Monday, June 4, 2012

Vestibular Disease

Our oldest dog Einstein will be celebrating his 16th!!! birthday in August. We have been very fortunate in that Einstein has been very healthy his whole life, only seeing the veterinarian for check ups and once for poison ivy or poison oak (not sure which one) on his foot and face. (Yes, dogs can get poison ivy or poison oak.)  Just recently however, he had been suffering from outer ear infections. First one side and then the other. While he was being treated for that he also developed Vestibular Disease. Though vestibular disease can happen with no known cause to older dogs, in Einstein's case it was caused by an inner ear infection. This was confirmed when he had a MRI at Gulf Coast Veterinarian Neurology & Neurosurgery. Once it was determined it was caused by an inner ear infection (in both ears), he was prescribed antibiotics, which within a few days was already showing signs of improvement and able to go outside on his own again. The day I took him in for the MRI he could hardly stand, let alone walk. I was having to carry him everywhere. He had no sense of balance. He will be on the antibiotics for a total of three weeks and he's already back to being himself and feeling much better.

Though I was relieved to confirm the cause of his vestibular disease, of which could be treated, the MRI also told us some things I wouldn't have been aware of. It showed around 10 small lesions throughout his brain that indicated small strokes (of which he showed no other signs). It also showed a meningioma tumor on the frontal lobe mass of his brain. Though these tumors are benign and can be surgically removed, I am not going to put him through such invasive surgery at his age. So then we took him to his regular veterinarian to get an abdominal ultrasound, X-rays, urinalysis and to check his blood pressure to see if we could determine what was causing the strokes. He had just recently had a check up and blood work done showing no problems there. All the tests came out normal with the exception of his blood pressure being all over the place. They took it eight times and though it averaged out to be a little above normal, the vet didn't think it was high enough to warrant the strokes, though he was given a medication to help lower his blood pressure. He will be getting his blood pressure checked again in a couple of weeks.

So now that we are armed with the knowledge of what is going on with him health-wise, we can treat him accordingly, keeping him as comfortable and happy as possible. He is doing very well for a sixteen year old (forty-four pound) dog and we hope to have him around for as long as we can! He has brought us so much love and joy in the twelve years we've had him so far. He has been the most dedicated, loyal dog I've ever had (he has to know where I am at all times!), not to mention extremely smart! Giving him the best care and lots of love is the least I can do in return.