Vestibular Disease in Dogs

Vestibular disease is a very common condition in dogs. It is also known as old dog disease, and it can affect dogs of all breeds and ages. The vestibular system of your pet helps control balance and eye movements.

When the vestibular system isn’t working properly, it can cause a variety of symptoms including head tilt, stumbling, falling and eye movements. Your veterinarian will use diagnostics to rule out other conditions before making a diagnosis of vestibular disease. Most cases have no known causes and are diagnosed as idiopathic or based on unknown causes

Vestibular disease is a serious condition but most people recover fully

Although vestibular disease is a serious condition, most dogs recover fully. Some dogs may not recover completely and have long-term problems with balance and walking, but this does not mean that their lives are over. They can still live comfortable lives as pets or service animals if they have to walk with a harness or leash instead of running around like other dogs.

Some dogs will need surgery to repair damaged areas in the inner ear, while others may never recover from the disease at all. The outlook depends on which part of the vestibular system has been damaged by whatever caused it in the first place (eg: virus, tumor).

In rare cases where there is permanent damage to one or both ears due to severe infection or cancerous growths inside them (known as meningiomatosis), your vet may recommend putting your dog down so that it doesn’t suffer any more pain than necessary after spending weeks trying unsuccessfully with medications etc…

Vestibular disease, often called head tilt, affects dogs and cats of all ages.

Vestibular disease, often called head tilt, affects dogs and cats of all ages. A dog with vestibular disease will often have a tilt to the head (one ear up and one ear down). This is because the inner ears are responsible for balance in your dog’s body and when this system becomes disturbed, he may lose his sense of balance.

Vestibular disease can be very serious if left untreated as it can cause permanent brain damage as well as hearing loss. There are many causes for a head tilt including infection or injury to the inner ear canal; trauma such as being hit by a car; exposure to toxic chemicals like insecticides or antifreeze; an autoimmune reaction such as Lyme disease; tumors growing on nerve tissue within the brain stem; strokes involving blood supply surrounding nerves connected with those controlling eye movement among other causes.

Symptoms of vestibular disease can include head tilt, stumbling, falling and eye movements.

The symptoms of vestibular disease can include head tilt, stumbling, falling and eye movements.

Other symptoms may include:

  • Change in gait (e.g., dragging a limb)
  • Loss of balance
  • Lack of coordination
  • Ataxia (lack of motor coordination)

Most dogs exhibit recovery within 21 days of the onset of symptoms.

In most cases, dogs will recover within 21 days of the onset of symptoms. Some dogs may take longer to recover, some may never recover and some may need ongoing treatment for their vestibular disease.

Some dogs will need surgery or euthanasia if they cannot stand or walk on their own after 21 days.

Treatment for vestibular disease includes medication and supportive care.

There are several different types of medication that can be used to treat vestibular disease, including anti-nausea medications and medications that slow down a dog’s heart rate. These drugs can help reduce some of the symptoms of the disease, but they cannot cure it.

In addition to giving your dog medication, it is important to provide supportive care. This includes keeping your dog calm by removing all unnecessary stimuli like loud noises and bright lights. It also includes frequent head and body checks as well as keeping your dog’s head elevated when lying down or sleeping.


Vestibular disease can be a very serious illness and dogs can have associated complications, so it is important to always seek veterinary care if you think your dog may be exhibiting symptoms of vestibular disease. If caught early, most dogs will recover fully without any long-term effects.