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Canine Health and Wellbeing

Elder Airedale Care
Mia – A Case of Canine Vestibular Disease

by Kelly Wood
Referral Contact

Mia of Paradym - photo courtesy of Kelly Wood

Am. Can. Ch. Paradym
Keep Me Posted, Am. Can. CD (Mia)
Photo courtesy of Kelly Wood

I was blessed back in 1992 to have my “Peggy” (Am. Can. Ch. Ironcroft Priority Post Am. CD, Can CDX) present me with a litter of six beautiful puppies sired by “Terry” (Am. Can. Ch. Moraine Hold That Tiger). One special girl, “Mia” (Am. Can. Ch. Paradym Keep Me Posted, Am. Can. CD) was chosen to be my “forever” dog. Mia was a wonderful companion, a great show dog and mother to 5 Paradym champions. She was known as a voracious eater (hence the nickname “Mia Monster”) and was living a happy and healthy life at the age of 12, when she experienced some disturbing symptoms.

Suddenly, Mia was having trouble walking. She was walking with her head tilted slightly to one side, and her gait was unsteady. I wondered if she had suffered a stroke. Quite unlike her, she wasn’t so eager to get to the food bowl. Within days, she declined further, with even lessened ability to walk, especially up and down stairs, and then one night she started to vomit clear stomach juices.

I went to her and she was unable to focus directly on me – her eyes were darting up and down. I could sense that she was worried, and so was I! I came to the sad conclusion that time was short for Mia and made an appointment with my vet, thinking there was little hope that I’d be bringing her home with me.

Dr. Ball, thank you! After examining Mia and taking her recent history, he was quick to surmise that Mia had geriatric vestibular disease. This affliction is pretty much a deep inner ear infection that causes the patient, most commonly a senior dog, to lose their balance and orientation. Basically, it is a case of vertigo (severe dizziness).

It took two to three weeks for Mia to recover with a course of antibiotics and a fair bit of encouragement to eat enticing dinners (handmade hamburger balls was what I fed her). Eventually she was back to her old (though rather sedate) self, and even had the occasional play session with Queenie the Norwich terrier, and she was enjoying the thorough face and ear cleanings that she always seemed to be able to convince nephew Jay to provide!

Sadly though, six months later, Mia, days away from her 13th birthday, was again failing, but this time there would not come such optimistic news. Still, I am grateful for the extra time I got to spend with her and I hope that her story just might alert others to symptoms to watch for when living with an elderly dog. Such serious-looking symptoms may really be the result of a not-so-serious, and not that uncommon condition.


Read more about Canine Vestibular Disease here.


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