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Vestibular Disease in Aging Cairn - Vertigo - Need Help!

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gd4

Hello, all,

I am usually here with questions on my little girl; however, today, my heart is heavy and I need any knowledge that can be provided on vestibular disease and vertigo. Has anyone experienced this in their elder dogs? My male Cairn is 12 1/2. He has basically had great health and hardy. No issues. One week and half ago, he could not stand up when he exited his crate. This went on and was very scary. I rushed him to the Vet. She diagnosed him with vertigo, showed me how to check his eyes to confirm and told me not to worry. She was very sure that it would improve. She also checked his ears - no issues. His eyes would move rapidly back and forth when one held his head still. His head also tilted to one side (she told me it may stay like this). I was given a med to assist with motion sickness and we went home. By the next couple of days, while dizzy, he was walking periodically and seemed okay. Yesterday, he took a turn for the worse ever. Since that time, he cannot stand, has urinated on himself due to not being able to move and remains on one side. He is coherent but was panicking by panting and demonstrating anxiety. We brought him to the vet today (our vet is away) and the experienced vet told us that in 90% of dogs, they improve. The remainder who do not, usually have a brain tumor or some form of neurological issue. We were told that due to the fact that he has took a dramatic turn for the worse and cannot basically stand and remains on one side that it is likely he will not be get better. It was mentioned that we could try to take him to a specialist which will be a lot of money or euthanize. We are having heart-wrenching talks about what to do. We have decided to see if he improves over the remainder of the weekend and are taking him back to the Vet on Monday evening. We do not know what to do. The fact that he is almost 13, tells me that if there is a neurological disorder that it may not prove to try to treat. I worry about the quality of life. Right now, he remains under our care in his crate. He will drink water but cannot eat very well, as food falls out of his mouth. He is fixed on his side. This came about so sudden and we simply are stumped. We do not want to end his life if there is a chance that he will get well. Please, if anyone can share info, I appreciate it. Sorry for the long post. Gina

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Terrier lover

I have no experience with this health issue, but my heart goes out to you. I am sure somewhere on this forum I remember someone with the same issues. However I can't remember who, but perhaps someone will.

big hugs to you.:hug:

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gd4

Thank you so much. It is very hard for us. We also just experienced a loss of a loved one whose memorial was today. I will definitely accept your kind words and hugs. Thank you, Gina

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Hillscreek

Have not had experience with this health issue but have had crisis of life come pretty suddenly. One hopes against hope but also have to determine that sometimes loving our dear furry ones is letting them go when they cannot manage any more. So very very tough.Thinking of you.

:(:hug:

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hheldorfer

I'm very sorry that I have no knowledge on this subject and can't ease your pain, but you and your boy are in my thoughts.  It's a heart-wrenching decision and all of us have faced it.  Listen to your heart; only you know what's best.    

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Malcolm's Dad

Very hard decisions to make. You want them to get better. You don't want them to suffer. See what the vet says when you take her back. Sometimes treatment from a specialist is hard on the dog and won't extend life for that long. But then I don't know your situation so I can't say. Have to agree with hheldorfer, You will know what is best.

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gd4

Thank you, all. I truly appreciate your support. We are taking him to a neurological specialist at the referral of a friend on Monday. He is trying to get up tonight, ate dinner and is quite alert. I hope for the best but am open to the second opinion. I do not want to prolong things. I simply want to know the facts and what we have to work with before making such a final decision. Hugs! Gina

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Idaho Cairns

I found this on an internet site--" The head tilt and stumbling often improve over a seven to ten day period. Most patients are completely recovered within two to three weeks although some will have residual symptoms such as a head tilt or mild "wobbling" for life. "
I am hoping that this will be your experience with your dog.  I will relate our experience with our first Cairn who, at around the age of your dog, suddenly, one quiet evening,  jumped to her feet from a deep sleep and ran around the living room, crashing into chairs, couches, the television stand and the sliding door, then falling on her side trembling, eyes rolled up into her upper lids, drooling--we had no idea what was going on.  After fifteen to twenty minutes she recovered but was very, very weak.  This extreme behavior never victimized her again but she would, interestingly,  suffer seizures only during the winter months--usually once or twice a winter.  We watched for the signs, which were much like a dog having nightmares, whines, biting, and jerking.  She would also lose control of her bladder during these seizures.  Applying cold packs from the freezer to her back and shoulders seemed to decrease the impact of these incidents and tended to ease her into consciousness (You might want to try this gently with your boy--see how he reacts).  We had her sleep between us at night so we would know immediately about the onset of these seizures so we could get that cold pack on her.
Despite these seizures, our Cairn lived five or six more years all but the last few months were almost normal.  Now I have no idea whether this was Vestibular Disease but it was clearly something to do with her nervous system.
Hopefully, your dog exhibits the early recovery from the worst of those symptoms and you are able to continue to enjoy him as almost normal.
Please keep us informed--you know you have an audience here that really cares about what you and your Cairn are going thru right now.

A note here:  I don't know that the ice pack thing is appropriate for your little guy.  We noticed with our Tootsie that she would get "hot"--her body temperature would be obviously elevated during her seizures and the first episode describe, which led us to applying that pack (one of those pebbly things with a cloth covering--for arthritic pain) to her shoulders.  Your call, kind of check his body temps and see if they seem high.

Edited by Idaho Cairns

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sanford

So sorry to read about what you are going through and hoping for the best outcome, and that the symptoms might abate.

Please let us know how things progress.

Edited by sanford

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gd4

Thank you, Idaho Cairns and Sanford for your replies. It has only been since October 11 since this happened. Therefore, I feel it is too early to euthanize!!! While the Vet that we saw yesterday alluded to this, I feel it was inappropriate. My husband and I brought him home and are taking care of him until we can see the specialist. We do not have children and love our dogs like family. We are praying that we receive guidance and a sign to know what to do. Again, this board has truly proven a lifesaver over the many years with my little girl and boy. Many thanks. Gina

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pkcrossley

i have dealt with a cairn brain tumor and i know how agonizing it is. for myself i put the highest possible value on having the most complete knowledge, no matter what would come after. the only way to get that in a case like this is an MRI --a very high expense but a one-time one. that would show whether there is a tumor or not. if not, this is possibly an infection or a benign condition that could improve over time. if a tumor, then you know where you are with that. it would allow you to know, either way. if an MRI is out of the question, vets usually try to diagnose through treatment, as they are doing now. if they dog improves, it was a benign condition, if not, they assume things that are probable but not certain. i am so sorry you are going through this, and sympathize completely.  

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Ms Molly Mae

I have not seen such vertigo in dogs, but my DH has had something similar. It got so bad that he stayed in bed all day on meds except to stumble to the bathroom. Turned out he had a rare disorder that a regular ENT could not find. It took a MRI at a specialist and then surgery. It would be worth getting the MRI to pin point the problem. 

If the eyes are seemingly part of the cause, have you tried to blind fold him to see if he can stand without seeing?  Just a thought. 

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kieiras mom

So sorry for you and your sweet little one, Hope for good news. Keep us informed, please. WE care about you nd your little one.

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gd4

Thank you, all, so much for your kind responses and willingness to share. We are on the way to the specialist this morning. The pup is alert, standing and trying to move around more. He has a hearty appetite and normal functions. Hoping for good news.

Gina

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kjwarnold

It must be very scary to see this happen and not know what to do or what is causing it.  I know nothing about what could cause this or what to do, but I'm sorry you are going through it.  Hopefully you'll get good news at the specialist, or st least find out for sure what you're facing.  Not knowing is the worst.  Good luck.

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beccadiane374

So sorry you all are going through this - hugs, prayers & well wishes for your sweet boy.

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gd4

Thanks, all! Our visit to the specialist proved a wealth of information. Based on her exam, she is 99% sure that it is not the typical presentation of peripheral vestibular disease (vertigo) that old dogs get. She believes it is central vestibular disease which has presented itself on the left side. Basically, in summary, it is felt that he had a stroke that has affected him as his left legs react differently when examined than his right; nor is the rapid eye movement the same as what presents in the old dog vertigo (his eyes more direct to the left in movement). If he continues to improve, this is a good thing. In the interim, we have run lab tests to make sure there is no underlying disease which could have contributed to this happening. There is the possibility of brain lesion or tumor. If this is the case, it is all about palliative care for remaining quality of life. We will know more based on the lab results performed. One good sign is that he is up walking on his own again! He is wobbling but is certainly active, alert and improving. As the doc stated, it is way too premature to euthanize. We will wait to see what happens. I will keep you all posted on the lab results. Perhaps, my information can help another to the forum.

The most important message that I have from my experience and research that I have done is to NOT rush to euthanize a dog in this condition. Get a second or third opinion, and if possible, wait and see. Our dog is again, improving, which is a good sign if it continues.  Blessings, Gina

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Idaho Cairns

Great news!!!  Been checking back to see what your visit revealed and this is super!  In the tale I related, we always believed our Toots had a stroke at the first incident and all the following "mini-stokes" were the result of the first grand one.  As I mentioned, our dog lived several more years without a lot of loss of "quality of life".  I am hoping that your experience turns out to be the same.
Thank you for the update--now I can relax!

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bradl

Ditto! Thank you for this update.

With the old ones especially there are *so many* things that can be going on that it is difficult to sort through what is what. And watching a dog that is off its game and just waiting to see if they improve on their own is phenomenally hard — we just want to DO something to help them! 

Kind thoughts and hopes for continued improvement.

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Terrier lover

Oh Gina that is such good news. Hopefully she has a Few more good years to go! So happy she is up and eating. Keeping our paws and fingers crossed!

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gd4

Thanks, folks! I am so appreciative of your support. Since we do not have kids, our boy and girl are OUR KIDS! He is doing much better and yes, I believe that there is still hope.

I will keep you posted.

Gina

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Hillscreek

Great news- saying goodbye only happens when there is nothing left to do and quality of life is gone. Not so yet with this senior gentleman. Hoping for time left for him to enjoy life - even if a bit wobbly.  :D

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gd4

Absolutely! He just enjoyed a big meal and is quite willing to deal with what he must. If he can, I'm willing to work with him :)

Thank you. Gina

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Malcolm's Dad

Wonderful news! Good that drastic treatment is not needed.  Strokes cause problems. Seems like he coping well. Oh, last time I called him a she. Sorry about that little guy.

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