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Zach has had those dog strokes in the past so I am familiar with the head tilt. Yes he does seem to have that again. Tonight when I went out to the kennel he was in his dog house and he could not get up. His hind legs are the problem. When I get him up he can't seem to get his balance. He does not seem to be in any pain. He did manage to finally get going but then just fell to one side. He did eat but he was having trouble licking up the food but he did finally get through it. I realize he is 15 but this is a double field trial champion who was hunting just last march and swam in the pool all summer. He is a total stud even at 15. He is in his crate now and seems to be resting comfortably. He was also barking as if disoriented and even when i would pet him he did not stop. He did finally stop when he got in his kennel.
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 he may have from not eating or feeling well.
Thanks. That sums up what I have observed quite well. I will get him to the vet in the morning to follow up. I don't think there is an need to see the ER vet tonight. Thanks for your help.
Zach is doing OK. I spoke to my vet on Monday and he thought the same thing as you did. But as things did not improve much after that we went in to visit and they now feel it is something more extensive. They gave him a large dose of steroids and it seems to have helped. He is 15+ years old and there is not much that can be done. We can't turn the clock back. It is always very sad when their days are coming to an end. But I will always remember the hundreds of days in the field hunting together over the last 15 years and it will always bring a smile.
Thank you very much for your help and concern.
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BTW he was 13 years old in this picture. What a stud!