Vestibular syndrome shows up as changes in posture, balance, and movement. An affected pet often tilts its head to the side and may have trouble walking. It commonly circles to one side, and may fall or roll over when moving. The eyes often swing or ratchet back and forth, which is a condition known as nystagmus.
Diagnosis may involve a variety of tests, but begins with a thorough history and physical exam. Your veterinarian will examine your pet's ears, looking for signs of infection. S/he will also perform a neurologic exam, which involves watching how your pet moves, checking its reflexes, and examining its eyes. Blood work may be needed to rule out other illnesses, such as liver disease, that can affect the brain, and x-ray or ultrasound images may be recommended for further investigation. The old-dog syndrome is diagnosed by excluding other problems.
Treatment is aimed at the underlying condition. Old-dog vestibular syndrome is temporary and resolves within a few weeks, although some dogs retain a permanent head tilt. However, it is important to distinguish the old-dog syndrome from other potentially treatable conditions such as ear infection or brain inflammation.