Vestibular Disease

Any animal with a vestibular system can suffer from vestibular disease; this ranges from fish and birds to dogs and cats. A pet’s vestibular system is comprised of nerves and inner ear workings that inform the brain of bodily motion, maintain equilibrium, and control eye movement while the body is in motion; essentially, it is responsible for balance, coordination, and posture. Vestibular disease occurs when the nerves have difficulty performing these functions. There are two types of vestibular disease, peripheral and central, with peripheral vestibular disease being more common. Peripheral vestibular disease is caused by disorders of the inner ear (the body’s balance center), whereas central vestibular disease arises from balance issues within the brain.

There are many possible causes of vestibular disease, though the exact catalyst is often unable to be determined. The following are several commonly known triggers.

Causes of vestibular disease: 

  • Brain or inner ear polyps
  • Brain or inner ear tumor
  • Ear infections
  • Negative reaction to certain medications
  • Nerve damage
  • Old age
  • Stroke
  • Trauma to the head
  • Under-active thyroid

Vestibular disease is commonly misdiagnosed as a seizure, stroke, or poisoning. The symptoms between each of these illnesses can be very similar so diagnosis can be extremely difficult. Pets usually begin displaying symptoms quite suddenly, and because most sufferers are elderly animals, the ailments can be debilitating. The peak level of discomfort usually occurs between 24 to 36 hours after initial onset, but clumsiness can remain for several weeks.

Symptoms of vestibular disease: 

  • Circling
  • Dehydration
  • Dizziness
  • Excessive vomiting
  • Head tilt
  • Lack of coordination
  • Loss of appetite
  • Loss of balance/disorientation
  • Rapid eye movements
  • Staggering
  • Unwarranted falling over

How is vestibular disease treated? To diagnose vestibular disease, the veterinarian carefully performs diagnostic tests, examining the ear canals and performing a neurological exam. After it is certain that vestibular disease is the cause of the pet’s symptoms, very little can be done. There is not a cure for vestibular disease, so treatment usually involves curing the side-effects; the veterinarian can prescribe a medication to relieve nausea or a sedative that helps your pet manage its balance complications. The disease will gradually resolve on its own over the next 7 to 30 days. There remains no way to accelerate this process. Also, for some pets, the head-tilt side-effect will remain permanent. Once a pet gets vestibular disease, it is very rare that it reoccurs, though it is entirely possible for this to happen.

For pets suffering from vestibular disease caused by another serious medical issue, further testing and attention may be necessary. If your pet requires further care, the veterinarian will address a treatment plan during your pet’s exam.

Please feel free to contact our office with any questions you might have about vestibular disease.


Read what people are saying about us.

read more


Here's a vet that still cares.
Just wanted to say I love Dr. Petcu's staff and his compassionate , caring way of taking care of my dogs.The staff is not only friendly and professional ,they know who you are when you arrive ,and they actually love animals. Is the first Animal Hospital that my dogs are at ease and feel comfortable.The place is very clean and the reception area very elegant and inviting. Exquisite services and Dr. Petcu always take his time to explain the disease and options and still finds time to play with my dogs. He's always treated both his animal and human patients with compassion and dignity,and would never recommend procedures unless he truly feels your pet will benefit from it. One of the vets that cares for your pet. The prices are reasonable and the services exceed all expectations. I Highly recommend Dr.Petcu and his hospital.

Reba S

Western Animal Hospital AMAZING! Western Animal Hospital is the best place in the valley .The staff is professional, friendly, caring and accommodating. The hospital is very clean and upscale. The customer service and the provided services are outstanding.Dr. Petcu is one of the most professional veterinarians that i have ever met in my 25 years of pet parenting. I drive across the valley just to see him( i live in Anthem) .He really cares about his animal patients and it shows in every visits . He is very knowledgeable , compassionate, friendly and always takes the time to answer any question i have and explaining in detail any situation we are dealing with. I had my share of visits to many animal hospitals in the valley but none of them had the last technology as Western - digital X-ray ( they send you home with a cd for you x-ray records ) every room has a computer monitor where the x-ray shows and Dr. Petcu can review with me every detail of it. Also they have the laser surgery and digital dental x-ray. Dr. petcu is one of the most
courteous and pleasant Vets I have ever met. The prices are more than reasonable and also they try to accommodate everybody. I cannot recommend them enough. You can rest easy knowing your pets are in their care.I STRONGLY RECOMMEND THIS HOSPITAL - THEY HAVE A CUSTOMER FOR LIFE IN ME! very good !

Betty K

Western Animal Hospital this doctor is making a lot of sense and will explain everything in details..
prices are great ....

.the best vet I met !! Pam M. 5 Western Animal Hospital - we are bringing our pets to Dr Petcu for 8 years. He was always helpful, many times we did not have the funds to treat our pets but he was fine with us paying when we had the money. He saved our cats in many instances and all I have to say is that I greatly reccomend Western Animal Hospital for any responsable pet owner .

Yolanda M

View More