying kidney problem (and it must have been small because she was as bright as a button and 100% normal up until this) but the stress caused by the Vestibular attack and the fact that she was feeling so sick and dizzy and refusing to eat has just brought the problem to light!

    The moral of this message is….. please please please request blood tests to rule out any underlying problems that your beloved dog may have even though you may be told that your dog will normally recover from a Vestibular attack… I wished that I had pushed for the tests at the beginning so that we could have made her a lot more comfortable a week previous….
    In the mean time we will continue to nurse our baby through this and here’s hoping that she will make a quick and speedy recovery…


  • Chris says:

    My 13 year old Border Collie, Taf,f had a vestibular attack 8 days ago. He was sick, eyes flickering and was staggering, but after sleeping for a couple of hours seemed fine. However, the next day he had a second attack – was very disorientated, unsteady on his feet and was sick again. His eyes were flickering, and this time the symptoms didn’t disappear. Luckily, I knew what it was as my mother had had dogs with this condition previously, so despite the concern I wasn’t too panicky about it. That was last Wednesday night. There was little improvement over the next 48 hours, and a visit to the vet was necessary as he wasn’t eating or drinking. The vet gave him a thorough examination, and gave him an injection for his nausea and some tablets to counteract the motion sickness. By the next day (day three) he had a bit more of a spring in his still rather unsteady step, and was holding his tail a bit higher on our short onlead walks. He also had a good hearty drink, which was a huge relief to me (I had been trying to use a syringe prior to that – much to his disgust!). He ate a little that day, but his appetite is still poor – rice pudding is the most popular, but even then he does not always show interest in it. However, despite the rather hit and miss appetite (will be buying chicken tomorrow – I think that will tempt him!), he is now walking very freely off lead one week after the attack, his balance is just about back to normal and today he even managed to chase a stick and not lose his balance. He still has a bit of a head tilt around the house, but he has made so much progress in such a short space of time I am sure that will soon go as well. I just need him to get his appetite back, and we’ll be sorted. So if your dog has just had a vestibular attack – do not despair – a bit of TLC, common sense and patience, and hopefully you’ll soon be on the path to recovery.

    *update – he liked the leftover spaghetti bolognese!!!

  • Sue says:

    My 12 year old springer spaniel, had an attack on Tuesday, I rushed him off to the vet, with “hes had a stroke” going through my head, by the time we got to the vets and were seen he seemed “almost” back to normal, he is a little quiter than usual and is still a bit wobbly but seems to be pretty well ok, considering when he had the episode he couldnt stand up, and when he did manage he fell over every few steps.
    My vet was very good gave him an anti-emetic and reassured me! hoping it was a one off but prepared at least if it does happen again!

  • Eleanor says:

    My 14 year old Golden Retriever, Lily, has this. It started last Tuesday night. She was sick and when I looked at her I thought she had had a stroke. The vet diagnosed VS. It is now Friday and she is still very unsteady and wobbly. Yesterday she seemed quite a bit better but last night she has terrible diarrhoea in the middle of the night and was so wobbly she couldn’t walk and as my husband was away I couldn’t get her into the garden. This morning she was very disorientated and her head is constantly on one side and her eyes flickering and her head appearing floppy on her neck. I don’t know if she had a second attack of VS last night as she had seemed to be improving albeit very gradually. She has had blood tests and everything was o.k. there with no organ disfunction at all. Right from the first night it happened she has continued to eat as normal though I have only given her a light diet of chicken and rise (especially as she has bad diarrhoea). I would appreciate any information as to how long it might take for her to be able to walk even relatively steadily. At the moment she can only manage a couple of steps at a time and either then falls down or just stands looking around vacantly.

  • Veronica says:

    Hi, I am so glad that this site has been created. Our bearded Collie ‘Jasper’ has his first Vestibular Syndrome attack about three months ago. All the symptoms mentioned on here except he did not lose his appetite (once the initial sickness passed, he actually ate more than usual). The vet said it would take him a week – ten days to recover, though he did improve it took him 8 weeks to get back to about 90% of his usual ‘happy go lucky’ self. He is twelve and a half but up until this attack has always acted like a 2 year old. The distressing thing is that 3 weeks ago he had a second attack, far more severe than the first one. It took his mobility away completely and he lost total control of his bladder, in fact the only thing he appeared able to move was his head. We rushed him to the vets thinking this would be his last trip, however the vet gave him steroid, anti-inflammatory and anti-biotic injections and told us to watch him over the next 48 hours. It was a very difficult 48hrs as we had to change his bedding every couple of hours and bath him daily as his long coat was soaked in his own urine, he made very little improvement in that 48hours so back to the vet again who this time gave him more injections and told us to give him a “little longer”. By day 5 we felt we had given him long enough, aprt from the fact that we felt we were being selfish by keeping him in this state, we were also exhausted by the fact we were still changing his bedding regularly and bathing him, so we took the decision that he must take his final trip to the vet, this was not an easy decision both my husband and I were heart broken. The appointment was made but he confounded us by getting up and staggering out into the garden just half an hour before he was due to go. I am VERY PLEASED to say that since that day he has continued to improve and is now holding his head straight and going for short (though clumsy) walks. Anyone reading this I would say if you have the time and patience and though it is distressing give your friend a real chance, I’m sure they would do it for you.

  • KiM says:

    Currently I am sitting with my 14 year old golden retriever who 3 days ago had all the symptoms of vestibular – I had just taken her to the vet on Friday due to her bad arthritis in her back legs. This is her 2nd time With this disease so I am a bit calmer although she is older and this time is not able to get up at all without help. If she doesn’t improve I will take her back to the vet tomorrow first thing when they open. Readin everyone else’s stories does make you feel better. Although Sally is old and arthritic she is still eating (If that ever stops I really will panic), hangs on to be carried outside to the toilet but very very wobbly. The last time she got it she was all better within days, I’m hoping so this time as well although it has been 3 days now . I won’t give up on her yet.

  • jenny says:

    I have a 15 year old Whippet,who has these symptoms one day every one to two months,she recovers within a day,and is back to her usual self.
    I thought she was having fits,but she’s never stiff,her eyes go side to side and she acts drunk.
    Do you think she’s got Vestibular,even though it’s not once in a blue moon?
    I really hope someone can help,as it is awful to see,but would be better than fits i spose

  • B Russez says:

    Our big golden boy-C-Bear-13-and healthy woke up 9 weeks ago-as described above he experienced a sudden onset of what we thought was a stroke-but is vestibular disease.
    BTW–Thanks for comments-Im feeling better although shakey

    After 4 weeks, his eyes were tracking and gate-in OK shape.

    He woke us up a few nights ago and -bam-same symptoms although not as severe

    Any advice for recurrence—Bear is in real trouble and he is clear headed-wants to be with us -his little sis Casey???

    If you need help stabilizing your dog-Ive found the wonder harness-no this is not spam. Check out Blue Dogs-”Helpemup” Harness-stupid name-amazing product. Has support on both the front and butt.

  • Jim Miller says:

    Vestibular Diease in Dogs and Cats.

    Our dog, a lab and greyhound mix, has been afflicted with this malady for the second time about 1.5 years after the first.
    The first time it was entirely debilitating and he became a quadraplegic zombie. He could not stand or drink or eat for about 24 hours. He was unresponsive and his eyes would dart back and forth continuously and unconsciously. After that period and a shot of steroids from the Vet he slowly recovered. We used a harness to hold him up to go to the bathroom. We fed him rice and broth to keep him hydrated. We stayed with him day and night to make sure he was comfortable and safe. Eventually the symptoms subsided and we got our friend back. He continued to show reduced symptoms for months.
    A few days ago he started to walk erratically and stumble a bit more than usual.
    He is 15 years old after all. Then he kind of fell into a wall which was similar to his former state, but not total. We quickly got him to the vet for a steroid shot the same day.
    He did get worse but not to the point of total collapse like before.
    We just needed to watch him more often and help him down the porch stairs as he was unsteady and fell every now and then. But he could eat, drink, and eliminate as normal with a little help to keep him upright and steady.
    He is now recovering and is back to maybe 70% normal. I can take him for short walks (10 min). I expect him to be around 90% in a week or so.
    I am also giving him a baby aspirin at the vet’s recommendation.
    He looks better every day.
    The main reason I wanted to post this is to let people know that the steroid shot, while not a cure, seems to have helped shorten and lessen the period of disability. I have not seen this mentioned before on the internet and maybe it can be useful to others where the cause of the vestibular disease is not known (idiopathic). Our vet ruled out ear infection and we have not scanned for brain lesions, but those are pretty rare, I guess.

  • Sarah Portlock says:

    I have an 11 yr old Boxer who had an episode a couple of days ago which the very diagnosed as being due to vestibular syndrome following presenting with similar symptoms as described previously. He was a little off colour beforehand and temperature was up and vet have him an antibiotic injection and something to reduce his temp and then the following morning he was violently sick after his breakfast and then lost his balance and his eyes began darting about and he became quite stressed panting etc. Veth has now prescribed vivitonin as there is anecdotal evidence to show this
    elps together with continued anti biotics due to the possibility of infection due to the initial increase in temperature. 48 hrs on my lovely boy is improving. He is walking better, his eyes are no longer dating about and he is drinking water although hist appetite

  • Sarah Portlock says:

    is very poor. He has eaten hardly anything except for a little chicken yesterday. I’ve tried rice pudding, baked egg custard, pilchards in tomato sauce with rice,all of which he hast refused and previous to thus this he had an excellent appetite. Any suggestions as to what else to offer him to try to tempt him to eat would be gratefully received. He is sleeping quite a bit but is calm and relaxed and back to trying to shadow me again so definitely progressing in right direction if only he would eat something.

  • cal orey says:

    Vestibular Disease just doesn’t occur in older dogs… My 6 yr. old Brittany is recovering from last Thurs. Seems like eternity. Blood tests/all tests normal. I first thought epilepsy (past Britt had it), or stroke.
    On Mon. we started him on antibiotics/steroids…Day by day, milestones. Like a 6 wk old pup back to 6 yr. old dog. The only thing now is he’s subdued. Vet said it’s the steroids. He said 80% recover and next wk on Sat a recheck.
    I was thinking putting down…but after all the research I realize he may get back to 100% and it may never come back.

  • My 10 year old Russet Labrador has had two attacks in the last 8 weeks.She recovered reasonably well the first time,but had the head tilt and was still unsteady.Then yesterday made an emergency trip to a late night vets as the symptoms were back again.The vet was very optimistic and put her on Cephorum 250mg for 7 days plus the original Vivitonin ,and found that Jazz had a severe ear infection,lm hoping that this is really the cause of the attacks and can be cleared up with more tablets.

  • Carla says:

    Thought I would post a comment as it may help. My Ben is a 12 year old (we think) greyhound cross. Two year ago he had his first episode at 1.20am New Years Day. Not pleasant at all. He was sick, rolling/flickering eyes, no control over his back legs and very confused and scared. An emergency call to the vet told us it was a kind of stroke, he wouldn’t be in pain but he needed a lot of tlc and monitoring for 48 hours. It scared us all but we did as the vet said – stayed with him and gave him plenty of love. For the first day he couldn’t walk or eat but gradually he improved. He took about two weeks to fully recover although he staggered when walking. Ben is still with us and is on vivitonin. He has since had two more (much lesser) episodes and today has had his forth one. I am doing now what we have done previously. Lots of love so he knows we are here. Support around his back end so he can get outside for toilet. Helping him to get on and off the settee as he is insistent to still sit with us. Offering or assisting him to the water food and offering small bits of food. I know it’s hard to see your dog struggling but we have been assured he’s not in pain – given that it affects the nerves it is more the lack of feeling that confuses. I know now that in a day or so he’ll be better – he stopped eye flickering already. We know Ben is an old boy and being a rescue dog we are unknowing about definate age and history but he’s a fighter, he hasn’t given up yet and neither are we.

  • Carla says:

    Just to add. Ben still enjoys walks – short ones with a harness on. He still staggers a bit especially if he gets excited or turns quickly, but he still eager to go. We help steady him when he goes in and out the house but otherwise he still the same Ben. We are now more confident in dealing with Ben during these episodes although we struggled the first time. We know this will probably be a regular occurrence but so long as he still shows an interest in life we will still make sure he enjoys one.
    I hope this offers help to people.

  • Karen Williams says:

    Reading some of the above comments has been helpful. We are now onto 5 day of VS attack, every time we think Marley (15 year old whippet) has started to improve he then seems to have another attack. His confidence has gone completely, Wednesday he was running and playing on the beach now 5 days on I can’t get him out of his basket nor eating or drinking. But all the comments seem to lead to improvement in time, so there is hope :) .

  • Ade Wall says:

    Our 10 year old GSD X Max has had what looks like a Vestibular Syndrome attack today. Classic symptoms, loss of control in his hind legs, eyes flicking from side to side rapidly and a head tilt. Took him to the vets, who gave him a steroid injection, and he seems to be settling down now 6-8 hours after the onset. He’s back at the Vets tomorrow. Fingers crossed he’ll recover quickly.

  • June says:

    My 12 year old Border terrier had an attack on Monday. I thought he had had a stroke and took him straight to the vets. He was seen and diagnosed within minutes. We were advised to leave him with the vets overnight. His head is at an acute angle and he has nystagmus which must be very distressing. He has been with the vets for 2 days now and there has been a slight improvement today.
    We are hoping to be able to bring him home today or tomorrow.
    He hasn’t eaten since monday but he has been kept hydrated by drip. He has also been treated with broad spectrum antibiotics.

  • Caroline says:

    My 14 yr old red setter x retriever is at the vets tonight with her 2nd episode of VS in a year. She made a good recovery the first time, but the vet is not sure she’ll recover so well this time. She can’t get her balance to walk at all at the moment. She has been at the vet as she wasn’t drinking & was vomiting. I would love to read comments from others whose dogs have had 2 episodes of this.

  • tracy says:

    hi i have a nearly 14year old german shepherd called cleo, she is in hospital with acute vestibular disease, it started one evening before she went out to make a wee, head tilted really bad and she went blind in her only eye and very disoriented
    Rushed her to the vet, had an mri
    Shes been in hospital now for 3 days its breaking my heart to see her like this
    Ime visiting twice a day, its so sad she have her sight back now but she cant walk well ascthe tilt is so severe,She isceating and drinking
    I just pray to god ime doing the right thing by trying,
    I love her with all my heat
    I know she wants to come home but she just not stronge enough yet
    Pleas give me hope
    Tracy south africa

  • Phoebe says:

    My dig had her attack a week ago. She has started to eat rice with fish but is struggling to drink water so I am putting lots of water in with her food whihc is helping. She is sleeping most of the time and seems quite confused. The eye flicering lasted approximately 3 days. She is now able to go to the bottom of the garden and find her way back but has the head tilt an is still struggling to walk straight.

  • Daniel Fritts says:

    A lot of the symptoms described in the article and people that have written are similar to what my dog had experienced.. He is a terrier mixed dog that is at least 12 years old. The best of friends I’ve ever had. His attack occurred 5 nights ago and slowly is improving with his walking. His appetti is good, but of course he is getting what he wants eat. The vet examined him and indicated that this can happen to older dogs. No medications were prescribed. I think his eye sight is still bad and may only see out of his good eye which may be part of why the head tilts.I just hope my dog like many of the dogs described here pull through.

  • Kelly Wood says:

    My little yorkie Missy who is only 4 yrs old had an attack
    6 nights ago. Shes a very hyper bouncy
    dog. she was bouncing up into the air then landed on
    the floor but skidded sideways & straight away went
    into the seizure her legs were contracted, head bobbing
    to one side, eyes flickering & also
    urinating. It took her 10 mins to come round out of this. Then the
    vomiting started. She also couldn’t stand was dizzy & panicking.
    I thought she had broken her back. It was very emotional & scary
    for me. Blood results came back negative. She is now improving with steriods & anti sickness injections. She started eating yesterday after gettin a bag of fluids over the weekend. She-still has head tilt & walking around in circles but thankfully getting there slowly. i just wanted to share this as idiopathic vestibuler syndrome can happen in young dogs but more likely in older. The vet can’t understand why this
    this has happened to such a young dog. But have been told it may happen again.
    The detail

  • Peggy says:

    I am so grateful for the information here, having rushed to the vet this afternoon with my 12 year old Jack Russell. All the classic symptoms and now home after all the treatments outlined. She still is twitching and her eyes are moving but at least we know this will be temporary. Jess didnt want to drink but after lifting her bowl up so she didnt have to lower her head too much she took a drink. Not sure if that tip will help others but something else to try if your dog off food and water. Thanks again

  • John says:

    Our 13 and a half year old terrier X, Lara, had an episode last night. We took her to the vet this morning and she diagnosed vestibular syndrome. The symptoms described here are all present and I thought we were taking her on her last trip.
    I feel much more at ease after the vet’s diagnosis and the comments on this site. Thank you.
    This morning Lara’s had two injections, Dexadreson and Cerenia. We’re taking her back to the vet tomorrow to see what effect they’ve had and to plan her ongoing treatment.

  • Anthea says:

    My 9 year old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel was diagnosed with this last February. For weeks she couldn’t stand or go pee etc by herself. She was in a daze and fell over all the time. She lost sight in one eye. She was never sick nor off her food tho. Bonnie tried vivitonin but it had no effect but when the vet out her on steroids she improved slowly but surely. She was back to 95% of her normal self although she has a slight jump in her step when she walks. We tried to wean her off the steriods and had her down to 5mgs ever other day but she has started to show signs of paw twitching, head shaking and stumbling again. Rang the emergency vet today and she’s back on 10mgs every day again. Vet doesn’t think she will ever b able to come off them completely as vestibular can only be controlled and not cured. She’s has her 10mgs today and has slightly improved but it will take a wile. Don’t give up on ur dog cos this may take weeks even months but it does improve.

  • Bethany says:

    My sister’s 12 year-old dachshund, Isaac, was recently diagnosed with vestibular disease. It is not clear what is causing this although the veterinarian noted the membrane in one ear is “milky” and the other ear has a hairball. All blood tests were normal. He’s being treated with oral antibiotics and anti-nausea medications and ear drops. Isaac’s appetite is still pretty good and, despite his unsteadiness, seems like himself. Our biggest concern at the moment are what we describe as head/neck tremors. They are on-going and most pronounced at night and even more so overnight. He suffered a seizure three days ago during the night–his body stiffened, there was some foam around his mouth and he urinated on the bed. Does anyone have any experience or thoughts on these tremors? As anyone who has posted here knows, it’s very difficult to see. Isaac also does a great deal of lip-smacking during the day.

  • K says:

    My 15 and 1/2 year old border collie x bull terrier had most of these symptoms last August apart from the eyes flickering. The vet diagnosed that he had suffered a stroke. The vet prescribed him medication to stop him feeling sick and dizzy but they didn’t agree with him. I am adamant that it wasn’t a stroke and that it was Vestibular Disease, he recovered fully if not more within a few weeks.

    The last attack was four months ago, recently he has been loving his walks and even playing games with us.

    He has just woken the family up at 3.30 and I am currently with him. He was panicking, yelping and he had an accident on the carpet which isn’t like him at all. When I first saw him his eyes were rapidly flickering from side to side and he was barely standing. I carried him to the garden where he walked round and round very wobbly for about 10 minuets. It didn’t seem as though he could see very much (his eyes aren’t good anyway, it was dark and he kept walking into things) he then came into the house and continued walking round bashing into things but eventually settled. His eyes aren’t moving as rapidly and he seems a lot less wobbly, he is sleeping now. I hope he gets better like before I love him so much but my parents think this might be the last time. Thank you for posting this article I will question the vet.

  • Kathy says:

    My 11 year old Shiba Inu is suffering from her second attack of Old Dog Vestibular Disease. Both times she has been put on steroids and antibiotics in case of an underlying ear issue. When she was on the steroids the symptoms of ODV dissappeared. She was very hungry and pretty hyper though. Fortunately her appetite has been good. The vet ran blood tests and determined that she had low thyroid. At this point she is weaning off the second round of steroids and the symptoms are returning. They appear severe to me but her personality and energy level have always been high. So seeing her wiped out is difficult. The vet I saw at my usual practice is one of the newer members there. He suggested I take her to a neurologist. I made the appointment but since reading the advise on this website I think I will return to my vets office and insist on seeing the owner to discuss some of the options discussed above.

  • I can’t believe what I’m reading – thank you all so much. Last Tuesday my 10 year old Boxer collapsed. She has been a little slower on her feet recently but last week I ‘lost’ my girl as she hasn’t been the same since. We visited the vet who diagnosed arthritis in her lower spine and prescribed painkillers and an anti inflammatory. I have since suggested she has Vestibular syndrome, she sleeps all day occasionally struggling to her feet and walks around the kitchen in circles, head tilted to the left, panting, collapsing and loosing control of her bladder. I have struggled to get food into her, tried almost everything even liquidizing food and syringing it into her mouth which was so distressing. She finally lapped water yesterday but she has lost so much weight. I am so encouraged by all the comments on this site as now there maybe hope for my Daisy rather than putting her out of her misery. We are back to the vets tomorrow!

  • H Pasfield says:

    Our legend ‘Jaspa’ aged 14 next month , our black beautiful Labrador sadly had a vestibula episode 9 days ago , initially had anti sickness injection and anti biotics. One week on he can get up and wobble around goes into the garden. He has lost 2.5kg it’s a struggle to get him to eat and drink vets now given him vivitonin he seems to of lost the will to get better. Giving lots of
    TLC and cuddles . Vet is now suggesting mri and x ray on heart but i feel this would be too risky for his age, if we could just find a way to get his appetite back, tried chicken and rice baby food rice pudding and today rump steak which interested him a little:-) reading all the above has given us hope. More time and patience needed………..

  • Vet prescribed Cerenia tabs today (expensive) but we now have a week to look for signs of improvement. I also managed to buy some Liquivite which she is taking via a syringe. The vet didn’t seem to be as optimistic as me saying she should be showing signs of improvement now after a week. I will carry on and hope I prove him wrong.

  • Ian says:

    Hi, I have 2 14 year labs ( brothers). One suffered his first Vs attack july 2012 treated by brillant vet, suffered his second Vs Jan 2013, i wasn,t brave enough to have him put to sleep, he is on day 5 of very slow recovery not sure what the outcome will be for him yet. His brother also suffered his first Vs Jan 2013 but fortunately was quick to recover.

  • Paul Foster says:

    Our old boy, Shadow isn’t well. He’s a black lab & collie cross. He’s 12 years old, and has always been hyper active, behaves like a puppy instead of an old mutt.

    Anyway, 2 weeks ago he had the classic signs of old dog vestibular syndrome. Emergency appt at the vet, a steroid injection, vivatonin, and some anti-biotics was the treatment. The only strange thing were his eyes. It seems they go from side to side in most attacks, his went up & down.

    He has an appt for a MRI Scan later this week.

    For a week, no signs of improvement, kept having attacks, so we stopped the meds. He seemed to improve, but tonight he’s had a massive attack. His previous attacks lasted for seconds. This has just finished after almost an hour. Fifteen days after his first attack, and I would have thought he’d be getting over it, alas not.

    We’ll see what the MRI Scan shows. If it’s a tumor,then we’re going to ask the vet not to wake him from the general anaestetic, but to put him to sleep. Can’t stand to see my best friend suffering like this

    I’ll update this as and when, maybe someone will learn something.

  • Karen Purvis says:

    Our 15 year old whippet bitch has been having her second Vestibular attack since yesterday evening. All the symptoms mentioned but cannot get up at all and is doubly incontinent. Not sure if she will even travel well to get to the vet today so I may ask them to make a home visit. Not sure that it is fair to wait for lengthy treatment results. It may be kinder to have her euthanised ASAP.

  • H Pasfield says:

    Update..Jaspa improved and thought he was coming through it as gained weight, head tilt gone, eating and drinking, doing roly polys at last!!!! Then his front leg started to look painful vet checked it out and now it was suspected bone cancer, so it ended with him on anti inflam, vivitonin, tramadol and now symmetrel another pain killer, but now we had the threat of a pathalogical fracture he deteriated so we let him go while he was still relatively comfortable, bless him he was so brave and loyal to us to the end, we all miss him terribly, cherish yours every day, godbless.

  • Cason says:

    My 12 year old sweet boxer was laying on the sofa tonight .. all of a sudden I heard heavy panting and rushed in to see what was happening .. his eyes were darting back and forth .. heavy panting and confusion .. his head was going back and forth as well .. the episode lasted about 20 minutes .. I thought it was low blood sugar so I gave him some honey and he eventually licked it up. I was frantic .. I wiped his face with a cool damp cloth .. rubbed his belly and back and consoled him very gently . It was at 10:30 pm on this Sunday night and there was no vet to call and the emergency clinic is 2 hours away .. He eventually slowly got up and staggered outside to urinate and I watched him .. waiting for him to come back in and he did but I watched his every move .. Very unsteady on his feet and confused .. I gave him an ice cube to lick .. I gave him more honey with water .. slowly he came back to normal .. he slowly climbed back on the sofa but still was walking oddly .. I am still so worried and will be an eye on him but will go to the vet ASAP … Love him immensely and just had to put my other Boxer to sleep on Dec. 15th due to cancer .. also taking care of my disabled husband so this is just horrible for all of us .. Bo is now comfortable and symptoms have stopped .. I am still a nervous wreck and just came on line and typed in the symptoms and found this site .. God bless you all and your dogs .. we love them … my Bo will have to be seen by the vet and I hope I get through this night will all being ok till morning .. It sounds like vestibular and not a stroke … and my Bo just had surgery last week for a large bleeding tumor that was removed! .. One trauma after another .. Keep the faith people, we are all in this together with our beloved pets … I am sorry for those who have lost their sweet pets just as I lost mine in December .. still we love and we carry on .. Hugs and hope to all humans and dogs alike .. it’s all about the love ..

  • Toni king says:

    So interesting reading all the messages. I have a 13 and 3/4 year old Saluki. He’s normally fit ,healthy and active.
    At the end of January this year he had what I think was idiopathic vestibular disorder. The only thing is that his attacks go on for ages and he has just had his 3rd attack 3 days ago. He started with the “wobbles”, then fell down and then became quite terrified. I couldn’t miss the awful nystagmus and this didn’t stop for 4 hours.
    For the first time he is now off his food all he will eat is butchers sausages! I don’t know what to do. I obviously don’t wan to lose him but also don’t want him to go through this again and again. He has now averaged 2 every fortnight.
    His blood tests were ok and there was no sign of a urine infection.
    Does anyone else have experience of multiple episodes and how much should we put the dog through this.? I am trying not to be selfish about him as he has always been such a wonderful dog.

  • H Lilley says:

    Hi just lost our dog a stroke as they call it, killed us to have him pts . he was a border collie 16yrs . Vet says could try him on medication but said would be kinder as he was very distressed.he had lost all his confidence as couldnt see much and very wobbly. he was a wonderful dog everyone loved him he is a big miss.

  • sylvia says:

    My beautiful Sasha who is a cross border collie/lurcher and 14yrs old now, as over the past year and a half had 3 episodes but since yesterday as had another 2.The last one prior to these was a month ago and she didn’t eat for 10 days, all tests came back normal.It’s breaking my heart to see her like this and I wonder if I’m being cruel by allowing her to keep going. I don’t want to have her put to sleep, but how many of these can she suffer before the inevitable happens.

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