Vestibular Disease In Dogs: What Is It? How To Treat It? - Salt Lake Animal Physical Therapy
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Vestibular Disease In Dogs: What Is It? How To Treat It?

What is vestibular disease in dogs?

Suddenly your dog starts circling, falling, tilting their head, has erratic eye movement (nystagmus), loses coordination, loses control of bodily movements (ataxia), and may even be vomiting. This is not something that any dog owner wants to see, but these are all signs of vestibular disease in dogs. Vestibular disease in dogs often occurs suddenly and there may not be any obvious cause. The symptoms may arrive quickly and be very dramatic. Vestibular disease is often more common in older dogs. The inner ear of the dog is very similar to that of humans and sometimes clearing the otoliths (crystals) can be helpful. This is the equivalent of treating vertigo in dogs. A few causes of vestibular disease is often middle or inner ear problems, trauma or injury, or drugs that may be toxic to the ear, just to name a few. When the cause of the vestibular disease can’t be found it is often called idiopathic vestibular syndrome.

How to treat it?

There are many techniques that may be used to treat vestibular disease in dogs and it can be a complex matter. It may be tempting to try to treat at home on your own, but we highly recommend that you seek out the help of a trained canine physical therapist. Each treatment will be custom tailored based upon the evaluation of each dogs’ impairments and needs. Some common treatments may include:

  • Repositioning maneuvers for the otoliths (crystals) within the ear, such as the Epley Repositioning Maneuver, Semont Liberatory Maneuver, or the Horizontal Canal Repositioning Maneuver
  • Treatment of any cervical spine dysfunction, especially at or between C1 and C2
  • Neurodynamic Sequencing of movement such as side lying to sternal, sit to stand and so forth
  • Assessment and treatment of cognitive proprioception and the withdraw reflex
  • Balance and coordination training
  • Address any range of motion or flexibility impairments
  • Address any strength or muscular activity deficits that may have occurred due to vestibular disease or inactivity due to the vestibular syndrome
  • Improve core stability
  • And more…

As one may see this is a complex process that will be constantly evaluated and adjusted based on the dog client. For more information or for questions request to talk to a vestibular canine physical therapsit:

Or if you are interested in coming in to have your dog looked at for a free discovery visit to see what’s going on and what can be done: