View Full Version : Experiences with Vestibular Episode?

19th January 2009, 02:56 PM
Susie is having a major vestibular incident which began Saturday evening and is no better as of Monday morning. I've had three other Cavaliers (long gone now) go through this in past years, so I'm fairly experienced, but this incident is significantly worse than the others I've seen. (The past three all completely recovered except for Capers who had a permanent slight head tilt.) All four of my dogs were scheduled for dentals today - obviously she won't be getting hers but I'll take her in with the others so that my vet can examine her ears to make sure that isn't a factor and take a good look at her. She cannot stand at all, and she has a major head tilt to the right and her body is twisted to the right. She is 13 1/2 and is heart clear and has no health issues except for dry eye and a little hindquarter weakness. She just had a full blood chem panel/CBC and UA and all looked very good. We discovered on pelvic x-ray that her right rear leg is held on by two screws and some wire - likely she was hit by a car in her youth. There are degenerative changes in that hip. She was a rescue who came to live with me a year ago along with her brother who was over a year older.

I sat up and read last night about vestibular versus stroke. Everything I read says to give it time and in the majority of cases there is vast improvement in one to two weeks. I'm a bit worried because I've seen no improvement thus far (she still has major nystagmus) and with my other Cavaliers I saw a little improvement even in the first day. I've given her meclizine for motion sickness. Her appetite is great and she is eating although I must hold her on my lap with the bowl right under her muzzle. I am syringing water as she isn't coordinated enough to drink. She will urinate outside if I hold her up but she hasn't had a bowel movement in two days - I'll ask vet about how to deal with that. I reluctantly cut off her glorious trousers last night because it's going to be a chore to keep her clean and I don't want to make it difficult for her.

Any experiences?

Pat Beman
Atlanta, GA

19th January 2009, 03:10 PM
No experience but wanted to offer good thoughts as you go through this with her. :)

19th January 2009, 03:28 PM
Hollydolly went through this recently with Cassie.

Here is the thread.

Here is a link give in that thread which might be useful.

I hope Susie is recovered fully and soon. :hug:

Cathy T
19th January 2009, 04:06 PM
So sorry to hear you're having this problem with Susie. Hope she's okay soon. Interesting about the pins in her leg. Poor gal has been through a lot, hasn't she? :hug:

19th January 2009, 04:11 PM
Thanks! The first time I saw this was 15 years ago and I rushed the girl to the ER in the middle of the night. Now I know not to panic and just think "oh-oh, it's a vestibular episode." But HollyDolly's Cassie was doing a lot better after one day which was my past experience. I'm concerned because it's been a day and a half and no improvement at all. Differential diagnosis is brain tumor and other scary things but I guess I just have to wait and see - it really resembles vestibular or perhaps a stroke (they are different things) rather than brain tumor or similar. Susie is very easy-going and not at all nervous so her attitude is good but she's clearly frustrated and I've got to figure out the defecation problem!

I do know someone who euthanized their dog who had this on the first day - I only found out after the fact so there was no point in saying anything that would make the person feel badly.


19th January 2009, 04:16 PM
Yes, Cathy, I wish I knew their story. Remember that Moose had the head injury and partial proptosis of one eye......supposedly from an encounter with a BEAR.......and I found out later he'd had a diaphragmatic hernia surgical repair - where his liver was traumatically pushed through his diaphragm.........just wonder what all happened to them.......how many bear attacks??!! My vet said that the surgery on Susie's hip was very very pricey.....


Love my Cavaliers
19th January 2009, 05:35 PM
Riley is my SM girl who also has recurrent vestibular episodes. After her decompression surgery in June she was put on Keppra, a human anti-epileptic drug. Since September I have had to increase the dosage twice as it seems to hold her for a while, and then she starts backsliding. She has a pretty major head tilt and has difficulty getting out of a room because she circles incessantly. If I try to pick her up or stop her when she gets in this mode, she will arch her back, whip her head around (we call it her exorcist head), have nystagmus, and sometimes will do continuous body flips. She is not responsive during these episodes, but her neurologist says they are not seizures. If she gets excited or stressed, she will also go into a vestibular episode in which she falls onto her side and can't get up. We raised her last dosage of Keppra because she had stopped jumping. With the dosage doubled now, she has started jumping again (although she is a poor jumper anyway). Her worst episode happened in response to the anesthesia for the MRI to confirm SM. She was not able to sit or stand for over 24 hours and had nystagmus. She stayed in the hospital overnight recovering from that episode. However, unlike Susie, she did come out of it after 1+ days. I do think Riley is somewhat atypical though in that her episodes are recurring and other than the one major event after her MRI, her episodes only last a matter of minutes and then she recovers (although still with deficits).

Good luck at the vet. I hope she recovers soon. I'll be thinking about you both today.

19th January 2009, 05:50 PM
For the life of me, I can't remember what this was about, but did use about 1/2 glycerin suppository to help a dog initiate a bowel movement. They are at any drugstore-often used as an aid for pediatrics. Hope she gets to feeling better. :xfngr:

19th January 2009, 09:34 PM
so sorry, I have no advice, but wanted to say, I hope all is well soon. :xfngr:

Cathy Moon
21st January 2009, 12:11 AM
I'm just catching up with threads tonight; I haven't had any experience with this condition, but want to say I hope she improves very soon. :flwr:

Charlie, my rescue who had severe SM, got a bit constipated from the pain med Tramadol. I gave him fish oil caplets (from the human drugstore) 1,000 mg with each meal. And I made a broth with canned dog food and water, which he drank several times per day. Doing this softened his stools so he could eliminate. Then I continued with this regimen proactively so he wouldn't have discomfort, but it was a balancing act to keep his stools firm enough.