I learned something recently from a client that I wanted to share with you.  Her older dog went to the vet with all the common signs of a stroke – falling, no coordination, head tilt, etc.  Oftentimes when there isn’t a clear indication of what is going on especially in older animals, the diagnosis of “stroke” can be common.  It’s broad and can encompass many behaviors or signs.  Stroke can seem to be a general diagnosis when no one is really sure and extensive testing doesn’t make sense at that point.  I’m not a vet so I really don’t know much about strokes or vestibular disease but it’s worth mentioning because it may help a lot of animals with a general diagnosis of stroke.

So, from what I googled, Vestibular Disease is a condition in which animals can suddenly develop incoordination, falling or circling, disorientation, etc.  Apparently the vestibular apparatus is located in the inner ear and is responsible for maintaining balance and sense of orientation.  Animals do recover from this it seems but it is often diagnosed as stroke.   

After hearing this I realized that we also had an older dog who suddenly showed these signs and the vet said it was probably a stroke but we never really knew for sure.  We also had an older cat with the same symptoms also diagnosed with a possible stroke.  We never knew to ask about vestibular issues. 

This is something that I found very interesting and I wanted to pass it along because of the fact that these symptoms are so similar to stroke and stroke can be a very general diagnosis but it may in fact be vestibular and I’m not sure that it’s a common thing that vets look for or for that matter are familiar with. 

It also turned out that this particular dog I was speaking with had a thyroid issue and was on medication for that.  In a further google search, because I was just interested in the connection, I did find medical sights that seemed to connect the two.  A connection between Vestibular Disease and Thyroid.  Once again, I’m not a vet but this just seems very interesting to me. 

This is exciting news for me because I can pass it along and hopefully help many animals and their owners as well.  With all the information available to us 24/7 through the internet it’s something to look into should you have the uncertain stroke diagnosis for your pet and for many who read this it will be something to research for current conditions in their pets. 

So, if you find yourself and your pet in that situation maybe just ask for or seek an opinion from a vet or specialist before assuming it may be stroke related.  I think I have also heard of this for older horses as well where they just assume it’s stroke related because of the symptoms. 

My hope is that you never encounter this with  your pets but, should it be, it’s something to inquire about and pass along to others who may be in that uncertain situation with their pet.




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