What is Vestibular Disease In Dogs: How To Treat

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The vestibular disease originates from the vestibular system in dogs. This system consists of 3 semicircular canals that sense any head movement and help to maintain balance. If a dog has a diseased vestibular system, it may have difficulty walking. It is also difficult for a dog to ride in a car as their surroundings, as viewed from the eyes and appear to move without them.

A dog’s vestibular system is a crucial part of its central nervous system. It’s composed of sensory receptors called hair cells that are located within the inner ear. The function is to detect head movement and gravity changes. Vestibular disease can be caused by a wide range of underlying problems, such as aging, infection, inflammation, cancer, trauma, degeneration. It is due to genetics or lifestyle factors such as over-exercising or obesity.

Vestibular disease, a type of neurologic disorder. There are many causes of this disease such as brain tumor, age-related hearing and vision impairment, ear infections, head trauma, hyperthyroidism, and cancer. A dog with the vestibular disease may have difficulties walking or standing.

Types Of Vestibular Disease In Dogs

Vestibular Disease In Dogs

Vestibular disease is an extremely common condition in dogs. Central vestibular disease is the most common form of vestibular disease in dogs. It is an idiopathic condition and the most common form of vestibular disease that occurs in dogs. Some clinical signs and tests are available for Central vestibular disease but the most common clinical signs are head-bobbing and circling. Head bobbing and circling are reflexive actions that are common. They occur when the vestibular system is not processing and sending accurate information to the brain about the orientation of the head in space. It is not uncommon for dogs with heads bobbing and circling to have a fear of bright lights.

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Symptoms of Vestibular Disease

Vestibular Disease In Dogs

Vestibular Disease in Dogs can be caused by many diseases, including infections, tumors, hypovitaminosis C, head trauma, stroke, or toxic ingestion. It can lead to dizziness and nausea for the animal. A number of symptoms are available depending on the cause of the condition.

The vestibular disease has many signs but the most common symptoms are:

  • Spinning
  • Stagger, Wobble, or Walk Introduction
  • Shaking Head From Side to Side and Tilting It Back and Forth
  • Delayed Response to Sound and Directional Changes
  • Fear of Loud noises and Bright Lights
  • Confused or Anxious Dog

Treatment For Vestibular Disease In Dogs

Vestibular Disease In Dogs

Vestibular Disease is a disorder that affects the vestibular system. This system deals with balance and spatial orientation, which are crucial for an animal to be able to get around without issue. Dogs can suffer from different levels of Vestibular Disease, but the most common is one that causes loss of balance and nausea. The treatments for this disease vary depending on the severity of the condition but there are some general treatments available such as:

1. Vestibulectomy

Vestibulectomy involves removing the four sensory organs of the vestibular system and their attachments. This surgery is very effective in alleviating the symptoms of vestibular disease and generally, it is very successful. The surgery takes more time to complete than other options and the recovery period is much longer. While the surgery is very successful, it has a fairly high complication rate of 7%. This treatment is not good for every dog but very common.

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2. Vestibular Surgery

Vestibular surgery is a surgical procedure that involves a surgeon removing the vestibular organs that receive signals from the inner ear. This surgery is common but most effective in reducing the symptoms of imbalance, head shaking, and nausea.

3. Vestibular Nerve Section

The vestibular nerve section involves the removal of part of the vestibular nerve. This surgery is not as successful as the Vestibulectomy option but common. The surgery is less complicated but the success rate is only around 50%. This surgery is effective in treating regurgitation and vomiting.

4. Vestibular Nerve Decompression

A dog that has a vestibular nerve section is more likely to be sensitive to light and sound than the other options. Vestibular nerve decompression is a surgery in which a small section of the vestibular nerve is removed, and then the nerve is allowed to grow back. The success rate of this surgery is around 90% and it allows a dog to have a quieter life.

5. Vestibular Nerve Stimulation or Vestibular Neuritis

Vestibular nerve stimulation is a surgical procedure. In this treatment, the current is injected into the vestibular nerve to stimulate the nerve and cause it to grow. The success rate of this surgery is around 75% but the procedure is very complicated.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Long Can dogs live with vestibular disease?

Dogs can live with the vestibular disease for many years after the initial diagnosis but the average age is 7 years old. The dog can live with this condition for an additional 7 years after the diagnosis. Many dogs with the vestibular disease may never show any signs of illness and can go on to live a normal life.

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Is the vestibular disease in dogs curable?

There is no known cure for the vestibular disease in dogs. This condition affects how a dog’s brain and sense of balance function. The disease typically begins with inflammation of the inner ear or labyrinth. Additionally, it can be accompanied by neurological conditions such as epilepsy, myelitis, and brain tumors.

Can old dogs recover from vestibular disease?

Old dogs get a lot of natural wear and tear. It is very common for old dog breeds to develop some sort of vestibular disease. Vestibular disease is most common in older dogs. However, many owners of senior dogs may not know that their dog can recover from vestibular disease.

What medications are available to treat vestibular disease?

A variety of medications are available to treat vestibular disease in dogs. Medications such as meclizine, promethazine, metoclopramide, chlorpheniramine maleate, and dexamethasone are some of the most common for vestibular disease.

What is the most common symptom of vestibular dysfunction?

There are many symptoms of this condition but the most common symptom being dizziness. Other symptoms include dizziness, nausea, vomiting, ear pressure, hearing loss, lack of balance left to right or front to back, and imbalance walking on a flat surface or up an incline.

Are vestibular problems serious?

Vestibular problems can be serious and difficult to diagnose but the symptoms can surface slowly. The vestibular system, which is located in the inner ear, controls balance and spatial orientation. When this system is damaged or impaired it can result in dizziness or equilibrium issues, nausea, and vertigo.


Vestibular Disease is a neurological disorder that affects the vestibular apparatus of the inner ear. This can be an inherited disease or due to injuries to the head, but either way, it results in the animal being unable to maintain balance. Symptoms include lack of balance which can lead to being unable to walk or even stand, head tilting, circling, and rolling over. The treatments for Vestibular Disease include medications and surgery but this is a serious health condition.

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