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How to Treat Vestibular Disease in Dogs?

Vestibular disease or old dog vestibular disease occurs when there is some problem with the vestibular system in dogs. The vestibular system is an essential part of the nervous system. This system is responsible for maintaining balance and eye movements.

The vestibular system usually consists of: 

  • The inner ear
  • The brainstem
  • The vestibulocerebellum ( a brain part)
  • And a cranial nerve, known as the vestibulocochlear nerve

This system enables the dogs to orient themselves according to head position. 

If this system is disturbed, your dogs will become reluctant to stand or walk. The majority of dogs with this disease lean or fall in the direction of their head tilt. 

So if you observe that your dog is having balance issues, then there is a probability that his vestibular system is not working correctly. So you must bring him to the veterinarian immediately. The Vet will recommend some medication accordingly. You can also use a dog harness to provide support to your puppy. You can get the pet products that will ease your diseased dog from Loobani.

In this article few aspects of vestibular disease in dogs have been described, including the causes, diagnosis, and vestibular disease dog treatment.

Let’s dig into the details.

How to Treat Vestibular Disease in Dogs?

What Is a Vestibular Disease in Dogs?

The canine idiopathic vestibular disease in dogs is known as ‘old dog vestibular syndrome’. It is an abrupt and non-progressive disorder of balance. The disturbance in the dog’s balance occurs due to several issues that affect the vestibular system of dogs. 

The vestibular system controls the balance. That’s why dogs with vestibular disease will practice dizziness. The dog will have trouble walking in a straight line. This disease is mainly observed in older dogs. However, younger dogs can also develop vestibular disease. 

Some dog breeds that are more prone to this disease are:

  • German shepherds 
  • Doberman pinschers

The answer to the most frequently asked question, “is a vestibular disease in dogs contagious?” is no. This disease is linked with the problem in the brain part of a dog. So, it is not contagious and cannot be transmitted.

What Causes Vestibular Disease in Dogs?

Do you want to know how do dogs get the vestibular disease?

Vestibular sickness is specially resulting from an ear infection, hypothyroidism, perforated eardrum, trauma, and tumors inside the vestibular machine. This disease can also be caused as a side effect of antibiotics. When no exact reason is found, this condition is referred to as idiopathic vestibular dog disease. 

Various pet owners ask what causes idiopathic vestibular disease in dogs. 

For their understanding, below is a brief description of the causes of vestibular disease in dogs.

Based on causative factors, this disease is divided into two types. 

  1. Peripheral vestibular disease
  2. Central vestibular disease

Peripheral Vestibular Disease

It is caused due to irritation of the nerves linking the inner ear to the brain. Following are the causes of this irritation.

  • Chronic and recurring infections of the inner and middle ear
  • Overzealous cleaning of the ears
  • Stroke
  • Tumors
  • Polyps
  • Trauma from a head injury
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Meningoencephalitis
  • Ear cleaners can be the cause. You must not use it with ruptured eardrums.
  • Congenital disability 
  • Loop diuretics

Peripheral vestibular disease can also be idiopathic. The infection of the middle ear mainly causes vestibular disease in younger dogs. At the same time, brain tumors are the main causative factor of this disease in older dogs.

How to Treat Vestibular Disease in Dogs?

Central Vestibular Disease:

Central vestibular disease is mainly caused by:

  • Bleeding in the brain
  • Inflammatory disease
  • Trauma
  • Infection
  • Cancer
  • Loss of blood flow

Identify the Symptoms of Vestibular Disease in Dogs?

Old dog vestibular disease symptoms are usually more severe during the first 24-48 hours, with recovery seen within 72 hours. The most common symptoms of this disease are given here:

Vestibular Disease in Dog’s Symptoms:

  • Pronounced Head Tilt 
  • Nausea and Vomiting
  • Staggering or Stumbling
  • Continuous circling in one direction
  • Lack of coordination
  • Unwillingness to eat or drink
  • Standing with legs spread wide
  • Rapid eye movement while awake
  • Loss of balance / falling over
  • Choosing to sleep on hard surfaces

If you observe any of the symptoms mentioned earlier, you must immediately call your Vet. If you delay, then these symptoms can get worse.

Can Vestibular Disease Cause Seizures in Dogs?

It is a frequently asked question by pet parents. The answer to this question is yes, as a vestibular disease is associated with abnormal functioning of a specific brain part, so that it can cause seizures.

Vestibular Disease VS Stroke in Dogs:

The symptoms of both these diseases can be similar, but these are two different diseases. 

Vestibular disease is the abrupt loss of balance and disorientation, quick eye movements, and a head tilt. It makes walking difficult for the diseased dog. Most dogs completely recover from this disease within 2-3 weeks. The most severe symptoms of vestibular disease occur within the initial 24 – 48 hours.

Stroke is also known as cerebrovascular accident (CVA). It is the most common medical symptom of cerebrovascular disease. It is caused by a sudden lack of blood supply to the brain or a blood vessel burst. The stroke can also lead to loss of balance, head tilt, and difficulty walking. 

Diagnosis of Vestibular Disease in Dogs: 

This disease is usually diagnosed based on medical history, clinical symptoms, and the results of urine and blood tests. Sometimes the testing of vestibular disease includes radiographs (X-rays) of head or blood pressure measurement. 

The radiographs (X-rays) of the head are done to analyze the appearance of the middle and inner ears and the tympanic bullae. MRI or CT scan is done to search for tumors. In some cases, you might also do brainstem auditory evoked response (BAER) testing.

How to Treat Vestibular Disease in Dogs?

What Is the Treatment for the Vestibular Disease in Dogs?

Do you want to know how to treat vestibular disease in dogs? Let’s discuss this.

This disease is usually treated based on the reason for the problem. The treatment of Idiopathic vestibular syndrome usually includes supportive care until the symptoms are determined independently.

This disease can be treated by:

  • Medication
  • Surgery
  • Radiation

Medication for Vestibular Disease in Dogs:

Usually, Anti-vertigo medicines are recommended to treat vestibular disease. Some Vet also prescribes Benadryl for vestibular disease in dogs. If the dog has an inner or middle ear infection, then ear medications or oral medications are recommended to eliminate the cause of the disorders like bacteria or yeast overgrowth. 

The debris from the dog’s ear is removed under general anesthesia. If the vestibular disease is caused due to hypothyroidism, then Vet suggests thyroid supplementation. 

Following medicines are usually recommended for vestibular disease in dog’s treatment:


It is an antihistamine. It suppresses the stimulus of the vestibular system in your dog’s inner ear and brain. Meclizine is often prescribed along with anti-nausea drugs.

Maropitant (Cerenia®):

It is an anti-nausea medication. It inhibits vomiting by blocking the triggering of the vomiting center in the brain. It can have anti-inflammatory effects. The Vet might give an injection of Maropitant in the hospital or send you a few oral doses. The Injectable form is suggested if your pet is not eating normally.

Ondansetron (Zofran®):

It is a serotonin antagonist. It works like Maropitant but without anti-inflammatory effects. 

It is available in both injectable and oral tablet form.

If your dog is not recovering from vestibular disease by using medicines, you must talk to your Vet. Vet might recommend surgery or radiation.


Surgery is performed to remove tumors and cysts generally diagnosed after advanced imaging like CT or MRI. 


In the case of a cancerous tumor, Vet suggests chemotherapy or radiation. 

Dog Vestibular Disease Recovery Time:

Numerous dogs start to recover within 72 hours. The head tilts and stumbling usually improve over 7-10 days. Most dogs are entirely rescued within 2-3 weeks, though a few will have remaining signs like mild “wobbling” or a head tilt for life.

How to Treat Vestibular Disease in Dogs Naturally?

You can use natural remedies for vestibular disease in dog treatment. There are special essential oils for vestibular disease in dogs like Frankincense essential oil. 

You can use a dog harness for vestibular disease to give support to your dog. You can get the walking assistant products offered by Loobani for your dog.

For vestibular disease in dog’s home treatment, Vet recommends some exercises.

Exercises for Dogs with Vestibular Disease:

The Stand-and-Rock Weight-Shifting Training:

If your dog’s standing ability is disturbed by Vestibular disease, then this exercise will help your buddy to regain this ability. 

A Standing Balance Exercise:

If your dog cannot stand or stay standing, then use your hands, a sling, or a stack of pillows under the belly for extra support. This exercise will help your puppy relearn the standing position.

The Tail-Pull Exercise:

The tail pull exercise is used to support balance during walking. You must stand at the back of your dog. Now grasp the tail at the base close to the rump and not near the tip. Then use a tight grasp without squeezing the tail and support your dog to walk while you hold it. 

How to Feed a Dog with Vestibular Disease?

Besides giving a proper old dog vestibular disease treatment to your fluffy friend, you must also take care of his diet. Mostly the dogs with vestibular disease face difficulty in eating. You must follow these tips to feed your dog. 

  • keep your canine properly supported whilst lying down
  • Offer support when standing
  • Give your dog good traction
  • Make the food more delicious

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