2001-Wed Oct 18 14:42:07 EDT 2017
Vetstreet. All rights reserved. Powered by Brightspot.
Vetstreet does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. See Additional Information ›
A. It may happen again, but your vet is correct: Old Dog Vestibular Disease — veterinarians call it simply ODV — isn’t as bad as it looks or sounds. And that’s good, because it can seem pretty bad when your pet is stricken with it.
When old dogs get ODV, they usually develop a sudden loss of balance accompanied by a head tilt. To them the world seems to be spinning, and they may roll on the ground and may even vomit from motion sickness. Because the onset of symptoms can come on an old dog so quickly and so dramatically, it’s natural to jump to the conclusion that a pet is near death or that euthanasia needs to be considered. But this is one situation where we veterinarians get to deliver some good news when the worst seems to be at hand.
My friend Dr. Tony Johnson, a board-certified specialist in emergency and critical care and professor at the Purdue University School of Veterinary Medicine, explains what it feels like for a dog with ODV:
It’s like the game kids play where they spin around and stop suddenly: The world just keeps on spinning. With kids, the spinning slows down and stops after a few minutes, but for dogs the spinning can go on for days.… If you look closely at the eyes of a dog suffering from ODV, his eyes rapidly dart back and forth (a condition called nystagmus) as if he is watching an unseen tennis match.
Signs of ODV can vary somewhat. For example, not all dogs get nystagmus, but some are so off-balance that they can’t sit up, stand or walk. And not all dogs vomit, but they may be so nauseous that they drool excessively. Nobody really knows why some old dogs get this condition. It may indeed be like a small stroke, what in people is called a transient ischemic attack, or TIA. It might also be an inflammation of the inner ear (the vestibular system, which controls our sense of balance).
Some dogs can be treated at home and will need only medication for motion sickness and maybe a little old-dog pampering and hand-feeding. For other dogs, typically those with serious health problems or vomiting, a couple days in the hospital on fluids and medication may be necessary.
Following up with your veterinarian is essential. Since ODV shares symptoms with more serious health problems, if a dog doesn’t return to normal in a few days, it’s time for more diagnostics.
Like this article? Have a point of view to share? Let us know!
Take our breed quiz to find your next pet.
Bartonella is a type bacteria that can be transmitted to cats, dogs and humans from exposure to infected fleas and…
Want to give your pup yummy, low-calorie treats? We’ve got the skinny on which foods are OK to feed him.
Not sure about food puzzles? Our veterinarian reveals why the payoff for your pet is well worth any extra work.
With these simple dental care tips, you can help keep your canine’s adorable smile shiny and healthy for life.
The friendly and inquisitive LaPerm has an easy-care coat that comes in a variety of colors and patterns.
Check out our collection of more than 250 videos about pet training, animal behavior, dog and cat breeds and more.
Wonder which dog or cat best fits your lifestyle? Our new tool will narrow down more than 300 breeds for you.
If the video doesn't start playing momentarily,
please install the latest version of Flash.
Thank you for subscribing.