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Thread: Retriever with recurring vestibular syndrome

  1. #1

    Default Retriever with recurring vestibular syndrome

    Hi all,

    I have a 13.5 year old female golden retriever who is currently going through her third bout of vestibular syndrome. Her first bout was about 5 months ago where she lost most of her balance, had a head tilt, and didn't eat for a couple of days. She seemed to recover pretty well from this and was only left with a minor head tilt. The second bout was about a month ago, with pretty similar symptoms to the first episode, but she only recovered to about 80% of what she was before experiencing another episode 3 days ago. This one was more severe, as whenever she stood up she would take a few steps and go completely stiff, then fall on her side and be almost unresponsive for 10-15 seconds. She had about 5 falls in total before we could get her to the vet again, where she seemed to snap out of it for a little while, but the vet said this is quite common with animals when they are at the vet due to adrenalin etc, and she would likely go back to how she was when we got her home again. The vet said we need to start considering putting her down as the attacks will likely get worse and become more frequent, and it would be better to act before she has another really bad episode that she won't recover from.

    As I type, she is back to being able to stand up and walk (very wobbly) by herself and isn't falling over any more, but she has yet to fully regain her appetite and we wouldn't feel confident in leaving her by herself. She does seem relatively happy. I'm wondering if anyone else has experienced this kind of thing with their pet and how they handled it. Is there anything we can do to help her? I am thinking that if she has another attack we would have to seriously consider taking the vet's advice as it wouldn't be fair on her to keep on having to go through the attacks just to feel OK for a little while longer. We're currently unsure what to do with her.

  2. #2
    Join Date
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    13.5 is pretty good for a Golden Retriever (GR).

    There is another thread in here from someone whose GR got the back end wobbles for no obvious reason.

    The dog came good for a while and then had another attack of it.

    http://www.dogforum.com.au/dog-healt...-back-end.html

    I'm not sure what the current status is.

    I don't know much about vestibular syndrome either.

    The dog might seem happy but they're really good at hiding any discomfort. So it's hard to tell. You gotta start thinking about quality of life and what you and your dog can live with. Ie if you're not game to leave her home alone - that's a severe cramp on your quality of life.

    If you decide she would be ok for a bit longer, I'd consider doing some "canine conditioning" and balance and body awareness exercises.

    There's a facebook group you can ask to join called "canine conditioning and body awareness" exercises that has a lot of professional dog trainers and vets in it. There's a great set of files with training drills you can try with your dog to improve body awareness.
    https://www.facebook.com/groups/Cani...BodyAwareness/

    If she's on the leaner side that would be good - check with your vet to see what the lowest healthy weight they think she'd be ok with and try to get down to that. The less she has to carry around, the easier it will be to stay right side up and in control.

    There's a lot of stuff about brain plasticity coming out with new research and chances are - what works for humans - will work for dogs too. Ie try to get the dog working the part of the brain involved with balance to improve the dog's balance. By doing balancing exercises.

    Really simple ones include - teaching the dog to walk backwards, teaching the dog to lift each paw, teaching the dog to pivot on a phone book wrapped in a towel (to make it less slippery).

    There's some slightly harder ones - like making a surface slightly wobbly eg a piece of ply or maybe an esky lid on a shoe or a couple of shoes and getting the dog to walk across those.

    Or to put two feet on a skateboard - sit in a chair and hold the skateboard with your feet to stop it rolling away, but the top of the skate board wobbles (so riders can corner), and that helps dog balance... standing with wobbly ground.

  3. #3

    Default

    Thanks for the info.

    She was 28.5kg last checkup, which the vet is happy with. I don't think she's carrying any extra weight that would be making it harder for her.

    If she manages to get to the point where she can regularly get up and walk by herself and take herself to the toilet, I'll give some of those body awareness exercises a crack. As for the other balance exercises, she's always been able to lift each paw, but this has become difficult lately for obvious reasons. So I can continue to get her to practice this. I don't think she'd do too well with the different surfaces though as we have tiles and she's doing her best to stay away from them as it is. I guess it all depends on how she goes over the next week or so.

  4. #4
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    Hi

    My parent's dog is the GR who suddenly became paralysed.. It has happened twice now, both times lasting for a few months. After the last occurrence, Roxy has been really struggling to take more than 5 or so steps at a time, before having to lay down, and then she struggles to stand up again.
    For the last 2 weeks, mum has been feeding her about 1 tablespoon of unrefined coconut oil, with 1 teaspoon of organic tumeric (from the health food shop) and a pinch of cracked pepper daily (split between her 3 meals) - it is called 'Golden Paste', you can google the recipe if you'd like. After a few days, mum noticed that Roxy was looking much brighter and now after 2 weeks, Roxy is able to stand by herself and mum can even take her for walks to the park (about a 1.5km round trip). I've done a bit of reading on tumeric and it is amazing - helps with everything from arthritis, tumors, heart murmurs, swelling/inflammation, plus heaps more. It could be worth trying? It made such a big difference in Roxy, and can't do any harm. Tumeric is non-soluble in water, which is why it needs to be fed with oil, and the pepper helps it dissolve quicker and thus work better.

    Good luck and please keep us updated on your baby

  5. #5

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    OK great, thanks so much for the info. I will get her onto the golden paste asap and see how she goes. This morning Demi has gotten up by herself a few times, climbed down a couple of stairs to the backyard and even followed me around the house until I gave her some of my toast. Glad to hear Roxy is doing better too.

  6. #6
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    Please keep us updated on Demi

  7. #7

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    Demi is continuing to improve. She is getting up by herself and walking around the backyard multiple times during the day, even barking at a few birds and the postman. I made up a batch of golden paste last night and gave her some this morning which she had no problems eating.

  8. #8
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    Glad she ate it!
    I feed it to my dogs as a preventative (and some to myself too), I have to hide it in my dogs food because they won't touch it, and they eat their own poop

  9. #9
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    KM - maybe they'd like it better if you mixed it 50/50 with some sardines in olive oil. Olive oil is renown for healing properties too. It used to be sold as medicine.

    PS if you can get the fresh turmeric - it looks a bit like bright orange ginger - it would probably have even more beneficial properties than the dried powdered stuff. probably need to use less at a time too (taste might be stronger).

  10. #10
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    Hmmm good idea. I guess you could just add the tumeric and pepper to sardines and oil - you wouldn't need the coconut oil.
    I've just been mixing it in with some natural yoghurt, and they seem happy to eat it that way.

    For myself, I put it into a zip-lock bag, cut the corner and pipe it onto a baking tray in little 'pill' sized pieces', then freeze them and take 4-5 frozen 'pills' daily.. It tastes so gross otherwise! Some people mix it with milk as a warm drink before bed - GROSS!

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