The most common cause of sudden lost balance is Old Dog Syndrome. This is a temporary condition which should be recovered from your dog within two weeks. If your dog suddenly loses balance, it can be frightening. It can look like they are having a stroke. While this sudden loss of balance may be a symptom of many different conditions, one of the most common is Idiopathic Vestibular Disease, also known as the Old Dog Syndrome. This is a common, temporary, and non-fatal condition that frequently affects dogs, especially as they grow older. With the right treatment, they can recover completely and quickly from this stress. If your dog suddenly loses their balance, you should take them to your veterinarian for a proper diagnosis. But if they do have Old Dog Syndrome here is everything you should know.
What Is Old Dog Syndrome?
Technical name is idiopathic veinibular disorder. Idiopathic means the cause is unknown, while vestibular refers to the part of the body affected, a part of the grains, ears, and other organs which regulate balance. The syndrome presents as a “non-progressive” disorder of balance, which means that it suddenly happens and then improves rather than gets worse progressively. It is often also called Old Dog Syndrome because it is the most common among older dogs of seven and older ages but can affect dogs of any age.
The most common symptoms that occur when dogs are affected by this syndrome are
- A visible tilted head at approximately 45 degrees
- Standing with an unusually wide posture,
- Unsteady walking
- Loss of Balance and regular falling over
- Rapid eye movements (nystagmus)
- The appetite loss
- Deciding to lie down on hard surfaces
These symptoms can be symptoms of a number of different conditions including stroke, inner-ear infections, brain tumors, inflammatory diseases or bleeds in the brain. So if your dog begins to develop any of these symptoms, you should take them to their vet immediately. Another symptom we observed with our dog was his eyes moving quickly back and forth. I’m not sure if this is common, but it is something we noticed before we brought him in to our emergency vets.
The cause of Old Dog Syndrome is unknown ; it is also difficult to diagnose. It can be associated with ear infections, so that the examination of the ears may be something to uncover but this is not always the case. The most common way to diagnose Old Dog Syndrome is to “wait and see” If your dog is suffering from Vestibular Syndrome, they normally improve in 72 hours. Your vet will probably recommend that you wait to see if your dog is getting more balanced. If your dog does not begin to improve on their own, this indicates that their symptoms point to a more serious condition. Your veterinarian will then likely discuss a variety of blood tests and MRIs to identify this other condition. These aren’t ordered before because they are generally quite expensive.
This doesn’t mean that your dog is completely on their own during the window for waiting and seeing. If the symptoms are mild to moderate, your veterinarian probably recommends that you give your dog something like meclizine, an over-the-counter anti-nausea drug. Obviously, if the condition is associated with an ear infection, they will be given antibiotics to clear it up. Additionally, you will be advised to ensure that your dog has a comfortable position to rest and that you baby proof your house. This means blocking stairs and covering sharp corners because your pup is far more likely to have an accident if their balance is compromised.
Be prepared for some unpleasant hound clean-ups, as they are unlikely to have the same control or goal when stealing their business. They may not want to eat because of nausea and may also have trouble eating, so you might also want to give them a liquid dietary supplement, such as these options from PetAG and Tomlyn. You should not spend too much time carrying your dog; sitting on his own feet helps them recover their balance. If you coddle them too much, you could prolong the problem only a little bit more. If their case is more serious they may need to remain at the vet, where they will be treated with an IV and anti-nausea medication. The balance of their loved ones should return to normal within about 72 hours with this type of care, and they should completely recover from the episode within 7 to 14 days.
While the condition can be dizzying and frightening for your pup, it is not particularly painful. As long as you give them the extra love and attention they need, you can relax. In some cases, the head tilt developed by your dog can linger, which may affect their overall coordination but this is relatively rare. However, once your dog has had an episode of Old Dog Syndrome their chances of having another increase. Repeat bouts tend to remain stable and present similar symptoms of a similar severity rather than becoming worse. Because the cause of Old Dog Syndrome is unknown there is no known way to prevent the condition from repeating itself. However, veterinarians suggest giving your dog plenty of Omega-3 fats and a good nutrient supplement during the recovery period to reduce the chance of getting injured.
What breeds are affected by the old-dog syndrome?
While any breed of dog can be affected by Old Dog Syndrome, some breeds are more susceptible to the condition than others. Among those breeds most affected by animal disease are :
- Doberman Pinscher:
- English Cocker Spaniel.
- German Shepherd
- Shetland Sheepdog
- Tibet Terrier
As I mentioned earlier, my dogs were both German Shepherd and one, who we thought was a Labrador Australian Shepherd mix. This condition is not particularly common among Labradors, although they tend to be susceptible to ear infections. This is why you should regularly clean the ears of your pet. Identify the health conditions the most common among Labradors in our guide.
How do you handle an old dog?
If your dog has lost their balance as a result of Old Dog Syndrome, you should take them to the vet to check if it is not more serious. It is then a matter of waiting for them to regenerate naturally. During that period, you should protect them from safety hazards in the home such as stairs and sharp edges, as they are more likely to have an accident. Those with vomiting are also given anti-nausea medicines over-the-counter. If they do not improve within the first 72 hours, return to your veterinarian. If their symptoms do improve, monitor them for two weeks until they are fully recovered.
Why Is My Dog Standing On His Feet
If your dog suddenly loses balance, they may very well suffer from Old Dog Syndrome. As previously mentioned, this is a temporary condition and you should begin to see improvement in your dog within 72 hours. However, if it is a more persistent condition it could be ataxia, also known as Wobbler’s syndrome. This is a loss of balance as a result of a disc injury. If you suspect that your dog may have Wobbler Syndrome, speak to your veterinarian to find out how your dog can be treated.
If your dog suddenly starts losing his balance it can be frightening and you might begin to imagine the worst. The most common cause of sudden loss of balance is Old Dog Syndrome, which is a temporary condition which should be recovered from your dog within the span of about two weeks. But reality is that losing balance can be a symptom of many different things from Old Dog Syndrome to food poisoning to brain tumors. The best thing you can do when your dog starts to show signs of loss of equilibrium is to bring them to the vet so you can rule out anything serious and give them the treatment they need.