Health Update: Vestibular Disease

Health Update: Vestibular Disease


For this blog entry, I wanted to share with you all information about “Old Dog” Vestibular Disease. I have had two episodes of this disease, once about 2 years ago when I was 12, and one most recently while Mom was out of town. Lucky for me, Dad knew what was going on and took good care of me. While it is very scary and feels like everything around me is spinning, it does improve on its own over time.

Because I am a brilliant border collie, I have researched this disease. It is formally known as Idiopathic (from an unknown cause) Vestibular Disease, and some people think we “older” (a/k/a “wiser”) dogs are having a actually having stroke when the episode stars. Because our vestibular system is responsible for our sense of balance, the episode usually begin with us walking like we are drunken sailors (I’ve seen that in movies) with our head tilted. The typical signs and symptoms include:

  • A head tilt
  • An unsteady gait
  • Loss of balance
  • Falling over
  • Circling in one direction
  • Eyes moving from side to side (Nystagmus)
  • Sudden vomiting

The first time I had an episode, I had all of the above symptoms. Mom took me to the vet and I got medicine for my tummy.  The vet told my mom to wait and see how I did over the next several days. Slowly but surely I got a little better. The slight head tilt stayed with me, but my family says it suits me and that I am still beautiful. Duh. I will say that after the episode, I HATE WOODEN FLOORS!!! They are very slippery anyway and even worse when I don’t feel like I can balance very well. Lucky for me, Mom found some special socks with grips on them to keep me from slipping so much. I normally do not like anyone touching my feet, but in this case, I humored Mom and let her put the socks on. They did help despite my doubts. I still put up a fuss when the socks go on so Mom will know who is boss.

With this latest episode, the wooden floors and I are formally at war. Also I think stairs are evil. I try to hurry across the floors and down the stairs, but I end up falling down most of the time. I also have to be helped up the stairs. Seriously. Why do we have to have stairs?? Mom and Dad bought special rugs for me and put them on our wooden floors so I could get around better. They know I want to keep going for my walks and playing ball, so they help me up and down the stairs to go to work and play. I still have important work to do, places to go, and others to boss. All in all, I’m still me. Just a little wobbly but getting better everyday.

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