Toby is a 12-year-old german shorthaired pointer who went to bed as normal one evening only to wake the next morning unable to stand. It was as if Toby had suddenly lost his balance altogether. He appeared to have a head tilt and his eyes were ‘jerking’ irregularly.
His owners were understandably very distressed. His decline was so rapid and they felt something very sinister was at play. They prepared themselves for the worst.
Examination of Toby revealed he was most likely suffering from signs of Canine Vestibular Disease (also referred to as ‘old dog disease’).
The vestibular system is located in the brain but has components in the inner ear and middle ear too. It is basically in charge of maintaining normal balance but if it’s not well, things can go haywire!
What causes vestibular disease?
Middle or inner ear infections, drugs that are toxic to the ear, trauma or injury, tumours, and hypothyroidism can all cause vestibular symptoms. Thankfully Toby had none of these and when no specific cause is found, the condition is called ‘idiopathic vestibular syndrome’.
Toby was given a drug to help reduce any nausea he was suffering from his loss of balance. He also needed to be supported to stand over the next few days but thankfully improved rapidly (another characteristic of the idiopathic form of the disease).
What is Toby’s prognosis?
The symptoms of the disease are most severe in the first 24-48 hours. Most patients improve over a 2-3 week period as was the case for Toby. If he had failed to improve or deteriorated even further, Dr Peter and Dr Dylan would have recommended further diagnostic testing (such as an MRI) to see if there was a hidden underlying cause.
Pet Doctors are always here to answer any questions you might have about the health of your pet.