Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Old Dog Vestibular Disease – it's a thing and who knew?

Smooch is going to be fine. 
Let us all remember that as I recap the last few days. 

Monday morning started out no differently than any other morning around here:
feed the dogs, do barn chores, walk the dogs, then work at my desk for a few hours
while the dogs nap. Everything was so normal and ordinary. Until it wasn't. 

Smooch woke up, then started wandering around the house as if she were looking for something.
Then she tipped over. She got up, took a few seemingly drunken steps, then she tipped over again.
Within 10 minutes, Smooch was crated and in the truck, and we were on our way to the vet.
 In my mind, she had suffered a stroke and I wouldn't be bringing her back home.

The vet examined Smooch, paying close attention to her eyes and her movements.
She seemed to know right away what was happening
and went on to explain "Old Dog Vestibular Syndrome."
Apparently it's common in senior dogs and is similar to a severe case of human vertigo.
Smooch would likely be fine in three to five days.
The vet sent us on our way with a prescription for meclazine, which humans take for motion sickness
and which Smooch would take to avoid nausea and loss of appetite.

 Here we are at the Walgreen's pharmacy drive-through, picking up Smooch's prescription.



Until she's recovered, Smooch is staying in Alex's crate, 
where she's safe from the slippery floor (and Alex).

The video below was taken mid-day Tuesday, by which time Smooch was doing much better.
You're probably going to think "This is better?!" 
It is – really! But it's also scary.


I steer clear of Google when it comes to all things medical – human or animal –
for fear of jumping to catastrophic conclusions. But Danni was kind enough
to find and share with me this excellent article on "Old Dog Vestibular Disease,"
which was just what I needed to step back from the ledge.
If you share your life with a dog, you might want to read it now 
so that you won't fear the worst unnecessarily if it happens to your canine companion.









48 comments:

  1. Old age is so frightening. Wishing your sweet Smooch easy days.

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  2. Glad she is going to be OK, so scary.

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  3. Smooooooch!!!! I've had the human variety and it's not fun...I definitely wouldn't have wandered out into the snow. It's very hard to watch you falling down but it's great to watch you getting up! Sending truckloads of love!!!

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  4. My old dog Scout got this at age fourteen and a half. It was very, very scary, and I did not know what happened. I thought he had a stroke. My vet told me that this was one thing that would respond to lots of TLC, and that is exactly what I gave him. I fed him every couple of hours; things like scrambled eggs, hamburger, chicken, yogurt, and anything healthy that he would eat. At first, he could not stand at all, and it was very challenging to get him to go to the bathroom. This went on for days, but I was encouraged because he continued to eat and responded to my care. I was with him all day and night. Around the fourth day, he started to do better. Around the sixth day, he could walk a little, weaving around like an intoxicated person. By a week and a half, he was back to hiking with the other dogs and I. By two weeks he was 100 percent better!! When I first brought Scout to the vet, and she was trying to explain what was wrong with him, I said, "Oh, like the guy in the book, Prodigal Summer! My vet looked a bit stunned (do farmers actually read?), and then said yes, kind of like that. Did you read that book by Barbara Kingsolver? If not, read or listen to it. I guarantee you will love it. Anyway, I am sure Smooch will do great, just like Scout, as I know you will give her the love that will get her through this.

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  5. Oh Carson, that video made me cry even tho I know she will be okay. My Mom had vertigo way back when and she said it was horrible.
    Kisses and hugs for Smooch
    Auntie Ethel

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  6. i cried watching sweet smooch in the video. so glad it is not a stroke or something deadly. i have never heard of this disease, so thanks for sharing all the info.

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  7. How frightening for you! I hope Smooch is doing better and that things settle down a bit. It's never easy when a pet has something go wrong. Hang in there.

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  8. My older dog had a spell of this about 10 months ago; I think it's similar to vertigo in people. I'm a former veterinary technician, so I was pretty sure what was going on, but off we went to the vet just to be sure. He was put on an anti-nausea drug called Cerenia, as well as meclizine (which is available OTC as Dramamine). Both drugs can cause inappetence, and my guy wasn't eating. Or drinking - I syringed him water for a few days. About 24 hours after I stopped the drugs, he started to eat a little. He recovered fully in a couple of weeks, and the good news is my vet says there's no evidence that once a dog has had this, he's more prone to having it again. Good luck with Smooch. Carol in Philadelphia.

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  9. Thanks for the heads up! My girl Q hits fifteen next month. SO glad Smooch is on the road to recovery. ❤️❤️❤️

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  10. Healing thoughts to Smooch and hugs all around!

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  11. What a terrible ordeal. I really don't like vestibular disease, but it is better than a stroke. I work in a vet clinic, and it's great to be able to tell people their dog is going to be Ok, but I don't enjoy the anguished looks on people's faces as their dogs go through this, or just having to wait it out and watch them suffer. What a helpless feeling. Poor Smooch! Poor you! How awful.

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  12. I've had two elderly dogs get this, both at around age 13. One totally recovered in just a few days. The other recovered from most symptoms in about a week, but his head was slightly tilted for about 3 more weeks, and then he was fine. One dog went on to live to age 15 with no more episodes, and the other lived to over 14. When the second dog showed symptoms, I knew to check for nystagmus (the rapid eye movements) so I was pretty sure it was vestibular disease and was less worried. It does look scary when your dog suddenly loses balance though. Best wishes to Smooch.

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  13. Smooch will be mad at you for that video, but not for long because she is a wonderful girl.Scary as all get out.Thanks for the blog. Alex is likely enjoying the queen of the house thing,even if Smooch's incarceration makes her little worry lines deepen.

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  14. Oh poor Smooch, that video was awful to watch! And poor Smooch mama! Sending warmest wishes for a very speedy recovery. farm buddy's comment is so encouraging. It is the hardest thing in the world when our furry loved ones are sick or aging (or both). /Gretchen

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  15. She got down but she got right back up again, just like we all should. Glad to hear Smooch is better, how scary for both of you! Thanks for the info.

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  16. OMG, my friend's 15 year old Boston terrier just got this 2 weeks ago. Her vet just called it Vertigo.
    So scary. Hope Smooch feel better soon! Being dizzy is terrible.

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  17. When this happened to one of my elderly dogs, I purchased a couple of long floor runners, an a few door mats - the industrial kind with a rubber bottom and a tight rug-like top and made paths through the slippery parts of my house (kitchen, hallway)....I had carpet in the bedroom and living room. It helped her to walk without slipping on the slick floors. These were an ugly dark brown like you see at business entrances to catch dirt and water when you enter.....a floor mat. I got them at Sam's club. Here's a link to a similar on at Amazon:

    https://www.amazon.com/WaterHog-Commercial-Grade-Entrance-Outdoor-Matting/dp/B00MWS92ZC/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1550678949&sr=8-4&keywords=Industrial+Floor+Mats

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  18. Yes, this is one of the "good" diagnoses. Hang in there Smooch and Smooch mom :-).

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  19. Crazy enough my blue heeler suffered from this right about turning 1 year old. My vet had never seen a case that young and neither had his colleagues. It's scary, isn't it? So glad that Smooch is getting better.

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  20. That must have been a frightening, heart-sinking experience. Give yourself a pat on the back for how well you managed and your quick actions. I am beaming best wishes and good vibes to all 7MSN residents, and especially to Smooch and Carson. We all love Smooch so much!

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  21. My cattle dog at age 14 had this. I also thought she had a stroke. And it really frightened me. She had bouts of these episodes. She was the best farm dog. She passed away at age 16.

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  22. This happened to my dog about 5 years ago. He started walking to the right, hit the wall, was unsteady on his legs. Fortunately I have carpet so he didn't fall over. Picked him up and off the vet we went, I was positive he'd had a stroke. It was a Monday evening, I remember that because my vet is open late on Mondays. The vet had never seen it before but looking at the movement of the dog's eyes clinched it: he brought us the book he had, showed it to us. My dog was given a shot, x-rays taken as a precaution, IV fluids for about 30 minutes,sent us home with the meclazine. He was carried outside (16 pounds) and crated overnight. I was so relieved when he walked normally out of his crate the next morning. Never happened again-he died a couple of months ago at 16 1/2. A year later the same thing happened with my other dog-off to the vet we went but fortunately the episode was over in an hour. Whew. Hasn't happened since. Geriatric Vestibular Syndrome. I realize it can last for days, my boys got lucky. I was warned that it could happen again-

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  23. That's so scary. Its hard when our dogs are going through something like this. I'm dealing with Ginger's epileptic seizures right now. I'm so happy to hear the Smooch will recover from this. I've watched her and you for years and she's such a sweetheart. I wish her and you the best.

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  24. Awwwwwww....poor Smoochie...that little video just made me cry.....I hope she will be okay soon and not too bruised from falling.

    hugs, Vee

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  25. Oh, poor Smooch. She must have an upset tummy with the dizziness. It is scary to watch. I wish you all the best.

    Laurie in NB, Canada

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  26. Ohh, my heart is with you and Smooch. That little one is so concerned too. Take care

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  27. I haven't experienced with any of my dogs as they aged -- but know I would have totally freaked out and suspected a stroke also. So glad to hear that the diagnosis has a positive conclusion and that Smooch will soon be better. Give her a hug from all of her many internet friends. Be well sweet girl!

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  28. So glad Smooch is all right!! How frightening.

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  29. As one who has adopted many senior (often very senior) dogs, I've experienced this a few times now. Some recover within a couple of days, some take several weeks. One tip for helping Smooch negotiate getting about (in addition to the above comment of using a path of rubber-backed mats) while in the "falling over" phase - take a cloth shopping bag, cut down the sides, and voila! You have a dog carrier that you can slip under his belly, with handles to help support and steer him to where ever he needs to go. Get better soon, Smooch!

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  30. I hope Smooch recovers quickly- and that this is a one time thing. Thanks for the link, very interesting.

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  31. Awwww, poor Smooch! My dog also had this. She is 16 and we thought it was a stoke. my daughter told us that her friends dog had it and what it was. It took her a while to get back to normal(her old dog normal). It is so scary when you first see it. So glad Smooch is doing better.

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  32. OMG! I have "Old Dog Vestibular Disease"!!! NO, not my dog - me! Glad to hear that Smooch is doing well. ~ Linda K

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  33. I've had a few friends whose dogs have experienced VS and I am so grateful that they've taken the time to write about it. It's SUCH a scary disease and it's so much worse when you don't know what it is before it happens to your dog. Sending lots of love to Smooch, of course <3

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  34. Oh how awful for both of you!!! How scary indeed!! Sending prayers for a speedy recovery (if that is the right word ). Hugs to you all!

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  35. Feel better Smooch! Alex, take care of Smooch and Mama!!

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  36. Good gawd. Our dogs - they can half kill us with their vulnerabilities. Thinking good thoughts for you and Smooch.

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  37. My Ripley (black lab) never had this, but she just quit eating. I knew she was done. We had her put down at the house by a vet who came and did it for us, then he took her with him. I made a wooden sign for the back yard that reads, "Ripley's Garden" because that's where all my hollyhocks bloomed last year. It is still there, even though Bodie (our rescue pup) now digs up the garden! Ripley was almost 11 when she passed. We are hoping Bodie lives as long. Sending (((BIG HUGS))) to you and Smooch!

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  38. I'm so glad this is something that will pass. Poor Smooch (and poor you too, how awful to watch her go through this!) I have to say Jean B's idea of a kind of dog carrier/helper up above is genius! Sort of like a canvas log carrier! Get well soon Smooch!

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  39. Poor Smooch I hope she is feeling better! My old lab had this as well and I also thought he had a stroke. They gave him valium and it took way longer than 5 days for him to get better.

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  40. Thank you so much for writing about this, and especially for the video! We have an older shepherd and, though she has only ever been sick once in her life, it was a big one last Spring. We always have half an eye on her now for anything unusual; I told Mr Shoes about this story and he asked me to bring it up so we could watch the video together. Very good information, and reassured that (should it happen) it is not life threatening.
    So glad Smooch is okay!

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  41. I'm so glad, that Smooch is getting better. Hope you will have many years together. My oldest dog did live 18 years, miss her. I havent't ever know this kind of illnes of dogs. It's good to have more information ๐Ÿ˜Š

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  42. Hugs to your Smooch! Our Roxanne experienced this a couple of years ago. She will be 14 on Friday. :)
    Marie

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  43. How are you Linda? and how is Smooch doing? such a long silence...

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    1. All's well, Carine. I'm working on a blog post for later today.

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    2. Whew, I have been worried.
      Sue

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  44. Hoping all is well with you and Smooch, Long time without a post from you.
    We will blame it on the weather in New Mexico!

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  45. An American in Tokyo3/27/19, 7:22 PM

    Catching up on old posts!
    Glad to hear Smoochie-poo is doing better now. Please give her a big hug from me!

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  46. An English reader of yours referred me to this post as my 15 year old cocker has just been through the exact same thing. I wasn't given the name of the syndrome by my vet but the progress has been identical. After a week she is almost 100% recovered. Slightly guilty head but otherwise fine!! What a relief! I like you wondered whether I would be bringing my old girl home. She has been so sweet and stoical about it all. Thanks for sharing. Lxx

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