Can old dogs recover from vestibular disease?
Canine Vestibular Syndrome
Canine vestibular syndrome is a disorder of the sense of balance. It is more common in older dogs and can heal completely with appropriate treatment.
What are the symptoms of Vestibular Syndrome?
Vestibular syndrome can manifest itself in a number of ways. There may be some of these signs or all of them.
- Head tilted to one side
- Gait disorders
- Walking in a tight circle
- Falling (often to the same side)
- Eye tremors
- Nausea and vomiting
- Inability to walk or stand
- Lean against the wall
What Are the Causes of Canine Vestibular Syndrome?
There are a number of known causes and some suspected causes of canine vestibular syndrome. Some of these basic problems are more serious than others and therefore require further treatment or diagnostics.
The most common causes are:
- Idiopathic (that is, no cause can be found)
- Otitis media or inner ear infections
- Drug intolerance (e.g. metronidazole)
- Head trauma or head injuries
- Vascular disease (for example, stroke - rare cause)
The geriatric vestibular syndrome at the dog is called idiopathic because no cause has yet been found. However, it is believed to be a lymph flow abnormality. It is easily mistaken for a stroke or a seizure. Therefore, a complete neurological examination is always required in patients with vestibular syndrome.
What therapy is needed to treat vestibular syndrome?
Treatment for vestibular syndrome depends on the exact diagnosis. Further examinations (e.g. MRI, CT, blood pressure measurement, blood tests) may be necessary.
The supportive treatment of the symptoms should be adapted to the possible cause. These can include:
- Infusions into the vein (for example to improve blood circulation)
- Anti-nausea medication
- The drug propentofylline (available as Karsivan®, Propentotab® or Vitofyllin®)
- Antioxidants and essential fatty acids for better regeneration
- Quiet, low-irritation environment in severe cases
Do you have to euthanize a dog with vestibular syndrome?
Vestibular syndrome is not a rare condition in dogs and cats. It can be very dramatic at times and scares many dog owners. The extent of the symptoms quickly gives the impression of unbearable suffering, which one has to face dog want to take as soon as possible. For many dog owners, the question of euthanasia quickly arises.
The immediate start of therapy for vestibular syndrome usually leads to a significant improvement within hours up to three days. However, this requires a certain amount of financial investment. In addition, there may be deeper causes, so that there is no improvement and euthanasia must ultimately be considered.
What is the prognosis for vestibular syndrome?
The prognosis at Vestibular syndrome is generally good. Vestibular syndrome should always be checked out by a veterinarian. If a sick dog is not treated in time, however, permanent damage to the sense of balance can occur. This can lead to permanent head tilt, gait disorders and orientation difficulties.
With adequate treatment, the eye tremors (medical nystagmus) can improve quickly or persist for a certain period of time. The other symptoms can also go away. Symptoms that persist for more than three months are no longer expected to heal.
Rule of three for geriatric vestibular syndrome. Most patients improve a lot within the first three days. Complete recovery usually takes up to three weeks. In rare cases, however, it can take up to three months to complete.
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