Old-Dog Vestibular Disease vs Stroke: Knowing The Difference


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Suddenly seeing your dog topple over, walk in circles, or not have the option to regulate their bladder is terrifying and causes many house owners to right away jump to the conclusion their dog has had a stroke.

Old dog vestibular disease vs strokes are different but have most of the same symptoms.

Fortunately, old-dog vestibular disease is way less severe than a stroke and typically resolves itself in a few days to every week or two.

Unfortunately, a stroke is way more serious, and there’s a brief window of time to get them to a vet before everlasting damage sets in.

Vestibular disease affects the inner ear and vestibular nerve, which is the a part of the body that controls balance.

A stroke affects the brain directly. Despite the fact that they affect different parts of the body, they present with similar symptoms.

In this text, we are going to discuss the differences between old-dog vestibular disease and a stroke, the way it presents in dogs, what the several causes are, and the way it would affect your dog in the long term.

Most important Differences Between Old-Dog Vestibular Disease vs. Stroke

The foremost differences between old-dog vestibular disease and a stroke are:

  • Old-dog vestibular disease generally affects only older dogs, whereas a stroke can affect dogs of any age.
  • Old-dog vestibular disease has many causes, whereas a stroke only has two causes.
  • Old-dog vestibular disease resolves itself inside a number of days, whereas a stroke will be everlasting.
  • Old-dog vestibular disease is just not fatal, whereas a stroke will be fatal.

Introduction: Old-Dog Vestibular Disease vs. Stroke

Before we get into the differences between the 2 conditions, it is crucial to first define and understand each condition individually.

Old-Dog Vestibular Disease

All dogs have a vestibular system. The vestibular system controls balance and orientation.

Principally, it’s what keeps your dog upright and walking in a straight line. It does this by keeping your dog’s head stable and level and stabilizing the eyes as your dog looks around.

Vestibular disease affects the vestibular nerve by causing it to change into inflamed.

In turn, this could prevent it from properly sending messages to your dog’s body to maintain them balanced and moving forward easily.


A stroke directly affects the brain. When a dog has a stroke, it’s brought on by either a restriction of blood to an element of the brain or a blood vessel bursting within the brain.

Depending on where precisely the stroke happens within the brain, different symptoms may occur.

Shared Symptoms

Old-dog vestibular disease and strokes share similar physical symptoms, which is why they will be mistaken for the opposite.

The next will be signs of each old-dog vestibular disease and stroke:

  • Walking in tight circles in the identical direction
  • Tilting of the top to at least one side (in a stroke, the lean might be to the side of the brain that has had the stroke)
  • Unequal pupils (more common with stroke)
  • Weakness on one side of the body
  • Paralysis of a number of legs
  • Lack of bladder and bowel control
  • Collapsing (more common with stroke)
  • Vertigo
  • Strange eye movement backward and forward
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Lack of appetite
  • Inability to leap or walk in a straight line

Old-Dog Vestibular Disease vs. Stroke: Age

Different diseases affect animals and humans at different ages.

For instance, it’s more common for youngsters to get chicken pox, and it’s more common for adults to get Alzheimer’s disease.

Let’s take a more in-depth take a look at how age affects your dog’s possibilities of having old-dog vestibular disease or a stroke.

Old-Dog Vestibular Disease

Vestibular disease is nicknamed “old-dog” vestibular disease since it is way more common in older dogs.

As dogs age, their nerve health declines, and it becomes more likely for a disease that affects the nerves negatively (as old-dog vestibular disease does) to develop.

Nevertheless, there are also some cases of younger dogs developing vestibular disease as a consequence of other underlying health issues.


Strokes can occur at any age to any breed of dog. Because the causes of strokes usually are not linked to the deterioration of the body, they will occur in any respect ages.

Nevertheless, if an elderly dog is in poor health, they’re generally more at risk of having a stroke.

Old-Dog Vestibular Disease vs. Stroke: Causes

The causes for old-dog vestibular disease and strokes are different.

Identifying the cause may provide help to discover whether or not they are affected by old-dog vestibular disease or the aftereffects of a stroke, which is able to provide help to settle on a plan of action.

Old-Dog Vestibular Disease

Vets usually are not 100% certain of the immediate reason behind old-dog vestibular disease.

Nevertheless, there are numerous underlying causes that contribute to old-dog vestibular disease developing.

These underlying causes all inflame the vestibular nerve in a roundabout way. These causes include:

  • Ear infections
  • Viral infections that cause system-wide inflammation
  • Medications that include ear toxicities
  • Perforated, damaged, or burst ear drums
  • Trauma to the ear or head
  • Injuries to the ear or head

If there is no such thing as a clear reason behind the old-dog vestibular disease, then it is known as idiopathic vestibular disease.


Strokes in dogs have two foremost causes.

One cause is a blockage, equivalent to a clot or piece of cartilage, that passes through a blood vessel within the brain, which deprives that a part of the brain of oxygen. This is known as an ischemic stroke.

Strokes may also be brought on by a blood vessel bursting within the brain, which then causes the brain to bleed.

This puts excess pressure on the brain and causes the deficiencies that present because the symptoms. This is known as a hemorrhagic stroke.

There are also certain aspects that heighten the chance of a dog suffering a stroke, equivalent to:

Old-Dog Vestibular Disease vs. Stroke: Duration

Stroke and old-dog vestibular disease each have a direct onset, so their symptoms present fairly quickly.

Nevertheless, their symptoms or lingering effects can last for very different amounts of time.

Old-Dog Vestibular Disease

In case your dog suffers from idiopathic old-dog vestibular disease and you might be unsure of what the cause is, then resolving the difficulty can take longer.

Nevertheless, if you will have identified the underlying cause, equivalent to an ear infection or trauma, you then will have the option to treat it and the symptoms will disappear quickly.

If the cause is just not serious, the symptoms of the old-dog vestibular disease will generally disappear on their very own in a number of days to 2 weeks.

On rare occasions, a few of the symptoms of old-dog vestibular disease will linger, equivalent to a slight head tilt or weakness on one side of the body.


The duration of the symptoms of a stroke mainly rely upon the severity of the stroke and the way much damage has been done to the brain.

If the stroke is minor and you might be capable of get your dog treatment as soon as possible, the symptoms should go away immediately or in a day or two.

Nevertheless, whether it is a severe stroke, then the symptoms could also be everlasting.

Symptoms equivalent to partial or full paralysis, incontinence, or blindness could also be everlasting and reduce your dog’s quality of life.

Old-Dog Vestibular Disease vs. Stroke: Severity

Whether your dog suffers from old-dog vestibular disease or a stroke, the possibility of reoccurrence is high, especially in the event that they are elderly or the foundation cause is just not appropriately addressed.

Nevertheless, the severity of old-dog vestibular disease in comparison with a stroke is comparatively minimal.

Old-Dog Vestibular Disease

Fortunately, there’s rarely any lasting damage from old-dog vestibular disease.

The true danger is allowing a dog with these symptoms around pools, large drops, or stairs without supervision, as they will drown or fall and hurt themselves easily.


Strokes are very serious as they will be fatal. The severity of the stroke is dependent upon how much of the brain is broken by the dearth of oxygen or the bleeding.

Getting your dog to the vet as soon as you notice symptoms means they are going to get treatment quickly.

Getting treatment quickly to revive blood flow and oxygenation to the brain will help reduce the possibility of lasting effects of the stroke.

Unfortunately, we’ve needed to cope with the symptoms of old dog vestibular disease in certainly one of our rescue dogs.

Our Border Collie Lab mix, Maffy was diagnosed with a stroke. We got here home and he was walking around in circles, falling down and was disoriented in confused.

Nevertheless, after a number of days he was back to his normal self. He was definitely considered an “old dog” right now and in hindsight I believe he had old dog vestibular disease and never a stroke.

FAQs About Old-Dog Vestibular Disease vs. Stroke

How is a stroke diagnosed?

A vet will diagnose a stroke by doing a neurological exam, evaluating your dog’s symptoms, and possibly by doing an MRI or a CT scan to discover where the clot or brain bleed has occurred within the brain.

What’s a spinal stroke?

A fibrocartilaginous embolus, also generally known as an FCE or a spinal stroke, is just not the identical as a brain stroke. Nevertheless, it might probably be as alarming as a brain stroke.

If a chunk of fibrocartilage gets into the bloodstream and blocks a vessel within the spine, it prevents oxygen from attending to that a part of the spine, which causes paralysis in a number of legs.

Barking Off: Old-Dog Vestibular Disease vs. Stroke

The sudden tilted head, tight circling, partial paralysis, lack of bladder control, or collapse of your dog would cause any pet owner serious concern.

Nevertheless, knowing the differences between old-dog vestibular disease and a stroke is significant.

Here’s a quick recap of the foremost differences between vestibular disease vs. stroke:

  • Old-dog vestibular disease generally affects only older dogs, whereas a stroke can affect dogs of any age.
  • Old-dog vestibular disease has many causes, whereas a stroke only has two causes.
  • Old-dog vestibular disease resolves itself inside a number of days, whereas a stroke will be everlasting.
  • Old-dog vestibular disease is just not fatal, whereas a stroke will be fatal.

Has your dog ever been diagnosed with old dog vestibular disease or a stroke?

Tell us about your experiences within the comment section below.

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