Diseases of the inner ear are characterized by labyrinthitis, or dizziness.
The labyrinth is part of a complex organ of balance composed of the
semicircular canals, the utricle, and saccule. The labyrinth is like a
gyroscope. Its purpose is to synchronize eye movements and maintain posture,
balance, and coordination. The most common cause of labyrinthitis is inner ear
with labyrinthitis will often assume an abnormal posture, with her head tilted
down on the affected side. Dizziness, lack of coordination, and loss of balance
are evident. The dog circles and leans toward the affected side and may exhibit
rapid jerking movements of the eyeballs, a condition called nystagmus. Some
Veterinarians use a stethoscope to listen to the heart. You can listen to
your dog’s heart by placing your ear against his chest. The
normal heartbeat is divided into two sounds. The first is a lub,followed by a
slight pause and then a dub. Put together, the sound is lub-dub, lub-dub . . .
in a steady, evenly spaced rhythm.
The heartbeat should be strong, steady, and regular. A slight alteration in
rhythm as the dog breathes in and out is normal. An exceedingly fast pulse can
Idiopathic vestibular syndrome is a disease of unknown cause that affects
middle-aged and older dogs. It is the second most common cause of
labyrinthitis. The onset is sudden. The dizziness, staggering, and vomiting can
be incapacitating. Vomiting may last for several days, in which case the dog
may require intravenous fluids. Signs peak in 24 hours, but some degree of
imbalance persists for three to six weeks. Recovery occurs in almost all cases.
After recovery, some dogs experience a slight but permanent head tilt.
The prolonged administration of aminoglycoside and neomycin antibiotics can produce labyrinthitis, as well as deafness. Most ear preparations are capable of causing
labyrinthitis and ear damage if they make contact with the sensitive
structures of the inner ear. This is why the ears should never be flushed or
medicated without first making sure that the eardrums are intact.
Other causes of labyrinthitis include head trauma, brain
tumor, poisoning, and drug intoxication. Suspect one of these
if your dog develops labyrinthitis without having had a prior ear
Treatment: The underlying cause must be diagnosed and treated. Supportive
care and medications to relieve the symptoms assist in recovery.
WebMD Veterinary Reference from "Dog Owner's Home Veterinary Handbook"