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My 13-year-old golden was diagnosed three days ago with vestibular disease. She has the head tilt and darting eyes, but what's causing me the most alarm is her complete inability to stand or walk. If we try to lift her, she won't put any weight on any of her legs, simply is a dead weight -- we can't even help her outside with a towel sling. She's also become incontinent (possible urinary tract infection at the same time, planning to have a urinalysis tomorrow), so we're just using absorbent pads under her and cleaning her frequently. She's eating normally, but constipated (again, we'll be consulting with the vet about this tomorrow), and very thirsty. She's made some attempts to lift herself up, but her hind legs don't seem to have any strength.

Is this total inability to walk or even stand a common symptom of vestibular disease? I know the standard prognosis for this condition is at least a partial recovery within a couple of weeks; but does that hold true as well for dogs who are affected this severely, and completely unable to hold themselves up?

Thanks in advance -- hoping very much for reassuring news.
 

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I don't have personally experience with vestibular disease, but I'm in a facebook group and one member does post regular updates about her progress with the diagnosis, so I'll share what I know. Perhaps other more experienced members can chip in.

Her Golden is only 6, and plagued with a variety of health issues- thyroid, HD, Epilepsy etc.

Her dog experienced what you are describing, and was completely immobile. I believe his 5th relapse was the most serious, and he had a loss of vision. He eventually regained his vision overtime. however he is still not mobile- there was progress though. From being totally unable to stand, and constantly lying on his side, he is now able to prop himself on his elbows and hold his head up. He is able to stand for a short while with support ( they made him a dog wheelchair- but I'm not sure if he is strong enough to use that)

He is placed on pee pads as well, and used to be placed on water drips, and 5 daily injections to prevent a relapse ( I'm not sure what the injections are as she did not state). They've also sent him for acupuncture which i believe was a great help.

I believe you too will see progression overtime, good luck!
 

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Karen
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My 13-year-old golden was diagnosed three days ago with vestibular disease. She has the head tilt and darting eyes, but what's causing me the most alarm is her complete inability to stand or walk. If we try to lift her, she won't put any weight on any of her legs, simply is a dead weight -- we can't even help her outside with a towel sling. She's also become incontinent (possible urinary tract infection at the same time, planning to have a urinalysis tomorrow), so we're just using absorbent pads under her and cleaning her frequently. She's eating normally, but constipated (again, we'll be consulting with the vet about this tomorrow), and very thirsty. She's made some attempts to lift herself up, but her hind legs don't seem to have any strength.

Is this total inability to walk or even stand a common symptom of vestibular disease? I know the standard prognosis for this condition is at least a partial recovery within a couple of weeks; but does that hold true as well for dogs who are affected this severely, and completely unable to hold themselves up?

Thanks in advance -- hoping very much for reassuring news.
I'm really sorry to read that your girl has vestibular disease. My Golden Merry also had this and it was very scary and challenging to manage. For us the severe symptoms lasted about two weeks and it was about a month before she was able to stand up by herself.

Here are some things that helped us.
When I would get Merry from laying down to standing I would do this in stages. We would first go from laying down to sitting and I would stand behind her and lift her front legs and shoulders slowly up to the sitting position and then hold her body for several seconds - to a few minutes to help her orient and adjust to the sitting position.

Then for standing, the second stage, I would lift slowly her butt and back legs and then have her stand there again for several seconds, to a few minutes. The reason I did this was to give her time to adjust to the new position.

For walking I had a harness so that supported the front of her body and then used a second leash under her back legs. When we would walk I would speak to her to encourage her and then just take a couple of steps at a time and then let her rest. Then the next steps. Essentially I was holding her up in both the front and back.

In the first days we only moved from my front room to just outside the door. Also, every time when I came back in I had her stand by her water bowl and encouraged her to get a drink. I was worried that she was not drinking enough because she couldn't freely get to her water.

I also gave her water with a plastic syringe that my vet gave me (20 ml) several times a day. For this I would gently place a towel under her head. Then with the syringe in the side of her mouth very slowly move some water and wait for her to start to swallow, and slowly give her water. Her head was to the side, I didn't want to add too much, but you can see if she's drinking. I would get her up every 4 - 5 hours.

After about 12 days we were able to walk short distances, one house over and then back home. But it was 3 to 4 weeks before she was really able to walk and she had trouble with any change in the surface, such as going from the sidewalk to the road. What she saw with her eyes was not in the same place as where her feet were so it was scary for her and she would leap over the boundary.

One of the hardest things is that you are self conscious about holding your dog and that she looks in such distress. People in my neighborhood would watch, the folks I knew would ask about Merry and I told them she had vertigo. One person said that she also had vertigo so could definitely understand but it's hard because people think you are not taking care of your dog.

Will be thinking of you, PM me or post if you have questions that I can help with. {{hugs}}
 

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Many thanks to all of you! Though I'm sorry that other pups and their people have gone through such scary experiences, I'm relieved to know that our girl's symptoms aren't necessarily cause for extra alarm. She doesn't seem any closer to standing as of this afternoon, but now she's on antibiotics for her urinary tract infection, so hopefully however much severity that's adding to the vestibular disease will start to clear up...at least she'll be more comfortable while she's resting up. And I'm doing some shopping online for harnesses in case she does have a long rehab period. Again, thanks!
 

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Sit yourself on a swivel chair, spin around about 30 times really fast then stop suddenly and try to get up and walk a straight line. This is what she is feeling right now. Her brain can't tell her body which end is up. Sometimes they feel more secure if they can rest leaning against a wall, at least that way they can somewhat feel like they know which end is up. To walk her, try to figure out which way she is leaning. It will always be in the same direction. Let her lean into you. If you can be her "wall" she might be a bit more comfortable trying to walk, although still very unsteady. First few days usually are the worst, then she should gradually start to improve. Hang in there, with some extra TLC you'll get through this.
 
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