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Old Dog Vestibular Disease

Updated on November 5, 2014

Binky's Experience with 'Old Dog Vestibular Disease'

On Saturday before Valentine's day 2011, our dog Binky got really wobbly and her head started to twist back to her butt. She was not able to walk in a straight line. She walked alone the wall to keep in direction. She bumped into a few things and acted like she was going to fall down. She had been acting odd for a few days before but chalked it up to an earthquake prediction or a slight ear infection.

So, Sunday morning it was even worse. She was twisted up like a cooked shrimp. She didn't act in pain and was actually running around like normal in a way and wanted snacks. So we took her off to the vet.

I have never heard of the diagnosis that she received that day and it was very scary to hear it in relation to our dog. She was admitted to the vet for intraveneous treatments of steroids for two days. I brought her home today and she has been a sleepy little gir. The twisting has diminished but she is not back to normal 100%. There are a lot of unknowns with this disease. I want to share our experiences as we go with this so that if this ever happens to your dog you have some information.

All I can say is the minute you think something like this is up, take them to the vet. Since it is a viral infection it would probably respond more positively the sooner you treat it!

**All images on this lens are mine unless otherwise noted.


The Name is NOT Accurate

As you can see, Binky is not an old girl! She is only 8 years old. Our other Boston George lived to 15. They usually have a long life.

So it can happen at any time. Our vet said that there is no known reason that it happens. What happens is, that a nerve that goes to the ear canal and into the brain gets inflamed due to an infection be it Viral, Bacterial or Fungal. So you need to treat for those things first.

If the dog is better after treatment, you are usually good to go. If not, then you may need to do a MRI or CAT scan to see into the brain and see if there is a tumor causing the inflammation. This is the most rare cause but can also be a factor. Steroids are used to treat the inflammation.

There is so little known about this disease so you do not get the feeling of ever knowing what you are up against. You just have to wait it out. The doctor said that sometimes they will be better the next day after treatment and sometimes they take weeks to recover and sometimes they never fully recover.

Day Two After Treatment

This is day two after her stay at the hospital. It is completely normal for her to pick out pieces of her food and place them on the floor. So it is nice to see her eating on her own and in her normal fashion. She seems to be not so dizzy but she is still arching her head back to the right side.

Do you know anything about 'Old Dog Vestibular Disease'

Please share what you know with us so we can get Binky back to health!

What is your experience with Vestibular Disease

See results

March 17, 2011

So it has been some time now since her treatment. After the steroids wore off, Binky started to decline again. She started the circling thing again. After time, she started to only be able to eat out of one side of her mouth and started drooling. We took her to the vet several times and they told us to just wait a bit longer. Yesterday, we took her to the vet again and she recommended that we take her to a neurologist to see if she might have a brain tumor. She lost 1 pound since 2 weeks ago and that is a lot when you started out at 18.8 pounds.

Please say a prayer for her and give your own pet a big hug and tell them you love them while they are still healthy!!!

April 06, 2011


So we took Binky to another visit to the Vet today. She told us that Binky is now back to 90% of normal. So we are not doing any more medication. We decided not to do the MRI and just wait to see how she goes.

We are travelling over the Easter Holiday so she and Curtis will be staying at the Vet for the weekend. It is expensive but worth not having to worry.

Thank you all for your kind thoughts and encouragement. It looks like she is on track to get better!

We had a bit of a scare last week as she started to drool and have bloody stools. It turned out that she was having a reaction to the medicine she was taking for this. Prednesone. She had to stop taking it and we had to give her a daily anti biotic and a pink liquid that helped to bring her stomach back to normal. It's sort of a super pepto bismol.

Weird Dizzy Sneeze

After Binky's last visit to the Vet, she said she was 90% back to normal and was happy with how she was progressing. Then when we got her home she started to act really weird and started to do this weird shaking her head and sneezing thing. This is what it looked like. What do you think?

April 15, 2011


Binky if finally on the road to recovery!!!! She is over 95% back to normal. We are not sure if she will ever be to 100%, but she is able now to jump off and up on the couch. She gets around really well. We found that the steroids that she was on really messed up her stomach. We took her off the steroids and started taking her for walks. I feel that the walks are really helping her to re-learn her balance. It was a very scary journey but she has pulled through it so far. We continue to monitor her and make sure she is able to get the attention she needs. Curtis is so great (our boarder collie), he allows her to eat separately and is super patient with her. It takes her awhile to eat because she can only really chew on one side and the food falls out of her mouth. She has gained the weight back that she lost and has all of her old energy back. I can really recommend that if this happens to you, just do not freak out and just be patient. Try to cure the infection with antibiotics or steroids. We did not do the MRI. It didn't seem to be really for anything but to rule out a brain tumor. But it is the choice of the parent and if they really want to know. Thank you all for your kind words during this scary time for us.

April 29, 2011

So we are having a set back. We went away for Easter and our Vet said that we could board her with them and they would watch her. When we brought her home everything seemed ok. But, then the next day we noticed that her symptoms seemed to have gotten worse. Then we noticed that she was not able to eat. So, now we have to feed her by hand to get her to eat. So she can only eat canned soft food. I have to put her in the tub and scoop the food up so she can scoop it up with her teeth because her tongue doesn't seem to work very well. She has lost a lot of weight. Now that she has a full stomach she just wants to sleep. Hopefully, it means that she is healing. This is not such an easy disease to deal with and it seems like once you seem everything is ok it only gets better.

If you have any tips please let us know.

Walking with Vestibular Disease

April 30th, 2011 taking a walk with a dog affected by Vestibular Disease. You can see she is like a drunken sailor. This is a common effect since it is equilibrium that is suffering in this condition.

May 4th, 2011

We brought Binky home from the vet today. She spent two nights there after we were concerned that she was losing a lot of weight and not able to eat her food. She was very dehydrated and lethargic. So, they checked her in we put her on IVs and they helped her to eat. I brought her home and she has an appetite and was able to take her pills.

She's sleeping on the couch right now and we hope that she improves. It is getting very frustrating that she isn't really getting better.

May 11, 2011

Binky passed on today. She seemed to be doing fine for a while. But then she stared to have the bloody diarrhea again. So the vet told us to take her of the prednisone. This morning while eating breakfast she suddenly died. She is now playing with George in heaven. I am thankful that she got to go while at home and not have to be in a strange environment.

Thank you all for your kind thoughts and i hope that this lens teaches you some things if your dog ever gets afflicted by this.

Please let Binky know you stopped by!

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    • profile image


      2 years ago

      We have a jack Russell 20 years old he's recently started falling over like his brain isn't working properly then out of it with deep breathing for ages. He has had a head tilt for a good year now which was never really a concern until now as his quality of life has extremely deteriated.

    • Hairdresser007 profile imageAUTHOR

      James Jordan 

      3 years ago from Burbank, CA

      Sorry I just saw this. I hope that Champ recovered.

    • profile image


      4 years ago

      I am so sorry that you lost your little princess so early on in her life. I am so scared now after reading your story. My BT Champ is going through something similar now and we are so afraid we are going to lose him. He has now been diagnosed yet because the vet is still testing and ruling out various intestinal issues. He has had diarrhea for almost a month now. He will not eat very much food and he hardly drinks any water. I have to cook him boiled beef and rice, and we administer an IV daily. I am so afraid we are going to lose him... I don't know what to do or who to reach out to for help.

    • Hairdresser007 profile imageAUTHOR

      James Jordan 

      4 years ago from Burbank, CA

      @flycatcherrr: You are very lucky that Cinderella recovered from it. It was a horrible way to go. It's amazing how much joy they bring to our lives!

    • flycatcherrr profile image


      4 years ago

      It's so hard to lose a dog, isn't it? Binky looks as if she was a lovely little princess, full of personality. You must miss her terribly.

      One of my dogs (Golden Retriever, Cinderella, who left us in 2013) had a vestibular episode in her last months. The first signs we noticed were her head tilted to one side as if she had a sore neck, and her eyes flickering from side to side as if she couldn't control where they were looking. It was distressing to see, and difficult to cope with her trouble in walking as she was quite a large dog to help on the stairs, but fortunately the vestibular symptoms eased off and she did enjoy another six months or so of good life before the end. No regrets, though. She was a lovely happy dog and had a good 16 years.

    • Felicitas profile image


      4 years ago

      I am so sorry that you lost you friend, Blinky. What a long heartbreaking ordeal.

    • takkhisa profile image


      4 years ago

      I am very sorry that she passed away! I lost one of my dogs a long time ago, that was horrible indeed.

    • Hairdresser007 profile imageAUTHOR

      James Jordan 

      5 years ago from Burbank, CA

      @anonymous: the xrays showed no evidence of any tumors.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      sorry to hear about Binky. Do you know if she in fact did have a tumor?

    • LynetteBell profile image


      5 years ago from Christchurch, New Zealand

      Sorry to hear about Binky's passing

    • flinnie lm profile image

      Gloria Freeman 

      5 years ago from Alabama USA

      Hi I am so sorry about what happen to Binky.

    • Hairdresser007 profile imageAUTHOR

      James Jordan 

      5 years ago from Burbank, CA

      @flinnie lm: Thank you for your kind words. It was very painful but it helps to share the info so other dog owners will at least know there are others who have gone through the same thing.

    • Hairdresser007 profile imageAUTHOR

      James Jordan 

      5 years ago from Burbank, CA

      @anonymous: Sounds like you might need to go to another vet? Is he having spasms? It might be some sort of inner ear problem. Or a way to get more roast beef!

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      @Hairdresser007: No, the vets are saying that Maxwell is fine. I told them about his personality change he has tried on three different occasions to bite me. His head us constantly drooping, lost his bowels at least 6 times in the past 5 days. Max walks against anything to keep himself erect. He eats less everyday and only wants roast beef. I have to hand feed him now. I also have a French Bulldog that is using his sickness to her advantage.

    • Hairdresser007 profile imageAUTHOR

      James Jordan 

      5 years ago from Burbank, CA

      @anonymous: Hi Cyndee

      I am so sorry to hear about Maxwell. When you took him to the Vet they diagnose the same condition? If so, supposedly it can go away instantly and you don't have to worry about it again. Or it will just progress. Only you can decide the best course of action. He will let you know if he can't handle it anymore. Unfortunately, you can't even hold them during the spasms and it so scary to watch. Make sure he is eating and getting a lot of fluids. Did he get steroid shots? That seemed to help Binky for a time.

      I wish you all the luck with him and just know that he knows you are doing all you can to help him.


    • profile image


      5 years ago

      I am experiencing similar symptoms in my Boston. I have pent tons if money, but the vet cannot find out what's wrong. I am so upset about Blinky. I want so much to save my Maxwell, but I don't have anymore money. I started to leave him with the SPCA but afraid that they will not save him. I just don' know what to do. Max is my best friend. He is only 7 years old. His personality has changed, he has has diarrhea for months, I can push him over, he is so weak. He keeps walking over so I can fix it but I don't know how.

    • Hairdresser007 profile imageAUTHOR

      James Jordan 

      5 years ago from Burbank, CA

      @PNWtravels: It just makes you wish they could tell you what was going on. Was one of the hardest experiences! Hugs all around.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      I have had first hand experience with vestibular disease in our cat Pug. At first, we thought she had a broken back leg. Many hundreds of dollars later, she was a disabled cat who walked towards the right, rather in a circle, like she was drunk or dizzy. And, when I was getting a divorce and away from our marital home, the next door neighbor had her trapped and supposedly relocated to Ormond Beach. To this day, I miss our cat with VD. Glad to see that you have provided lots of love for an old dog with VD.

    • PNWtravels profile image

      Vicki Green 

      5 years ago from Wandering the Pacific Northwest USA

      So sorry about your loss. For awhile we thought one of our old dogs had vestibular disease. He also had seizures. As things got worse, it was suspected that he might have a brain tumor or a brain metastasis from the malignant melanoma he had removed a few years earlier. Since he was so old, we didn't get an MRI - our vet agreed it was pretty pointless to get one since surgery was not a good option and the only treatment she would recommend was steroids which he was already taking.

    • Lady Lorelei profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 

      7 years ago from Canada

      Such a sad story. I hope that she does recover. Best wishes.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Oh dear, what a heart breaking time you are going through with Binky, my heart goes out to you.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I do hope that Binky pulls through to a full recovery. I'm sure that she will because she seems like a fighter to me and you are doing everything you can for her.

    • raffael lm profile image

      raffael lm 

      7 years ago

      Thank you so much for giving me new knowledge about dog vestibular disease.. Hairdresser007. I've never heard about it before. Please tell Binky for me.. I do fall in love with her. Blessing to her with all best wishes .. All Happy, Warm-Love, Best-Health always hug her around.

      5 dog lovers stars for this lens and you .. Hairdresser007. Have a great time :)

    • Hairdresser007 profile imageAUTHOR

      James Jordan 

      7 years ago from Burbank, CA

      @norma-holt: Thank you for your kind words. Please see the update on her condition. It is not looking good. We are so scared and just not sure what to do.

    • norma-holt profile image


      7 years ago

      Hope Binky is OK. I feel I know her personally by now. *-*Blessed*-* and featured on Angel blessings for Dogs on Squidoo


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