Should I Put My Dog Down with Vestibular Disease?

Should I Put My Dog Down with Vestibular Disease?
Photo Credit:

Vestibular disease in dogs can be upsetting for both pets and their owners. It is distinguished by the abrupt onset of symptoms such as dizziness, disorientation, head tilt, and involuntary eye movements. Seeing your beloved animal suffer from vestibular disease might bring difficult issues about their quality of life and whether euthanasia should be considered as a pet parent. In this blog article, we will examine the nature of vestibular disease in a dog, treatment choices, prognosis, and ethical implications. So, should you put a dog down with vestibular disease? Let’s delve into the topic and find out.

Understanding Vestibular Disease

Vestibular disease, commonly known as canine idiopathic vestibular syndrome or “old dog vestibular disease,” is a condition that affects the inner ear and the balance center of the brain. It can happen unexpectedly, leaving dogs dizzy and unable to keep their footing. Vestibular disease can be caused by a variety of conditions, such as inner ear infections, inflammation, tumors, or unexplained causes. It is critical to contact a veterinarian to discover the exact underlying reason, as treatment and prognosis may differ.

Vestibular Disease Symptoms

This vestibular disease, also known as vestibular syndrome, refers to a collection of disorders that damage the vestibular system, which is in charge of keeping animals balanced and coordinated. Vestibular disease in a dog can appear in a variety of ways and be caused by various factors such as infections, trauma, tumors, or idiopathic (unknown) causes. Here are some common symptoms associated with vestibular disease in dogs:

#1. Loss of Balance:

Dogs with vestibular disorders frequently struggle to maintain their balance. They may stumble, lean to one side, or tilt their head. This imbalance might make it difficult for them to walk, stand, or even execute simple tasks.

#2. Disorientation:

Due to the interruption in their vestibular system, Dogs may appear confused or disoriented. They may have difficulties traversing familiar settings, appear confused, or fail to recognize their surroundings.

#3. Abnormal Eye Movements:

The occurrence of nystagmus, which is characterized by involuntary and fast eye movements, is one of the defining indications of vestibular disease. Also, the dog’s eyes may wander back and forth or rotate, which can contribute to confusion.

#4. Nausea and vomiting:

Some dogs with vestibular disease may vomit or experience nausea. These symptoms are caused by a disturbance in the vestibular system, which can change the dog’s sense of balance and cause dizziness or motion sickness.

#5. Loss of Appetite:

Dogs suffering from vestibular disease may lose interest in food or experience appetite loss. This could be owing to the condition’s discomfort or to the nausea and vomiting they may feel.

#6. Head Tilt:

A prolonged head tilt is a prominent visual sign of vestibular dysfunction. Because of the imbalance created by the illness, the dog’s head may be inclined to one side or held at an angle.

#7. Rolling or Circling:

Some dogs with vestibular disease may exhibit circling or rolling actions repeatedly. They may walk in circles in one way indefinitely or roll over repeatedly, seemingly without reason.

#8. Behavioral Changes:

When impacted by vestibular disease, a dog may exhibit behavioral abnormalities. Because of their disorientation and discomfort, they may become more worried, restless, or agitated.

While the symptoms of vestibular disease might be frightening, many instances, particularly those caused by idiopathic reasons, tend to improve or resolve over time with appropriate care and therapy. However, if you observe any of these symptoms in your dog, you must visit a veterinarian because they can be related to other health concerns that necessitate medical attention.

Diagnosis and Underlying Causes

A complete physical examination and further tests may be performed by a veterinarian to diagnose vestibular disease and discover the underlying cause. These examinations may include blood testing, imaging scans (such as X-rays or MRIs), and inner ear fluid studies. The underlying cause of vestibular dysfunction can assist in guiding treatment options and provide a clearer picture of the prognosis.

Treatment Options for Vestibular Disease

The technique for treating vestibular disease in a dog is determined by the underlying cause of the condition. While some cases may resolve themselves on their own or with supportive care, others may necessitate particular measures. Here are some common dog vestibular disease treatment options:

#1. Symptomatic Treatment:

When the origin of vestibular disease is unknown or idiopathic, the focus is on symptom management and supportive care. This may include keeping the dog in a calm and quiet environment, minimizing stimuli that could aggravate disorientation, and giving mobility and balance aids.

#2. Medications:

To relieve the symptoms of vestibular disease in a dog, medications might be provided. To minimize vomiting and relieve nausea, anti-nausea drugs such as maropitant or meclizine may be administered. Also, to help reduce symptoms, medicines such as dimenhydrinate or ginger supplements may be used.

#3. Treatment of Underlying Causes:

If the vestibular disease is caused by a known underlying ailment, such as an ear infection or a tumor, treating the underlying condition becomes critical. Antibiotics or antifungal medications may be prescribed for ear infections, while surgical intervention or other targeted treatments may be necessary for conditions like tumors or trauma.

#4. Fluid Therapy:

In dogs suffering from severe vomiting or dehydration as a result of vestibular illness, intravenous fluid therapy may be used to maintain hydration and electrolyte balance.

#5. Physical Therapy:

Physical therapy and rehabilitation exercises for dogs with vestibular diseases can be beneficial. These exercises are designed to improve balance, coordination, and strength. Controlled movements, balance exercises, and mild massages may be used to assist the dog to regain mobility and stability.

#6. Dietary Management:

Due to the related symptoms, some dogs with vestibular disease may lose their appetite or have difficulties eating. In such circumstances, their diet may need to be modified, soft or easily digestible foods provided, or syringe or tube feeding encouraged if necessary.

A veterinarian should be consulted to identify the best treatment strategy for your dog’s ailment. They can assess the severity of symptoms and prescribe the best course of treatment based on the underlying cause. Remember that the prognosis of vestibular disease varies, and while some cases may resolve with time and supportive care, others may necessitate continuing management to improve the dog’s quality of life.

Recovery and Prognosis

The prognosis for dogs suffering from vestibular disease varies according to the underlying cause and the degree of symptoms. In other circumstances, dogs may recover quickly and restore their balance within a few days to weeks. However, dogs with more severe or chronic diseases may take longer to recover, and some residual symptoms may continue. It’s crucial to highlight that vestibular disease rarely progresses to a life-threatening condition on its own.

Quality of Life Considerations

When considering whether to put a dog down with vestibular disease, it’s crucial to assess their overall quality of life. Consider the severity of symptoms, response to treatment, the prevalence of other underlying health conditions, and the dog’s capacity to conduct everyday activities. Working together with your veterinarian to assess your dog’s well-being and address the impact of vestibular disease on their quality of life is critical.

Palliative Care and Symptom Management

Palliative treatment becomes an important option if your dog’s vestibular disease is not improving or if the underlying reason is incurable. Also, palliative care aims to provide comfort while minimizing pain. This may entail treating symptoms like nausea, dizziness, or pain with medicine or alternative methods. Your veterinarian can help you develop a palliative care plan that is tailored to your dog’s requirements.

Consultation with Veterinary Professionals

When considering whether to put a dog down with vestibular disease, it is critical to get advice from a veterinarian. They have the knowledge and experience to give impartial advice based on the dog’s condition and well-being. You can get a better grasp of your alternatives and make an informed decision by having open and honest discussions with your veterinarian.

Ethical Considerations and Personal Values

Ultimately, deciding whether to put down a dog with vestibular disease involves personal values and ethical considerations. Every pet parent must consider the quality of life of their dog, the prospect for improvement, and their emotional capacity to care for a dog with chronic health difficulties. Seeking support from friends, family, or support groups can help you manage the emotional side of this decision.

When should I consider putting my dog down with vestibular disease?

Deciding to put down a dog with vestibular disease is a highly emotional and difficult one. Consult your veterinarian, who can offer advice based on your dog’s health, overall well-being, and quality of life. While I can offer some general considerations, please keep in mind that every situation is unique, and the final decision should be made in consultation with your trusted veterinarian.

Consider the following factors when deciding whether to put down a dog with vestibular disease:

  • Quality of Life
  • Response to Treatment
  • Mobility and Function
  • Pain and Discomfort
  • Progression of the Disease
  • Veterinary Advice

Remember that this is a personal choice, and there is no one-size-fits-all solution. It is critical to examine your dog’s unique circumstances, overall well-being, and quality of life. Take some time to ponder, talk with your veterinarian and loved ones about your concerns, and make the decision you believe is best for your cherished friend.

Should I let my dog go to sleep with vestibular disease?

If your dog is suffering from severe vestibular disease symptoms and is unlikely to recover, you may need to consider euthanasia to save their life.

How long do dogs live after vestibular disease?

After an incident of vestibular disease, dogs usually exhibit indications of improvement within 72 hours, and recovery should take one to two weeks. Despite some persisting symptoms such as head tilt and nausea, most dogs with vestibular disorder enjoy a long life after recovery.

What happens if my dog doesn’t recover from vestibular disease?

Most patients recover entirely within two to three weeks, while others will have persistent symptoms such as a head tilt or moderate “wobbling” for the rest of their lives. If the patient’s condition does not improve or worsen, a more serious underlying problem should be considered, and advanced diagnostic tests should be sought.

Do dogs with vestibular disease sleep a lot?

A dog with vestibular disease frequently spends a lot of time lying in the same spot. They’re sleeping a lot and don’t want to move much, which might be a perfect mix for developing pressure sores.

What makes vestibular disorders worse?

Vestibular symptoms can also be triggered by environmental factors. Many vestibular patients experience dizziness in crowded and light areas such as malls and grocery stores. Others complain about lighting, odors, noises, or patterns (on carpets, for example).

Can lack of sleep make vestibular problems worse?

Sleep issues are frequent with vestibular diseases, and poor sleep can exacerbate symptoms such as dizziness and imbalance.

Can old dogs recover from vestibular disease?

Idiopathic vestibular sickness, also known as Old Dog Vestibular Syndrome or Geriatric Vestibular Disorder, is the fourth and most prevalent form encountered in older dogs. It is the least understood but the easiest to treat. The actual cause is unknown, however, it usually goes away within a few days to a few weeks.


Should you put a dog down with vestibular disease? The answer is deeply personal and depends on various factors, including the dog’s overall well-being, quality of life, and the owner’s emotional capacity to provide care. Before making such a decision, it is critical to contact veterinary professionals, get support from loved ones, and carefully examine the situation. Remember that you are your pet’s advocate, and your ultimate goal should be their comfort, happiness, and dignity. In the end, it comes down to cherishing your bond and making the right option for your pet dog.

Related Articles


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You May Also Like