What is it?
•Vestibular disease occurs in both dogs and cats
•The vestibular system is responsible for maintaining balance
•If the vestibular system is damaged or infected, your pet will suffer from imbalance or incoordination
•Animals with idiopathic peripheral vestibular disease have a head tilt, tendency to walk in circles, loss of balance, and irregular jerking eye movements
What causes it?
•Causes of vestibular disease include middle or inner ear infection, drugs that are toxic to the ear, trauma or injury, tumors, and hypothyroidism
•When no specific diagnosis is found, the condition will be called idopathic vestibular syndrome
•These cases are distinguished by the sudden onset of clinical signs and the subsequent rapid eye improvement with little if any, medical intervention
•Other cases (such as stroke, autoimmune inflammation, or tumors) must be ruled out in order to classify the vestibular dysfunction as “idiopathic”
•No additional neurological abnormalities are noted
What tests are needed?
•The veterinarian will diagnose your animal based on the history of clinical signs and exclusion of any other conditions
•A neurologic examination will help to rule out any other causes, and identify which part of the vestibular system is affected
•Careful inspection of the animals ears is typically performed
•MRI or CT scan are other typical tests that may be necessary
How is it treated?
•Animals typically show improvement within a few days without treatment
•Treatment is directed at the underlying cause, if one can be identified •Initially, animals that are severely affected may require hospitalization for intravenous fluid and anti-nausea drugs
•Affected animals will need to be closely monitored at home, and possibly handfed
What follow up care is needed?
•Animals who are hospitalized will require repeated neurologic exams until improvements are seen
•Those who are not hospitalized will need to be re-evaluated to ensure conditions are resolved
•Some recovery may take several weeks, and few animals will have a permanent head tilt