Vestibular Disease


The vestibular system is made up of nerves that run from the brain to the inner ear and is responsible for maintaining proper functioning of your body in relation to gravity. Vestibular disease affects the brain's ability to coordinate movements and usually affects dogs who are older (12 years and up), but can affect dogs of any age and breed.


The disease can be quite scary in dogs often producing the following symptoms;

  • Head tilt
  • Eyes darting side to side (nystagmus)
  • Vertigo
  • Falling to one side
  • Salivation
  • Pain chewing or yawning


  • Ear Infection; Because the inner ear is responsible for important functions such as balance and coordination, when a dog develops an ear infection he or she may start exhibiting symptoms of vestibular diseases. In some severe ear infections, the infection may spread from the external ear to the middle ear and then into the inner ear, negatively affecting all these important balancing functions.
  • Hypothyroidism; In some cases, low thyroid levels may cause vestibular disease issues (very unlikely in younger dogs).
  • Tumors; Tumors in the inner ear or in the brain may cause vestibular disease symptoms.
  • Encephalitis; Infections affecting the brain.


In order for the treatment to be effective it must take care of the underlying cause. Thyroid medicine may be prescribed for hypothyroidism, ear infections and other infections are treated.

  • In most cases, vestibular disease resolves within two months. However, in some cases the head tilt will remain.
  • Affected dogs should be helped to eat and drink. They also may require help getting to the garden for toiletting purposes.

At the Ardmore Veterinary Group we aim to provide the highest standard of professional veterinary care. If you find any of the information displayed incorrect please do not hesitate to call us. We are here to listen and assist in any way we can.

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