5 Essential Home Treatment Tips for
Old Dog Vestibular Disease

Has your old dog suddenly started to stumble and act drunk, developed a head tilt, can’t get up and as a result been diagnosed with old dog vestibular disease? If so you may have been told that with care and home treatment and management their chance of recovery is good - something that is thankfully very true!
While your dog is recovering from their bout of vestibular disease home treatment and management plays a very important role in getting your dog back on their feet as soon as possible, without suffering any unnecessary complications or prolonged illness.

What is vestibular disease?

The vestibular system, which includes the central vestibular system the brain and the outer vestibular system the inner and middle ears are responsible for maintaining balance. Problems with the current vestibular system can cause a sudden, non-progressive loss of balance. The main symptoms include head tilt to one side, walking instability or even inability to stand, eye tremor in transverse, longitudinal or circular motion, anorexia or vomiting, and salivation. Impaired vestibular balance can be caused by a variety of causes, including but not limited to middle and inner ear infections, toxic effects of drugs, trauma, tumors, and hypothyroidism. The presence of these symptoms after eliminating these causes is called unexplained vestibular disorder, or vestibular disease in older dogs. Vestibular disorders of unknown origin usually resolve spontaneously or can be treated with supportive therapy.

Etiology of vestibular disease

Exogenous stimulus:

This is one of the more common reasons. The vestibular nerve is damaged by an external inflammatory attack. Common external invasion channels are the five senses, especially the ear canal.
Let's talk more about vestibular syndrome caused by ear infection. Clinically we see dog vestibular syndrome, most are caused by ear canal infection. Dog ear canal inflammation is usually the initial inflammation of the external ear canal, then slowly developed into otitis media. If it is not controlled in time, it becomes an inner ear infection. The inner ear is located very close to the vestibular nerve, so once the inner ear is inflamed, bacteria usually infect the vestibular nerve across the blood-brain barrier. Dogs can get vestibular syndrome, and in severe cases meningitis can follow.

Endogenous stimulu:

Endogenous stimulus-induced vestibular syndrome in dogs is usually a central lesion, which is caused by some underlying disease in the body. The way of injury is usually downward, probably located in the vestibular nerve below the fourth ventricle in dogs, such as the most common brain tumor compression, cerebrovascular edema caused by trauma, etc..
Both types of vestibular syndrome in dogs have neurological and motor impairments. The difference is that exogenous vestibular syndrome is generally mild. After a dog develops neurological symptoms, most of his body is still under his control, and most of it can be cured. The pathogenesis of endogenous vestibular syndrome is complex. Dogs with neurological symptoms after the body is basically out of their own control, and most of the treatment is not significant and the prognosis is poor.

What are the common diseases that cause vestibular syndrome in dogs?

1. Inflammation of the ear canal
2. Sinusitis
3. Severe pulpitis
4. Head trauma
5. Brain tumor
6. Thyroid disease
7. Poisoning sequelae caused by various causes
8. Canine distemper sequela
9. Epilepsy complication
10. Ear canal tumor

What are the symptoms of vestibular syndrome in dogs?

Dog walks in circles or on one side

It is typical symptoms.


Since dogs are not like humans, it is difficult for dog owners to sense the symptoms of vertigo.

Unsteady walking, feeling that the dog could not walk

Endogenous tumors are more common.
Horizontal eye tremor. This is a typical vestibular syndrome symptom. Both causes of vestibular syndrome can cause horizontal eye tremor in dogs.


Usually caused by dizziness, but damage to the vomiting center may also occur.
Head to one side crooked: general exogenous cause vestibular syndrome, often appear this symptom.

Unable to stand the whole body

It is commonly caused by endogenous vestibular syndrome. It indicates that the disease is more serious, and most of the prognosis is poor.

How do we treat vestibular syndrome in dogs?

Treatment of vestibular syndrome caused by otitis media

The ear canal needs to be cleaned thoroughly. Use an anti-inflammatory drug for the ear canal, along with an anti-inflammatory drug that can cross the blood-brain barrier to reduce inflammation of the vestibular nerve.

Treatment of vestibular syndrome caused by tumor

The tumor was surgically removed. However, the tumor site is generally more special, so many times our pet medical conditions are not enough to treat. The general prognosis is poor except for ear canal tumors with surgery.

5 Essential Home Treatment Tips for Old Dog Vestibular Disease

Prevent pressure sores.

Dogs with vestibular disease often lie on the ground, which can easily cause pressure sores. In some cases, the treatment can be challenging or painful on the skin around them, such as the dog's hind legs. So we try to encourage our dogs to stay within reasonable limits. We don't want to force them to do more than they can do. But if they don't move at all, we need to rotate them from side to side every few hour. Make sure they have very soft and comfortable bedding.
Usually our older dogs might be a little thin, and they might have lost the muscles around the hips, so those bones that stick out are more likely to develop bedsores. Keep bedding soft and clean as well. If your dog has had an accident, change the bedding immediately, bathe them and dry the area where they urinate, as this will prevent the skin from turning red and sour.

Make sure they eat and drink plenty.

For dogs with vestibular disease, ensuring adequate hydration is just as important as getting enough calories. We can encourage the dog to drink more water by putting ice cubes in the bowl or adding some seasoning. Also, be sure to avoid foods high in salt for your dog. You can cook some soup with chicken and vegetables. You can also choose something that you know your dog likes, such as something with a strong taste and smell. Try heating the food or hand-feeding the dog, as the dog may not be willing to stand up to eat.

Try to avoid anxiety.

Dogs get very anxious when they don't understand why they're struggling, why they're not getting something, or why their heads seem to be spinning. So you need to spend more time with your dog and reassure them. You certainly don't have to spend all your time petting them, you just need to be there for the dog and have a gentle conversation with the dog. You can also get your dog a favorite toy or a comfortable mat. At last. If your dog becomes anxious, consider taking an anti-anxiety medication or a supplement such as CBD oil.

Keep in close contact with your veterinarian.

There are many other conditions that can cause very similar symptoms. One extreme case could be a brain tumor. So be sure to follow your vet's advice and make a scientific diagnosis. Take it to the vet to rule out any possible illness. When vestibular disease is determined, antibiotics and steroids are usually used to block inflammation, anti-vertigo drugs are used to reduce nausea, and intravenous drips are given to replenish fluids.

Help your old dog avoid injury.

Help your old dog avoid injury. When dogs get disoriented or stumble around, they are vulnerable to injury. There are many things we can do to prevent these dangers. We can stop the dog from lying on the slippery floor or putting the dog's bed on the slippery floor. Try non-slip carpets to make sure your dog doesn't slip when walking on them.
If your dog is unsteady on its feet, try wearing a brace. You can put a towel or a sheet under their belly, just in front of their hind legs. Provide a little extra support and stability to help them get around and help them avoid injuries from falls. Use a heating therapy brace to relax muscles while stabilizing them.

Heat therapy promotes healing by increasing blood flow to the muscles. Increased blood flow delivers more oxygen, white blood cells, platelets, and essential nutrients – all of which contribute to the remission of vestibular disease in dogs.

Sensory nerves respond to applied heat by releasing chemical messengers that dilate local blood vessels and enhance the speed of blood flow. Both the applied heat and the increased blood flow help the skin temperature rise to match the body’s core temperature.

Heat also transfers from the skin surface deep into the muscles, and improves blood circulation into the muscles.