Vestibular disease occurs in both humans and animals. For your pets, it is more commonly known as “Old Dog Disease.”
What Age Is Considered “Old” For Dogs?
Different breeds of dogs will age differently. Dogs age much faster in their first few years of life and are considered to be senior as early as five years old for large breeds such as Great Danes, or nearly 10 years old for miniature or toy breeds. And while many people like to make a comparison of dog years to human years, this cannot be exactly predicted by the seven-year rule that many owners refer to as they age much more quickly during their first few years of life. Here’s a great graphic supplied by WebMD to help simplify the math for you.
Understanding “Old Dog Disease” Symptoms
“Old Dog Disease” affects the vestibular system which is part of the brain and inner ear responsible for creating a sense of balance with the head, eyes and neck – e.g. dizziness or spinning.
There are two types of vestibular disease: central and peripheral. Central is more uncommon and severe, affecting the central nervous system and can be caused by inflammatory disease, a brain lesion, or possibly cancer. Peripheral is a result of nerve irritation within the inner ear, typically caused by ear infections or a perforated eardrum. However, you will most commonly see “Old Dog Disease” described as idiopathic if it is a sudden onset or if the cause is unknown. In this case your pet will typically get better on her or her own with little or no treatment necessary.
“Old Dog Disease” Symptoms include:
- Loss of balance, dizziness or falling
- Head Tilt
- Rapid and involuntary eye movement from side to side (nystagmus)
- Tight Circling or rolling
Because “Old Dog Disease” symptoms are not specific to this disease, it can be commonly mistaken for a stroke, but is more manageable with quicker improvement rates. If your pet has no history of these symptoms, PetMD suggests waiting a few days to see if your pet will improve on his or her own. During this time, it is best to pay extra attention to your pet and assist as needed with eating or preventing falls. If these behaviors become habitual for more than a few days, or seem to increase in severity, do not hesitate to contact your veterinarian so they can administer the proper examinations. Sometimes minor symptoms can persist, such as the head tilt, but do not affect your pets’ lifestyle.
How are “Old Dog Disease” symptoms treated?
Once assessed, this disease can typically be treated with simple medications for symptoms such as nausea or antibiotics for an infection. If your pet is already on certain medication, it may be discontinued. Most commonly, simple therapy or rehabilitation is all that is needed with a little extra TLC on the side. You can never give your pet enough love.
The Old Dog House is a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) charitable organization located in Jacksonville, Florida, dedicated to giving older and senior dogs a second chance at a new life. At so many shelters, the age of a dog determines its chances of reaching the adoption floor to find a new forever home.As a result, many wonderful dogs are denied the ability to live out their lives in dignity, surrounded by love. The Old Dog House aims to enlighten the public to the joys of owning an older or senior dog through educational programs and to place rescued dogs into true forever homes through adoption programs. The dogs that come into the care of The Old Dog House will remain in our care until adopted. We rely solely on donations from the public to support our organization. 100% of donations received are used for the care and rehabilitation of the dogs at The Old Dog House. Every penny makes a difference and is greatly appreciated!