Had a little bit of a scare last night. Shortly after going to bed, our beloved Lhasa, who sleeps at our feet, appeared to have a seizure. He started shaking, couldn’t stand up, and actually fell off the bed.
He seemed very disoriented, didn’t seem to have any idea what was going on. Checking the phone book, we found a vet emergency room, and made our way there about 1 am. We had no idea what was happening, it could have been a seizure or a stroke, or something else.
By the time we arrived at the vet’s office, he had calmed down considerably, even to the point of being able to stand, albeit wobbly. Vital signs showed no serious problems at the moment, and the vet gave us two options as to what the problem might be.
The worst case, of course, was some sort of brain tumor. Hoping and praying it doesn’t come to that.
The better case, and I think at this point most likely is a condition called vestibular disease. It can take several forms and various degrees of severity, often with no known cause. Basically, it amounts to some failure of the vestibular system which helps control balance. Sort of like an inner ear infection in humans that can make one dizzy and disoriented.
They say this condition can come on suddenly, and it certainly did in this case. A few short hours earlier he had been exploring the back yard, harassing the neighbor dogs, and chasing down his scattered food pieces. As well as begging for people food. It seems to occur most often in older dogs. We don’t know exactly how old he is, as we rescued him from a shelter. The shelter people claimed they thought he was about one year old, but there is no way to be certain of course. We’ve had him six years, and seem to estimate he will be about 10 or 11, or so. Making things worse in his case, though, is we’ve realized he losing his sight, so I’m sure he is totally terrified at what is going on.
The good news is that most dogs tend to make a full recovery, mostly on their own. We were given some medicine to help him with the nausea, and it’s usually a matter of time for them to ‘relearn’ their balance. I have read that sometimes a permanent head tilt is common afterwards, but has no lasting damaging effects.
On a sadder note, while I researched on my own this morning, I read that there may be many cases of dogs having this condition, being misdiagnosed as having an epileptic episode or a stroke, and are put down before anyone knows for sure. When they could have made a full recovery.