Should You Put A Dog Down With Vestibular Disease?

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When a beloved pet is diagnosed with a debilitating illness such as vestibular disease, it can be a difficult decision for pet owners to consider euthanasia. This is especially true when the dog is elderly. However, there are several factors to consider when determining whether or not to put a dog down with this condition. These include the severity of the symptoms, the age of the dog, the overall quality of life of the dog, and the potential for medical treatments to provide relief. Ultimately, the decision is a personal one and can be difficult for the pet owner.

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It can be a difficult decision to make, but in some cases, it is necessary to put a dog down if it is suffering from vestibular disease. This condition can cause the dog to lose balance, become disoriented, and experience vertigo. Depending on the severity of the vestibular disease, it can cause the dog great pain and distress, and this suffering can be alleviated by humanely euthanizing the dog. An owner should talk to the dog’s vet to learn more about the prognosis for the particular case to make an informed decision before putting the dog down.

What Is Vestibular Disease?

Vestibular disease is a general term used to describe any disorder affecting the vestibular system, which is responsible for maintaining balance and spatial awareness. It is commonly seen in dogs and cats and is typically caused by an infection or inflammation in the inner ear. Symptoms include head tilt, circling, rapid eye movements, and difficulty walking or standing. In severe cases, it can cause complete loss of balance, resulting in falls and other serious injury. Treatment varies from anti-inflammatory and anti-nausea medications to therapies designed to help the animal adapt to the disorder.

Can Vestibular Disease Kill A Dog?

The vestibular disease itself cannot kill a dog, although the underlying cause may be fatal. The best course of action is to consult a veterinarian to determine the cause and develop an appropriate treatment plan.

Typical Recovery & Survival Rate For Dogs With Vestibular Disease

The recovery rate for dogs with vestibular disease is typically good, and the overall survival rate is very high. Most dogs make a full or near-full recovery from the condition. There is no specific mortality rate associated with vestibular disease as the severity of the symptoms varies from one patient to another.

Dog With Vestibular Disease Won’t Poop

Dog with Vestibular Disease won’t poop because the vestibular disease can cause nausea, vomiting, and abdominal discomfort. When this happens, the dog may be unwilling or unable to poop because they are feeling like they are in an uncomfortable or distressed state. The best way to help a dog with a vestibular disease that won’t poop is to let them move around and adjust to the new sensations. Taking the time to provide a safe, warm environment, and provide plenty of emotional and physical support can help the dog feel more comfortable and able to go to the bathroom. Additionally, your vet may recommend medications to help reduce nausea and vomiting, which can help a dog with vestibular disease feel comfortable enough to poop.

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Canine Vestibular Disease Or Brain Tumor

Canine Vestibular Disease (also referred to as Vestibular Syndrome) is a disorder of the vestibular (or inner ear) system that is responsible for balance and coordination. It can appear suddenly in dogs and is usually associated with signs such as head tilt, circling, nausea, excessive eye movement, and other symptoms. Although it can have many different causes, it is often thought to be an inner ear infection, a disturbance of the nervous system, or even a tumor.

Brain tumors in dogs can present with neurological signs, such as vestibular disease, due to the pressure of the tumor on the nerves in the brain that regulate balance. These tumors can be either benign or malignant and are usually diagnosed by examining a sample of tissue. Treatment is typically surgical removal of the tumor, but depending on the type of tumor, chemotherapy and/or radiation may be necessary. The prognosis for canine brain tumors varies depending on the type, size, and location of the tumor.

Do Dogs Pant With Vestibular Disease?

Yes, dogs can pant with vestibular disease. Vestibular disease is a condition that affects the inner ear and the associated nerve pathways, resulting in balance or coordination issues. The panting may be due to the increased physical activity and movement required for balance and coordination. Although panting is a normal behavior for dogs, panting in dogs with vestibular disease may be more rapid or labored.

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Vestibular disease in dogs is any type of condition that causes inner ear problems or disruptions to the balance system, which can lead to a variety of symptoms including dizziness and imbalance. Possible causes of vestibular disease in dogs include:

  1. Infections: Bacterial or viral infections can cause inflammation and damage to the inner ear structures, affecting the balance system.
  2. Neoplasia: Tumors and growths inside the inner ear can affect the balance system.
  3. Autoimmune diseases: Systemic illnesses, such as hypothyroidism, Addison’s disease, or lupus, can affect the inner ear and cause vestibular disease.
  4. Congenital diseases: Congenital problems are present since birth and can affect the normal development of the vestibular system.
  5. Trauma: Head trauma or injuries to the inner ear can lead to vestibular disease, especially in older dogs.
  6. Drugs: Vestibular disease can also be an uncommon side effect of certain drugs.

Differentiating Between Central and Peripheral Vestibular Disease

Central vestibular disease is caused by dysfunction of the central nervous system (CNS) and can impair the balance system by altering the information sent to the brain. Common causes of central vestibular disease include tumors, strokes, head trauma, multiple sclerosis, and other damage to the structures of the CNS. Symptoms include vertigo, impaired balance, hearing loss, nausea, double vision, and difficulty speaking.

Peripheral vestibular disease is caused by damage to the structures of the inner ear or the nerve pathways connecting the ear to the brain. Common causes of peripheral vestibular disease include infections, chronic diseases, inner ear tumors, benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV), labyrinthitis, and Meniere’s disease. Symptoms include vertigo, motion sickness, imbalance, hearing loss, and ringing in the ears.

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How Long Can Dogs Live With Vestibular Disease?

The length of survival for dogs with vestibular disease varies from dog to dog depending on other underlying causes. Some dogs will make a full recovery, live out their entire life, and show no further symptoms of the disease, while other dogs may not respond to treatment and may not survive more than a few weeks or months.

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  1. Feed your dog small meals throughout the day, rather than one large meal. This will allow your dog to eat more comfortably, as taking in a large amount of food can make them feel nauseous.
  2. Make sure that your dog’s food is cooked, mashed, blended, or mixed in water, as this will be soft and easier for them to digest.
  3. Place the food at nose level, as dogs with Vestibular disease may have problems bending their neck down to eat from a bowl on the ground.
  4. If struggling to eat, you can feed your dog warmed canned food or use a feeding tube if necessary.
  5. Ensure your dog has access to fresh drinking water.
  6. If available, give special diets that support recovery from vestibular disease.

How To Help A Dog With Vestibular Disease

  • Keep the dog calm: Allowing a dog to rest and remain physically relaxed will help them to regain their balance. Keep a dog away from areas where they could potentially stumble or fall.
  • Ease nausea: For a dog with vestibular disease, the feeling of nausea can be overwhelming. Offer your dog smaller meals throughout the day, or offer it cold items that can help to calm their stomach. Ginger can also be given as it helps reduce the feelings of nausea.
  • Offer a supportive environment: Create an environment where the dog feels safe and secure. If there is something that startles or scares the dog, remove it from the area. Keep comfortable bedding and soft pillows available in case the dog is feeling dizzy or off-balance.
  • Provide frequent exercise: As a dog with vestibular disease may experience a weak or unbalanced gait, frequent physical activity, and walks can help to improve coordination and balance. However, don’t over-exert your purpling, and always check if she’s okay.
  • Monitor the dog’s development: This is especially important for puppies and younger dogs with vestibular disease. Some cases can be faced with treatments and improve over the course of time. Monitor the dog’s progress and take note of any changes. Speak with the veterinarian if the situation does not improve.

Can Old Dogs Recover From Vestibular Disease?

Yes, old dogs can recover from vestibular disease, although it may take a longer time for them to recover than it does for younger dogs.

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  1. Keep your dog calm and quiet. Don’t let them jump, move quickly, or play active games.
  2. Provide a safe and comfortable space for your dog. Make sure your dog has a soft, padded place to rest and plenty of room to move around if needed. Move heavy items or furniture away from the area to prevent further injury.
  3. Feed your dog a balanced diet that is high in protein and fiber. Nutritional supplementation may be beneficial as well.
  4. Ensure that your dog has access to fresh water and encourages drinking throughout the day to prevent dehydration.
  5. Allow plenty of rest and recovery time.
  6. Make adjustments to help your dog maneuver around the house more safely. Consider adding railings, ramps, and non-slip surfaces in areas where your dog walks frequently.
  7. Keep the environment calm and stress-free as much as possible.
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Treatments And Prognosis For Dogs With Vestibular Disease

Treatments for dogs with Vestibular Disease depend on the underlying cause. Your veterinarian may suggest supplementing the dog’s diet with Omega-3 fatty acids or anti-inflammatory medications. Other treatments may include vestibular rehabilitation exercises, physical therapy, medications to reduce nausea or medications to address potential underlying metabolic disorders or infections. In more severe cases, surgery may be recommended.

The prognosis for dogs with Vestibular Disease is generally good. With appropriate treatments and care, most dogs make a full recovery. However, some dogs may have a residual head tilt for the rest of their life, as well as some balance issues. In more severe cases, the tilt may become permanent.


Q. Can dogs sleep with vestibular disease?

A. Yes, dogs can sleep with vestibular disease, but it is important to ensure they are comfortable. This can include providing extra bedding and pillows to prop up the head and neck while sleeping as well as ensuring the dog stays hydrated and has access to the bathroom.

Q. What happens if vestibular disease doesn’t go away?

A. If the vestibular disease does not resolve on its own, the condition may require medical intervention. Your doctor may recommend medications, physical or occupational therapy, vestibular rehabilitation, or surgery, depending on the cause and severity of your symptoms.

Q. Can a dog recover from vestibular?

A. Yes, many dogs do fully recover from vestibular syndrome with the help of medication and/or physical therapy. It is important for owners to rest their pets during the recovery process to give them the best chance of a full recovery.

Q. Can old dog vestibular disease come back?

A. Yes, old dog vestibular disease can come back. In some cases, the condition may return even after recovery from the initial episode. It may be possible to prevent episodes of vestibular disease from recurring in some cases by addressing any underlying causes and following a course of prescribed treatment. 


In conclusion, deciding whether or not to put a dog down with vestibular disease is a difficult decision and should be made in consultation with a veterinarian. If the condition can be successfully managed with medication, and the animal still enjoys a good quality of life, then euthanasia may not necessarily be necessary. While the condition may cause the animal to suffer, vestibular disease is generally considered a non-life-threatening disorder and may not need to be treated with such an extreme measure. Ultimately, the decision should be made according to the individual needs of the animal and the opinion of the attending veterinarian.

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