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Dr. Andy
Dr. Andy, Medical Director
Category: Dog Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 29956
Experience:  UC Davis graduate, emphasis in dermatology, internal medicine, pain management
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I have 2 yorkies, brother and sister that are over 14 yrs old.

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I have 2 yorkies, brother and sister that are over 14 yrs old. Today when I got home, Charlie walks with his head tipped to the side and walks in circles to the right. He doesn't seem to be in pain, but seems disoriented. He had thrown-up, also. Is this a possible stroke?
Welcome! My name isXXXXX am a UC Davis graduate, and currently, a Medical Director of a veterinary hospital.

I am sorry to hear about this concern for Charlie.

What you are describing sounds consistent with possible vestibular disease.
The most common symptoms can occur in any combination and include: head tilting, walking in circles, vomiting,
fast eye movements back and forth (nystagmus) or the eyes pinned to one direction (strabismus), and/or drunk-like walking

Vestibular Disease in Dogs

Generally, vestibular disease is caused by either:
1. Central disease which includes anything within the brain
2. Peripheral disease which includes problems outside the brain like inner ear infections, toxin exposure, organ problems
3. Old Dog Vestibular Disease. No known cause found on any tests and possibly attributed to having a stroke

Initial testing usually includes a basic blood profile, which should be done immediately. To help with nausea and motion sickness, many vets will recommend giving Meclizine:


If a blood test does not reveal any abnormalities, additional testing would possibly include:
- to check for evidence of inflammation or infection within the spinal cord or brain.

So, yes, a stroke would have to be one consideration for what is going on, but I would not assume it. Some dogs do have idiopathic vestibular disease, and we find nothing on testing.
Definitely, well worth a immediate vet visit for evaluation.

Very sorry to hear about this complication for Charlie and will hope for a speedy recovery.
Please let me know if there is anything I did not cover for you. I hope that information has been helpful.
Please remember to select Reply to Expert, if for any reason you need further clarification, have more questions, or were expecting a different type of answer. DO NOT rate yet if have any other questions. My goal is to try and provide you the best answer possible.
Dr. Andy

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

So its something he can recover from? His sister had a similar issue but went backwards in circles. A possible genetic thing?

Not sure.
Really need to do initial testing to see what may or may not be going on.

We just don't know at this point. Because if it is due to a stroke, inner ear infection, or possible cancer, then we won't know about recovery chances yet.

Yes, I cannot rule-out a genetic issue, but at this age, I am more inclined to think of a medical cause instead.

Hope that additional information helps. Definitely, reply to me if there is any other way I may assist you. I hope my responses have been satisfactory?
Dr. Andy
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