ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Stroke In Dogs Or Vestibular Disease In Dogs?

Updated on January 7, 2015

Did My Dog Have A Stroke?

Hi, this is my dog Elly in the picture on the left. She's almost 14 yrs old now. For her age she's been doing really great .

Several years ago, after she started experiencing some health challenges, we decided to start giving her a high quality dog food.

Her health drastically improved over the years after that plus we have always made sure she got plenty of exercise too.

So for almost 14, we've been very thankful. Recently though, my husband and I found ourselves asking the question, "Did my dog have a stroke?"

It was quite a helpless feeling when just a few hours earlier Elly seemed perfectly fine. She had gone out for a potty break after eating her morning dog food and everything seemed fine.

Next thing we know, she comes up to us and lays down and when she goes to get up she can hardly stand......and when she does she loses her balance and falls down.

Your first thoughts are that your dog has had a stroke. What we found out later is that what she had just experienced was Vestibular disease. Hopefully by sharing this it will help someone else if they are dealing with a similar situation. Please know our hearts go out to you as it can be very upsetting.

The good news is as they say, "with knowledge comes power",................ once we found out what she had, it made things a little more reassuring. Vestibular disease in dogs is very common and below you will find some helpful information.

Vestibular syndrome can happen to any dog and why it happens is still not completely known.It seems to have something to do with the inner ear. Dog owners need to be aware of this condition so that if it does happen to their dog they will be prepared.

Vestibular Disease Symptoms

Vestibular Disease in Dogs.....What We Experienced With Elly

As we found out, Vestibular disease in dogs is very common. I don't know the formal definition but I would call it, "dog vertigo".

I can only say what we actually experienced with our dog as far as symptoms go. Here are a few.......

loss of balance

tilted head

falling down easily

fine motor skills like chewing were hard for her

eyes jerking back and forth

circling and not able to control direction

hard to get outside to potty if it was dark outside

hard to stand up and eat

did not want to get up

fearful of moving forward....unsure

I have also heard that dogs experiencing Vestibular syndrome can be nauseated, Fortunately Elly did not experience this symptom.

Vestibular Syndrome Comes On Fast

What Happened To Us

It happened on a Sunday (seems like everything happens on a Sunday, doesn't it?) so we called our vet and she got right back with us.

We described what Elly was experiencing and she immediately told us she was pretty confident that it was Vestibular syndrome.

She did ease our minds by telling us that stroke in dogs is very rare and not likely because of their diet.

Vestibular syndrome happens a lot in older dogs but can be experienced by middle aged dogs too. It comes on very fast and hard. One minute they are fine, the next minute they're not.

Our vet told us she needed a lot of rest and to do whatever we could to make things easier for her. She said if anything got worse to call her.

She also told us to give her Benedryl. She said,"don't think I'm crazy, but you can give her three 25 mg capsules of Benedryl for her body weight of 75lb" (Note* I am not saying for you to do this with your dog just sharing our need to talk with your vet)

The Benedryl helps with the vertigo like symptoms and also helps them rest. It really worked well for Elly.

Vestibular Syndrome

Our First 24 Hours.....

The first day was very hard. We were still unsettled even though we were pretty sure now what it was. Elly is 75 lbs and needless to say it was hard coaxing a dog that large to go outside to potty. They don't want to move.

The first time or so we had to put her favorite treat just within her reach to get her to follow us outside. It definitely was an ordeal. She was very hesitant and unsure of herself.

We started feeding her smaller amounts of her dog food more often and we even moistened it to make it easier to chew. We noticed prior to this that she seemed to be swallowing her food (small kibbles) rather than chewing them.

Once we moistened it, she ate just fine. We let her lay down to eat in the beginning and brought her water bowl to her. We wanted to make sure she kept hydrated.

Once she started getting more mobile, we elevated her water bowl and feeding bowl to make it easier on her. We also read that it was helpful to massage her neck down to her shoulders as they say there are pressure points in that area that if massaged could help her. So we did that too.

Vestibular Syndrome.....How Long Does It Last?

Fortunately for us, Elly was doing much better within 48 hours, but it can last from a few days to a few weeks. I'll have to say it was hard on us even after we found out what it was.

It comes on so fast and you really do think your dog has had something terrible happen to them like a stroke or something. At the time, it seems impossible to believe that they could ever recover from it.

The good news is that it will NOT get progressively worse if it is Vestibular syndrome. The worst happens right in the beginning and then they gradually get better over time. How long it will take, well each dog is different. The most important thing is to call your vet immediately and tell them what your dog is experiencing.

Vestibular Disease In Dogs

48 Hours Later..........A Drastic Improvement

About 48 hours later Elly started showing a drastic improvement. The morning prior (which was about 24 hours) she wouldn't even come in to our room to wake us up to feed her like she always does.

She was just laying in the kitchen by the pantry door. But,by the next morning, (48 hours later) we were awakened to that familiar howl letting us know she was up and ready to get her dog food.

She came all the way down the hall to our bedroom as was her daily routine. That was so great to see, believe me! She's seems to be back to her old self now, thank goodness! (a little wobble now and again but for 14 yrs old, not bad at all!)

Now just because we saw improvement that soon does not necessarily mean that you will, but it can happen that fast. It could take a few weeks so just be patient and keep in touch with your vet.

I still can't believe how they can go from being so helpless to improving so quickly.

Unfortunately, some dogs experiencing this are put to sleep because it appears to be the end. That's why I am writing let dog owners know what happened to us and to let them know what we have learned. Remember this.........Most ALL dog's will recover from Vestibular syndrome given time and care.

How To Prevent Vestibular Syndrome in Dogs

So how do you prevent Vestibular syndrome in dogs? Well, the best thing you can possibly do is to make sure they have a healthy immune system.

Feeding them the best holistic dog food, giving them regular exercise and keeping them clean and well groomed, are great ways to keep your dog healthy.

But even all that, in and of itself, might not keep your dog from having an episode of Vestibular syndrome. We feel like because Elly had a healthy immune system that it did contribute to her quick recovery. But that is just our opinion.

Hopefully by sharing this information, it will help many dog owners to be informed, and if they are going through this right now with their own dog, that they will be comforted and encouraged.

Let's face it, our dogs are our best friends.When they are hurting we are hurting. It's up to us to be proactive and keep them in good health and be there if and when they need us for support.

Watch This Video

Be sure and watch this informative video below by Dr. Sarah Wooten on Vestibular disease in dogs.


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)