Question: Hello I am an older poodle, I was recently diagnosed with vestibular diesease. I noticed I was not feeling well, I thought I must have eaten something bad, I was dizzy as heck. I started falling over and couldn't seem to focus my eyes on things, I felt really sick. My owner took me to the vet who diagnosed me with Vestibular disease, what does this mean?
Signed, Wobbles and Falls Down
Answer: Dear Wobbles,
It is good that you have been diagnosed. Vestibular disease looks a lot like a stroke in dogs, but is sometimes less serious, both problems are more common in older dogs than younger ones. Vestibular disease is basically a problem with your inner ear and the nerves that run to the brain. This causes dizziness and other symptoms, such as falling over, poor balance, and so forth, you may even find you are holding your head at a tilt. When a dog feels dizzy they often do not want to eat, and may vomit.
Your vet might give you medication to help with the nausea. They might be able to treat the problem causing your inner ear to be such a trouble maker for you, this could be an infection, or other cause. Sometimes vestibular disease starts all on its own and goes away on its own, but this could take weeks or months.
I know that as a human, or dog, being dizzy is no fun. You need to take it easy, go for short walks in safe places. Do not go up or down stairs without help. Try to stay calm, and relaxed and hopefully you will be feeling better soon.
Vestibular disease is not deadly, but it is very stressful, and difficult to experience, you may have some long term side effects (such as a permanent head tilt) even after you are well.
Dog owners can read more about Vestibular Disease to learn how to help their dogs, and what to expect.