Tasha is our 15-year-old female border collie.
During the night we woke up to Tasha thrashing around on the floor in great distress. By the next morning we knew that something was very seriously wrong. When she finally managed to stand up she staggered and veered across the room and her eyes were moving rapidly from side to side. We cried buckets and called my mother-in-law to come over as we were sure that she had had a stroke and we were going to take her to the vet, probably returning without her. My mother-in-law has visited Tasha nearly every day for play and exercise while we were out at work and is the main reason that Tasha has been such a healthy and active dog and we wanted her to be with us.
Our wonderful vet – Dr. Johnson of the Carling Animal Hospital – after a quick exam of Tasha said “Guys, I’m pretty sure it’s not as bad as you are thinking – I think Tasha has Vestibular Disease.” He then explained to us what vestibular disease is (we had never heard of it before – see the description at the end of the article) and the prognosis was good – it was just a matter of time and tender loving care. He examined her thoroughly to rule out any other possibilities (such as an ear infection) and concluded that it was in fact vestibular disease.
It took at least eight weeks before Tasha improved. We have four back stairs out to the yard and I had to carry her in and out each time she needed to do her business. It was also difficult to get her to eat – imagine wanting food when you feel sea sick. After about a 10 week period she was vastly improved but to this day has a tilt to her head and now mainly just has issues that you would expect in a dog of her age – reduced eye sight and hearing and occasional shaking in her limbs.Vestibular disease can also occur in cats and in people.
Here is a brief description of vestibular disease:
Idiopathic (idiopathic means of unknown cause) Vestibular Disease (IVD) is a disorder of the vestibular apparatus in the ear and most often occurs in senior dogs. The vestibular apparatus coordinates movements of the head and the eyes with the rest of the body –almost like the body’s gyroscope.
Symptoms can include: rapid eye movements, titling of the head, drunken movements and staggering.
Unfortunately, as did we, it can be confused with the pet having had a stroke… so it is very important to visit your vet as soon as possible for a proper diagnosis.
Picture Credits: Image by Jacqui.