Warning: This is a long, rambling post filled with stuff you probably don’t care about unless you have a sick dog.
If you came here by searching for information about geriatric vestibular syndrome, here is the picture of hope. (Apologies for the doggie bright eyes.)
Background: Buddy is a Lab mix (emphasis on mix), about 60 pounds and almost 14 years old. He has a seizure disorder and has been on meds for nine years and has been seizure-free for several years. We maintain him on the lowest therapeutic levels of medication possible. He has arthritis and has a slightly enlarged liver, but is otherwise very healthy.
This is 16 days post-collapse for Buddy. He is still on oral antibiotics and will continue until next week. He has completed two weeks of ear drops (he had an infection), as well as initially being treated with IV fluids (two bags) and an antibiotic injection. He spent days and days on pain meds but we are now doing that as needed. As of this writing, he hasn’t need any for two days. He is on Rimadyl (generic, 120 mg per day, split into two doses). He also takes medication to prevent seizures. That is unrelated to this current illness. We supplement his diet with fish oil and glucosamine.
Initially, Buddy could not stand and was in great distress. He could not walk without assistance for several days and had approximately three days of nystagmus. (Nystagmus is scary.) The head tilt really wasn’t present until day two, but it continues. We are told he may always have that. Our consolation is that we can call him Tippi Hedren. (Think about it.) He can now go up and down the steps to the backyard on his own, but we help him down. He tends to go too fast and can lose his balance. He is happy, eating, playing with his tennis ball and giving Maggie a hard time again. Last night, he walked all the way upstairs in our house (14 steps) on his own, with my husband closely supervising just in case. Going up is easier than going down.
I wanted to point out that Bud never had the rolling or vomiting that is commonly associated with this condition and which sometimes leads owners to believe their pet has been poisoned. That’s what I would have thought had Bud exhibited those symptoms. Despite his distress (which I now believe was due to disorientation rather than pain), he did not have a seizure and he clearly knew us. (A throw back to my days in probate law – I would say he was oriented to person, but not place. Time isn’t so much a concern for him.)
We did have x-rays done of his spine and hips. Because he did not exhibit neurological symptoms initially and because he is riddled with lipomas (fatty tumors), we were concerned that he possibly had a spinal tumor. That would not have been good news. We had the option of having Bud sent to a veterinary specialist to get an MRI to see if he had a brain tumor or some kind of catastrophic brain event. We elected not to do that.
We had no idea he would gain this much recovery, if any at all. So far, so good.
Some links for you: What is the vestibular system?
An excellent informational post with the unfortunate title “Don’t Kill Old Rolling Dogs.”