Idiopathic Vestibular Disease

by Steve on August 8, 2012

Those of you with older dogs should know about this because the symptoms can be very unsettling. The sole survivor of our pack is now 13 years old and spoiled rotten. He sleeps more than I though possible even for him and when he can be coaxed into getting up, he does so slowly as if checking each appendage to be sure it’s working properly before he truly commits to actual propulsion. His hind end is somewhat slower than the front but that’s expected at his age. Heck, I don’t move well for the first few steps after being stationary.

Last evening Crash started walking sideways and generally acting like a drunken sailor and, having been one on several occaisons, I know the symptoms. His world was spinning which is generally easier on four legs than two until he tried to hike one. Over he went, clearly puzzled as to just how that tree managed to knock him off his feet.  Sniff, sniff… lift the leg… bam, again. It’s funny now that we know it’s IVD and will go away in a few days, not so funny last night as we compared his erractic behavior to that of our dear Houlton who crossed the bridge last month. We both dared not speak what we were thinking and spent a long fitful night contemplating an eventual empty house.

I got up this morning hoping to find a grinning gray old Lab wondering what all the fuss was about. He cranked himself up off his bed and started his morning shake but hit the floor before he could even wiggle past his ears. My heart sank as I ran through all the possible causes that might reveal I had somehow inadvertantly poisoned my dogs. I opened the back door of the truck for him and he simply stared at the sill and started to tip over. He caught himself and I gently helped him in, reassuring him beyond my own fear.

At the Vet, we stumbled across the parking lot, he peed at the front door, and he proceeded to stumble around the waiting room licking the entire place. I swear he was smiling, not distressed at all. When his favorite Vet came to see him she held his head and stared into his eyes. I wondered if she was mustering up the courage to tell me bad news when she announced, “He’ll be fine in a few days.”

“Say again?”

“See his eyes twitching? He has IVD which usually clears up on its own in a few days. It happens quite often in these old guys. It’s like vertigo, they lose their balance, and can become quite physically sick – not eating or drinking because they can’t keep it down from being dizzy.” She looked at me inquiringly. I told her we had no worries there, it would take more than a little vertigo to keep Crash from the bowl.

I looked into my old duck dog’s eyes and noticed for the first time a slight tremor that was undoubtedly turning his world upside down. “I’d be walking sideways if my vision was doing that!”

Happy that all would eventually be steady again, Crash flopped over and stretched out inviting a belly rub.

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