Vertigo or Old Dog Vestibular Syndrome

Image of an old dog laying on the ground.

Vertigo is a syndrome in the elderly dog, which can be very frightening to the owners. The dog is suddenly afflicted with a balance problem, usually staggering, but occasionally unable to stand, and more rarely actually rolling over and over. There is a tilting of the head to one side and nystagmus, a rhythmic flicking movement of the eyes. Nausea and vomiting may also in present. It is not due to a stroke, as most people assume. It is thought to be due to an abnormal flow of fluid in the semi-circular canals of the inner ear. It is more common in older medium to large breeds of dogs. It is rarely seen in cats. Although the symptoms are alarming and often incapacitating to the dog, the prognosis is good. Improvement of clinical signs usually starts within 48-72 hours and most patients are normal within two to three weeks, even with no treatment. A mild head tilt may persist. Veterinarians should be consulted as the symptoms can also be caused by ear infections, foreign bodies in the ear, or tumors. The vestibular system may need treatment, with motion sickness drugs, or intravenous fluids if the nausea is severe or the dog is unable to eat or drink for a few days.

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  • "I cannot stress how awesome the entire staff is at Animal Hospital of Woodstock. We are new patients of this office and I’ve been going through random drama with my cat and his food allergies. Any time I call with a “crisis” the staff is warm and understanding all while being prompt with advice or instructions. If you are looking for a new vet I highly recommend this office. Thanks to Dr. Chris for taking such good care and concern with Watkins!"
    Erin M
  • "Thank you for your evening hours! We ran into a problem with our dog at 6:30 PM (he had something caught in his throat) and we were able to run over to our regular Vet clinic and get care. Dr. Chris was great and a big help! He even checked up on us the next morning. We've been clients for a long time, and really appreciate all of you!!"
    Julie F
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