Today we want to highlight an article titled, “Canine Vestibular Disease: A Common Senior Dog Malady” by Dr. Julie Buzby, DVM. The onset of this disease can be sudden and unnerving but as you will read, it usually ends with a good prognosis. From the article:
“I was a newly minted veterinarian when I walked into the exam room and found Foxy, a 13-year-old Blue Heeler, scheduled as a euthanasia appointment. The poor dog couldn’t stand up because she kept falling to one side. She had a distinct tilt to her head, and her eyes were scrolling back and forth in their sockets like a typewriter doing sprints. The symptoms had come on suddenly and the heartsick owners had no explanation. Foxy had been fine the day before. The woman held her dog close, her eyes brimming with tears. Me? I could hardly contain my glee. I would remember that appointment for the rest of my life.
Gently, I extracted Foxy from her owner’s embrace so I could perform a physical exam. (It’s amazing how much information can be gleaned from a thorough exam.) The somber family gathered around, dreading my imminent verdict. They fully expected me to utter: “It’s time, there’s nothing more to be done.”
Instead, after a careful neurologic exam, I proclaimed, “I have wonderful news for you! Odds are excellent that Foxy will recover from this with little to no long term effect and continue to live a normal life.”
The diagnosis? My patient was suffering from idiopathic vestibular disease, which is also known as old dog vestibular disease or canine geriatric vestibular disease, so named because it usually strikes dogs in their golden years.
“Vestibular” refers to the vestibular apparatus, located in the inner ear, which perceives the body’s orientation with respect to the earth’s gravitational field. This information is then communicated to the brain, eyes, and body, to maintain appropriate posture and balance. “
Graphic Credit: The Grey Muzzle Organization