Should You Put A Dog Down With Vestibular Disease [Life or Farewell]

Zack Keithy, our author, is a certified veterinarian technician (UC Blue Ash) for over 6 years (contact him here). The articles written here are based on his expertise and experience, combined with a review by our expert vet reviewers including Dr M. Tarantino. Learn more about us here.

No, vestibular disease itself is not a reason to euthanize a dog. Most cases of canine vestibular disease are idiopathic (meaning the cause is unknown) and many dogs recover with supportive care. Euthanasia should be considered based on the dog’s overall quality of life, not solely on a vestibular disease diagnosis. I recommend that you consult with a veterinarian first before making a decision like this.

Is your furry friend suddenly stumbling, head tilting, and acting disoriented? I know it’s a heart-wrenching sight for any dog owner, one that I’ve witnessed a few times during my time as a vet tech.

Vestibular disease is a terrible experience that can happen to any dog and in some cases can lead owners to want to take drastic measures.

But before you make any decisions, read on first because you will learn the causes, symptoms, and possibly a few important information that can save your dog’s life.

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What Causes Vestibular Disease In Dogs?

Ever wondered why some dogs seem off-balance? In many situations, it’s a case of vestibular disease. 

Let’s look at the main reasons why this might happen:

  • Ear Problems: Just like a bad earache can make us feel weird, our canines can feel dizzy if they have ear infections.
  • Bumps and Falls: If a dog hits its head hard or falls, it might make it feel unsteady.
  • Medicine Side Effects: Some medicines can make dogs feel like everything’s spinning, just like some medicines can make us feel strange.
  • Being an Older Dog: Sometimes, older dogs just get dizzy without a clear reason. It’s one of those mysteries of nature!

How Does A Dog With Vestibular Disease Feel?

How Does A Dog With Vestibular Disease Feel

Your furry friend with vestibular disease feels like they’re on a never-ending merry-go-round. 

You know that dizzy feeling you get after spinning around too fast? That’s what they’re experiencing. It’s disorienting and can be scary for them. 

They might tilt their head, stumble, or even roll over. 

It’s not just a simple bad day; it’s a whirlwind for them. 

While they don’t understand what’s happening, your support, patience, and a visit to the vet can guide them back to steadier ground. 

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What Are The Symptoms Of Vestibular Disease In Dogs?

Has your pup been acting a bit off lately, and you’re scratching your head wondering why? 

I totally get it. Don’t stress! 

We’ll go over the main signs to look out for. 

  • Wobbly Walking: Dogs may walk unsteadily or seem disoriented.
  • Head Tilting: There’s often a noticeable tilt to one side.
  • Rapid Eye Movement: Their eyes might move side to side or up and down quickly.
  • Nausea: Dogs can become nauseated, leading to increased drooling or vomiting.
  • Falling or Rolling Over: They may lose their balance, potentially falling over or even rolling.

Seeing our pups go through this isn’t easy. 

But the GOOD NEWS? With our care and a vet’s help, many dogs bounce back and feel better.

How Do Vets Treat Vestibular Disease In Dogs?

How Do Vets Treat Vestibular Disease In Dogs

If our furry friends ever get this dizzy spell called vestibular disease, here’s how vets usually help them out:

  • Supportive Care: Think of this as giving dogs the “extra TLC” they need. This could be making sure they drink enough, eat properly, and don’t feel too sick. Sometimes, they get medicine, like meclizine or Cerenia, to help them not feel nauseous.
  • Ear Infections: Sometimes, the problem is an ear infection. Like when we get sick, they might need medicine – antibiotics or antifungals – to help them get better.
  • Inflammation Reduction: If parts inside the dog’s body are swollen, they might get a medicine (corticosteroids) to help calm things down.
  • Motion Sickness Medicine: Feeling dizzy isn’t fun. To help, dogs can get special medicine so the world doesn’t feel like it’s spinning.
  • Chill at Home: Often, especially with older dogs, they just need some time to get better. This means making sure they’re cozy and safe at home, under watchful eyes.

Can A Dog Die From Vestibular Disease?

No, the disease itself usually doesn’t cause dogs to pass away. 

But here’s the thing: if a dog gets super dizzy from it, it might not eat or drink properly and could feel pretty weak. 

Or, imagine you had a constant spinning feeling and accidentally bumped into things; that’s how they might feel too. 

Sometimes, it’s because of an ear problem that needs treatment. 

The KEY? Always check in with a vet if you’re worried.

How Long Can Dogs Live With Vestibular Disease?

Vestibular disease in dogs can sound super scary, but here’s some good news. 

Many dogs, especially the older ones, often have a type called idiopathic vestibular disease.” It’s a fancy term, but it basically means the cause is UNKNOWN. 

The awesome part? Most dogs recover from it in a matter of days to a few weeks. 

For other causes, like ear infections, once they’re treated, the symptoms usually improve. It’s like when we catch a cold; it’s rough for a bit, but with some care, we bounce back. 

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How Do You Home Nurse A Dog With Vestibular Disease?

Taking care of our furry buddies when they’re not feeling their best can tug at our heartstrings, right? 

If your pup has vestibular disease, here are some simple, caring steps you can take at home:

  1. Cozy Spot: Make sure they have a comfy, safe place to rest. A soft bed in a quiet room can do wonders!
  2. Avoid Stairs: Keep them on one floor if you can. We don’t want any tumble-down moments!
  3. Food & Water: Some pups might feel too dizzy to eat or drink. Try hand-feeding them or using shallow bowls.
  4. Potty Breaks: Assist them during bathroom breaks. Just like we’d help a friend, support them if they’re wobbly.
  5. Watch Out for Other Pets: If you’ve got other furballs, make sure they play nice. The sick one needs peace and gentle company.
  6. Medicines: If the vet prescribes any meds, make sure they get them on time.

Every dog’s a bit different, so keep an eye on your buddy and see what helps them most.

Should You Put Down A Dog With Vestibular Disease?

Oh, what a heavy-heart question! 

Deciding when, or if, to euthanize a beloved pet is deeply personal and tough. 

The silver lining with vestibular disease? Many dogs recover on their own, especially if it’s the idiopathic type, which tends to get better in a few days to weeks.

However, always consider quality of life. 

If they’re in constant discomfort, not responding to treatments, or have other health issues making things harder, then it’s a conversation to have with your vet. 

They can provide guidance on prognosis and quality of life. 

Remember, it’s all about ensuring our fur buddies have the best, most comfortable life possible. Sending strength your way!

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When Should A Dog With Vestibular Disease Be Euthanized?

Oh, this is one of the TOUGHEST questions any pet parent can face. 

First off, hugs to you. 

Vestibular disease often looks worse than it feels for the dog, and many bounce back in a few days to weeks. 

Euthanasia should only be considered based on quality of life, not the disease alone.

Key considerations:

  • Ongoing Pain/Discomfort: Is your dog in constant distress, even with treatment?
  • Other Health Issues: Are there other illnesses making recovery tougher?
  • No Improvement: Has there been no change after treatment and adequate time?

Always have a heartfelt chat with your vet. 

They’ll give you the best advice for your furry buddy’s specific situation. Remember, your love and care for them shine through even in these tough decisions.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Does vestibular disease in dogs recur?

Yes, vestibular disease can recur in dogs. It’s like when people get dizziness or balance issues. Sometimes, older dogs get it without a known reason. While many recover, they can experience it again later. Always consult a vet if your dog shows signs of imbalance or dizziness.

Are some breeds more prone to vestibular disease?

Yes, some dog breeds are more prone to vestibular disease. Older dogs are generally more at risk. Breeds like the Doberman or German Shepherd might be more susceptible. Always check with a vet about breed-specific health concerns.

Can old dog vestibular disease be prevented?

Old dog vestibular disease can’t be entirely prevented since its exact cause is often unknown. However, regular vet check-ups and a healthy lifestyle might reduce risks. If your dog acts dizzy or off-balance, it’s important to see a vet.

Can a dog get vestibular disease twice?

Yes, a dog can get vestibular disease more than once. Imagine catching a cold; just because you’ve had it once doesn’t mean you won’t get it again. Some dogs experience multiple episodes in their lifetime. If your dog shows repeated signs of dizziness or head tilting, consult your vet.

Can vestibular disease cause deafness in dogs?

Vestibular disease primarily affects balance in dogs, by making them dizzy. While it’s related to the ear, it doesn’t usually cause deafness. However, ear infections, which can sometimes lead to vestibular symptoms, might impact hearing. If you notice your dog having balance issues and not responding to sounds, visit your vet.

In Conclusion: Should You Put A Dog Down With Vestibular Disease

The journey of dealing with vestibular disease in your canine companion is undoubtedly a rollercoaster of emotions. 

We’ve delved into the complexities of this condition, offering insights into both the challenges and the potential for recovery. 

Remember, your dog’s well-being is paramount, and while the decision to put a dog down with vestibular disease is a deeply personal one, it should always be made with love, care, and the guidance of a trusted veterinarian.

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Zack Keithy
Zack Keithy

Hey, I'm Zack, the Chief Editor here. I was formerly a Certified Veterinary Technician (CVT) for a good 6 years before moving on to greener pastures. Right now, I am still heavily involved in dog parenting duties, and it is my desire to share all our knowledge with fellow dog owners out there! Connect with me on LinkedIn, or read more about Canine Care Central!

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