Vestibular Syndrome In The Elderly Dog

Our Experience

When my second oldest dog Finn was about 14 years old, she suddenly started staggering around the house and yard. She couldn’t walk straight and she was bumping into things. She also had a head tilt and when you looked at her eyes you could see they were flicking back and forth.

I did some research on the internet, as most of us dog humans do, and found a few things that it looked like, but I still took her to the vet for a check up. I didn’t know if there was anything that could be done, but I like knowing what is going on so I can be prepared to help my dog in the best way possible.

It was Vestibular Syndrome

The diagnosis from my vet was Geriatric Canine Vestibular Sydrome. There is no treatment or cure except waiting it out. Each dog will have it to differing and varying degrees. It usually, eventually goes away, although the dog may still have a head tilt left over from the experience, and it may come back as well. Luckily Finn did not kept her head tilt, although she still had some wobbly days after the worst of the issue was over.

It is troubling to look at your dog having problems walking, but she was still able to eat, enjoy being outside and getting attention even though she was dizzy. I had to put a harness on her and lead her outside to toilet for about a day and a half because she couldn’t navigate on her own.

Thankfully the problem was not more than what it turned out to be and her symptoms did not affect other aspects of her life. Many dogs who experience this problem can’t eat or drink due to nausea until it clears up.

There is quite a bit of info on this issue on the internet, and your vet can probably give you more. As a dog’s human partner and care-taker, it’s good to have a knowledge of some of the things that could come up so you don’t have to panic.