There was something terribly wrong with my almost-13-year-old golden retriever, Holly. It happened suddenly, out of the blue:
Her symptoms were:
- Nystagmus (eyes flickering back and forth) and rhythmic eyebrow twitching
- Severe head tilt: One ear was pointing to the floor, the other ear was pointing to the ceiling
- Apparent confusion/disorientation: She was looking around the room in an unfocused fashion, as if she didn’t know where she was or what was happening
- Inability to walk or stand: She scrabbled around helplessly on the floor. When we lifted her, she lurched sideways, staggered, and fell against the wall. She had a no balance. Some dogs walk in circles.
It was very alarming.
Was this a stroke? An ominous neurological affliction?
No, these are classic signs of Canine Vestibular Disease, also down as Old Dog Vestibular Disease. It is a problem with the inner ear, causing dizziness, loss of balance, and nausea.
Basically, the dog feels seasick.