We’ve had a very, very worrisome 24 hours here at the cottage. Yesterday morning, after we’d been up a few hours, I went to let Riley outside. With Riley’s weakening hind quarters, I am always careful to help him navigate the step out the door with as little stress as possible. I heard Scout behind me, getting up from the floor. Then I heard a thud as she, the most agile of dogs, fell. I turned around quickly and saw that she was listing to one side a bit. I helped her outside and watched her walk with difficulty around the yard. She kept tripping and falling.
At first I thought she had hurt her left rear leg, because she was unable to control it. She could walk and put weight on it but, at times, she couldn’t seem to control her movements. I brought her in and tried to figure out what was wrong. Maybe she’d pulled a muscle? At one point, when my back was turned, she tried to jump up on the sofa and fell backwards. Both dogs have had lyme disease at one time or another and I wondered if it was recurring.
Don was in NYC for an audition and had the car. I waited until he was out of the audition to tell him about Scout. We decided we’d wait until he could see her when he came home for a quick change of clothes before he went to work. By that time, Scout was walking a bit better, still listing and tripping occasionally and was obviously stressed. Again, we decided to wait and watch and if she got worse, Don would come home from work and we’d take her to the doctor.
She didn’t want to eat and this girl loves to eat. I finally coaxed her to have some fried egg (her favorite food) and some white rice. And she drank a bit of water. Along about 6:30 I became extremely alarmed when I noticed her eyes were moving back and forth constantly. She had a little tick going over her left eye as well. My heart was in my throat as I realized something was happening neurologically. I called the Vet (by this time it was close to 7 pm) and they were still open. But I didn’t have a car. After calling my neighbor and receiving no answer, I called Heidi and she drove over immediately. In the meantime, after the receptionist relayed Scout’s symptoms to our Vet, he called me back to tell me not to panic. He suspected she was having what would be somewhat similar to a TIA (Transient Ischemic Attack) in a human. He assured me it wasn’t life threatening but he wanted to see her right away.
After examining her, he told me she was suffering from Vestibular Disease or what he calls Old Dog Vestibular Disease which is “an acute nonprogressive disturbance of the peripheral vestibular system in old dogs.” The vestibular system is the sensory system that contributes to balance and involves the inner ear, as the vestibulum is in the inner ear. This comes on suddenly, with no warning. It shows as imbalance, disorientation, a head tilt and irregular eye movements – all of which Scout was showing. Often the dog will vomit because of nausea which explains her lack of appetite. Scout did vomit during the night.
The good news is that the eye movements should go away in about 3 days. And Scout should be back to normal within a month. We’ll have to watch her and make sure she doesn’t get too rambunctious and take her outside on a leash for a while. The hardest part will be the next 2 days or so until the eye movements stop. It’s like having vertigo. I can tell she is very confused and can only think her little world must be spinning and how terrible that must feel.
My poor girl. I really thought she was having a stroke or had injured her spine. This kind of attack may well happen again but at least we’ll know what is going on. The doctor gave me a copy of the facts about this disease and at the end it says to “reassure the client…..the prognosis for rapid improvement and recovery is excellent.”
I’m watching her sleep as I write this. She’s my baby, you know. She may be 13, but she’s still my baby girl. For a while there, I thought I might be losing her.
I’m grateful that she is going to be okay.