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Understanding Loss of Balance in Senior Dogs

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Understanding Loss of Balance in Senior Dogs

Understanding Loss of Balance in Senior Dogs

As much as we’d like to think they’re able to go on forever, our senior canine companions are not immune to the effects of aging. One common sign of aging in dogs is a loss of balance, which can cause them to stagger and fall. If your beloved pooch is suddenly having balance issues, here’s what you need to know.

What Causes Loss of Balance in Dogs?

While a loss of balance in dogs can be caused by numerous conditions, some of the most common include:

  • Middle or inner ear infection – While we’re accustomed to thinking of ear infections as being visible on the exterior of the ear, this is typically only true in the case of bacterial infections. Middle and inner ear infections are caused by virus and fungi that cannot be seen from the outside.
  • Toxin exposure – Certain poisons, such as antifreeze, can cause a dog to become unbalanced. Be aware of any substances your dog could get into.
  • Brain tumor – Canine brain tumors are often associated with a loss of balance, though they’re not considered a common cause.
  • Chronic vestibular syndrome – This is the leading cause of balance issues in older dogs, as it can cause sudden, severe dizziness.

Symptoms of Loss of Balance in Dogs

  • Drifting or circling
  • Abnormal posture/leaning
  • Falling over
  • Head tilt
  • Nystagmus (rapid, involuntary eye movements)
  • Avoidance of bright lights

Diagnosing Balance Issues in Dogs

If your dog is displaying any of these signs, it’s important to make an appointment with your veterinarian right away. Your vet will perform a full physical exam, including a neurological exam to check balance and coordination. Testing may also include a CBC (complete blood count), urinalysis, and x-rays of the head and neck.

Treating Balance Issues in Dogs

Depending on the underlying cause of the issues, treatment may involve antibiotics for infections, dietary changes for toxin exposure, and medications for vestibular syndrome. In some cases, surgical removal of the tumor may be necessary.

No matter the cause of your dog’s balance issues, it’s important to remain vigilant and watch for any signs of distress. Once your canine companion is diagnosed, follow your vet’s instructions for treatment and regular monitoring of their condition. With proper care, your best friend can enjoy a comfortable and high-quality life.

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