This is a repost from our friends at the Grey Muzzle Organization by Dr. Julie Buzby, DVM.
“I was a newly minted veterinarian when I walked into the exam room and found Foxy, a 13-year-old Blue Heeler, scheduled as a euthanasia appointment. The poor dog couldn’t stand up because she kept falling to one side. She had a distinct tilt to her head, and her eyes were scrolling back and forth in their sockets like a typewriter doing sprints. The symptoms had come on suddenly and the heartsick owners had no explanation. Foxy had been fine the day before. The woman held her dog close, her eyes brimming with tears. Me? I could hardly contain my glee. I would remember that appointment for the rest of my life.”
“Gently, I extracted Foxy from her owner’s embrace so I could perform a physical exam. (It’s amazing how much information can be gleaned from a thorough exam.) The somber family gathered around, dreading my imminent verdict. They fully expected me to utter: “It’s time, there’s nothing more to be done.”
“Instead, after a careful neurologic exam, I proclaimed, “I have wonderful news for you! Odds are excellent that Foxy will recover from this with little to no long term effect and continue to live a normal life.”
“Symptoms of vestibular disease are similar to vertigo in people. After experiencing a bout of vertigo last year, I’ve developed new sympathy for these dogs. Towards the end of a busy, normal day, I began to feel so dizzy that I couldn’t safely stand up. Within minutes I was vomiting. I crawled to my bed, where just turning my head on the pillow made me sick.”
“In dogs, classic symptoms of vestibular disease include: loss of balance/ ataxia (the drunken sailor gait), abnormal posture, head tilt, and nystagmus—the medical term for the rapid, uncontrolled eye movement that is the hallmark of vestibular disease.”
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