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Old August 7th, 2014, 06:08 PM
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Vestibulitis

Our poor dog Timber is almost 14 and yesterday after eating dinner she suddenly started to stumble. I thought she was having a heart attack or stroke and really thought this was it. She came inside and her eyes started to rapidly move from side to side then I remembered my brother's senior dog who had two bouts of vestibulitis. The horizontal eye movement, head tilt and inability to walk are classic symptoms but I was still pretty worried. As she tried to get off her bed she just collapsed and it was difficult to see her in such extreme distress. She was shaking with fear and I couldn't comfort her. This is day two and our vet recommended waiting a day or two to see if the symptoms subside. The other thing to worry about is the nasal tumor perhaps causing this but I feel it came on too suddenly and her head tilt is on the right while the tumor is on the left but who really knows. Trying to keep positive. Otherwise she has been doing so well for her age. The positive thing is that she is still eating a little and drinking lots with no sign of nausea.

Just thought I'd post to see if anyone else has experienced this and if you have any advice. It sounds like time is the key but it has been hard to get a 65lb dog outside to pee and try to stabilize her. A few times she fell so hard so we put a scarf around her tummy and walk with her but she is really hesitant to move.
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Old August 7th, 2014, 07:03 PM
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Grace has had a bout of vestibulitis--but luckily is just a wee little thing of about 35 lbs, so it was easier on her human folk. She seemed to feel dizzy and did a lot of staggering--and she had that look that told us she was feeling at least odd, if not uncomfortable. We just waited it out. It can take a fairly long time for the symptoms to resolve, though in Grace's case the stumbling disappeared quite quickly (within a week or so, as I recall). The head tilt took almost a year to resolve, though.

I hope Timber starts improving quickly! Is she still shaking? Poor girl. Give her a big hug for me!
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Old August 7th, 2014, 07:19 PM
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Thanks hazelrunpack. Yes, she still shakes when we get her up and try to get her outside to pee. That was always her fear reaction in the past to thunderstorms etc. She obviously has no idea why this is happening and it seems to give her much anxiety. She is so stiff when we get her up she really doesn't want to move. It must be strange to feel that disoriented. I really hope we see some type of improvement in the next two days but it has only been 24 hours now since this started. They say there should be a marked improvement within 72 hours and she might show symptoms for 1-2 weeks. My brother's dog is 17 and she has had two episodes. Unfortunately, she still has a head tilt and is fairly wobbly. This seems permanent since it has been months since the last episode.

I'm glad your Grace got better after a week. Just curious how old she was at the time? Was there any known cause in her case?
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Old August 8th, 2014, 07:39 AM
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It was called Geriatric Vestibular Disease when my sister's dog got it at age 12. Geriatric is a misnomer as it happens to young dogs too. Her Vet said most dogs do recover and that recovery is typically as sudden as onset. He predicted Laddie would be better in one to one and a half months. The eye movement only lasted half a day. A month to the day Laddie just suddenly stood up and walked again. Laddie was unable to stand up, let alone walk, for the whole month except he could do a bit outside on the grass. Laddie was given antibiotic as a "just in case" I think. Sis had to carry him in and out to toilet and put her back out doing it. The Vet said to hold Laddie's paws when she carried him as their feet dangling when they are so disoriented seems very, very distressing to them. So Sis had help when she could get it. Laddie retained some head tilt but by 2 years later only someone who knew him very well could see it as it diminished as time went on. Time went on till Laddie was well over 16; he walked, ran, played and then slowed down again as he got very old. Good luck with Timber.
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Old August 8th, 2014, 11:25 AM
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I believe Grace was 6 when she had her episode--so definitely not just in geriatric dogs.

Any improvement today?
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Old August 9th, 2014, 01:38 PM
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Thank you for your replies. It is interesting to hear all the different experiences with this.

We didn't have a great night but I see a slow improvement. She is now able to walk on her own around the house but has a lot of trouble lying down. We try and help her but she is very reluctant as I'm sure she feels she will fall. Same with the stairs to get off the deck. Even though she can't get down, we try and help by wrapping a scarf around her tummy and guiding her but she would rather not go at all even though her bladder is about to burst. She's too heavy for me to lift so I struggle to get her down and she tends to panic when she feels she might fall. Last night she needed to go out, but once we woke up and realized she was at the door, she had an accident. The rapid eye movement is even slower than yesterday so that is good but she hasn't eaten anything in two days. She is drinking water but has no appetite but this is fairly common. I shouldn't say she didn't eat anything, she did have a spoonful of peanut butter but that is all she would accept even though I cooked three types of meat with veggies. Overall, she is heading in the right direction so that is good but you sure need to have patience.
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Old August 9th, 2014, 05:38 PM
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Saying a prayer that she's even better tomorrow!
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Old August 9th, 2014, 06:08 PM
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Thanks hazelrunpack,
I would feel better if she ate something. I tried some ham which I thought would be irresistible and she did have a few bites but that was it. She is still drinking. I guess she will eat when she feels like it but it makes me worry. She is sleeping so much and hopefully that will help her to heal.
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Old August 9th, 2014, 06:56 PM
Lynne&Co. Lynne&Co. is offline
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I'm sorry your girl Timber is unwell. Not familiar with what's going on with her but wanted to send good wishes your way Hope she's on the mend soon!
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Old August 10th, 2014, 12:35 PM
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Thankyou Lynn&Co.

Today she seems more stable and was able to get up the deck stairs herself, just has trouble going down and still no appetite. She likes cheese and peanut butter still so I tried to mix some peanut butter in with some lamb broth but she maybe had a 1/8 cup. I tried an egg with cheese but that didn't work. My husband thinks I'm trying too hard and that she will eat when she's ready but I just wasn't sure how long she can go without food and I didn't want her to get weak. Still drinking more than enough water and therfore up multiple times in the night to pee. Our older dog also goes out multiple times to urinate and woke up in a pool of her own urine this morning. That has never happened before so I have another call into our vet to give an update on Timber's vestibulitis and ask about Shiloh's accident. It's sleepless nights with these two at the moment.
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Old August 10th, 2014, 03:15 PM
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Oh gosh, I so hope that things are on their way to getting better. This all sounds very difficult!

I remember you have used raw goat's milk in the past - I wonder if it might help here?

Keeping good thoughts for you guys ((hug))
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Old August 11th, 2014, 02:16 PM
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Thanks MaxaLisa,

I do hope she gets through this as well. I called our vet and she is coming tomorrow to check on things and take urine samples from both dogs.

Today (Day 6 since the onset), she is still not eating so our vet suggested to pick up some gravol which I have given but still no appetite this morning. Yes, I tried the goat milk as well and no luck. Anytime I try something she takes two bites or licks and refuses anything more. Will try another hot dog since that was only thing she ate yesterday. She is very tired and sleeps a lot but again, the head tilt is better, no twitching eyes and she is moving around better, just very slow. The first day when symptoms were the worst, she actually still ate a decent amount but since then, just the one hotdog yesterday.
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Old August 11th, 2014, 04:38 PM
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Poor pup, will have you in my prayers for sure. If all she wants is hot dogs, so be it. I recall someone saying when they needed to help their dog walk they used one of the fabric grocery bags and cut down the two sides so that they could sling it under the dogs belly and use the handles to carry the dog's weight. Sounds like it would work well if you have a heavy enough bag. Just a thought for you.

Hugs and prayers.
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Old August 11th, 2014, 07:41 PM
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That's a great idea! We were using a scarf but using a fabric bag sounds smart since it's probably easier to hold using the handles.

I gave her a second hot dog for dinner I hope she is okay. I have been worrying about her for awhile. She pants so much after she eats and given her age,I worry something else may be going on other than just the vestibulitis. I know it can take some dogs a few weeks and even longer to feel completely better so I hope that will happen. Her past blood tests have been fairly good with the slight elevated liver enzymes and urea and then there is her nasal cancer but it has now been allmost 2 years since that diagnosis which seems pretty amazing. I know she won't live forever and we have been so lucky to still enjoy her company after everything she's experienced. She is 2 months away from being 14. I want her to continue enjoying life and it is always hard to see them struggle, even with something like the vestibulitis which I know looks much worse than it actually is.
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Old August 11th, 2014, 07:46 PM
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What is vestibulitis , I had not heard of it before?
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Old August 11th, 2014, 08:17 PM
Longblades Longblades is offline
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Here's a thought, at her age it's possible she hurt herself in the stumble. Maybe her back. if something went in her back then you have to be careful of any carrying aids you use. They might put pressure on her back in the wrong place. I have seen several such holder upper type things and some of them would have been very bad for my dog's back.

My sister's dog was distressed, panting and off his food too though. I do believe those symptoms are not out of the norm for vestibular disease. Plus, it's been very hot where I am. Is it hot where you are? That might account for some of it too?
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Old August 12th, 2014, 09:16 AM
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That's good info. Very possible she may have hurt herself as she had a few hard falls. Yes, I have read that panting is not uncommon. She is a husky and we are in Winnipeg so 28 today, 31 tomorrow. We have the air on high though and I have a fan running where she sleeps.

Barkingdog, vestibular disease happens suddenly in all aged dogs but more often in seniors. There is a vestibular apparatus in our middle ear that controls balance. Although it can be caused by infection, tumors, in most senior cases it is idiopathic meaning there is no known cause. The current theory are that the calcium mineral crystal in the ear move and that causes a loss of balance so literally the dog has no idea what is up or down causing them to stagger or fall, nausea and dizziness. There is also rapid eye movement which I think is caused by the dizziness as the brain is firing off too many signals. The mineral crystals are sending these signals to the nerves which in turn is trying to tell the brain you are off balance. This also happens in humans but our poor dogs don't have an understanding of what is going on and they tend to also have symptoms of anxiety. Generally, symptoms resolve between 1-2 weeks but some dogs may always have a slight head tilt.
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Old August 12th, 2014, 01:06 PM
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Is she eating any better today?
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Old August 12th, 2014, 02:00 PM
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Halo is 14 now (lab X) and she pants constantly. She has been diagnosed (as it were) with atypical Cushings disease. Apparently panting and excessive drinking are common symptoms of cushings. Not trying to scare you, just saying. We have heavy panting all the time. I spent a medium sized fortune trying to get a diagnosis of cushings (ultra sound, blood work) and in the end the adrenal glands were enlarged - as shown in the ultra sound - but the cushings blood test came back normal, hence the diagnosis of atypical cushings. For a further $600 dollars we could have sent more blood to the US, but enough is enough.

So just throwing that out there as it may explain some of the panting, cushings of course is common in older dogs.

Our Malamutes are panting heavily also with the heat - when they're not just passed out!

I hope Timber is doing better now.
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Old August 12th, 2014, 03:37 PM
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Do any signs of Cushing's show on a urine test? For some reason I thought we ruled that out with our last urine/ blood panel but perhaps not if it requires an ultrasound. Our vet stopped over this morning and checked on both dogs and did urine samples which were both normal. She checked her nasal tumor and suggested to get back on the doxycycline as her gums were red (might be due to pressure from the growth) however they look pink right now. Again, not sure if the nasal tumor is the reason for the vestibulitis but it looks more like they are entirely separate issues as all symptoms are improving slowly just not appetite. She said to try gravol and give her as many hotdogs as she wants if that is the only thing she likes. She did sleep well last night and wasn't up drinking as much water, just a normal amount so let's hope she will eventually like more than just a hot dog (and the fancy European wieners at that)
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Old August 12th, 2014, 03:40 PM
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Sorry, I re-read and see you said it didn't show on blood test hence atypical.

Someone else also told me that old dogs tend to pant more in general, not sure if that is true or not.
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Old August 13th, 2014, 02:31 AM
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I think that there is a urinary cortisol test that will rule out cushing's, but can't be used to diagnose it. I'm not exactly sure if that's right though.

I hope that she starts feeling better soon....
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Old August 13th, 2014, 12:15 PM
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Not sure about the urine testing for Cushings, and really, we're not even treating Halo for it. I just sort of threw it out there to say the panting may not be pain but from something entirely different. For Halo the cortisol was not the problem (so it's atypical), to find out what hormone was out of whack would have required more tests and we'd hit the wall. Anyhow, panting with us is normal and probably also for Timber. By the way, I love European wieners! Lucky dog. When Shadow was old and now Halo too really, whatever they want to eat they get, just so long as they eat.
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Old August 13th, 2014, 04:08 PM
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Yeah, anything we can do to spark some kind of appetite back. She is starting to branch out a little and this morning had a half bison burger with some peas, carrots and chick peas which she has always loved. The quantity she is eating is very small but she is also very inactive at the moment. Just picked up some doxycycline to help her stuffy nasal tumor. Still hoping the two issues are not related but it still seems like we are slowly moving forward. Today is one week since this happened and they say 7 -14 days to see improvement so overall I think we aren't doing too badly. Thanks for everyone's good wishes. I do find that I worry too much about what is to come and that often saddens me but I am trying my best.
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Old August 13th, 2014, 06:06 PM
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I think that the doxy is a good idea, because you just never know. And if there is inflammation in there causing some of this, it should help.

Moving forward is good, even if it is slow - hang in there!
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Old August 16th, 2014, 05:38 PM
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Thanks, I am trying. It is hard to see her refuse even the yummy treat like foods like cheese and bacon. I think the doxy is a good idea but it might be making her appetite worse now. She doesn't even want hot dogs anymore. Maybe we should hold off on the doxy until the vestibulitis improves. Than we could add the doxy in. I just don't know how to make food more irresistable and that worries me. I hear about dogs that just stop eating and it never seems to end in a good way and that's what is concerning me right now.
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Old August 17th, 2014, 07:56 AM
Longblades Longblades is offline
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Sis's dog never had much of an appetite at the best of times and he was very reluctant to eat also.

Some tricks I've tried to get them to eat:
Try offering only very small amounts of food, far less than they should eat. A lot of food on a plate or bowl can be overwhelming.
Try putting it on one of your own dinner plates.
Try offering food in a place you don't usually feed.
Try dropping food on the floor as if by mistake.
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Old August 17th, 2014, 09:18 AM
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Thanks Longblades,

We have tried a few of those. We are basically feeding her by hand as she won't eat from a dish and not at her usual eating location. We managed to get her to eat some grilled steak last night as we ate at the table and handed her pieces but only a very small amount. We took her for a short walk down the street and she was very eager to go so that was good. I tried some steak again before bed but she wasn't interested. Still not sure about giving the antibiotic on top of everything else but I know she probably needs it but don't want to kill what little appetite she has. Today is a new day and thankfully it is getting cooler outside. Maybe a few small walks will trigger some kind of interest in food.

This coming Wednesday night will be two weeks since the onset so I guess it is still not unusual for her to be 100%. She won't even sleep on her bed anymore, just on the floor. I think when this happened she thought she might fall off her bed and felt uncomfortable when stepping on the foam so she sleeps on the floor which I have never seen her do at night so I assume she still feels dizzy.

Thanks to everyone here for your support and advice
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Old August 17th, 2014, 03:36 PM
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Oof, tough decision on the abx and appetite thing.

Some folks on the tick list have been taking the doxy powder and mixing it with yogurt (cherry seems to be a favorite). I guess it's the way that the govt recommends giving it to kids in the event of bioterrorism. Not sure if that woudl help or not. It might compromise the treatment some (not sure about that), but, in this case, I think that would be okay.

continued good thoughts sent your way!
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Old August 17th, 2014, 08:22 PM
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I can get her to take the doxy but I find it difficult to give it with a meal as my vet recommends to avoid stomach upset because today for example, she had maybe 5 bites of steak, a spoonful of peas and carrots and a couple slices of cheese. She basically isn't eating more than that and eventually walks away and starts to pant. She almost seemed more wobbly today so not sure what to do. I told myself I was going to stop the doxy tonight and just now, decided to give it to her. I keep waffling with what is best.
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