Vestibular Disease in Dogs
Once the tilting does start your dog may begin to circle or even roll over

Vestibular disease in dogs can cause your pet to appear almost like they have sea sickness or motion sickness, and there is a very good reason for this; they are, at least to them.

This is a very serious condition and can cause your dog to become extremely uncoordinated and as a result start to repeatedly fall down, as well as suddenly tilting their heads.

Once the head tilting starts, they will than begin to either circle or start to roll in some cases.

But there is one danger that your dog faces that is greater with this condition than any of the physical challenges that are affecting them.

There have been several instances where this condition has been mistaken for a brain tumor, and as a result, the dog was put down for no reason at all.


Vestibular disease in dogs can affect the ability of your pets brain to properly recognize any abnormal positions.

As a result, it affects its ability to naturally correct these positions.

The vestibular system in your dog is a very complex system but it has a very simple priority.

It s designed to keep your dog’s head and their body in the proper orientation with respect to gravity.

It is made up of nerves that start out in your dog’s brain and runs into their inner ear.

Inside of your dog’s inner ears, there are sensors that have the responsibility of informing the brain about movements within their body.

This is a very natural process for your dog until something goes wrong with this system, causing it not to communicate properly.


German ShepherdsVestibular disease in dogs may be the result of a tumor

There will be several distinct symptoms with vestibular disease in dogs, but the first symptoms are almost always a very sudden lack of coordination with your pet, as the signaling process has failed.

This will then be followed by your pet falling, circling, or rolling.

They may also start to stumble or appear as they are very dizzy or almost drunk in appearance.

But there is one very distinctive set of symptoms that you will never forget: their eye movements.

They will start to drift in either up or down movements, side to side movements, or in a circular rotation, almost like they are possessed.

It is these movements, however, that will tell you which form of vestibular disease that they may have.


Vestibular disease in dogs has two distinctive forms; peripheral and central.

Peripheral disease is caused by some type of an abnormality in your pets inner ear that is stopping the signaling process.

The central disease is an abnormality within your dog’s brain that is causing the misfiring to occur.

Both of these forms attack primarily older dogs, and that is one of the major reasons it is often mistaken for a brain tumor, as it simulates the same tendencies.

Because of your dog’s age at this point, it will be extremely important for you to get a one hundred percent confirmation that it is a brain tumor.

If it is the peripheral form, it can be corrected in most cases with very simple treatments.

Your dog’s life at this point is in your hands and understanding exactly what this disease is may give them a few more years with you.

Peripheral vestibular disease in dogs is quite different than the central form, but it can be very difficult to differentiate the two unless you understand exactly what is happening and what to look for.

With the peripheral form, your dog will, in most all cases, not roll nor will they have any type of difficulty with the placement of their feet.

They will also show no significant mental changes or any type of body weakness.

However, what they will show with this form is a facial paralysis where their face suddenly droops on one side. But the telling sign is with their eyes.

With this form the eyes will move from side to side or in circular motions, but they will never move vertically.

This form actually resolves itself and will slowly improve over a few weeks, and as a result, the eye drifting will also go away.

Central vestibular disease in dogs is considered much more serious and the symptoms will illustrate that.

With this form, your dog will definitely roll and they may become mentally depressed.

They will have what appears to be no clue where to place their feet.

It will be like they have never walked in some cases. Because of this, they will suddenly stagger and fall.

They may also develop head tremors and their jaws may become so weak that they cannot eat because they cannot chew.

With this form, the eyes can go in all three directions, up or down, back and forth, or circular.

But there is one other thing you can do to confirm that they have the central form.

Place them on their back.

If they have what is called positional nystagmus, which is this abnormal eye movement, their eye movements will change or stop, which is not a good sign.

If it is peripheral form, the eye movements do not change or stop, which is very good news.


Vestibular disease in dogs in almost all cases is the result of the peripheral form and it is idiopathic, meaning that there is no known actual cause.

Ear infections, ear polyps, and ear cancer simulate this condition, but the symptoms do not go away.

With peripheral vestibular disease, the symptoms will gradually fade away and it usually corrects itself, although your dog may still have a slight head tilt.

If it is the central form of vestibular disease in dogs, it is usually a tumor of some sort, but it bears repeating again.

Most forms are peripheral, not central. In the vast majority of cases, your dog will simply have to be treated with motion sickness medications.

These include Diphenhydramine, and the usual dosage is 1 to 2 mg per kg, or one mg per each pound in your dog, twice daily, which is usually what your veterinarian will recommend, but follow their directions.

Meclizine may also be used, and that dosage is between 1 to 2 mg per kg, or one half to one mg per pound, also twice a day.


Vestibular disease in dogs can be an absolutely frightening situation for both your dog as well as yourself. But in the vast majority of case, it is the peripheral form and not the central form.

If it is, you will than have a very, very difficult decision to make.

But before it is written off as central vestibular disease, place your dog through the eye test on your own.

It is very rare for it to actually be a tumor and your best friend deserves every chance at life that they can get

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