Canine Vestibular Syndrome | Vertigo in Dogs
Canine Vestibular Syndrome usually affects older dogs
Canine vestibular disease (vertigo) often affects dogs as they age. There are two types of canine vestibular disease - central and peripheral. Peripheral vestibular disease is the most common. Symptoms can be dramatic and worrisome but are often easily treated. You should consult your veterinarian in all cases.
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What is Canine Vestibular Syndrome?
Canine Vestibular Syndrome is a malfunction of the system which maintains balance. This system provides constant feedback to the dog's brain, orienting him to his position in relation to the rest of his surroundings. The central vestibular system is located in the brain itself while the peripheral vestibular system is located in the ears.
One of the most common causes of CVS is irritation to the nerves that connect the two areas - the brain and the balancing system in the dog's ears.
Symptoms of CVS
The main symptoms are dizziness, unexplained falling over, holding the head in an abnormal position, circling, stumbling, bumping into obstacles, eye rolling and a general 'drunkenness' in the dog's movements. In severe cases the dog will vomit and experience seizures. These symptoms can be confused with a stroke and a veterinarian will be able to determine which it is by carrying out various tests.
These symptoms appear extreme, but if you have ever suffered a bout of vertigo then you will understand why they can look frightening. Hold on to the knowledge that the problem is probably not as bad as you fear.
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Canine Vestibular Syndrome often looks worse than it is. Contact your veterinarian in every case.
Causes of CVS
According to WB Thomas DVM, Dipl.ACVIM (Neurology), of the University of Tennessee, one of the most common causes is bacterial infection of the inner ear.
Medication may also cause CVS and hypothyroidism (a decrease in thyroid function) is another possible factor.
Other, rarer, causes are brain and inner ear tumors, and encephalitis (inflammation of the brain).
However, the main cause of Canine Vestibular Syndrome is degenerative ageing. The average age of afflicted dogs is 12.5 years. There may be no obvious cause and if one cannot be found then it is termed "idiopathic vestibular syndrome". Dogs affected usually return to normal health within 10 days.
Treatment of Canine Vestibular Syndrome
Treatment of canine vestibular disease is dictated by its cause. Many cases will improve by themselves and the dog will be back to his usual self within two weeks, although there is a chance it will reoccur. Dogs are often prescribed motion sickness medication, as the symptoms are often identical to travel sickness and can be similarly relieved.
If your dog shows signs of suffering from canine vestibular disease, remain calm. He may panic so reassure him by talking and petting him. Remember that if he senses you panicking, it will make him feel worse -- and you cannot help him until you soothe yourself. It's going to be fine; CVS is not, in itself, life threatening.
Try to settle the dog in his bed then Call your veterinarian immediately and follow his advice.