Ear Infection, Old Man Vestibular Disease, or Stroke?

These are the possible things that are wrong with Buddy, our 10-yr-old cocker spaniel. I adopted him just over two years ago. At the time he was quite spry and I was positive we would get at least 5 years out of him if not more. He has a “stubborn old man” personality.

Buddy’s had a traumatic few weeks that culminated in a vet visit yesterday, an anti-nausea shot, getting his ears flushed, and antibiotics for the next week.



A few weeks ago he was in an accident. The vet checked him, gave him Tramadol, and to sent him on his way. (At the time of the accident Buddy wasn’t in my custody, but that’s another story). He was lethargic for a few days, but that was to be expected.
Later that weekend when he was back we noticed a cut on his back leg that the vet had missed but I was so scattered and exhausted that I didn’t think much of it (bad fur-mommy!) Turns out he lost a claw on his back paw but that didn’t seem to impede him. By mid-week he was running around the house, running up the stairs, etc. That only lasted a day or two.

Fast-forward to Monday night. The past few days Buddy had been walking around as if he had arthritic hips, head tilted to the side, and suddenly losing balance. It reminded us of a stroke. Unfortunately, dogs can have strokes. Being a spaniel, his breed is also prone to ear infections and it’s been a few months since he was properly groomed, though the kids have gotten really good at bathing both dogs :)

Off to the vet we go, this one a highly recommended one in Palmdale. The doc did a couple of physical tests on Buddy, listened to his recent history, and jumped to the possible conclusion that it could be neurological since he wasn’t responding normally to having his paws bent. (Un)fortunately Joy said that’s how she trained him to lay down, so we don’t know if he was being lazy (which he is also known for) or doing what he’s been taught. On the bright side, spinal palpitation didn't reveal anything pointing to stroke.

The Dr. also said that it could be “old man vestibular disease” which clears up on it’s own in a few weeks. Oh, did I mention the vomiting? Dog vomit sucks. And is one of the other symptoms of vestibular disease since it affects the ears. He walked out and came back in about a minute later, apologizing for jumping to conclusions based on the physical test. He examined and smelled Buddy’s ears (brave man!) and said it could be something as simple as an ear infection. I paid for the meds and for them to flush his ears since I’ve only ever had groomers do it.

The only thing that worried me was when Joy asked about getting Buddy caught up on shots and the doc looked at her, looked at me, looked back at her and said we should wait. So … here’s to hoping it’s an ear infection of vestibular disease. Joy is so attached to Buddy she cried herself to sleep over the thought of him dying even though she’s already picking out his replacement. We have a follow-up appointment in two weeks.