Ask the Veterinarian/Head Tilt


I have an 8 year old vizsla (George) who began tilting his head to the right approximately 3 weeks ago. He keeps it tilted 100% of the time. After googling, I became familiar with vestibular disease/ syndrome (both peripheral & central) & took him to his vet. Although his ears looked completely clear, she prescribed antibiotics which he's finished & they had no effect on his condition. We went back 1.5 weeks later & she seems to have no clue as to what this could be. He doesn't really have any symptoms for vestibular other than the tilt & equilibrium problems. His orientation seems to be totally out of whack. He's eating great, happy as always, going to the bathroom fine, barking like crazy when the doorbell rings, running around/playing. He is not throwing up, not walking in circles or falling down & his eyes are not doing the quick side-side motions. Most troubling, there have been a few occasions when I've been quite close to him (10-15ft) & called to him & he's not been able to locate me. He ran all over the place looking as I continued to call & only found me when I began waving my arms.

Any help or advice you could offer would be greatly appreciated.

In some cases vestibular disease is actually not an inner ear problem, but a brain problem.  Ask your vet to try a high dose steroid regimen for a couple of weeks along with a drug called meclizine.  Those should help if it is the inner ear problem.  Occasionally, we will put a hole in the eardrum on the side to which the dog is tilting to relieve pressures in the middle ear  that may be causing the head tilt.

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Dr. Louis N. Gotthelf


Dermatology and ear diseases of dogs and cats


I am the author of "Small Animal Ear Diseases; An Illustrated Guide" published by W.B. Saunders. I have over 25 years of clinical experience with a special interest in dermatologic conditions and ear diseases.

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