A vestibular incident

Missy had a vestibular incident on Saturday night. Today’s Monday and we’re just back from the vet with more questions than answers at this point.

Missy startled out of her sleep on Saturday night with what at first appeared to be a seizure. She shook all over, her limbs were rigid, and from a seated position she turned her head from side to side like a metronome. But she was conscious and appeared to hear us. After a few minutes she relaxed but couldn’t walk without falling over.

Years ago we had a Newfoundland mix dog who had a few vestibular incidents in his latter years, so we recognized some of the symptoms and suspected canine vestibular syndrome (CVS). And by the next morning the classic head tilt had appeared, Missy’s eyes flicked back and forth (called nystagmus), and she could only walk like a drunken sailor. Her vision in one eye seems impaired too, as she walks in circles and keeps running into obstacles on that side.

She did not, however, lose her appetite, vomit, or have diarrhea, all common with CVS. And she’s only 10, not old for a small dog. CVS is most commonly seen in old dogs.

Even having been through it before with another dog, and knowing that most cases resolve themselves in a few days to weeks, it’s still scary to see. Has this little girl not been through enough?

And of course, there’s the obvious question: What is the cause? When a dog has hemangiosarcoma, it’s natural to worry she’s got a tumor in her brain.

Our vet has put her on prednisone and antibiotics, in case it’s infection- and inflammation-driven. He’s recommending a wait-and-see approach for the next few days. If things don’t begin to resolve, she gets worse, or has episodes that appear more like seizures than CVS, we may need to drive her over to a specialist on the coast to get an MRI.

I took the day off work and she’s asleep in her crate next to me, cuddled up in a dog bed I stuffed in there to supply more padding and support. She just got her bark back about 10 minutes ago. Never thought I’d miss that awful, fingernails-on-a-chalkboard bark!

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