Jayadeva's Brooklyn: Dogs, Babies and Love in Sunset Park

My life in Brooklyn, now with my baby, and fellow dog lover, by my side.

Monday, December 31, 2007

Geriatric Vestibular Syndrome or Canine Idiopathic Vestibular Syndrome or Jaya's Not Feeling Well

Geriatric Vestibulitis/Ataxia

A story by James W.Barr III

Written by Max Bielohuby I

Clinical signs:

Signs of vestibular disease include ataxia, head tilt, and abnormal nystagmus. A wide-based stance and swaying of the head and trunk characterize ataxia. The patient may tend to lean and fall to one side. In severe cases, the animal may continuously roll to one side. Head tilt is an abnormal position of the head such that one ear is held lower than the other. Nystagmus is a rhythmic movement of the eyes, where the eyes move back and forth or up and down. In some cases of vestibular disease, there is a sudden onset of severe signs. This may initially be confused with a seizure.


Identification of vestibular dysfunction is based on recognition of the specific signs. The veterinarian diagnoses the cause of the disorder with a medical history and examination. In some cases, further diagnostic tests, such as x-rays, computed tomography, or magnetic resonance imaging is necessary. Diagnosis is based on the signs and excluding other causes of vestibular dysfunction. Affected dogs improve spontaneously within 2 weeks, although there may be a mild, persistent head tilt. Nursing care is important during recovery. Unfortunately, affected dogs are sometimes euthanized because of the severe signs and concerns that the patient has a brain tumor or stroke.

The problem seems to be due to inflammation in the nerves connecting the inner ear to the cerebellum (which controls balance and spatial orientation). It usually lasts between a couple of days and three weeks. A few dogs have residual signs beyond this time, such as a head tilt. Most dogs will not eat or drink unless hand-fed or given water by hand because they have a hard time with the fine motor movements necessary to eat or drink from a bowl. As long as they are nursed through this condition almost all dogs will recover. There is no known treatment. Some dogs do have relapses but most do not.

At this time, Jaya is still being cared for by Dr. Morehouse at

Animal Kind Vetinary Hospital.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Please Update on Jaya ~ how did things turn out??

Eileen, owner of 14 yr old beagle displaying condition

Wednesday, March 26, 2008 10:16:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have a terrier mix who was diagnosed with lymes disease (although they lost the bloodwork before they got conclusive results back) - and a herniated disk (without xray) $600.00 in emergency clinic - now I believe he has Geriatric Vestibular Disease with rapid eye movement, leaning and falling to one side, refusal of food (although today is better) having a difficult time eating from his dog bowls, ect. I will see if by giving lots of attention and TLC, if in 3 weeks this gets better, which seems to be the maximum time frame for this disease to subside. Most dogs to not relapse, but our dog had an episode June 27th and now again yesterday, August 23rd.

Sunday, August 24, 2008 4:17:00 PM  
Blogger Jennifer Convissor said...

Thanks for your comment. If you are planning on waiting this out, I would suggest considering canine anti-nausia medication, b/c this condition makes our pooches incredibly dizzy. Well wishes and let me know how it goes. - Jennifer

Monday, August 25, 2008 12:11:00 PM  

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