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Vestibular Syndrome
22/09

I’ve been seeing a lovely Bassett Hound for a year or more. She has a few different problems, allergies being the worst when I first met her, though that one is under control now. About 6 months ago her mum rang me up, upset and worried. She had suddenly developed a head tilt, so her head was all twisted to one side, and she fell over, and couldn’t get up. She was also screaming in pain.

I knew what the head tilt and falling over was, but the screaming in pain had me mystified! The head tilt etc. was vestibular syndrome (the same as vertigo in people) – for some unknown reason, the balance center in the ear gets upset, and they don’t know which way is up, and have a sense of constantly falling. In dogs, it usually resolves in anything from a day two to a couple of weeks.

The trouble with Hannah was that when her neck got all the stress of twisting her head in response to the feeling of falling over, she damaged one of the discs in her spine. That was why she was screaming. Normally vestibular syndrome is pain free. So we had to give her some anti inflammatories, and I also did a lot of hands on work to release the pain and tension from her neck. It took about 5 days for the vestibular syndrome to clear, and weeks for her neck to recover.

Then, just last week, she had a sudden attack of the falling feeling- and though it only lasted for less than a day this time, it has flared up the neck. She has been having some trouble with steps, and one of her hind legs is not responding as well as it should to a proprioceptive test. I was away when this episode flared up, so she saw another vet. They picked up the neurological problems, and suggested that a CT scan might be the next step. We had a good chat about that. The first thing I have to find out in these situations is if the owners want to go down the route of surgery, and so on. Some do want to put their dogs through this, and some don’t. There’s not much point in dropping a couple of grand on a CT scan if you don’t intend to change how you are treating your pet!

Hannah has a very traumatic background, and isn’t a young dog. In her case, putting her through going to a hospital and having these tests, let alone maybe doing radical spinal surgery, would be a massive stress. So we decided to continue with Whole Energy Body Balance sessions, and take a more conservative approach. Her neck was so tight, bands and bands of tension and pain, joints locked up and not wanting to move at all. I could only work with the gentlest of touch, more imagining mobilising and releasing the joints and muscles than actually physically moving them. She responded really well, and about half way through the session she finally relaxed and let her head drop to the floor. She doesn’t really like men, so to do that with me is a big thing!

She is such a wonderful dog, such a pleasure to be able to help her feel better…

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