Friday, July 22, 2011

Vestibular Disease in Dogs

Maybe you found this by googling Vestibular Disease in dogs, or you think your dog had a stroke. Maybe you read my blog. But here's a short story about my Dog and our journey with Vestibular Disease. Don't panic, first off. This is not the end for your dog, but you should seek medical attention.

Is your dog unable to stand/walk?

When he moves, is it like hes drunk or dizzy?

Do you notice rapid eye movement?

Keep reading my tale of my dog.

So when I got home from work last Thursday, it looked like my 14 year old chow, Forrest had a stroke. He had vomited and lost his bladder and could not stand up, when he did, it looked like he was drunk. What I did NOT notice, is the rapid eye movement that he had, which is a classic sign of Vestibular Syndrome. I called a friend and she advised me to get him to the ER ASAP.

Trying to make as many calls and texts before I left, while trying not to burst into tears, we rushed to the Veterinary ER and I was sure that this was going to be my goodbye with my best friend. Fortunately, the Doctor diagnosed it as vestibular disease, which he can fully recover from. Commonly mistaken as a stroke. Its like vertigo in humans. He is off balance and cannot walk or stand. The good news is, this is fully recoverable and seldom happens again.

We were given medicine and bed rest for a week or so.

I took him home and gave him some water and let him rest in the back yard a little and he slept on his dog bed pretty comfortably. The next morning I carried him into the back yard, he drank some water, went potty, and I fed him some canned dog food. I carried him into his favorite spot, my bedroom closet, on a blanket. This week, I have been checking on him at lunchtime.

Last weekend, I canceled all appointments in order to stay home and be with Forrest. I took him outside this morning, and he drank water and was able to go potty. I let him sit outside for about 30 minutes. He was still unable to stand or sit up, and when I put him down, he laid on his right side.

I brought him in and set him up in the living room on a bed sheet and a towel under his back area in case he had an accident, and he laid there most of the day. I made him some chicken, but he has not been interested in eating, mostly due to the nausea. Mom stopped by for a visit and he wagged his tail a few times.

At lunch time, I took him in the back yard again, and he drank water and went potty again, this time actually laying on the grass but his head up and looked like he was enjoying the sun. I waited outside with him for about 30 minutes, and brought him inside again. He laid down again, on the right side. His head was still cocked to one side, and he doesn't like to move.

When we got back from church, I took him out again and he drank lots of water, and I was able to feed him two bites of wet dog food. This whole time, I have been giving him water from a bottle, but I tried with a small bowl tonight, which he eagerly drank from.

When I carried him in and set him he was able to balance a little, but in the end, he wanted to be laid down, he was able to hold his head up while laying there, still cocked, but this is the first time he has not laid his head down to the side. Saturday evening I put him on his dog bed, and he laid there on his chin, so I felt like we were making baby steps towards recovery.

Earlier this week, Forrest showed me that he can drink from a water bowl (was bottle feeding him) and can hold his head up (but still tilted).

By Monday of this week, Forrest was accustomed to our "routine" now. I take him outside, and he's starting to want to stand on his own, and if he stands between my legs, he can stand up and stay standing, however, without me there, he will fall. When I ask if he wants to go out, he tries to get up on his own, but his balance is still off. I still carry him. He is, however, moving around more on the grass, while laying he will use his back and front legs to move himself into different positions. Sunday around noon, I put 2 pieces of canned dog food into his cheek so he would chew it, then after the first bite, he realized that he was hungry. So he ate half the can of dog food. Still no interest in crunchy things like dry dog food, biscuits or ice.

Tuesday, I went home at lunch time and he finished the last 1/3 of the can of dog food. His eyes are no longer twitching (part of the Vestibular Disease), and his playful personality is starting to peek out a little bit. Tuesday night, he ate a piece of chicken that I grilled.
During the week, he will wake up around 5 AM, so I take him outside and put him in the grass until right before I get ready for work, around 6:30. I will go home at lunch for a while to make sure he's ok.

Wednesday, I got home from work and he was standing in the entry way, waiting for me. Forrest is now able to get up on his own (if he's on Carpet or Grass), he can walk, but he's pretty unsteady. I can help him walk from inside and out into the back yard, and he will move around on the grass for a little while and have himself a seat. Progress has been good, and as a big surprise, in the middle of the night last night, he walked out of the bedroom and went and got himself a drink from his bowl in the kitchen.

His appetite has returned, but he still is refusing dry food, dog biscuits etc, things that are crunchy. I suspect this is due to the vestibular disease, and his ears being sensitive to the crunching noises when he eats, but we'll see.

Forrest still has some head tilt, but the doctor explained that some dogs never recover from this, however, it does not affect them other than kind of looking silly. Its not as extreme as it was a week ago, and I'm hoping we keep progressing at this rate.