Did my dog have a stroke? Signs of Vestibular Syndrome

08About a year and a half ago, I had my three dogs at a park up the road from my house when my 14-year-old black lab, Desi, suddenly stumbled and fell over sideways.  I thought she might have tripped in a hole, but deep down I feared there was something drastically wrong with her: a stroke was the closest thing I could think of that matched what I saw. She tried to get up and stumbled two steps and fell over again. When I got to her, she couldn’t move.

I didn’t know what to do – I was there alone with another disabled senior dog and a high maintenance devil of a dog that was going to be no help either.  I immediately called the most knowledgeable person I knew: Judith from Old Dog Haven. Thank God she answered the phone and told me exactly what was going on:  While it looked like a stroke, strokes are very rare in dogs and it was quite likely that Desi was having a vestibular event.  Wait 15 – 20 minutes and she should be able to walk home with some help.  Use the leashes or a towel as a sling if necessary. She may have residual effects but it was not life-threatening.  What relief.

While sitting in the park and trying to keep Desi calm, I did some research. (What did we do before Smartphones?).

What is Vestibular Disease?

The Vestibular System is what keeps the head and body oriented with gravity. It includes sensors in the inner ear that provide a sense of balance and equilibrium. During a vestibular event, the brain is unable to recognize the information from the inner ear and the result is much like being super drunk with the spins.  (Yep, that’s about how Desi looked!)

Vestibular disease typically affects dogs larger dogs (check) who are 12-14 years old (check), particularly Labs (check).  The causes are unknown in most cases, but can rarely be caused by ear infections, tumors, cancer in the ear or brain tumors. Symptoms come on very suddenly and are drastic and frightening to witness. Dogs can stagger and stumble, roll, have head tilt, eyes that dart or roll, have facial paralysis, head tremor, and body weakness.

A dog with Vestibular Disease

While a visit to the vet can provide peace of mind, there is no medical treatment for Vestibular Disease and the symptoms of an event usually go away after a few days.  That said, I’ve read that some people have treated it with Prednisone and Acupuncture and I’ve tried Dramamine, though I’m not sure how well it worked. If you do go to the vet, just keep in mind that some vets don’t know about this disease and some animals have been euthanized unnecessarily so go in well-informed and get second opinions if you need to.

Lucy and Desi today, Desi's fifth episode, day 2What to expect

After 20 minutes, Desi was able to stand and walk home, albeit with a leash sling under her belly and frequent stops.  She didn’t want to move for 24 hours, and then only for short distances.  Typically what would happen is that she would realize she really had to go to the bathroom and she’d try to get up quickly and make her way to the door but would fall somewhere on the way and pee.  Although she was very nauseous (her moans were so sad) she did not throw up, but she did not want to eat or drink on her own and required hand feeding and a lot of coaxing.  After the third day, she was walking normal distances (outside to go to the bathroom with assistance), and after the fifth day she was almost back to normal.

How to prepare

These are things to have on hand to treat your dog:

  1. Irresistible food. Chicken and rice, baby food, or a bland canned food.  Normal treats will probably not suffice.
  2. A lot of towels.  Not your normal three dog towels, more like 10. Thrift stores and garage sales are great places to pick up towels on the cheap. I guess doggie diapers would work too – I hadn’t thought of that until now.
  3. A sling or harness.  This is particularly important with a big dog. Desi is 75 lbs which isn’t even that big for a Lab but 75 lbs of dead weight is not easy to carry. Get a real dog harness or carrier. I got a cheap one made by Outward Hound that works ok but falls off her so I would recommend one that is more fitted and has a chest strap like this one by RuffWear.
  4. Dramamine: 1-2 mg per kg (05-1 mg per pound) twice daily
  5. Prepare for care. Make arrangements for what you would do if your dog needed 24-7 care and you weren’t able to provide it.

How to treat

  1. Keep your dog still. The most dangerous part of this illness is the potential injury your dog could suffer from falling.  Desi almost hit her head really hard on a table leg during her first episode. They really don’t have control and should not be left to navigate on their own. If possible leash, crate or pen your dog.
  2. Keep things calm and quiet and provide moral support.  Dogs don’t understand why their world is suddenly turned literally upside down from their perspective and will need reassurance.  Don’t get upset because dogs can read that and will get more worried.
  3. Hand feed and water your dog.  They can be very nauseous and may not want to eat.  If they refuse even food you would eat yourself, you may have to take them to the vet to get an IV.  During the first day of an episode, Desi will only eat cooked chicken.
  4. Prepare for indoor restroomage.  Keep a lot of towels under their rear and don’t let them get up suddenly and stagger towards something because they will likely fall and pee on it (oh my poor sleeping bag…)
  5. Leave a light on.  This helps them keep their bearings.
  6. Be prepared to provide 24-7 care for at least 48 hours.  Desi requires 3 days of constant monitoring when she has a vestibular event.  Luckily most of the episodes have happened on the weekend and I can work from home for a day or two.

Lingering effects

Desi has a very slight head tilt and when she runs back up to me with the ball her back legs are off to the side a bit (reminds me of two people in a horse costume). But she runs and fetches just like she used to, which at 15 years old now is a blessing.  Not every dog is lucky enough to recover as well as Desi did, but most are not bothered by the symptoms that linger (usually head tilt).  You can search YouTube for dogs with vestibular syndrome – there are tons of videos.

IMG_5929However, Desi used to love the water.  She’s a Lab, right?  She used to jump into the water after the ball and swim and swim.  I had even taken her to a doggie spa in the wintertime a few times so she should swim in a heated pool which she loved.  Since the onset of her Vestibular Disease, water makes her panic.  I took her to the lake twice last summer – the first time I thought the waves were too much for her and the second time in calmer water I realized she was just done with swimming in the lake – she was just stressed out and not happy.  This past winter I took her to Mega-Dogs dog swimming pool in Woodinville (which is awesome) and she was totally panic-stricken.  It looks like water just doesn’t agree with her anymore, now that her vestibular system has been compromised.

It can come back

Some owners report that they have not witnessed subsequent events in their animals but many report repeat occurrences.  I’m writing this on the weekend of Desi’s fifth event in a year and a half.  Each event has been similar, although there were two in the middle that weren’t as severe as the first or the one she’s currently going through.  I’ve actually been surprised by this one – it has been worse than the last three and I’d hoped they would get less severe over time but I fear the severity has been random.

One day last summer I came home from work and she was having an attack. I don’t know how long it had been going on, but it made me not want to spend too many hours away from home at a time again.

Having old dogs is a lot of responsibility and work, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world.


Addendum: Unfortunately, this time Desi’s symptoms did not get better after a few days like they usually did.  On day four her breathing became labored and she was not just dizzy but weak.  I took her to the vet and they discovered a football-sized tumor in her abdomen.  She passed away that night, just two days after I wrote this.  She was 15 and we were so lucky she was happy and able up almost until the very end. So the takeaway is to get your dog to the vet if symptoms change or you want a concrete diagnosis.  In Desi’s case, we are fairly sure she did have a vestibular event, but her tumor made it impossible for her to recover.

Helpful reading:

Vestibular disease: Leave a light on

Vestibular Disease in Dogs   By: PetPlace Veterinarians


186 thoughts on “Did my dog have a stroke? Signs of Vestibular Syndrome

  1. My mostly lab which we got at the pound 11 years ago. She was there with puppies and not sure how old then.
    She wondered off one night (winter) and did not come
    home (1st time ever).

    The next day she finally showed up. Now wants to stay
    inside unless we are out with her. If I leave her out now she will wonder the neighborhood and I have to go find her. Used to have to make her come in at night. She is very clingy. Still a wonderful dog, but a real personality change.

    My guess was a stroke. A friend found your website.
    any ideas? Schacht@wildblue.net

    Thanks, Ken

    Guess it is just part of the aging process

  2. Hi Ken. I’m so sorry to hear about your dog. The aging process does produce behavior changes. One thing I did with Desi that my vet recommended was to give her a supplement called Sam-E (made for humans) which she said would improve her mood and ward off senility. I’m not sure how well it worked and it’s not cheap, but I gave it to her every day.

    Good luck.

  3. I had my dog at the vet last night she ism almost 14 and the vet said she had a stroke but since reading this post i am sure is was not a stroke thank you so much for this post xx

  4. My springer spaniel, Tucker, had two strokes within 48 hours in August 0f 2011. The first was relatively mild, with head tilt, falling over, and walking in circles. The second was more severe. He couldn’t stand up and couldn’t eat for days. I almost gave up, but hung in with him as he gradually improved over the next 10 days. Two months later, he is 90 percent recovered. Only slight balance issues remain; you would never know he suffered a major stroke. Some dogs do recover! Have hope!

    1. This post is an update to my previous comment about my dog, Tucker. It has been six months since his strokes and he is still making progress. His bark came back a month ago. Kidney function is off a bit, so he drinks more water and consequently needs to pee more frequently, but we’ve all adjusted. Tucker is a rescue dog; his age is likely between 12 and 14. We treasure every day with him.

      1. Sorry to report the passing of Tucker on July 23rd. He struggled to stand due to muscle loss in the legs, and when he could stand, he still walked in circles and bumped into walls, because he could no longer see. He was obviously in pain, and it was time to let go. But he lived for almost a year after his strokes, and he was (and always will be) a best buddy to me.

      2. Gary, so sorry for your loss. Just remember the good times and know that you had him for an extra year.

      3. Sorry for your loss, Gary. Losing a pet is one of the worst feelings I know of.. but sometimes it is the best thing for them. You did as much as you could for your dog && freed him from his pain.

  5. I appreciate you sharing, I am 100% positive that my golden doodle has suffered a stroke this evening. I am also 100% positive that with your suggestions, I can assure my 5 girls that our Buddy will most likely be ok. I thought right away that this is what I was witnessing but I wasn’t even sure if a dog could have a stroke. Again thank you.

  6. My 12 year old beagle has had 3 separate episodes in the past 4 months where he suddenly stumbled and went crashing to the ground. The first two times, after 3 or 4 days he was back to normal. This most recent event was 2.5 weeks ago but this time he is still barely moving. He lies on his pillow only moving his eyes, not his head and will only eat chicken with rice, but not with any relish and does not finish it. He will only drink small amounts when we hold a bowl under his nose.

    I just finished watching a video by Dr Greg MacDonald – vet – who talks about how most strokes are actually vestibular syndrome. It was very reassuring to hear him discuss this disease and to hear some of the comments above. I’m not almost sure this is what has happened to poor Beazly.

    Hearing all of the comments above has been so helpful – thank you.

  7. Thank you for the info if seems like thats what my Rex(golden retriever) went through. I thought it was a stroke cause he has 1 or 2 heartworms. Heartguard would pay for treatments cause I never missed a pill but at 16 he’s too old to go through treatments. He started this night before last when I heard him falling all over in the kitchen I thought he was just slipping on the floor till the next morning I let him out & he was drunk. I was so scared I thought I would have to have him put down. He walks better durning the day but seemed weaker at night. Thank you again in a few days I’ll let you know how he is. Heidi

    1. It’s me again I forgot to inform you Rex was also rubbing his ears on any carpet he could find a few days before the episode & even now.

  8. we just had our first Vestibular Syndrome episode and I thank you all for your posts they have been so helpful my dog has been to the vets and eating but not wanting to get up. She is big and I have just read some dogs don’t get up for days. I am working from home so feel better I can be with her. It is very up setting .

  9. Hello. Our 13 year old PitBull/Boxer mix began to have what appears both to us and the vet a Vestibular Syndrome episode. It could be a tumor or a stroke but she had shown signs of improvement on day 3 while we were at the vets. However since coming home, and giving her the anti nausua meds she still is super lathargic, doenst want to eat, will take water, but just wants to stay in her crate. Please keep in mind she was not a crate dog prior to the episode. We walk her every few hours and she wants nothing to do with it. She does have less tremor like symptoms, stil has the head tilt but her facial muscles have stopped twitching. She has lost alot o weight and were affraid she will have to be put down. The vet said we should already be seeing her walking on her own and going to the bathroom on her own and she is not… Please help!!!

  10. I am worried about my boxer. He is not that old, only 6 years old. He had a bad ear infection. The next thing I know he was disoriented, peeing in the house, didn’t want to move, stands in one spot with his head down, tail between legs, slobbers, has labored breathing (makes me wonder about a tumor but the vet said that he did x-rays), hunches his back up like a cat, has no appetite and cares not to drink, stomach moves in jerks, and “jerks” when I go to per him, lays down most of the day. The vet thinks that he may have had a stroke. He has prescribed the Dramamine for nausea, too. I am so upset. All I do is cry. I don’t know what to do. I love him!
    I appreciate any feed back.

  11. My dog had an event today 4-23-12 at was scary for me and my kids. My dog is chuwwwa and about 8 years ol. Your article helped us to understand want was going.

  12. I just wanted to thank you for your post. We are on vacation, over an hour from any veterinary help, and our 13 year old lab/dalmation had an episode as you described with Desi. We immediately assumed it was a stroke and were distraught as to the ramifications, and prepared ourselves for the worst. We put him into the car and began the long drive to the animal hospital an hour a way. On our way our daughter called and texted us a link to your post. We pulled over and couldn’t believe the similarities between what happened to your dog and ours. The video was exactly what Kirby looked like stumbling his way around, not able to stand without help, twitching and tremors. We turned around and came back to the cottage and followed your instructions. Fortunately, he knew when he had to go to the bathroom and the towel sling was a great help to us in keeping him steady. Each day he has gotten better. Now on day 3, he has a spunk to his step, is responding to our commands, is eating and drinking on his own, is alert and has some life back in his eyes. He’s still tilting to the left when he walks and falls when he tries to move too fast, but we are confident he will recover and are certain he had a vestibular episode. Your post likely saved us hundreds of dollars in hospital bills and gave us some fabulous information that provided peace of mind and helped us to help him through this episode. We hope it never happens again but if it does, we will know what to do. We can’t thank you enough for sharing your story!

  13. My dearest German shorthair is in the same boat!
    First event on Monday, followed by 2nd event Saturday.
    13+ yrs aged, Tanner has had active waxy ears all his life.
    He likes to chew so he can actually stimulate his ears. He begs for A good ear rubbing. I clean his ears and he is prescribed drops,too. But he still has a very waxy ear and he has head tilt sometimes. I have seen the ear sagging slightly.
    Tanner rebounded the next day in Monday’s event. He needed a full nights rest.
    The second event was triggered when he awoke from napping on his back upside down on the couch! I coaxed him for a potty break and he rolls over and stretches. The look of his eyes changed and the drunk, partial paralysis hit. He couldn’t stand and needed help with towel sling etc…. The muscles tense up, eye stress, gums are pale.
    Noteworthy is fact this 2nd attack was at 8:30am and by 6:30 pm he was walking on his own, mostly recovered.
    I want to believe the ear is the cause of problem and will continue treating til vet can test blood after the Memorial Day holiday.
    Sunday….So far normal behavior. Always has appetite, curiosity and love to point lizards.
    My thanks to fellow dog owners for this insightful blog!
    My prayers are for ALL of you.

  14. Last week, my 14 year old Border collie, had what the vet diagnosed as a stroke, all of the info and blogs indicated that she would recover. What they didnt cover was that she was ‘heading” sign of confusion and distress, brain damage from the stroke event. We nursed he 24 hours a day for 5 days, the vet gave me Tramil and Valium, bit it seems this just increased her confusion, she rested only when she was exhausted. Day 3, I lowered the tramil, and she got bladder and bowel control, we took hope but the night time increased her distress, until I could not let it go on any longer.

    I have friends withdogs that have also had strokes, so I held out for a miracle, I wish now that I had let go abit sooner, she is at peace and shouldnt have been left to struggle the last couple of days.

    Heading, nothing on the net discribed it, she pushed through ever fence. plant, wall she could find, the worst spot in the garden, every corner, every corner of the house.

    Worse at night, and after 5 days the medication, just didnt work. I kept hope because I didnt find any other reports of this relating to stroke, i dont know why I couldnt find it, but hope that if you dog is showing these signs, you can ask your vet if the chance of recovery is minimal, and perhaps give the dog 4 days, not 6. Its my only regret. I should have ended it abit sooner.

    PS the 24 hour vet service for euthanasia was a really great experience, in the dead of the night felt right, 4am the time whenbirth and death comes, no one to look at me, just quiet and private.

    I hope that this helps, the decision is so hard, but suffering is worse

  15. My boxer who is 10 1/2 had an episode this morning. She has been very healthy but has some arthritis as expected. She stumbled around this morning vomited, then fell. She was completely paralyzed. After hours of labored breathing and her laying motionless with only the ability to move her eyes, we prepared ourselves for the worst and made contact with our vet. We decided to wait until the morning to see if she made it through the night. She didn’t move for hours then.. she finally began lifting her head and wanting a drink of water. In a couple of more hours she was up trying to walk around. We discovered she has no vision in her right eye, she is wobbly, weak and somewhat confused at times. She did eventually eat and go out to the bathroom. We shall see what tomorrow brings.

  16. My 12 y.o collie/lab mix had vestibular seizure last year this month. An ultrasound was taken of her abdomen and found modules in her spleen. The vet on that shift said she should be put down because she has a tumor in her brain. I left her at the hospital that day for observation and because I had to work ( was very hard to concentrate at wrk). When I went to pick her up the other vet said she had recovered and that it was a seizure and he didn’t think she needed to be put down. She really did recover.
    Now I’m struggling with her not being able to stand on her hind legs all to well. She was diagnosed with arthritic hips and knee cap that dislocations upon walking. She didn’t want to eat. This started 2 wks ago. Took her in two days ago. She lost 6 lbs. not sure what’s going on. I’ve been making her some food like boiled ground chikn and rice and mixing it with her food. She won’t eat the hard food. I’m worried that the rumors in spleen have finally taken over.

  17. Hi All
    Just arrived back from the emergency vets at 1.30 am. My beautiful Alfie(alsation /collie cross) 13 yrs, was fine this morning quite happy although he did seem a bit strange the past few weeks,looking at the sky,staring at nothing in particular in the house, This afternoon he lost his balance and was staggering sideways and became very clingy with me,not a problem ,he can have as much love as he wants. He got worse as the day went on and by this evening(10.30pm )I decided to get him to the vets. A wonderful neighbour took me ,(god bless you Karen) About 5 mins from there he took the wobbling head and weird eye movements and by the time we got him from the car he could not move . so we carried him in. Hes there just now they are going to sedate him and I have not to phone til 4am. Reading about the vestibular desease gives me a bit of hope that he will recover and I can cope with the odd attack now and again as long as he is still having a good time( hes been in a bad mood since we got a new puppy two and half years ago, she was hovering about him all day licking the top of his head,and seemingly howled for ages when I left the house with him tonight). so fingers crossed. hope all your doggies get well .
    from Alfies Mum

    1. Hang in there! Tanner recovered from a two time episode over 10 days.
      He seems normal at this time.
      My vet gave Tanner,14yoa GSP, an antihistamine to dry ears & nose,
      Antibiotic for any infection in bladder or his ears/nose, &
      Aspirin for arthritis!
      He is very healthy otherwise: swims, plays, eats, urinates etc good.
      He had a little elevated red cell blood level.
      This site has wonderful information!

      Please give Alfie time to clean out ears with douche of peroxide and dry ears.
      This helps to reset inner chochlear bones.
      This is similiar to verigo in humans.
      Search human info, too
      Best wishes!
      Tanner & Linnea
      Central Florida

  18. GOD BLESS YOU forever and ever for writing this info. This happened to my dog just 2 hours ago and I’m still waiting for a Vet call back. Thank You for this info!!!

      1. Holidays make it hard to get the vet; so try not to get upset. Keep your buddy calm and not stressed by heat. bring your buddy a bowl of water /or ice chips….and the towel sling will save YOUR back when taking a potty. With the sling, i could lever my 90# GSP to lean against my outside leg and allow me to “walk” the poor drunk just enough necessary. Straddle the dog for more security. I made his “goose”(his bed 🙂 ) near the door,too.
        An eyedropper with small amount of the hyd perox would help followed by small alcohol to dry out ear canal. Dont over do it. Ideally do this when he is upright to promote a draining/ head shake. The antihistamine helped Tanner dry up. Tanner is normal at this time. Was Memorial Day Wknd when we had our scare! Thankful for this blog! So far so good! We’re all praying for you! What’s your dog’s name?

  19. Thank you both (KC and Linnea) so much. I have a feeling that the Vet is not going to happen today (I left multiple messages with 2 Vets and got no return calls). I’m sticking with my girl (Kira) like glue, no matter what. She’s an approximate 13 y/o Akita/Husky/Malamute rescue. She doesn’t appear to have any nystagmus; the right side of her face is drooped and of course she’s drooling on that side. When she staggers around she veers to the left. She’s drinking lots of water and keeps checking her food bowl every time (I guess that’s a kind of good sign). I really appreciate your well wishes and prayers.

    1. Got Kira in to see the Vet today. She diagnosed a Vestibular Event and on a lower scale than most. We let them do blood work and urinalysis, and came home with steroids, antibiotics, anti-dizzy and tummy soothing (because of all the meds) medicines. I can see this is going to take some time to get better, but again…I’m so thankful Ann and others for this blog posting and replies!

  20. All this info so helpful. Our almost 15 yr old chow/Aussie had an episode at 6:30P July 3rd. We were sure it was a stroke! She was lying down and when I went in to check on her I noticed her head tilt and knew something was wrong. She could not get up and her eyes seemed rolled back in her head somewhat. I called our vet and the answering service told me that we would have to take her to emergency clinic 53 miles away. My husband and I are both in our 70’s and could not get her into the car because she was thrashing around a few times. She weighs 65 lbs. I called emergency clinic and they told me it could be a number of things but did not mention vestibular disease. So we both got into the floor with her just trying to keep her calm.After about 5 – 6 hours she finally sat up, and a few minutes later stood very shakily. We kept her in our bedroom that night and have every night since. She is eating some and drinking. She is still weak, but goes outside to use the bathroom. She still has the head tilt and seems to be weak on one side. Very hard for her to get up, but that is also because of arthritis in her hips. I hope she will pull out of this, but for now we could not put through the trauma of vet visit when not much hope was given. She seems to not have any pain except when she gets up. Does anyone know if aspirin would help? We had her on Glucosomine but have not given any since this episode.

    1. Hi Sylvia,
      Take solice that your experience is similar to these fellow bloggers!
      Vestibular syndrome is heart wrenching. Aspirin will help. In my opinion the dog undergoes a muscular stress also and therefore must recover physically the next few days. My Vet said give regular aspirin , not baby aspirin with food on recommended schedule. My situation is seemingly back to normal. Tanner had 2 episodes. Hang in there, leave the night lights on that is important, too.
      Lots of love,
      Tanner & Linnea

      1. Thanks so much for the encouragement, Linnea. Suzy is walking much better this morning but still has the head tilt. She is eating better, even growled at the cat when she came too close while eating. How often should I give her aspirin? I gave her a baby aspirin last night and I could see improvement about an hour later. We do leave a night lite in the bathroom where she has been sleeping this week. She lets us know when she needs to use the bathroom, but sleeps most of the time, which she did even before this. This is a condition I had never heard of until reading about it here and on Vetstreet. Best of luck to you and Tanner and all others who go through this trauma.

      2. Hi Sylvia
        I share this info regarding aspirin…..
        A: There have been one, or possibly two, studies done that indicate that enteric coated aspirin does not work well in dogs. Due to the differences in digestive processes dogs do not seem to be able to routinely digest the coating off the aspirin and many of the aspirin tablets are found whole in the stool. Obviously, if the coating isn’t digested the aspirin is not effective.

        The dose for aspirin is approximately 10mg/lb of bodyweight every 12 hours. If less works, I’d use less. But if you need to, you can give your dog a whole 5 grain aspirin tablet twice a day with no problem.

        Credit: Mike Richards, DVM

        ……….I’m So Glad Suzy is recovering! You should check her ears for dampness. An antihistamine will help the problem sometimes responsible for head tilt, vertigo. Any generic Benadryl @ 1each 12 hrs was very good for Tanner.
        We cleaned his ears good and cooked him chicken & rice. We’re thrilled to spoil him again. 😉
        I had never known of such an ordeal. My family has always had dogs. It really freaked me out over the long Memorial Holiday weekend waiting for the vet. This blog is Great! You may refer back to my detailed posts earlier for more help if it suits Suzy. Good Job, Hang in there!
        Linnea & Tanner

      3. Thanks for all this good info, Linnea. Why do these things seem to happen on Holidays? We had a cat several years ago who was diagnosed with a brain aneurisym on Christmas Day. She had suffered all Christmas Eve because we could not get in touch with a vet at the time. She had to be euthanized. I did go back and check you previous blogs. Thanks again. Sylvia in Lancaster, SC

  21. Update on Suzy — She is walking normally (for a 15 yr old) and eating and pooping. She is now an inside dog except for bathroom breaks and walks around our fenced yard. She seems very insecure and must have one of us with her to go out or she will not go further than the porch. I finally got her to go out by herself but she stopped at the porch and even when I went out she would not go without her leash. I am so thankful for this blog and especially to you Linnea. When I finally got in touch with our vet on Thursday after the 4th, she mentioned euthanasia, so we decided that if it was her time it would be at home. That has been almost 4 weeks ago and she is almost back to her old self except for the insecurity. I even have some insecurity myself about leaving her alone. I only leave her for not more than 3 hours at the most.

    1. Thank you for this good news! Suzy needed a break!
      A geriatric pet needs more time to recover, understandably. Summer is hot and stresses our pets, too. You are good to offer indoor care. Frequent potty breaks are a must and I find Tanner sometime reluctant to ‘get up’, I’ll assist him… but once he’s on the way, “It’s a Fun Time”….Snacks, talks of lizard hunting or a Ball to Bounce can help with “porch bound’ distractions of the mind. When our pets feel better, they “act” better 🙂
      At the 4-6 week point we really made progress here. Tanner takes his normal ‘long walks’ now. There is hope, Sylvia!
      With two people to ‘wait-on’ Tanner, (my husband & me) he is mostly accompanied. **I agree with you completely, I observed Tanner to be ‘clingy’ and also not wanting to be alone. Breaks his heart to watch the truck drive away without him. He wants to ‘load up’, but we limit this to our farm or short trips. I am concerned to avoid any setback related to his orientation/equilibrium from riding in the rear seat of our truck or SUV.
      This weekend past, I set up his ‘goose’ at the Opened Set of patio doors for about 30 minutes. Peaceful with the birds and traffic noises(…and air condition to boot! HA!) We took ‘coffee-time’ and all relaxed; Tanner was noticeably happy. That was enough “outdoors” for him. His appetite has fully recovered.
      I look forward to more good news for you and Suzy. Prayers for everyone here!
      Tanner & Linnea

  22. Hi Folks
    Just an update on Alfie. He has recovered really well from the vestibular attack with just a bit of head tilt and wobbly when he gets tired. He did try to chase a fox the other day and is going up and downstairs by himself( when Im not looking). we did keep him behind a child gate for a few weeks but the other dog kept opening it during the night and I would wake to find alfie looking at me! so far he is still enjoying his walks ect. We have had further test to see what is going on as the vets thinks there is something else going on/ he had two mast cell tumours removed about 14 months ago / he has also lost 5kg over the weekend that he took the attack despite being fed double doses of food, treats ect. The vet has suggested Cushings Disease? so we’ll see whats next. When he was having difficulty walking we used his car seat harness to help give him that bit more stability when walking, we held the top and supported him when he needed it, it was much better than the scarf round the tummy which we used at the beginning. Hope all your dogs come on as well as Alfie did, his times were about as follows
    Sat stroke
    monday got home ,would not walk,two hours later , attempt at walking with sling. eat very little drink well
    tues scarf on ,mad dash out side with me in panic trying to keep up, eating bit more tuna .salmon, cat food.
    wed harness on constantly. just giving med support ,head tilt still really prominent.
    drinking well eating fine
    thurs staggered all over the place to go outside on his own.

    Friday short walk outside, still using harness still wobbly but well on his way now.
    During all this time there was no waggy tail but he seemed quite content.

    so dont give up hope ,these animals are amazing when you see what they can face up to and overcome.

    Janette x

    1. Hi Janette and Alfie!
      SO GLAD to hear of Alfie’s progress! Time helps with this vestibular event. We wish him continued recovery!
      I am an optimist and also a realist. While my 14 yr old Tanner has fully recovered from 2 vestibulars, he has a high white blood cell count and most likely Tanner is afflicted with a slow cancer/tumor. Thus, we will not take the all-out ‘find a cure’ approach, I prefer him to be ‘happy’ and carefree as long as possible. His quality of life is important.
      My father’s English Setter was diagnosed with Cushings BUT her autopsy revealed NO Cushings! Cushings is hard to pinpoint. ~$4700. was vet bill. (And we LOVE our Veterinarians!!!) In my opinion, sometimes the stress of testing can cause more problems for the pet and actually hasten the animal’s decline. We certainly wish the Best for you and Alfie!
      One observation: this blog indicates our pets recover more quickly from the vestibular events at home than at the vet’s emergency kennel/ boarding. There’s no place like home 🙂
      You are so right to remind us “Don’t give up: Animals are amazing!”
      Good Luck Alfie! Keep up the good work Janette!
      Linnea & Tanner

  23. Hi There
    I checked his ears and they were clear. If it is Cushings disease as the vet suspects , one of the symptoms of this is a tumour at the base of the brain, which can cause blood clots . Alfies attack was quite horrendous. It looked as if someone had him by the waist and was swinging him around in circles. I had never seen anything like this before and panicked hence the emergency run to the animal hospital. If he has another attack, I can nurse him myself as there was no medication at the vet hospital just sedation, drip and two nights stay, £760.00. ouch. So don’t lose hope and give them the time they need to recover.

    thanks for all your help and advice.
    Alfies Mum x

  24. Hi Janette, glad to hear Alfie is doing so much better. Our Suzy was diagnosed with Cushings 21/2 years ago, but has not shown any symptoms for past 2 years. She was overweight and we put her on a diet. Maybe losing the weight diminished the symptoms or maybe she does not have this. I think Cushings is sometimes used as a catchall when the vets cannot find another explanation of symptoms. We paid over $2000 to have an ultrasound for a tumor and other tests at that time. I had not even thought any more about Cushings until you mentioned it on your blog. This episode with Suzy was the most frightening thing I have witnessed in an animal, but she is recovering nicely though slowly. Hopefully, Alfie will come around and recover also. This blog has set my mind at ease so much and like you, I can nurse Suzy myself. Good luck. Sylvia & Suzy

  25. Thank you, Ann, for this most helpful post. My Dixie, a 13-years-young Jack Russell/Fox Terrier mix, had an event yesterday sometime. Last night I came home and noticed her listing to the right, stumbling, with a head tilt as well. She’s been stuck to me like glue! While I was not home to see what her episode looked like at the onset, I’m thinking it was a milder version, and she does seem to be recovering.
    Thank you ALL so very much for your stories and I am feeling relieved and hopeful for her full recovery.
    Chris & Dixie

  26. Thank you SO much for going into such great detail with this. My dog has these exact same symptoms, and I was terrified when she became so imbalanced that she fell and smacked her head right on the pavement outside. This post is a lifesaver. I guess I’m off to pick up some baby food now!

  27. Hi Folks
    more news on Alfie . The Cushings came back clear,so dont know what caused the stroke ,no matter he is well on the mend now. no medication at all ,did try him with aspirin but made his tummy upset. (he takes stress diahorrea on and off, anytime he gets excited,going for walk, ect). He seems really happy just now which is good,still on double portions for weight loss though it does not seem to be working. Also he tries to jump up on us when he wants a biscuit ,not done that since he was a wee puppy, seems to be regressing back to his youth but his old body cant keep up. He is actually quite funny now and sleeps with his tongue peaking out a little ,looks really cute. Just so glad hes not in any pain and is quite happy. love to all the doggies and hang on in there mums and dads. love Janette and Alfie

  28. I am feeling so guilty right now. My 14 year old German Shepard Ali had these SAME symptoms a few weeks ago. I came home one night to find she had peed and gone the bathroom on the floor, which she did more and more often if I was gone for a few hours. She has also vomited in a few spots. Later that night she started whimpering and crying in her sleep.. not like the kind when she would have a bad dream. I went to check on her and she wouldnt wake up so I lifted her head and her eyes rolled back.. but then a second later she snapped out of it and came to. The next morning, I let her outside and she leaned over and fell off the porch steps on her back. I helped her up and she walked in circles and was leaning. I carried her inside and she sneezed and fell to the floor. I INSTANTLY called the vet..sure something was very wrong. Her age had been showing for the past year and a half (hearing problems, more infections, sleeping all the time, not being able to get up stairs, trying to get up and then giving up because she couldnt until I helped her). I didnt even think to look the symptoms up online.. I just packed her in the car and figured the vet knew what to do. The vet told me her eyes were moving back and forth which could mean a few things. He thought it could be something small, or a stroke, cancer, or brain tumor..etc. He gave her a nausea shot and gave me two different kinds of meds to give her twice a day. He told me if she didnt improve over the weekend to come back. She ate a little bit of meat that i had put the medicine in that morning when I came back.. but then she stopped eating no matter what I did. She wouldnt eat out of my hand or any treats that she liked. I would lay on the floor with her.. because I could tell she was sad and confused. She would refuse the food, then look at me like she was afraid Id be mad. My cat that was her buddy would just lay there with her. She would drink water and sometimes get up to move to another room…but she would stand and pee all over herself and walk away. I had to carry her outside and help her get up most the time, and had to force feed her the pills. She seemed miserable. 4 days later and no improvement… I called the vet assuming it was time but wanted to know his opinion first. He told me he thought I was making the right choice, and I held her while he put her to sleep. Everyone was telling me something was seriously wrong and she had been confused for a long time now.. which she had (not knowing where she was, not knowing the direction I was coming from, walking and peeing and not noticing it, etc). Now I feel like I should have ran tests and done more. NO ONE told me about vestibular disease. I didnt want to put her through any tests because I thought she would just be even more miserable. I thought I was doing right by her and doing the best thing that I could.. but now I feel like I was wrong.

  29. Mindy – I am so sorry to hear about Ali. From your description, even if she did have a vestibular event it sounds like she was close to the end. If a dog just has a vestibular event, it happens very suddenly and the symptoms get better in less than the four days Ali showed no improvement. I think you did the right thing.

    Letting a dog go is such a hard decision. In times of doubt, I just tell myself that it’s ALWAYS better to err on the side of doing it too soon than doing it too late. It’s our responsibility to make this decision based on the clues dogs give us and it’s all about their quality of life. It really does sound like Ali was ready.

    I hope this helps – I know this is a difficult time. Thinking of you.


  30. Mindy, I am so sorry for your loss. Please don’t feel guilty. It seems something was going on other than a vestibular event. And it sounds like it was her time. I only hope that I will know when that time comes with our Suzy so that she will not suffer needlessly. We have decided that when her time comes we will let it be at home unless she is in pain or suffering so badly any other way. We feel she will let us know . I agree with Ann that it about their quality of life. It is so heart-wrenching to watch someone you love suffer, be it human or animal.

    Sylvia and Suzy

      1. Dear Mindy, I don’t know if you will see this or not but my heart goes out to you. It’s been two and a half years since your post and I hope you are better. Doubtful but I hope so. I can’t say it gets better…if you continue to have animals as I do the heartbreak continues. May the powers be continue to care for you. Much love and hugs from Gloria, Simon, Patton, George, Lilly and Kemper! The later five send a big kiss and a warm paw. Let me know if I can ever help you. Love, Gloria Sheldon

  31. Ann, and everyone else, thank you so much for sharing. We’re trying to decide what to do with our 14 year old Lab, incredibly healthy and active until his first event 3 months ago. Everything went just as described, we took care of him at home. Two weeks ago I’m pretty sure it happened again at night, he’s an outside dog. We did go to the vet that time, and she confirmed it was likely a vestibular event – and for Mac, no real treatment other than pain management. I’ve been using aspirin, but only if he has drunk water or eaten. And he improved again, but not as much. Picky eating, I think as much to make us happy as because he’s hungry. Then last night he was yipping in the yard, pacing and wandering around. I got him to lay down and relax, stayed next to him. He got up a while ago to drink, and to potty out in the yeard… but. Now I don’t know. Will he improve again, go back to eating and following us around the yard, sitting by the fence to watch the neighbors? Or is it time? I really would like to have him stay here to pass away, at home in his own comfy bed. I’m hoping he’ll just go to sleep when he needs to… that would be easier for me I think. But the vet is only 5 minutes away, if that’s what we need to do. Waiting until tomorrow to decide, I guess.

    I am so glad I found this blog, crying my eyes out right now but I also feel better at the same time. 🙂


  32. Hi Diana, hope Mac is better by now or will be soon. Our Suzy had an event on July 3 and she is almost back to her old (15 yr) self. She was an outside dog, but now she is an inside dog. When she goes out for business, she has been so clingy that one of us had to go with her. She is now going alone part of the time and will even lie down on the porch for a few minutes as long as she can see me through the door. Stay close to her as much as you can to get her through the worst of it. The first night after her episode, we kept Suzy in our bedroom but since then she sleeps in the main bathroom where the A/C vent can blow on her.

    Hopefully, tomorrow will be better and keep on getting better. This is so hard for us as doggie parents, but know that all of us on this blog feel your pain.

    Sylvia & Suzy

    1. Thank you Dawn. The vet wanted to put him to sleep..I said no. Went back the next day for Depomethosone. Going for acupuncture tomorrow. Pray for us. He is critical right now. I got the wrong diagnosis darn it! Thanks for your

      1. Two weeks ago today was one of the worst days of my life. I lost my sweet Lab Saffy. She could no longer stand or walk. I always promised her I would do right by her. I maybe could have kept her going for another month, but she was always a very clean dog and would get very distressed if she had an accident. I did not want her to have the indignity of peeing on herself because she could no longer walk outside. She was 14 and had a great life. I read somewhere, ‘it’s better to do it a little too soon than a little too late’. RIP sweet Saffy. I miss her terribly but she went very peacfully, knowing how much she was loved.

  33. Our dog Molly just suffered a vascular event on Saturday and was put into ICU when we took her to the emergency clinic. We thought this might be it for her and at 15 it made sense that she wouldn’t recover. But today we went back to visit her and not only was she able to lift her head, but she stood, made eye contact with us and even ate some food. We’re going to hopefully bring her home later today and give her supportive care for the next few days with our fingers crossed that she continues to get better.

    Initially it presented as a vestibular event, but the emergency vet (Blue Pearl in NYC, which I highly recommend) suggested that the stroke was possibly brought on by her taking the drug Proin. Apparently this drug is known to have caused strokes in humans. Molly has been taking it for incontinence — one of her many old age related issues.

    I wish everyone the best who has had a dog who has suffered through this!

  34. Rebecca, this really made me think!!. Our dog, Suzy, 15, has been on Proin for about a year. I did not even think that it might have any thing to do with the vestibular event she had on July 3. We took her off it for about a week while she was recovering, but she is back on it now because she was starting to dribble again. I think I might take her back off it or at least cut back on it. It really works for what it is supposed to, but I did not know of this side effect. Good luck to you and Molly! Aren’t dogs amazing???!

    1. They are truly amazing! We just picked her up from the emergency vet and couldn’t believe that she was walking on her own when they brought her out to the waiting room. She couldn’t even lift her head yesterday.

      Proin does work very well and I’m sure the side effects are infrequent occurrences. We just happened to be very unlucky and will not be putting her back on it. Good luck with Suzy!

  35. Just recently my 14yo collie cross, Jake passed away within a couple of hours of what his Vet described as a massive stroke. In recent times he had become a little slow to wake and lethargic but I merely put this down to his advancing years as it had been a reasonably gradual thing.
    That morning he had shown no obvious signs of distress he was making his way through the house when suddenly his legs completely gave way and he lay motionless on one side with his breathing erractic and was drooling heavily. He still however seemed reasonably cognitive and still had some reactive head movement on arriving at the Vets soon after.
    However when the vet examined him he said that his level of paralysis was so severe that he recommended euthanasia and that any further acute care was pointless given the severity of the stroke. I decided to take him home and try and seek a second opinion but within half an hour he slipped away and while it was all desperately sudden in the end he strangely didn’t seem to be suffering and went quite peacefully. Also it was some consolation that I was with him and he didnt go distressed in unfamiliar surroundings as he was never a good patient on the rare occasions when he was hospitalised!
    I perhaps hastily decided to bury him that day without arranging to have a post mortem performed not realising then how rare severe strokes in dogs seemingly are. I still wonder if I missed something although from what from the Vet said and I’ve read since such severe occurances can be hard to detect without an underlying clinical condition.
    Has anyone else ever come across such a severe episode of stroke in a dog such as poor old Jake?
    Sleep well buster…………..

    1. Dear Joe: I, like a lot of dog lovers have been searching the internet on strokes in dogs to learn more. My beloved lab mix Toby (10 yrs) and I were enjoying our regular walk yesterday morning, when he suddenly fell down. We have lots of snow right now, so we were both appropriately attired in dog coat and my ski jacket. I panicked as it was so sudden, so cradled him in my arms in a snow bank and a nice passerby helped me to carry him into the warm lobby of an apartment building. Toby did not attempt to stand, so I kept him as warm as I could and massaged his body. Unfortunately, he slipped away in my arms. I am at a loss as to what happened, as he ate that morning and was enjoying his walk. It was too late to get a vet’s opinion as we carried his lifeless body into the vets office. I could only arrange for his disposal. If it was a stroke, was there anything else I could have done or does this just happen so fast. . My only consolation is that he died with me. Rest in peace my lovely Toby

      1. Hazel, I don’t know the answer to your question, but I do want you to know I am sorry for your loss. What a sudden turn of events and how shocking it must be for you. I have to say I suspect it is a blessing that your dear Toby passed quickly and in your loving arms. I bet he would have it no other way. Be gentle with yourself. Many healing blessings to you.

  36. This is the first time I have read anything like this – but following an agonising day with my boxer, Tara, convincing myself that she will have to be put to sleep tomorrow after the exact symptons as described – I am holding out much more hope. It is so agonising to see her this way, and I am streaming with tears as typing this, but I am amazed at how wonderful and helpful people are. My dog is 11, and has had a few small bouts of toppling over in the past. However, today is much worse. She literally can not use her back legs – and her eyes are darting. She has been hand fed and watered by me (very thirsty) and appears to have a sore ear. After about 12 hours, she has attempted to stand up and fallen all over the place (on my two year old Daughter – who, after crying ‘no Tara’ – announced, ‘ah, that’s ok, didn’t mean it’). She has been helped out into the garden to go both toilets(not wanting to go indoors) shows definite signs of improvement. I have been upset all day and was making the decision to go to the vet tomorrow, thinking she would be euthanased. Reading this information has given me hope. Even if it doesn’t work out – thank you all so much for your readings and being lovely pet owners. If anyone could clarify if there should be a particular medicine to try – I would be grateful to receive it. I think the gist is to try asprin and get something for her ear? Thanks, Maxine

    1. Hi Maxine!
      This is a shocking and upsetting event for the family. Most Vets are aware of Vestibular Syndrome but not always, so you are still the best judge of your pet’s immediate course of treatment. Tara most likely will recover! Hang in there! Quiet rest is best . Your vet can help with antibiotic if ears infected. I refrain from giving pain pills/ muscle relaxers since they alter the equilibrium further. Aspirin is effective with food. Appetite and thirst are good signs. Ice chips are good. Tara needs round the clock supervision for couple days.
      Please read my experience with Tanner and 2 episodes. He is doing very well and we thank Ann for this Blog. God bless you and Tara!

  37. Thank you everyone for sharing. I have found all of this info very helpful.

    I started researching last night after my dog, Sherlock, had an event like the ones described here yesterday around 2pm. He immediately had trouble walking, his legs were kind of jerking, or seemed out of his control — either weak & collapsing, or overly tense. His eyes seemed unable to focus (they looked exactly like my grandmothers eyes when she had a stroke). They were not jerking the way described here, but he was looking around in circular directions at things that weren’t there — seemingly hallucinating, or possibly spinning. He didn’t walk in circles as he really couldn’t stand and had zero center of balance. As he recovered slowly, he kept trying to shake his head, but when he shook his head he would fall over. He eagerly drank water out of my hands. He did not seem nauseous, and also ate food from my hands within an hour of the episode occurring.

    It has been incredibly hot for most of the past two months, I am wondering if the excessive heat could be what brought this on. Sherlock is about 12 — he was a rescue dog, so we’re not entirely sure, but I’ve had him since 2002. He is a loyal, loving, special dog — they think he is possibly a pointer-dalmation mix. He has a ton of energy, and seems more like a 5 or 6 year old dog. I walk him at least 3 miles a day, and take very good care of him, so that is probably partly why he’s so healthy for his age.

    I practice qigong, qi-healing & reiki, which are related to acupuncture as far as alternative/eastern healing. Of course, I cannot prove how I may or may not have helped Sherlock, but after reading others’ stories, it seems that Sherlock’s recovery was incredibly fast. I sat with Sherlock, giving him calming, loving, healing energy (training is beneficial, but I also want to say that intention in and of itself is very powerful, and I think we all have more healing abilities than we may be aware of — especially with animals, who are so receptive to love). I was so thankful I was home when it happened, so I could be with him. At first he was a 10 (on a 1 to 10 scale of severity), and 4 hours later he was functioning at about 90% I would say — still having some balance and vertigo issues, but much better. Today he seems at 100%, other than having a residual slightly concerned look in his eyes.

    I am concerned that more episodes will come, but from reading what everyone has posted here, I’m not sure bringing him to the vet would do any good. I don’t have the money to spend on a lot of expensive tests that may turn out to be inconclusive anyway. I guess I will need to take it one day at a time, but if anyone recommends something I may not be thinking of, please let me know.

    Thank you all.

  38. Thanks for all this info just reading it all helps makes sense of some of the things we’ve been experiencing lately. My husband & I have 3 dogs, 15 1/2 year old Border Collie, 12 year old Golden Retriever & 7 year old GR. All 3 are healthy loving dogs (bitches) but this summer has been horrendous for Sadie our 12 year old. She had pyometria in May & ended up having an emergency historectomy which thankfully she recovered from really quickly considering her age. We were so thrilled for her but then within a month we noticed a lump on her mammary glands which seemed to be growing at an alarming rate (a few years earlier she had small lumps on her glands tested which were benign tumours & not dangerous). However, within 2 months (July) she was really lethargic & had difficultly getting up & walking as the lump was close to her back legs. She had another operation to remove it, which once out was about the size of a small football!! Again she recovered quickly & within 2 weeks was back to her old self. Yet this past week or so has been sleeping all the time, finding it difficult to get up & off her food – even the chicken we’ve been coaxing her with. We took her to the vet yesterday & was told she had a bit of a temperature & gave her a steroid injection & some antibiotics. First thing this morning she was a bit brighter but then at 9am my husband noticed her breathing was odd & when he went to her she tried to get up but her front & back leg on the same side just wouldn’t work & were limp. She had no control over the 2 of them but the legs on the other side were trying to hold up all her weight. We made her lie down & tried to soothe her. A few minutes later she tried to get up again but without assistance couldn’t. Her head didn’t seem to be tilting but it was almost like it was really heavy & difficult to keep it up. We led with her for a while & then carried her to her bed. She seemed really disorientated & couldn’t focus or seem to hear anything. She eventually fell alseep. We thought it was a stroke because it was just the limbs on the one side that she lost control of. However she didn’t wet herself or cry out. Then 1 1/2 hours later she woke up & tried to get up herself. I rushed to her to support her stomach but apart from being a bit ‘bambi’ like she seemed to have control back & unsteadily made her way to the kitchen & had a long drink of water. She stood still, just looking down for a while afterward (which she’d been doing a lot lately) & made it back to her bed. She even ate a bit of chicken from my hand & went back to sleep. An hour later she got up on her own, still shaky, & went outside to the toilet & a wander around the garden. She wandered around in circles slowly for a few minutes before coming back to her bed & sleep again. After reading these stories, I kept saying to myself ‘Sadie does this’. It’s odd, on their own the little things didn’t make sense or even seem bizarre, but reading this is what other dogs have done almost makes things fall into place. We spoke to the vet after the episode this morning who said they wouldn’t really be able to do much except monitor her so we preferred to do that ourselves at home. The steroid injection from yesterday lasts for a few days so that should help but fingers crossed….
    Thanks again & hope all your babies are well

  39. Hi Folks
    Sorry to hear about your dogs, dont give up, Alfie recovered from the stroke almost 100% but now Alfie has lost a total of 7kg so he now weighs 28kg. The vets cannot pinpoint what is wrong and I am not willing to put him through anymore discomfort. I feel that it is something to do with the Mast Cell tumour ( they could not remove all of it,) he had 18 months ago, he has tummy pains (got buscopan1x3 a day for tummy discomfort which have helped), and his legs are weak,even the vet thinks the cancer may have spread. I have an appointment for him on friday and will stay with him until its done. our vets scatter the ashes up at our local cremetorium in the Garden of Remembrance which is really lovely and I’ll plant some snowdrops for him out by his favourite walks.Just wanted to thank you all for the support you gave when i needed it. Dont give up Ive had a marvelous time with Alfie ,we went loads of places together, he just gave and gave all the time,even as Im writing this he is looking in the patio doors ,just checking on me . thanks again everyone.
    Alfie mum xx

  40. This just happened to our dog Kodi. It was very scary. He is 13 and a black lab. he is starting slowly to calm down after about 5 hours. What is happening to him is just what this sounds like, although he is still having an attack right now my husband is helping him. we love our dog very much and we thought this was the end. thank you for the information. Good Luck to everyone.

  41. Thank you very much for this article. It helped me to understand what was happening to my 13 year old Labrador, Nelson. His head pulled to the one side and he fell over when he tried to get up. He slept for most of the day for about three days. He is just fine now. Once again, thank you for tis article.

  42. Hi! Firstly thank you very much for taking the time to post all the information and thanks to everyone else for commenting. I have a 12 year old Shih Tzu who I think just had her first episode. I took her to the vet and he told me it looks like a neurological problem and has referred me to a neurosurgeon ( I have an appointment for next week). After reading all of the information and posts, you have given me hope for my little Pikachu. She had an episode 2 days ago and seems to be about the same as when it first happened. I will not loose hope for her recovery! I will still have an MRI and Catscan done just to see if there is an underlying cause. I truly thought I would have to make “the tough decision” as my vet didn’t give me much hope.

    1. This is a follow up report on Pikachu. It is day 3 since her initial episode and she is definitely improving. She is walking much better and her head tilt has lessened a bit. Her eyes are still moving rapidly but at a much slower pace than before. She’s not eating very well but I’ve been able to hand feed her chicken and she seems to really like it. I’m very surprised that my vet didn’t know about vestibular syndrome but I will be educating him on the subject.

      1. This is a final follow up on Pikachu. It has been 3 months since her episode. She is almost completely normal now. Her balance is a bit off but only every so slightly. Her head tilt is very minimal and only I notice it because I’m so close to her. I didn’t have an MRI done on her because in the end I wouldn’t have performed any type of surgery on her. She’s absolutely terrified to go to the vet’s and I didn’t want to make things worse for her. Today, she is running around like normal and is very happy and healthy and to most people it looks like nothing ever happened. Throughout her recovery, I took my time with her. I hand fed her because she couldn’t put her head down to eat. I had to do this for about a week and today she still eats off of a plate and not a bowl. Before her episode we would walk to the dog park everyday. After her episode I would take her and my other little Shih Tzu to the dog park in my car and carry her to the area she liked best. She could barely stand but because dogs are very sensitive to smell I knew she knew where she was. I was trying to rehabilitate her using the surroundings she loved the best. I did this everyday for a month then I slowly introduced the leash and walked her for a short periods of time. It was very painful to see her during her episode and there were a lot of tears from everyone in our household. Life gets hectic and sometimes we forget how lucky we are to have such beautiful little creatures. Due to her episode, I’ve decided to buy a little Shih Tzu puppy in the spring. She loves puppies and I would like to give her that in her last years of life. Just to write that statement makes me cry but I love her so much. Good luck to everyone who would ever have to go through such a terrible time.

  43. I will leave this quite short, as my computer keeps deleting what I am writing – so my third attempt! Thank you so much for your reply to my message of 16th September. It is always interesting reading all the information and I thank everyone so much for helping. Tara is doing fairly well, although still has a definite head tilt, tumbles quite often and has an extremely dry eye. She still seems happy, not in pain and is eating and drinking. However, I took her to the vet a couple of weeks ago. They recommended to put her out and look at her inner ear – then she will possibly need an operation to drain the eardrum.. I said that I would rather her not be put under stress at her age and that I couldn’t afford it. The vet advised me that she could get nerve damage that side of her face, where her eyes become dry and gunky. That seems to be happening, and I just wondered if anyone has any suggestions. I was tempted to get a second opinion, because I know alot of people have said that antibiotics can help with the ear infection, which I thought may help with her balance?
    Thanks in advance

  44. My 7 year old female aussie had a stroke this past Friday night. She has a history of seizures but I knew this was different. She did not come out of the “seizure” and within 30 minutes we were at our vet – he gave her valium and calcium – once the valium wore off it was apparent we had a serious issue – we then took her to a speciaty emergency hospital – The stroke was confirmed via an MRI. She spent 3 nights in the emergency hospital. The first and second day she only responded to myself and my husband – the third day she responded to staff and everyone who walked by. The doctor (a neuro resident) is “cautiously optimistic” as he says MANY dogs recover with perhaps a funny walk or held tilt within 2 – 3 weeks. i can not afford “care and comfort” at $300 a day – so I brought her home. I am following all instructions – e.g. turning her, hand feeding, etc. – she is eating (canned food) but resists water. She didn’t (wouldn’t) pee on her bed – when we picked her up (which is very difficult) she “let go” – and then also finally had a bowel movement – (hadnt had one since I brought her home 3 days ago) – It’s the holiday so I have some time off work – and can do this for another day or so …….. I had hoped by now she would be attemtping to get up ……. she is alert – and we get a bit of a butt wiggle every once in a while …. Can someone give me some hope about her walking – even just a start – once she starts I know it will take time but I am losing hope

  45. our golden retreiver max is 12 yrs 11 months. He has just had his first major episode. He was lying in the kitchen stairing into space, whenever i get his lead out, he is usually the first one there. However this time he struggled to get up, his head tilted to the side his eyes are glazed. He tried to get to get up on his front paws then fell over again. We tried to assist him to stand but that just paniced him more. We managed to get him to the car and down to the vets. They thougjt he had had a stroke too. They gave him a steriod injection and said if he doesnt get on his feet in the next few hours we would need to think about what is best for him. Im very pleased to say he has improved within These hours his head still tilts to the side slightly but not too bad. He can now manage to go outside to the toilet. As regards to the eating he has only had a few treats and doesnt seem interested in his food (this is very unusual as he loves his food) he is sleeping peacefully at the moment and we have calmed down alot.
    This experience was really terrifying to watch and makes you fear the worst. Im so glad i have read this blog, it has put my worrys to rest.
    Just another thing to mention in october 2012 we noticed that max had a drooping eye, with his third eyelid stuck half way over his eye. We took him to the vets and they couldnt find anything wrong with him. Im not sure but i think it might be linked with this.

    1. Lin, please take heart because this sounds so similar to what I experienced with my dog, Suzy on July 3. Since then, she has had no new episodes and sleeps most of the time, but seems healthy otherwise. She was 15 years old in September, so I guess she is entitled to her sleep. She eats good, pees and poops outside. I have kept her inside since this happened though she was an outside dog before. Since the weather is cooler she will stay out an hour or so at the time. You are so right about it being terrifying. I just knew Suzy was going to die in my arms but has made a wonderful comeback Good luck with Max.

  46. I’ m sorry you lost your dog, but I wanted to thank you for writing this . My big boy had an event last night and I’ve been doing research all morning while cuddling with him pretty much nonstop . Your post was a great and comforting find in many ways. It sounds like it may be a rough couple of days, but with luck and patience … well, here’ s hoping for the best .

  47. Hi Ann~ I am going to echo jadoakes… thank you so much for writing this article… my beautiful big black lab “rebos”; I believe had an event as well last night, with me waking up in panic mode, when we out for her to relieve her self and again she just collapsed and sat at the stairs looking at me confused. It took everything I had to not cry (but I don’t want to stress her out). I too jump on the internet, and starting googling “my drunk dog” and your article I stumbled on last. My vet is closed on Sundays, but I will make an appointment for her first thing on Monday morning. She is eating and drinking normally (nothing is ever wrong with her appetite) and other then walking sideways, losing her balance and looking confused, I almost wouldn’t know something was wrong with her.I am so glad I read this as it put my worries to rest, although I will confirm with the vet tomorrow. Thanks again.

  48. My 17 year old black lab mix is having similar symptoms now. It started 2 days ago, she was fine yesterday, now today she cannot walk, does not eat and is drooling everywhere. I took her to the vet, he said she had a stroke. He gave me medicine for two days. I hope she can come back from this but she seems so uncomfortable. I do not want her to suffer.

  49. After reading several of these posts, I’ve noticed that all of the dogs who have gone through this have been large breeds that are 10 years old and up. I have a 2-year old dachshund that has just gone through something like this. He just started walking sideways, stumbling, favoring one side…and now he has no appetite and all he wants to do is sleep. I guess it could happen at any age and to any size dog, just not as common in smaller, younger dogs. Anyway, I had never heard of this before now, so thanks for all the info and advice. Hopefully we can get our little guy up and feeling better soon…so sad:(

  50. Thanks so very much for your informative post. It was very helpful. I have a 15 year old fox terrior displaying odd symptoms that I have never seen her do before. She wasnt able to walk straight and is sleeping alot. After 3 days she is up and moving around and eating. I will enjoy her till the end. She has been a wonderful old girl. I am sorry for your loss. And thanks again for the info.

    1. Update….. My dog Krickett had to be put down on May 5, 2013. I couldn’t bare to see her in any more pain it was time to let her go. She had spent 2 days at the vets. I brought her home with high hopes but the medicines werent working to drain the liquid from her lungs and she had somehow hurt her back leg. She had a fixed stare and heavy breathing. She was a wonderful old dog. Rest in peace Krickymomma.

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  53. This post is very helpful, but folks, don’t just assume your dog has vestibular disease because he’s experiencing these symptoms. It’s imperative that he be examined by a vet who will be able to tell you if it’s idiopathic vestibular disease or something more serious, like a tumor or indeed a stroke.

  54. My 13.5 year old Lab/Golden had textbook symptoms yesterday. I took her to vet this AM, he said lab results are normal, brain tumors are are (5%) and it was probably a stroke. He gave her cortisone shot and sent home prednisone. I am not a big prednisone fan. My pet sitter is a vet tech. She mentioned vestibular syndrome and benadryl or dramamine. I gave her 1 dramamine and she is already better. I really thought I was going to lose her but so relieved to read that she might recover. Her name is Saffy and she is THE BEST DOG EVER

  55. Late update on Suzy. Suzy was 15 1/2 years old when she died in January. She had not suffered another episode of vestibular disease
    at her death. She had all of the symptoms of heart problems when she passed around 5 A.M. I had been up with her all night and I knew it was her time. She died knowing that she was very much loved although she was having pain until about 30 minutes before she crossed the rainbow bridge. I have her ashes, so she is still with me. Still miss her so much! Best wishes to all who go through this trauma. Suzy went from July 4 till January 15th without another episode, so take heart, all of you.

  56. Last night, our 13 year old Dogo Argentino, Bear, went through this. Staggering, disorientation, severe vomiting, unable to move. I had to pick him up so he could pee this morning. We just took him to his doctor and she thinks it could be Vestibular Syndrome. He’s at her office now running tests. She said he may recover, or he may not and if not, we will need to discuss his quality of life. It’s a painful process to go through with your loved one. Good thoughts for all of you and your fur baby.

    1. Gary, my old girl Saffy (13 year old Lab) has improved a lot since her attack on May 30. You can give Bear Dramamine or Benadryl to relieve his symptoms. Saffy is about 50 LBS and I gave her 1 regular dramamine or 1 regular 25 mg Benadryl, had to do this for a week. At first I gave her one in the AM, one at nite, then just one at nite to help her sleep. I read that you can give 1 mg per lb of body weight but one tab seemed to work just fine. it really helped with dizziness, nausea and helped her sleep. Don’t give up, progress can be slow but most dogs do recover from this if otherwise healthy. I know how scary it is to see your friend go through this but VS is actually common. Hope your buddy feels better soon. Saffy has been to holistic vet, acupuncture, laser and vitamin b12, also changed diet to grain free and added extra Omega 3. You can give Bear regular Omega 3 (fish oil), I give her the same stuff we take (2400 mg/day). That may help him recover faster

  57. My 12 yr old was diagnosed with Vestibular by my vet. He told me the same “it will have to go away on it’s own” and “she may not fully recover”. So far we have been lucky she has not had any accidents in the house. I took her in when she started breathing heavily and falling on the hardwood floor and not getting up. Next the head tilt, the obvious lack of control walking but she can run straight! LOL Now she started drooling like “Hooch” out one side of her mouth. Im glad I found your post..I was looking up “stroke symtoms” in dogs because my hubby thought maybe.. but now its clear its the V word. Btw…Dr.Blevins in Snohomish is great!

  58. oh btw…about 6-8 months before this diagnosis my dog no longer could catch food, it would hit her in the face suddenly out of the blue…she also was having trouble hearing “where” I was calling her from she would look in the opposite direction. And leaving the property when I ran the lawn mower, standing at the end of peoples driveways barking. She had NEVER left the property ever before. I think she may have been having early signs but I figured that old age suddenly hit her. She went from normal to old suddenly. Then months later falling, heavy breathing, then the head tilt and balance issues, to drooling.

  59. Vestibular syndrome is crazy scary but prognosis for most dogs is pretty good from what I have read and seen. I did see early signs that I didn’t recognize at the time, Saffy (13 year old Lab) would sort of ‘stumble’ and drag her paws when she walked for a couple of days before she had full blown symptoms. Supportive care, Omega-3 (2400 mg a day for my 50 lb dog), and time are your friends. We have seeing a fantastic vet that combines western and holistic methods. Dr. Angie Stamm in Fair Oaks, CA has treated my girl with cold laser and acupuncture. It has made a visible difference, for sure relieved some of Saffy’s arthritis pain, she doesn’t ‘bunny hop’ as much as she did before treatment. I have noticed lots of dogs with VS are Labs. I wonder if that is just because Labs are such a popular breed, or if Labs are more prone to this condition?

  60. Thanks Linda! It has been a week now and Bear is actually getting worse. He has tremors now, still refuses to eat, but does drink water. His eyes have stopped twitching, but he continues to vomit and have diarrhea. We have to think about his quality of life. Bear has a great doctor, “Auntie Laurie” in Orinda…hopefully she will get back in touch with us after the holiday. Good thoughts to everyone and their loved ones.

  61. Another Update…Bear slipped away from us last Friday night, July 5. Let me ask you all who have fur babies who do not improve from the Vestibular Disease, don’t let them suffer. Consider their quality of life. Our Bear never “bounced back” as others do. Our Vet thinks that Bear could have had a brain tumor, or that the Vestibular was caused by a clot. After 10-days of suffering, our precious boy moved over the rainbow bridge and we know that we will see him again some day. Our hearts are broken and empty for losing him, yet we know that he is no longer suffering. Good luck to all who read this blog, and thank you for sharing.

    1. Gary I send you my deepest condolences. I’m so sorry to hear about Bear. I know too well how these wonderful animals get under your skin.

    2. Sorry Gary to hear of your Bear..: ( Our 13 yr old has not improved but has not worsen either. She still wobbles when she walks, seems like she has paralysis on her left side of her face sometimes her right ear stands straight up and she seems to eat from her left side of her mouth. So for now we give her meds for pain in her joints and make living around the house simpler for her. She also seems to be loosing a lot of fur. She seems happy though. We will have to make the decision on her being put to sleep when or if she deteriorates to the point her quality of life diminishing. This disease is not a nice one for sure.

  62. Thank you for this blog. My 13 year old mix has experienced this event twice in the past 3 weeks…….and my vet said it would only happen once then get better. She correctly diagnosed but I’m wondering how current her knowledge is. Wondering if I should change vets…….

  63. Sue, Some dogs have one attack and some have multiple from what I have read. Make sure it isn’t an inner ear infection, you’d need antibiotics to treat that. It takes time. There is no ‘cure’ but you can treat symptoms. Dramamine or Benadryl will help your dog feel better (nausea and dizziness) and sleep, doage is 2 mg/lb but I just gave 25 mg to my 50# dog and that was enough. I have had good results with the holistic vet, she uses acupuncture and cold laser treatments. My old girl is still a bit wobbly but she is much better than she was on May 30 when she had her attack

  64. My dog Skippy is 14 years old. She is a rescue, mixed breed dog weighting about 45 lbs. Back in December 2012 she was diagnosed with bone cancer and had to have her front left leg amputed. She had 6 treatments of chemo and was doing very well. She had her last treatment in April. Was bringing her to the hospital vet for a 3 month check up today and 5 minutes from the hospital she threw up and her eyes started moving rapidly. By the time we got to the hospital she could not even stand up and walk. The ER doctor told us she could have vestibular disease, stroke or brain tumor. They gave her anti nausea medicine there and meclizine to take at home. We got home at 12 noon, had to carry her into house. She has tried to get up but is not able to. She has all the classic signs of Vestibular disease. With only having 3 legs I wonder just how she is going to manage. She did manage to lick 6 ice cubes since she could not sit up. I also gave her some of my yogurt (so she could take her meds) that I put on the lid of the yogurt and she licked it all up. Carried her outside to see if she would pee but don’t know if she did as i was holding her. I will see how she does in the following days. She has been sleeping alot. I do not want her to suffer and I need to be realistic. With only 3 legs this is going to be very hard for her. She has been through so much in the past 7 months and I want to do what is best for her.

    1. I’m sorry you both are having this experience. Give her a few days, seriously. My 14 year old was over the worst of it in 2-3 days, and much better in a week, eventually losing the head tilt altogether. Maybe help support her while standing/walking with a towel for a sling under her belly? It’s miserable for them and horrible to watch, but it does often clear in a matter of days.
      Good luck and keep us posted about Miss Skippy.

      1. Marie Rose, that is a tough call. I agree, give it some time. Try dramamine or benadryl (dosage is 1 mg per lb of body weight but I gave my 50 lb dog one 25 mg tablet and that was enough) to help her get through the nausea and dizziness. It will also help her sleep. I know how scary this is, and it is doubly scary since Skippy lost a leg. I say make her comfortable and see how it goes. Please let us know how she does.

      2. Sorry its been awhile since I last told about my dog Skippy. Time just slips away and before you know it 3 months have past. I was pretty upset when this all happened and lost all sense of time(depressed). Skippy is doing well. Linda, Skippy made a complete recovery, even the head tilt went away. She is eating well, loves to spend time outside, sleeps alot and follows me around like a shadow, especially at night. She still needs help from time to time getting on and off couch and going up and down ramp.My husband says I treat her like a baby but I am going to do all I can to make the time she has left with us the best. Thank you so much for your words of encouragement. I am going to try to check back more often.

  65. UPDATE ON KIRA from July 4, 2012 Vestibular Event…
    Kira has permanent damage/effect to her hearing, balance, walking, and still can’t complete a full yawn. However long and (often) difficult this year+ has been, Kira is still bright eyed and for that I’ve kept her on this planet. Only when she decides or her eyes lose that vibrancy for life would I say ‘goodbye’ to her. I wish you all much love, empathy and compassion as you and your fur babies travel your own roads.

  66. Droopy is at least 14-years-old, a Basset Hound/Beagle/Lab mix, and I think he’s on his second episode, although he doesn’t have the head tilt. A couple months ago, I thought he might be having a seizure. We were going to bed and it looked like he was trying to reposition himself, but couldn’t get up and was repeating the same movement and he just didn’t look right, but I’ve seen dogs and people have seizures and I’m not quite sure that’s what it was, but he did seem confused after and didn’t acknowledge the water bowl in front of him and was determined to get up on our bed, which we wouldn’t allow cause we were afraid he’d fall off. This happened at Midnight. He was again determined to get up on the bed a few times throughout the night, but again settled down in his own bed next to our bed. By 7am, he was finally able to stand up on his own and he was walking a little off balance, but seemed to walk it off and was fine by the end of that day, jumping up on our bed on his own again, and back to normal. Two days ago, he was fine, trotting around on a little walk with me, then back in the van lying down on his bed in the back. Then upon getting to my parents’ house a half hour later, he seemed confused about getting out of the van. I helped him out and he walked VERY slowly into the house and when he tried to lie down, he seemed very stiff. We let him rest for about 20 minutes and when it was time to go, he would not even try to get up. We tried to lure him with food and all he could do was lift his head. So we let him be, and 3 hours later he got up on his own, drank a lot of water, went outside to pee, and stood next to the van. When I opened the door, he put a paw on the door jam where he would jump in, and I lifted him and we went home. He drank more water at home and ate the bland canned & dry food prescribed by the vet since he was diagnosed with cancer in his lungs and abdomen in April. Then he went to lie down for 4 hours before he got up and wanted to go lie down on the day bed, which I had to lift him up on. When we ate dinner, he hardly noticed, then had to be lured outside with food to pee, since it had been 8 hours. The next day he was able to jump up on the day bed by himself, but was uneasy about getting down and still doesn’t have his energy back. It’s so hard to know what to do. The vet already said they’ve done everything they can do for him so all we can do is hope for more good days than bad days and when he starts to have more bad days than good days, it’s time. How long do I give him to rally back from this? He has shown improvement…

  67. Hello Everyone~After reading several blogs I find myself very torn.

    Jozee Prance 13, will be 14 in October had an episode last night.(This is her 2nd one) She was lying in her crate and upon getting out her front legs gave out.
    I immediately picked her up and held all 37lbs of her in my arms for 20min. I laid her down on her bed. My partner picked her up and she could not stand. (This past year she has been losing muscle tone in her back legs.) When she walked she looked like me after a glass of wine or two 😉

    I laid with her all night. During the night she attempted to get up, but could not. She was telling me she had to go potty. I picked her up and brought her outside. She stood there for about 3 min just staring and than had a bowel movement.(which gave me hope)

    Here I am the next morning, I pick her up and she stands in the kitchen(not showing signs of wanting to go out) she was just staring again standing be her water bowl, but not drinking, After a 2 minutes or so,, she starts drinking water…….she is drinking alot of water……She goes to the door, I pick her up and she immediately urinates.

    She was walking around outside, but not looking too steady on her feet.
    She attempts to go up the stairs (just 2 of them) but fails.

    I carried her in and she started drinking water again…a lot of water.

    Now she lay here on the floor sleeping like a baby.

    Her first episode though, she just lay there lethargic and did not eat for 2 days.
    I brought her to the Vet, he took blood because her red and white blood cells were very low..While examing he blurts out..hmmmm looks like Bone Cancer or Leukemia…..The water works started.

    He gave her an injection of fluids and the next day she was fine, Mind you I was preparing myself for the worst.

    Next day she was fine..went back to the vet, he took more blood and her levels were back up.

    He never mention Vestibular Syndrome…..

    I think my situation is a mix bag…..Her muscle loss and weight loss are signs to me that Jozee Prancer does not have the quality of life anymore.

    That leaves me with making one of the hardest decisions in my life. (She is my first dog ever) Now I have 3 more more dogs which are all rescued, howeve she is my first…you NEVER forget your first.

    I have been giving her Benadryl, Glucosamine, and Chondrioitin every day for the past 9 years. She is a working dog breed. The hips and legs are the first to go. I am perplexed…..

    My wish is that she just go to sleep and go to the Rainbow Bridge in the comfort of her own home.

    Jacqui~New Jersey

    1. Jacqui, so sorry about JP. As long as she is eating, drinking, peeing and pooping that is a good sign. Also her blood levels improved, I’m not a vet but that sounds positive. You know your dog. If she seems like she is in pain and can’t enjoy life then you have to make the decision to do right by her. I thought I was going to have to put my beloved 13.5 year old Lab down on May 30 until I realized it was vestibular. She has made a slow but steady recovery. Cold laser, acupuncture and chiropractic care from integrative/holistic vet have helped her a lot (she has arthritis and had cruciate surgery on both her knees several years ago). Maybe you could keep a daily log on her, that will give you something to gauge her condition. Please let u know how she’s doing

  68. thank you so much for your info. I have a black lab Girlfriend, she is 7 years old rescue dog. I had noticed in the last two weeks that she had bad breath and was intending to take her for teeth cleaning but had been using toothbrush. Also, about 2 weeks ago she seemed more tired than normal on a walk and had to rest on the way home. On Thursday, I took her to vets. she jumped out of bed and crashed into the wall. She appeared dizzy and would not eat. I thought it was her teeth as her gum bled when I brusher her teeth. Also, I live close to Sea World in la Jolla, CA and they shoot off these darn fireworks everynight in the Summertime and it scares her and she shakes (just moved here in May). I was thinking all of this is stressing her out. The vet said all her blood test was ok except the liver values. She would not eat or drink so was placed on IV fluids. She still wagging her tail and alert but I was told to take her in on Saturday. She was hospitalized all day on Saturday (yesterday) and given more IV fluids. The vet tells me she has no idea what the dog has. She took Xrays and originally thought that Girlfriends neck was the problem as it was painful but all the Xrays, and even an abdomen Xray, came out fine. She is now trying to send me to a neurologist. I am not much for surgery…and went through a lot with my Dalmatian chief in the past, and don’t want to go through that again with the neurologist and cannot afford (I spend $17,000 in the past trying to save my dog). I am hoping that someone out there has more suggestions for me. I am taking Girlfriend for a second opinion tomorrow with another vet. I will be giving her the Subcutaneous fluids tonight. She also had an antibiotic injection. She is laying by me right now and won’t let me leave the room. She still follows me around but walked crooked, like the dog in the video. I cooked her chicken but will make her some fresh tonight because she wouldn’t eat this morning. Does the vestibular problem make the liver values higher? Any other tips appreciated…Thank you so much for everything….we all love our dogs and want to do the best. I am not leaving her side…work at home and will stay with Girlfriend to take care of her. Thanks, Suzanne & Girlfriend in La Jolla, CA

    1. My old girl Saffy (yellow Lab, best dog ever) wouldn’t eat chicken either when she had vestibular attack. She couldn’t stand or walk, eyes rolled around and she could not hold down food or water. I bought a case of Science Diet Prescription for Digestive Health from the vet (they don’t sell in stores, only at vet) and she ate that. If she is dizzy and has nausea draminine or benadryl are safe and will give her relief and help her sleep. You can give 1 mg per lb of body weight but I just used a 25 mg tab and my girls is 60 lbs. We also switched her to grain free diet, Costco brand Nature’s Domain. It comes in salmon, chicken or beef, we got salmon. It has sweet potato as the base. All my dogs love it. They make canned too, we add a bit of canned to the dry food. Also added this great product, Mushroom Matrix. It helps immune system, digestion, and more. http://www.mushroommatrix.com/pet-home/ We get the one with blue label. I think time, diet and our great integrative/holistic vet all helped her recovery. It took about a week and a half for her to be able to keep her balance and not stumble. It happened May 30 and now two months later she is doing great. Hope your girl improves

  69. Blossom I had to give her a small amount of dry dog food mixed with a can of soft in order for her to eat. She always was picky since her previous owners fed her only table scraps resulting in plaque build up and loosing a bunch of her teeth. Now that she has this disease I now am only worried that she get food in her. Giving her raw meat chokes her now. At this point I am trying to make life as normal and comfortable as possible for her. Making her stay outside on nice days actually helps keep her moving. If I let her in the house during the day she would only lay and sleep all day so I force her to stay outdoors with out other dog. Keep them moving…it will worsen their condition if they lay around all day. Another symptom I forgot to mention is her hoarse bark and heavy breathing. My vet said it maybe stress and anxiety from the disease so he put her on “Prozac”. I don’t expect her to come out of this at this point its been 4-5 months now and no improvement.

    1. Our 13year old Wheaton had a Vistibular episode in June. slow improvement for ten days. Had to carry him 35 lbs to go out so I put him on a mattress pad and dragged that around. Then three weeks ago our 4 year old Lhasa apsa had a Stroke? He could not walk I put both in a Costco wagon to wheel around the house to the back deck. The vet gave us Hills critical care canned food and pumpkin for fiber now 3 weeks later both are wagging tails barking and some energy. It seems the cure was my daughter coming home, it was the best medicine. I really thought I would be putting them down by now.

    2. We are using Melatonin for stress and anxiety. It seems to help and doesn’t make her groggy in the AM. Dosage for my 58 LB dog is 1 -2 mg a day. I got the drops, I squirt into her mouth at night.

  70. My question is has anyone found a way to get their dog to eat and drink from their bowl again after the stroke? Mine will eat ice cubes but not lap water no matter what bowl I use. He will not eat from any bowl or plate only from the spoon or my fingers.

    1. My dog had trouble eating at first. Her balance was off and she couldn’t really zero in on the food. She even bit me while trying to take a pill wrapped in cheese from my fingers. (This dog has never bitten anything or anyone). I tried elevating the bowl but she hated that. I switched to canned Hills Science Diet from the vet (bought a case) and she ate that. Then our holistic vet gave us a sample of Honest Kitchen Preference dehydrated food. She loves it. I added plenty of water at first so it was soupy, now I mix with her kibble.

  71. It was very helpful to read everyone’s experience with vestibular syndrome. My Lily came home yesterday after 3 days at the vet. She started trembling on Thursday night and I thought maybe it was some thunder she heard. Nothing more happened until Friday morning when she started stumbling, wobbling, her head was tilted, her eyes were darting around and she could not stop vomiting. I watched this for about half and hour and did research and learned it could be vestibular. Took her straight to the vet and that was his diagnosis. She needed an IV and other meds. Gave her meds for vomiting which took the entire day to stop. She exhibited all the symptoms above. I have her home now and she has perked up a bit, but it is clear she is not herself. She is a 14 year old Australian Shepherd.- Springer Spaniel Mix. A heart murmur was also detected that had not been there ever before. She may have a tumor, cancer, and/or her heart is involved. She will be on heart meds for the rest of her life which I hope is another few years. Of course, if her quality of life goes down, or she is in any discomfort, I pray for God’s intervention. I can’t live without her, but I can’t live with her suffering. She has been my girl since she was 6 months old. She has adjusted to living in South Texas after living in Massachusetts for 8 of her 14 years.

    1. Linda, Saffy my 13 year old Lab had a vestibular attack on May 31. Now 4 months later she still has head tilt and is wobbly but doing much better, runs and plays still! For the first week I used Hills Science Diet for digestive issues (from the Vet). We found a great integrative vet (holistic and western meds). She suggested grain free food (we use Nature’s Domain Salmon, made by Kirkland/Costco). Also acupuncture has helped. For the dizziness, Benadryl or Dramamine brought her a lot of relief and helped her sleep for the first week or so. Saffy still has had some bad days (and nights) but she is a trooper. We are using Melatonin to help her sleep. Vet said it could also help with confusion (mild dementia). also she gets 2 Omega-3 caps each day (same ones I take). I hope Lily pulls through. Each day with my sweet Saffy is a blessing

      1. Sorry its been awhile since I last told about my dog Skippy (July 20th). Time just slips away and before you know it 3 months have past. I was pretty upset when this all happened and lost all sense of time(depressed). Skippy is doing well. Linda, Skippy made a complete recovery, even the head tilt went away. She is eating well, loves to spend time outside, sleeps alot and follows me around like a shadow, especially at night. She still needs help from time to time getting on and off couch and going up and down ramp.My husband says I treat her like a baby but I am going to do all I can to make the time she has left with us the best. Thank you so much for your words of encouragement. I am going to try to check back more often. Also, I see from the above post that you give your dog Omega-3 caps. Does it really help with confusion? Sometimes when Skippy gots outside, especially at night, she just stands in one spot for awhile.Hope Saffy is doing well.

      2. For the confusion, the integrative vet recommended Melatonin. It helps her sleep. She gets restless at night. I got drops with fructose (artificial sweeteners are bad for dogs). I give her 1 mg each night (she weights 58 lbs). She is still getting the Omega-3 too. Saffy just got over another UTI (e-coli). but she’s a trooper and doing well for a 13.5 year old Lab!

    2. Linda C., my dog Skippy had a vestibular attack on July 20th on the way to the vet hospital for a 3 month follow-up check up after her 6th round of chemo, after having her left front leg amputated because she had bone cancer. Just like Linda H.’s dog, she made a complete recovery. It took a few weeks. Even with 3 legs she is managing well, with a little help now and then. How is Lily doing? How she is doing well.

  72. Hi all you guys my 19 year old shih tzu Anna past last week from an obstructed bowel. The week before Spike my 14yr old peekapoo had what I thought was a stoke,good old Anna woke me to let me know. The vet said it was vestibular and gave him an antibiotic shot and antimistmins? He did start eating and seem to have come to grips with his handicap; tilt head and wobbly walk. He has always loved to play and every time we try he falls and wants to quit. His food is everywhere and I don’t care he can have anything he wants. Ican not loss both my best friends back to to back.
    Well does anyone have a suggestion on how to make him happy and play? Thank you all for your support, D

    1. Dianna, so sorry for your loss of Anna. The good news is many (most?) dogs do recover from vestibular from what I have read. My 13.5 year old Lab had a bad attack on May 31. I treated her with dramamine for about a week (dose is 1 mg/lb of body weight) or benadryl (same dosage).. That helped her nausea and dizziness. She is doing much better, still a bit wobbly and has head tilt but amazing recovery. Give it time, Spike may not be 100% his old self but he will probably recover. I have also taken my dog to integrative vet, for cold laser and acupuncture. It seems to help

  73. I am no sure how I ended up here yet I am glad I did , so I can voice or write my feelings about this with people that know what I’m going through.

  74. Thank you for this article! It saved me and my dog…I have a beagle mix that turns 15 in December. Last Monday (October 21) I left for work and gave Zoe some dog treats, when I came home for lunch half of her treats were still on the floor and she was laying in her bean bag, she did not get up when I came home – not like her at all, I knew something was wrong. When I came home later that day she was still on her beanbag but laying in a pool of her own pee…to the vet we go. Zoe has a known heart murmur which was the focus of the first round of tests, looking for sign of heart failure and water in her lungs. I was also concerned about the dog treats, with all of these jerky treats poisoning dogs lately. All of her tests came back great, 3 vets told me that they could not believe the health my 15 year old Zoe was in, and they did not know what she was suffering from. They gave me a bag of pills and sent me home. Her conditioned worsened over the next 2 days, she could barely walk and when she did she would walk in circles, very little muscle control in her right side and her head tilted. The first thing I though of was a stroke. She was unable to eat or drink on her own, I had to feed her and give her water through a syringe, and I was concerned about dehydration – It’s Wednesday and back to vet we go. She gets an IV and they change her meds. Another round of tests and nothing more is gained, They say that my dog is healthy but suffering from something and I need to think about quality of life decisions! I just could not comprehend that statement. I found this article and went to my vet for some prednisone on Thursday….Friday night she actually barked at my friend that came over to the house, her first sign of recovery. The following day she was walking better and drinking – it seemed like she had to figure out how to use her tongue again. She also had an appetite and would eat from my hand. It is now October 30 and Zoe is back to being Zoe! All of her symptoms are gone, except a little bit of weakness in her back right leg, but even that seems to be adjusting. Thank You! Thank You! Thank You! All last week I was an emotional wreck while deciding if it was time to have my dog put to sleep…now we will be celebrating her 15th birthday on December 22:)

    1. Jeremy, I have tried to spread the word about vestibular to as many people as I can. I know that it is hard to believe your dog can recover when you see them like that. SO HAPPY that Zoe has recovered.

  75. I hope somebody can help me. About two weeks ago my Boston Terrier Buster suddenly could not stand. He’s 10 years old. I took him to the vet who told me he thought Buster had Addison’s Disease. He prescribed prednisone. Buster got better. Then about 5 days later it happened again. This time it was worse. When he couldn’t stand I carried him outside to pee and when I set him down he just fell over. Again we took him to the vet. This time he said that the prednisone can lower his immune system and if he has an infection it could have gotten worse so we got antibiotics. Again he got better. A week later he had another episode so again to the vet. This time he could find nothing wrong. He gave Buster food the night he got there and the next morning and he ate just fine. There also seemed to be swelling and tenderness in Busters around his abdominal area. When we picked him up the vet said if he happened again to just let it run its course that Buster seemed to come out of it on his own. Monday the 28th he again couldn’t stand. Again it looked like his abdomen was swollen. I left him be but my husband said that he was flopping around. I went in the living room just in time to see him try to get up and fall over and hit his head on the coffee table. I picked him up and took him to his doggy bed and sat down on the floor with him. I was just petting him telling him I was there. He suddenly began to breath very heavily with his mouth open and his tongue was handing out. His breathing got worse and worse. We called the vet and he said if he wasn’t better in the morning we could bring him in. As I sat there with him I called his name but he didn’t respond. He then suddenly opened his mouth like he was trying to take a breath but no air went in. He did that twice and right before my eyes he died. I have just cried every day since. My heart is broken. Does anyone have any idea what happened to my best buddy? I felt it was my fault that he died because I didn’t rush him to the vet but the vet said even if I had brought him in he would not have been able to save him. I don’t think he would have even made it there before he died. I placed his little lifeless body in a box with his blanket and favorite toy. My husband took him to the vet’s office to be cremated and then he will come home. Sorry this is so long. I hope someone has a few minutes to read this and maybe help me.

    1. I am so sorry to her that. As soon as I read about his labored breathing I knew he was dying. When Desi passed away, something similar happened. The vet had told me to bring her in in the morning to put her down but that she could go peacefully in her sleep and I will tell you it was not peaceful. But my friend who works in hospice told me some really good things to know. That was seems like struggling is just the systems disconnecting and they are not aware of that happening at that point. It looks terrible to an outsider but it’s natural and most beings pass like that, not like you see in the movies.

      And I believe your vet – there was probably nothing he could do. Vets prescribe pred to fix what they know is a bad problem that there’s no other way to fix – it’s rarely a permanent solution – they are just trying to buy some time. My first dog was 12 when she died. The vet said she had heart and lung disease and put her on pred and said she could last a day or a month or six months but the damage was done. She lasted a week. She was such a great dog and I’m glad we had that week.

      10 years is a good life. I’m sure you feel it was not long enough but some bodies don’t last as long as the average. I know how bad you hurt and know that there isn’t a lot that can get rid of the feeling that you just got hit in the stomach with a baseball bat. But know that time truly heals all wounds. It may be another month before you feel normal most of the time. It may be six months before thinking about what happened doesn’t make you tear up. It may be a year before you can look at pictures and remember the good times first. This stuff is super hard. All you can do is try to take care of your basic needs the best you can – eat well, sleep well, surround yourself with supportive people, and just try to do some light fun things to take your mind off it and cry your eyes out when you need to. And use the Kleenex with lotion in it.

      Do you have another dog or was that your only one? I’ve found that not having a dog at all is way harder than trying to get through a death without the help of another dog. The empty house is horrible. Remember that there are lots of dogs and you will have others to love! When you are ready of course.

      Thinking of you.

      1. I would hate to think that his outward display was what he was feeling inside. I promised him when he first got sick that if I thought he was suffering I would take the pain away but that I would NEVER make him go through it alone. If he had to go I’m just glad it was in the house he loved with the people that loved him and not some cold scary vet’s office.

        I can’t imagine what it would be like to not start crying every time I think of Buster. He was such a great buddy. He had this funny thing he would do. After he would have a bath I would tell him “you are so clean and soft and shiny and you smell good” The whole time I’m saying this he is going around and around in a circle so I added at the end of how clean he was “and he goes round and round and round”. He would wag his little stubby tail at me and run in the living room to get his toy. It ALWAYS made me laugh. He followed me everywhere. He rode on our Gator with my husband. You should have seen him pout when I got my suitcase out because he knew we were going back to Wisconsin for vacation. If I cried about anything he would look at me as if he knew I was sad.

        I have a friend back in Wisconsin that has Bostons too. We are great friends and I just can’t bring myself to call her and tell her about Buster. I know I will but not yet.

        I do have two other dogs. One is Buster’s companion, Annie. They had 4 litters of puppies together. My other dog is an all black German Shepherd, Tara. All three of them played together but Annie and Tara seem to not even notice that Buster isn’t here. They don’t look for him or anything.

        Thank you so much for your kind words and encouragement. I really needed someone to talk to about this. I have no friends here in Arkansas and I had no one to talk this out to. Sorry, again, that this is so long but once I start talking about him I can’t seem to stop.

      2. It helps that you have other dogs and definitely helps to talk to others that understand what you’re going through. It’s good that you are remembering the funny things Buster did to make you laugh. He will always life in your heart. My sweet Saffy is 13.5 and has good days and not so good days. Every day with her is a gift

    2. Condolences Sharon, on the loss of Buster. Don’t beat yourself up, it was his time and you did everything you could to make him comfortable. With his last breath, he knew you were there and that you loved him. Everything Ann wrote, I agree with. The hardest part of loving pets is losing them. When you’re ready, maybe visit your local animal shelter. Rescuing another dog would be a nice tribute to Buster. Sending a cyber hug to you.

      1. Thank you for your kind words. I just keep seeing that horrible sight of him trying to breath. It seems like it was a long time but I think it was more like seconds. I promised him that if he ever got sick and was suffering I would never let him go through it alone no matter now much it would hate to see him go. I’m just glad that when he passed he was here in his home, with me, in his own little bed. Thanks again. You and Ann have made me feel better telling me that Buster knew I was there and that I loved him. I do have two other dogs. One was Buster’s companion Annie who also is a Boston. The other is an all black German Shepherd, Tara. They were all three buddies to each other but Annie and Tara seem oblivious to the fact that Buster is no longer here. Thanks for the hug.

      2. Hi Linda. I just wanted to let everybody know who gave me such words of sympathy and kindness when I lost my Buster, that he is home now. We had him cremated with his toy. We bought a little urn and the place where we got it put his picture on it and his name. Now he can stay in the home where he was loved. I still miss him terribly and still cry over the loss of him but I have been able to tell a couple of people what happened without bursting into tears. I just wanted to say thanks for caring.

  76. Boy am I glad to have stumbled upon this blog tonite. I have a 13.5 yr. old Aussie/Beagle/Lab female who suffered an episode of vestibular syndrome 10 weeks ago. Like many of those who have shared this experience, I thought I was going to lose her that day to a “stroke.”
    She has since recovered but with a slight head tilt and balance issues – but Maggie is a feisty gal and never lost her appetite for food or chasing cats ! she has been on Rimadyl for over a year to ease spinal arthritis.
    She has developed gradual weakness in her hindquarters past couple of years and now has hearing loss as well. Since her episode in Augusta, she has become much more anxious and clingy. She shadows me all over the house and yard.
    Tonite, about 4 hrs. ago, she suddenly began to bark in a frantic way while in the house – nothing unusual going on inside or outside. She began to run around the house in a way that made me think she was looking for something. The barking was a distressed bark and she began to tremble abd pant heavily. I tried to calm her by using a thundershirt and calm voice with stroking. when she didn’t settle down I finally decided to give her a sedative – acepromazine – to help the anxiety and let her sleep. She is sleeping now. any ideas if this sudden vocalizing is related to vestibular syndrome or central nervous system disease ? thanks so much for sharing and blessings to all.

    1. Carol, Maggie sounds a lot like my Saffy (Yellow Lab mix, 13.5, on Rimadyl for arthritis, vestibular attack May 31, still stumbles and has head tilt). She isn’t confused and still tries to play and doesn’t get ‘lost’ but has developed what our vet calls Sundowner’s Syndrome. At night she paces, pants and wants to go out, then comes back in and immediately wants to go out again. I have been giving her 2-3 mg of Melatonin at night and it seems to help. (she weighs 58 lbs). In humans it is associated with dementia. Symptoms in humans (and apparently dogs) are not limited to but may include:
      Increased general confusion as natural light begins to fade and increased shadows appear.
      Agitation and mood swings. Patients may become fairly frustrated with their own confusion as well as aggravated by noise.Patients found yelling and becoming increasingly upset with their caregiver is not uncommon.
      Mental and physical fatigue increase with the setting of the sun. This fatigue can play a role in the patient’s irritability.
      Tremors may increase and become uncontrollable.
      A patient may experience an increase in their restlessness while trying to sleep. Restlessness can often lead to pacing and or wandering which can be potentially harmful for a patient in a confused state.

  77. Just thought I would throw in my example to potentially help other pet owners.

    My pound-mutt Molly (Mostly black lab, collie, blue heeler) about 14 years old, is very healthy. We exercise her almost every day, very fit, and just takes rimadhyl to ease a bit of arthritis in her spine. Very healthy weight and very active. When she got up this morning she had the worst time trying to walk and get down stairs (she has trouble with them already as they are hardwood and slippery) and wanted to just lay down. She couldn’t see very well and it just broke my heart.

    My parents drove her two hours to the vet and got her checked out. I feared that when she left that was the last time I was going to see her, but it looks like the vet thinks it might be vestibular disease. We had suspected she had had a stroke, and this is encouraging news. She was given anti-nausea medicine and antianxiety medicine as well. Here’s to hoping she makes a full recovery and she gets to enjoy life comfortably again.

    This day went from being the worst to the best. I wish you all well and this gives some insight to others.

    PS After reading all of these entries I made sure to text my parents to ask the vet about vestibular disease and to make sure no unnecessary measures were taken. Thanks for the help!

    1. Haley, my advise is give her time. I had never heard of vestibular until my Lab mix had an attack on May 31st. She has made almost full recovery (still has head tilt). I hope Molly recovers, since she is otherwise healthy I suspect her prognosis is good.

    2. Haley, my peekapoo spike has vestibular and I also thought he had a stroke. This was about a month ago, he has the head tilt and is a little wobbly but he is handling his handicap well. He sometimes starts going in circles but I just aim in the right direction. He seems to be embarrassed and takes a I can do it myself mom attitude. He can’t play with his toys anymore because he falls and gets mad but he sleeps with his favorite stuffed lobster with his little paws wrapped around it. So just be patient our babies are resilient.

      1. I give my Saffy (Lab mix, best dog ever) Omega-3, 2400 mg each day She weighs 68 lbs… I give her the same ones I take, make sure they say Mercury free. I just put them in her bowl and she eats them but you can puncture them and squirt on the food if necessary. Our vet said they are good for her joints (arthritis), brain and heart.

    3. Hello all-
      Just wanted to post an update of how my dog’s case of vestibular went.

      It’s been exactly one week and she’s doing much better. Her eyes have stopped flicking back and forth (nystagmus), she’s eating almost full meals, she is much more likely to get up and walk around. She still wobbles, has a hard time keeping her balance and basically looks drunk when walking particularly outside.

      Some tips I would recommend that worked for some of my challenges with Molly:

      *Booties on some paws if you have a hardwood floor to have traction
      *Try to pour a little chicken stock over kibble to entice eating
      *Keep a harness on her so it’s easier to help her up or to keep from falling-this is much easier on her than her neck with a collar
      *Take extreme care if the dog is uneasy outside-they don’t have their balance so watch out for sticks that can jab or potential falling hazards
      *Antinausea and antianxiety medicine helped a bit I think
      *Keeping the dog in a safe gated area (we used the entry way) for when you are out of the house to minimize falling hazards with bed, soft towels, water, etc.

      Thanks for all of the feedback, it is appreciated, and I’m much happier that she is improving. She might not get back to her full speedy form, but I am just so happy I did not have to say goodbye for good yet.

      This is a great resource for others who Google “Vestibular disease” because support in a forum is extremely important for distraught owners. I sincerely hope this blog posting and comments are kept as a valuable resource for others.

      1. Haley, so glad to hear Molly is improving. She sounds much better in only a week. I also found this forum to be a Godsend. It was hard to believe that my girl could recover when she could not walk, stand or eat. Her attack was May 31. She is a bit wobbly but she still has plenty of life left in her. Every day is a gift with these old ones.

  78. Hi my dog cant able to walk one time she jumped high in that she got a attack in spine after that her back both legs are became unmovable we did operation but no use in that..Is there any other treatment to make her active…pls rply

  79. Hi All,
    Our 13.5 year old Labrador Retriever, Jake, had what we thought was a ‘stroke’ on 11 December 2013. Luckily, I was at home with him over the holidays as he became very ‘clingy’ – to the extent that I had to take him outside several times a day so he could do his ‘business’. Other than this change in his behaviour, and his confusion, we thought he would recover as so many dogs do. Unfortunately, Jake started seizing on 11 January 2014 and there was simply nothing that could be done. Our wonderful Vet acknowledged that it could have initially been a Vestibular event, but in a dog his age, it was very likely a brain tumour. Jake was put to sleep in a dignified manner with me by his side. I am glad I found this site as it allows all of us dog owners to grieve and tell stories without being judged. It has been less than 1 month since Jake’s passing and we are slowly coming to terms with it. Jake was a gentle, loving and loyal dog who deserved the best. We will get another dog, one day, we can never replace Jake as he will be a hard act to follow. I miss him greatly – RIP.

    1. Hi Emma,

      I’m sorry to hear about the loss of Jake. He was a lucky dog to have an owner(s) who love and care about him so much. Thinking of you, because losing loved ones is hard

      1. Emma I am so sorry to hear about your loss. You never can replace a beloved dog but you can honor his memory by adopting from a shelter or a breed rescue group. My Lab will be 14 years old on February 17. I know I don’t have much time left with her. Every day is a gift

  80. Linda, Happy belated 14th birthday to Saffy. Hope she is doing well and had a great birthday. My dog Skippy is still with us. She will be 15 years old on April 15th. She had her leg amputed December 2012 because of bone cancer, followed by 6 rounds of chemo, then in July 2013 she had a vastibular episode. Don’t know how much more time she has with us, but thankful everyday that she is still here with us.

    1. Thanks Marie Rose. So glad to hear Skippy is still hanging in there. Saffy is doing well for an old lady. She’s pretty deaf now and has arthritis. We went to the integrative vet for her birthday, she got percussive chiropractic and accupuncture treatments. She also has a small lump on one of her nipples but we are going to watch it for now. Saffy says Hi to Skippy, one old gal to another

  81. I am so glad I found this thread, I went out this morning to get my running buddy “gussy” just to find him a corner shaking, unable to move. I was sure he had a stroke, he also appeared to be blind. We rushed him to the vet (where he still is) and she said it looked like he had a Vestibular episode, by this time I had found this thread and was hopeful he would make it through. But things are not looking too well for our friend, he is nine years old akita mix, he was a rescue, we have had him since he was a baby. We lost my ten year Akita in Nov to seizures, lost my horse almost two weeks ago, (34 yrs old) this is just another blow. My husband is sitting with him as I read this, they gave him some steroids hoping to reduce the swelling. He wasn’t sick that I know of. Has anyone seen or heard of a dog losing their sight completely? I want to have hope, he is a big part of our family. The only thing he could move was his front legs, the rest of him he was unable to move. I think he had an attack last year, we found him down in his back and thought he fell off his dog house, (likes to lay up there) they gave him some shots then and he came out of it. I don’t want him to suffer, but how long should we wait this out? I don’t want to make a hasty decision. We love him so much!

    1. I would give him at least a few days. He will either get worse, or a little better. Recovery is prtty slow from this. My 13 year old Lab (now 14) had vestibular attack last May. She is still wobbly but she recovered at least 80%. There is no real treatment for vestibular but the symptoms can be treated with Dramamine (1 mg/lb of body weight). Also get some easy to eat foood for him. – I got Science Diet from vet, any high quality canned food would be fine. As for losing sight, he might just be so dizzy that he can’t focus. Please let us know how he does.

  82. Just a quick update, our Gussy is not responding to treatment, has no feeling in his legs or feet, still cannot see. The vet says we may need to prepare ourselves for the worse, they are thinking now maybe a brain tumor. We will check back with him in the morning and see if there has been any change. I have lost so many dear people and pets, this never gets any easier.

  83. He cannot see at all, he won’t respond to even my husbands voice now. he wont drink. he also forces his head against the wall and can’t do anything but claw when he does move. His eyes are not moving at all, he just stares straight ahead. Thank you for your reply I am still trying to think positive, I went through many seizures with my other baby, this is just as hard.

  84. Well Awesome News! Gussy got to return home, the vet does not think he has this disorder but something caused excessive swelling on the brain, he has to take steroids for a few days and we need to keep him quiet. but otherwise he seems fine besides being a little clingy. This is so bizarre. I am just grateful we were able to bring him home wagging his tail as opposed to the other option. We were so scared. Thank you all for this post though, it was really insightful, I had no idea about this condition.

  85. He may have GME – Granulomatous meningoencephalomyelitis – this is a form of Meningitis that affects mostly small dogs. It’s basically inflammation of the brain. Steriod therapy is the way to go so it sounds like you are doing the right thing. My Pom Pom has it and he cannot see very well, presses his head to the wall, gets disoriented and stuck in places and wanders around the house aimlessly. I will pray for Gussy that he gets and feels better.

  86. I am so glad I found this site. My lab of 12 yrs. started limping a little on his hind leg. Then he would not eat his dog food, just treats. I took him to the vet, every thing looked okay, weight loss, a slight fever so he got antibiotics and I fed him anything he would eat. But then he stopped eating, leaning toward the left, then his right front leg went stiff. Blood work was okay. The vet gave him a cortisone shot, pills and muscle relaxers, thinking a pinched nerve. Feeding him bland foods. But the twitching came back and worse. I read the symptoms here and they describe him completely. The paralyzing of his right side is now on its 4th day. Calling the vet when they open. And yes the crying is hard, he yells when he has to go outside, trying to get up. I just comfort him so he will not feel embarrassed or bad. I have his litter mate and 2 older labs. This is so sad, especially since this may have been what was wrong with their sire 11 yrs. ago.

  87. Thank you fpr this site! I believe my dog has had this similar situation only I see on here that it happens in older dogs…mine is only 6 years old. Is this something normal in such a young dog? It has been 2 days and he is recovering but I see his one eye and mouth are drooping. He is a mixed dog, not sure exactly what he’s mixed with but they say beagle or hound for sure and maybe lab or german shephard. He weighs about 50pounds. And since it happened once does it always continue happening?

  88. Just an update….this site is a bit of a comfort board and I apologize if this is the wrong place but by posting I think I feel a little solace. My dog Molly did have vestibular disease last October (10 months ago) and managed to recover for the most part. We had taken her to the vet so I highly recommend it.

    However, she declined in quality of life pretty rapidly this summer and was unable to enjoy walks/runs (what she lived for) and had very little control of her hips and hind legs. She had a really great life for 14 years and I am very thankful to have had her from ages 12-26. I grew up with her and will cherish the memories. We had her put to sleep today and it’s very hard. I wish we could always know what our animals want, but we have to do the best we can. ❤ Molly 1999-2014

    1. Dear Haley, my deepest sympathy to you for your loss of Molly. My dear Lab, Saffy had vestibular in May 2013. She did recover with acupuncture and cold laser therapy. She turned 14 in February 2014 but in April she could no longer stand. She was unable to get up and she peed on herself. She was still aware of her surroundings and would eat and drink if I brought food to her. I always promised her I would do right by her. Putting her to sleep was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done but it was the right thing for her. I read something that gave me comfort ‘it is better to do it a little too soon than a little too late’. I was honored to be her caretaker. Someone sent me this when I lost Saffy:
      “The powerful sadness will only go away with time. It’s hard to believe how powerful it is, in fact. The death of a pet can’t equate to the death of a loved human being, can it? It shouldn’t. But it does. The only way not to feel such intense sadness is to never feel intense love. And that is certainly no way to live.” — Peter King

      1. Thank you so much for writing with your thoughtful, kind reply. I shared it with my mother as well and we both wanted to let you know that we appreciate your sentiments, and it helps. Grief is a very hard road, and your response makes it a little easier. I wish you well and Saffy was very lucky to have such a loving home.

  89. our dog had a vestibular attack yesterday,looking back she has probablely had to milder attacks before, but this one was much worse although she is recovering thank goodness.

  90. Thank you for posting this information. My Buddy (14 year old male black lab) appears to have suffered a stroke last Thursday evening. He was fine that evening and all of a sudden jumped up and spun around in a wide right hand circle, somewhat dragging his right hind leg. Then he fell over. I wasn’t sure what had just happened, so I check him for breaks or other injuries. He seemed to recognize me and didn’t appear to be in pain. Friday morning he was able to walk, though was very unstable in his hind end. He went into the kennel with my other two labs. When I arrived home from work, he was barking as usual and greeted me when I opened the kennel. He ran inside the house like he always did and looked fairly stable though I could see he was still having a little trouble. When he came back outside the stability was getting worse. His hind legs finally collapsed. He didn’t eat much that night. Saturday morning I took him to my vet.the vet suspected a back injury and prescribed pain and anti inflammatory meds. I noticed head tilting and a personality change so I went searching the Internet. The more I read, the more I believe Buddy has suffered a stroke and the paralyzes and balance issues I see are from a stroke. I see occasional moment of improvement, but nothing lasting. I’ll keep working with him over the next few weeks and am hoping he’ll recover enough to have quality of life again. Right now I have to hold up his hind so he can relieve himself. The strange part is how he remembers to go out the doggie door to relieve himself but doesn’t lay in the sun in the backyard like he use to do, now preferring to stay in the house. Thanks again for posting this very important information.

  91. I had a German shep/ lab mix since he was 6 weeks old. he started having the hip problems and he was having a really hard time getting up.. all though he seems very happy i know he was in pain. i gave him the meds everyday and they did seem to help him move better, but then he started to get distant. he would use the bathroom and go back inside very quickly. he vomited every time he ate or drank i took him to the vet but they could never find an issue.. one morning i woke up and my son ran upstairs saying he couldnt walk.. he was very wobbly and kept vomiting. hid eye was twitching and he was very presistant on trying to stand but kept falling.. i rushed him to the vet and she informed me that he was having a stroke and that some dogs do recover from this in 2 to 3 weeks but my max was going on 15 years old and she didnt think he was strong enough.. I didnt want to see hin suffer anymore and i swear i felt my heart stop when he left me as he laid in my lap after kissing me and my husband. i guess im just wondering if i did the right thing or should i have brought him home..i cry every day and i feel like a piece of my heart is gone and its my fault..

    1. Melinda, I had to put my 14 year old beloved Lab Saffy to sleep in April. She was still aware of her surroundings and would eat if I brought her food to her (she was a LAB!) but could no longer stand or walk. It was distressing for her to pee on herself because she could no longer get up. I could have kept her alive a bit longer but it would have been for me, not for her. Still, I had doubts like you do until I read something a vet wrote regarding letting pets go. He said, “it’s always better to do it a little too soon rather than a little too late”. You did the right thing for your dog. I know how hard it is, I will always miss my Saffy, the BEST DOG EVER.

  92. My 15year old collie cross went lame on his back legs on Sunday evening, on Monday he couldn’t walk at all, just dragging his back legs behind him we were Devestated his face was so sad and looked tired for the first time. we made the heartbreaking decision that we’d have 1more night together as a family and would get the vet in the next morning what a mistake that would have been. When I saw him on the Tuesday morning I couldn’t believe it my big boy was walking albeit a little wobbly but he was doing it. I was overjoyed but still very concerned what was it that had taken my boy so quickly??? After reading through many Internet sites I’ve found yours to be the most informative the symptoms your dog showed is exactly the same as Woody although his appetite was amazing throughout. I’m so glad we never gave up on him and that he never gave up on himself. He’s still recovering but getting stronger by the day. Thank you for educating us and I’m so sorry for your loss. Thanks Laura. England.

  93. Last night my 15 year old jack russell terrier (fudge) could not get out of his bed. For the last few weeks he had been acting strange, staring at walls, really sensitive spots on his tummy that would make his legs turn rapidly! Entertaining I thought, but as other weird attributes such as scratching his ears, not barking at the doorbell, falling down the stairs, weeing and pooing on the carpet right infront of us! And even panting randomly. I feel awful as we assumed he was just stressed as my dad had left us around the same time of these symptoms occurring and they were very close so It made sense? It seems all too obvious now we know he suffered a vestibular syndrome episode. It was awful to see a little bundle of energy turn lifeless, staring at me with his head tilted to the side and shaking uncontrollably. We physically had to put him in his bed and few minutes later he was sick and pooed himself without a second thought or effort to even attempt moving!My mum and I took him to the vets straight away to find out he needs to be kept overnight on a drip with steroids and anti sickness and we will find out tomorrow whether this is a random occurrence or there are more sinister causes I.e cancer, tumour etc. all we can do is pray he’ ll be ok but the vets are giving us hourly updates which is fab!

  94. This just happend to my Lab Roxy about 45 minutes ago.. Scared the hell out of me.. I immediately thought she was having a stroke right then and there.. I thought it was the end.. But after about 30 minutes she seems to be okay.. walking and acting normal.. I’m in tears typing this.. but I am so relieved to have found this post when I googled her symptoms.. Now I understand what I am dealing with.. She just turned 14 this month..

  95. Seriously, thank you for not just the article, but the videos too. I came home from work late Saturday night to my 13 year old labrador falling over, stumbling, and his eyes rolling back and forth. I had no idea what was going on, so I called the e-vet, who of course just said I needed to bring him in. Glad I googled “my dog is stumbling around” first and came across this. It was exactly what he was doing. The video cinched it for me though. I went to the store and got some Dramamine and that seemed to help. At the least, it knocked him out so he could sleep. At best, it helped with the nausea. It’s been about 38 hours now and he’s doing much better. Eyes stopped going crazy, vomiting stopped, he’s drinking water and eating a little, and he’s not falling down quite as much. He’s still stumbling around like a drunken sailor, but I’m sure that will right itself too over the next several days. If it doesn’t, then I’ll take him in.

    1. It is scary and it’s hard to believe a dog can recover from this but they do. In addition to the Dramamine, I found a integrative vet (combines mainstream and holistic methods) and we used cold laser treatment on my Lab (we lost her in April 2014 at age 14). The cold laser treatment really helped her with the balance issues. I also got Science Diet Prescription canned food from vet and fed her that for about a week until her appetite got better. Good luck with your boy.

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