Our good old chocolate lab Rocky is 13 1/2 years old and just spent a couple of the days at the vet having treatment for "Old Dog" vestibular disease. It's peripheral, which is good, meaning no central problems like a brain tumor or lesion. He had an MRI and they also took some spinal fluid - the MRI was clear and he has no signs of infection. So now we're just giving him time - the vet said it could be 2-3 weeks before he gets back to normal. He does have a head tilt to the left now and he's walking a bit like he's drunk. But he's getting around the house okay and we help with the stairs in and out of the house plus use a harness for walks. Just wondering if anyone else has experienced this with their senior dog and how long did it take to clear up? Did the problem come back? We're really happy that Rocky is doing better and we're just wanting to know if there's anything else we should do. Thanks! Caroline
Yep, my sister's dog had it when he was 12. Laddie was worse, he could not walk. Sis put her back out lifting nearly 50 pounds of dog a couple of times a day to take him out to bathroom. Her Vet said it typically lasts a month to a month and a half and typically recovery is as sudden as onset. Bang on a month Laddie just stood up and walked again. He was able to take a few steps outside on the grass before the month. Rocky's case sounds much, much milder.
Laddie lived another 4 years. He retained a bit of head tilt which lessened as time went by. In two years only a careful observer would know his head was tilted at all. Laddie never had it again.
Since Rocky can walk your job is much easier than it was for my Sis. The dogs get very dizzy and you might see some vomit which is attributable to a mild motion sickness like effect. I'd be very, very careful with him on the stairs, give him lots of support, maybe use the harness on the stairs as well. Be careful he does not get a panic from feeling dizzy and do himself harm in his reaction.
BTW, it's not just an ailment of old dogs. Geriatric Vestibular Disease happens mostly to older dogs but much younger dogs can have it too.
Hang in there Caroline. We had the same thing happen to our chocolate lab. It is the worst feeling coming home seeing her eye (she only had one) rolling in the back of her head and her struggling to get up. We felt so helpless. We assumed it was a stroke as we knew nothing about Vestibular disorder. The vet assured us most dogs recover quite quickly. However, after two days in the hospital we saw no improvement. We called our personal vet (who also practices Eastern medicine). We brought Brownie Girl home that night at her request. She met us at our home and said it was her goal to get Brownie up and walking that night. After one round of electro-accupucture Brownie got up on her own. I was the biggest skeptic when it came to Eastern meds and acupuncture, but after our yellow lab, Haley, was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma I was willing to try anything. Brownie recovered quite nicely after a week or two and it never happened again.
My 14 yo F had this last year. She recovered fully within two weeks and there has been no recurrence. Good luck to you and your boy.
Thank you everyone for your supportive words. Rocky is improving - still leaning a bit and a little unsteady but getting better. He does seem to be sleeping a whole lot but I can't really tell if that's because he's tired, still a bit dizzy, it's the pain medication (that he takes regularly, even before this incident), just old age or that it's hot (he spends a lot of time in front of the AC). Maybe a combination of everything. But once he's up he eats well and enjoys his walks. Caroline
Our dog, Shasta, started doing the same thing a few days ago. She's 12 1/2. All the same symptoms. Does anyone with experience with this know if riding in the car seems to make it worse? We have three labs and they all love to ride in the truck. We want to take them for a ride, but don't want to make it any worse.