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Vestibular Disease in Dogs… Symptoms, expectations and costs!

Have you been told that your dog might have vestibular disease? If so, you might be looking around the internet for the best, most thorough information on vestibular disease. Well, this might not be the article that you’re looking for. Then again, as with all of our articles, we like to try and break down complicated subjects into easily understandable concepts so that you, as a pet owner, can better understand what is wrong with your animal and what and expect while treating them.

Plus, it’s always nice to know how much your pet’s treatment will cost so that you can “mentally” prepare yourself for that as well. So, without further ado, let’s dive right in!

What is vestibular disease?

Dogs and humans have something in them that helps keeps us balanced and upright. This is done by the vestibular system, which has two main components: the brain’s ventral vestibular and the ear’s peripheral vestibular.

What happens when vestibular disease occurs?

When your dog has vestibular disease, you will notice some symptoms. Your dog may be drunk or “tipsy.” He might be stumbling, show sudden imbalance, or even fall over. It will look like something is wrong. It’s almost as if your dog has suffered from a stroke.

Other clinical signs and vestibular symptoms to watch out for may include:

  • Head tilt,
  • Strange eye movements (nystagmus),
  • Vomiting and nausea,
  • Rolling or circling in a way you’ve never seen,
  • Loss of balance.

Types Vestibular disease

As mentioned, there are different vestibular system components and thus different types of the disease.

Peripheral Vestibular Disease:

The source of the problem is in the ear. It may have been caused by:

  • an ear infection,
  • ear trauma,
  • or something else wrong with the ear.

Hypothyroidism could also cause it.

Central Vestibular Disease:

The source of the problem is the brain. It could be caused by a:

  • tumor,
  • infection,
  • Or anything else wrong in the brain, causing pressure and inflammation on the cranial or vestibule nerve, thus causing the dog to lose balance.

Geriatric Vestibular Disease:

This happens as a result of old age. They are sometimes called old dog vestibular disease. Not all older dogs will get it, of course.

Canine Idiopathic vestibular disease:

This is just another name for vestibular disease. You may see it called this or dog vestibular syndrome.

Diagnosis of Vestibular Disease in Dogs

If you have seen any of these symptoms in your dog, please immediately take them to the vet.   Your vet may want to run tests to look at the inner and middle ear and the brain. This will be done with an MRI or CT scan. A CT scan is usually cheaper than an MRI, but the exposure is unsuitable for your dog, mainly if done regularly. MRIs, on the other hand, have no known side effects.

Treatment of Vestibular Disease in Dogs

As mentioned, vestibular disorders are usually caused by something else. Your vet will prescribe the right antibiotics or other medication if it is an infection. If it is a tumor, then that will need to be removed. In the meantime, your dog may be given sedatives so they don’t get stressed out trying to walk. Also, anti-nausea medications might be needed if your dog is vomiting.


Though watching your dog stumble around with stroke-like symptoms is very scary, the truth is that most dogs will be okay. If it is a cancerous tumor causing vestibular disorder, then that’s another issue, and the treatment will be planned accordingly.

This brings us to…

Were we like to remind folks that we here at IndulgeYourPet are not doctors, veterinarians, or medical professionals. We are all a bunch of folks passionate about animals and only want what’s best for them. If you feel your pet may have vestibular disease (or any other health issue), you’ll want to have them checked out by a vet ASAP!


An early diagnosis will often lead to the “best” medical outcome for your pet regardless of what is bothering them, but beyond that, diagnosing a medical condition early could save you a bundle in medical costs!


We can’t say how much it will cost for treatment since we don’t know what’s causing it. The cost will be directly attached to how the vet has to fix it. If an infection is the cause, you’ll pay the price of 2-3 vet visits, the scans used during diagnosis, and the antibiotics. This could total to around $600, less if you’re lucky.

If you need to surgically…

Remove a tumor; you’ll have to pay for the above (minus antibiotics), plus the surgery. Plus, follow-up appointments and scans to make sure he’s still healthy. When it’s all said and done, this will probably be over $1500, more like $3000 in many cases. Maybe more. This is also why we here at IndulgeYourPet also recommend that any new pet owner take a moment and see what it might cost for you to purchase a pet insurance policy for your new animal.

Now will a pet insurance policy be suitable for everyone?

No, probably not. But until you fully understand what these policies “will” and “won’t” cover and how much these pet insurance policies cost, how will you know if one might be right for you?

For more information on who we feel currently offers the “best” pet insurance policies out there, we would encourage you to check out our Best Pet Insurance Policies article.

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