Understanding Dog Balance Problems

A dog with balance problems can be due to various causes, but it is always a sign of a severe illness. Balance problems can be due to poisoning, stroke, tumor, ear infection or vestibular syndrome, which is a syndrome commonly caused by an infection in the middle or inner ear.

The vestibular system helps in maintaining balance and control in dogs. The receptors of this system are located near the inner ear, adjacent to the hearing receptors. Any problem in this system can affect the balance of dogs. Timely treatment of ear infections is crucial for avoiding further complications. Older dogs are most vulnerable to problems related to loss of balance. It is crucial to assess the severity of the symptoms for determining the potential causes and treatment. In case of poison ingestion, contact a veterinarian or poison control immediately.

Symptoms of Balance Problems

Staggering is the main symptom, which includes sudden falling and the inability to regain balance. Other symptoms include vomiting, hacking, head tilt, shaking of the head, loss of hearing and rapid eye movement.

Causes and Treatment

Poisoning: Sudden loss of balance accompanied by vomiting and hacking can indicate that your dog has ingested a poisonous substance. Induce vomiting to get rid of the substance. Oral administration of oil can also aid the dog in vomiting corrosive substances. It is critical to act quickly and contact a poison control unit for additional help.

Stroke: A stroke can only be diagnosed by a veterinarian after blood and urine tests. MRI and CT scans can also be performed to rule out any other possibilities. There are limited treatment options available in case of a stroke.

Tumor: A brain tumor or growth in the inner ear can also cause balance problems. This is usually accompanied by pain in the dog's mouth. This can only be diagnosed by an x-ray, CT/MRI or biopsy. Cases of dogs with loss of balance due to tumors are very rare, and it mostly occurs in older dogs.

Ear infection: This is the most common complaint in dogs. Common symptoms include shaking of the head and rubbing the head on different surfaces. The dog will also walk with a head tilt. It can be caused by the presence of foreign object in the ear canal that causes inflammation. Presence of flees can also cause ear infections. Ear health is crucial in dogs, and the ears should be checked and cleaned regularly. Ear drops and other medications should only be administered as per the veterinarian's advice.

Vestibular syndrome: Vestibular syndrome is a disease of the inner ear, particularly in older dogs, wherein the nerves attached to the cerebellum become inflamed. The real cause is not yet known; however, the symptoms usually disappear after a few days. There is no cure for this disease, but antibiotics can be administered to the dog if an infection is present. Ear infections can be diagnosed using an otoscope.