Social Question

daisyloo's avatar

Does Vestibular Syndrome also have confusion and yelping as if in pain?

Asked by daisyloo (6points) April 18th, 2010

I hope someone can help as I’m getting desperate. I have an old black rescue labrador, think he’s about 12 or 13 and he’s been having what we thought was a vestibular attack. The first was about 4 weeks ago and he had the wobbliness, head tilt and salivating quite a bit. He seemed to make a great recovery from that but this past few days he’s taken a dramatic turn for the worse. He seems to have these sort of attacks on waking, which sound as if he’s screaming in pain (not just a cry or a whimper) and are heartbreaking to see and hear. The vet seems to think it could be confusion on waking, and I would love to think that is the case rather than him being in pain but has anyone else seen these symptoms? Noone else I know has had a dog suffer this and I’m desperate to find someone who has gone through this too. He makes no other sound when he is awake apart from sometimes being a bit depressed and laying about and other times he’s up on his feet pottering around.
Oscar is suffering some sort of facial paralysis as he traps his lips in his teeth sometimes- but other times he is ok.
He is eating normally but has grown wise to the fact we are disguising his tablets! He’s on Pardale, but I also asked for some antibiotics just in case it was an inner ear infection, and also vivitonin.
We’ve been back and forth to the vets- the first vet was less than useless and said he is quite happy (just because he still wags his tail!) but I have since found a vet who is so straight talking and kind who says that we should just give him a few days to see if he recovers and if there is no improvement put him to sleep. Obviously that is the last thing we want hence me trying to see if anyone else has had anything similar and their dog recovered. I’ve gone on enough now but any advice would be gratefully received.

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

6 Answers

mcbealer's avatar

I’m sorry to hear about Oscar.

My 14 year old black lab/border collie dog, Tilly, suffers from Vestibular Syndrome as well. She has been sick for almost 3 years now, with 1 major relapse. Her relapse was really scary, but she came out of it and is still able to go for short walks and hikes. Her balance is not what it used to be of course, and her head tilt remained. Interestingly enough, I had never heard of VS before, and a fellow jellie (@Marinalife) figured out what it was and helped me tremendously.

Although I can’t give you any medical advice on this and don’t know your dog personally, I hope this story gives you hope to hang in there with Oscar. I suggest you research the yelping symptoms further, it doesn’t sound familiar to me.

Jewel's avatar

Is it possible that Oscar has suffered a stroke? The paralysis would be a sign of it. Also, if he is depressed, he may be in pain. I used to give my old dog childrens pain relievers. It perked him up, so it was obvious he was in pain. Don’t let him suffer.
I just had to put my 20 year old terrier to sleep, so I feel great sympathy for you.

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

I wish I knew something useful about this. I admire your concern for your dog and I sympathize with your distress. If your vet is unable to answer your questions to your satisfaction, try contacting another vet or even a school of veterinary medicine.

Best wishes to you and Oscar.

Buttonstc's avatar

Hopefull Syz, our resident animal emergency care expert will spot this and weigh in here. Or, you could try PMing her.

Since the only time he is yelping in pain is upon FIRST awaking, my guess would tend to be that it’s not physical pain (or else it would be present, even if only briefly, during the rest of the day).

It sounds very much like what young children experience which we term “night terrors” which wake them up very disoriented and frightened.

Pets have dreams the same way we do so perhaps as a dog of advanced age this might manifest as a sort of age related dementia or confusion when first coming out of the fog of sleep.

If he’s ok the rest of the day, I would think that a vet recommending euthenasia is rather premature. That’s just my gut level reaction since it is such a final act.

However, only you can determine when his total quality of life is so deteriorated that life is not worth living.

I, for one, would not be so quick to dismiss the fact that he still wags his tail. If he were totally miserable or constantly in pain that wouldn’t likely be the case.

If it really is more of a mental or emotional pain which he experiences upon wakening due to disorientation, there likely isn’t much that can be done other than you holding him and reassuring him until he reaches full consciousness.

If the rest of his days seem fine except for old age creakiness and he still responds happily with tail wags to his loving humans, I’d be reluctant to put him to sleep.

You could also try getting another opinion from a vet who is more open to holistic type of treatments since traditional vets seem to have struck out. Presumably they have done enough physical tests to rule out major disease process as the cause ?

I hear what you’re saying about how much it cuts through your heart to hear him helping in pain. It’s similar to parents distress when their children cry at getting a medical procedure, skinning their knee or having a bad dream.

But, kids spring back quickly and usually have short memories for the pain of their various boo-boos and bad dreams and hopefully this is the case with your beloved dog as well.

ccrow's avatar

Maybe you could try him on Rimadyl? If he’s having pain it could help… Have you ever been right there when he wakes & cries? If he is waking up confused & frightened, it might help if you were there to comfort him.
It really sucks when they get old & sick. :-(

syz's avatar

Vestibular disease in older dogs is fairly common and often resolves with supportive care, and can be caused by an ear infection, a tumor, or it can be ideopathic (which means we don’t know why it happens). But I’m concerned that that may not be all that’s going on. You mention facial paralysis, which sounds like Horner’s syndrome. That, combined with his age, creates a concern that he may have a brain tumor.

With any of these possibilities, it remains a question of his quality of life and your ability to manage him. The crying out when he wakes could be a sign of pain, or it could just as easily be that when he wakes, the disorientation frightens him. He could also have some degree of dementia. An anti-nausea medication and some pain control are worth trying.

I’m afraid there is no clear indicator for you that will tell you if he will improve or not – time is the only way to tell. And if you do determine that he is suffering and have to make that horribly difficult decision of when to euthanize, it has to be a decision that you are comfortable with (or as comfortable as anyone can be about such a difficult choice).

It has always been my greatest wish that my pets would pass quietly and painlessly in their sleep, and that has never, ever been the case. It has always fallen to me to choose when to end their suffering. And I will tell you honestly, that in hindsight, there have several occasion when I have selfishly held on too long.

I sincerely hope that by the time I reach the end of my own life, someone who cares as much about my suffering as I have cared about my pets’ will have the option of choosing to help me end my life.

Good luck with your old friend.

Answer this question




to answer.
Your answer will be saved while you login or join.

Have a question? Ask Fluther!

What do you know more about?
Knowledge Networking @ Fluther