Despite the acute onset and often profound symptoms of idiopathic vestibular disease (IVD), fortunately there are a number of management protocols that can help keep a dog calm during the typically short duration of this disorder. The goals of treating IVD are to relieve the dog’s symptoms and resolve the underlying cause of the condition, if it can be determined.
During the acute phase of IVD, several different drugs are available to relieve nausea and vomiting until the disorder has time to resolve on its own. Steroids are not normally recommended. Sedatives can be prescribed to help manage severe disorientation, balance and coordination difficulties. No particular treatment protocol has been shown to speed up the course of idiopathic vestibular disease in dogs. If accompanying bacterial or fungal infection is found, certainly antibiotics or antifungal medications can be helpful. Surgical options are available to remove tumors, polyps or infected tissues in the vestibular system, depending upon their location. However, dogs with IVD usually are treated on an outpatient basis and recover spontaneously.
The outlook for dogs that truly have vestibular disease associated with no identifiable underlying cause is very good to excellent. Most dogs with IVD improve rapidly within the first 72 hours after onset of signs, and recover fully without significant medical treatment within several weeks. Sometimes, a mild permanent head tilt may persist following recovery.