Treating older dogs with vestibular disease

Geriatric peripheral vestibular disease is a condition that occurs more commonly in elderly dogs, affecting a dog´s vestibular system located in the inner ear. This can cause debilitating and distressing symptoms including loss of balance, impaired coordination, circling, falling, head tilt, eye beating (nystagmus) and nausea/vomiting.

Humans can develop a similar condition called BPPV (benign paroxysmal positional vertigo), which can be successfully treated by physiotherapists.

At ARH our physiotherapist, Sally, adapts the human treatment of BPPV to dogs suffering from geriatric peripheral vestibular disease. This often involves an Epley manoeuvre – positioning the dog´s head in a specific position and then taking the dog through a series of body positions.

The persistent head tilt that often accompanies this disease can cause neck pain for dogs, and Sally uses massage, manual therapy, laser and acupuncture to relieve these symptoms.

As with many conditions, early treatment for geriatric peripheral vestibular disease provides the best chance for successful treatment.

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