- Pets and Animals
Stroke In Dogs Or Vestibular Disease In Dogs?
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
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 experience........you 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.
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 this........to 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.