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Lisa, Certified Vet Tech
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 16068
Experience:  AAS Vet Tech. Bully breed rehab & Behavior modification
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my elderly mix breed cant hold her head up, she is still eating

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my elderly mix breed cant hold her head up, she is still eating and drinking with assistance. she cant stand on her own or walk farther than a few steps. her gums are grey and her tongue is protruding out her mouth. im so scared for her.
Hello! My name is XXXXX XXXXX it will be my pleasure to help you with your dog today.

How long has Heidi been like this?

Did it come on suddenly?

Is her head tilted to the side?

If you're looking in her eyes, are they kind of wobbly?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

just carried her out to pee. she could stand and took a few steps back toward the house. but kept hanging her head. Head not tilted to either side. eyes are wild and darting back and forth. when I lift her chin up it just falls right back down. its like she has no muscle control. she has gotten progressively worse in the last 3 days.

Thanks for answering my questions Rosemarie. I really appreciate it.

It sounds to me like your girl may have picked up a case of 'old dog disease'. The real name isXXXXX which is also referred to as peripheral vestibular syndrome (the current "preferred name"), geriatric vestibular syndrome and idiopathic vestibular syndrome.


This disorder is more common in older dogs and thus the name geriatric vestibular syndrome -- but it can occur in middle aged dogs, too, so the name was changed. Idiopathic just means "happens for no known cause" -- so it is a good name but not the preferred one. It does sum up the situation well, though.


For some reason dogs can suddenly develop vestibular disease. 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. This disease normally affects dogs that seem normal up until the signs appear. Then there is sudden loss of balance with many dogs unable to even stand up. Rhythmic eye motion known as nystagmus is usually present. Dogs may be nauseous from the "sea sickness" effect of vestibular disease. 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, although many vets will send out medications to help with the nausea associated with the head tilt and the nystagmus (shimmering eyes).


Some dogs do have relapses but most do not.


Usually, if this is vestibular syndrome, it will clear up in a few days to a week. However, since she is an older girl, it may be best to have your vet take a peek in the morning and get her on some anti-nausea medication and/or fluids to correct any imbalances she may have from not eating or feeling well.



Even after you rate/accept my answer, please come back and let me know how she's doing.

Lisa and 3 other Dog Specialists are ready to help you
Hi Rosemarie,

I'm just following up on our conversation about Heidi. How is everything going?


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