Understanding Canine Idiopathic Vestibular Syndrome

Rover Veterinary Care

Understanding Canine Idiopathic Vestibular Syndrome

Understanding Canine Idiopathic Vestibular Syndrome

Canine Idiopathic Vestibular Syndrome (CIVS) can be disconcerting for pet owners. If your dog suddenly loses balance or begins to tilt its head, it can indicate a vestibular issue. This blog will help you understand CIVS and what steps you can take if you suspect your dog is suffering from it.

What is Canine Idiopathic Vestibular Syndrome?

Canine Idiopathic Vestibular Syndrome, commonly known as Old Dog Vestibular Syndrome, affects a dog's balance and coordination. The term "idiopathic" means that the exact cause is unknown, which can be frustrating for both veterinarians and pet owners alike.

Symptoms of CIVS

Loss of Balance

One of the primary symptoms of CIVS is a sudden loss of balance. Dogs may appear dizzy, stumble, or fall over when trying to walk.

Head Tilt

Another hallmark symptom is a noticeable head tilt. Your dog might consistently tilt its head to one side, indicating issues within the vestibular system.

Rapid Eye Movement

Also known as nystagmus, this involves rapid and involuntary eye movements. This can affect your dog’s ability to focus and maintain balance.

Vomiting and Nausea

Due to the dizziness and loss of balance, your dog may experience vomiting and nausea. This is similar to motion sickness in humans.

Causes of Vestibular Syndrome in Dogs

While the exact cause of CIVS is idiopathic, meaning it is unknown, several factors can potentially trigger the condition:

Ear Infections

Inner ear infections are a common cause of vestibular syndromes in dogs. These infections can affect the nerves responsible for balance.


Head injuries can also contribute to the onset of vestibular syndromes.


Though less common, strokes can cause vestibular problems in dogs.


Diagnosing CIVS can be tricky due to its idiopathic nature. However, veterinarians typically use a combination of clinical signs and diagnostic tests to rule out other potential causes.

Physical Examination

A thorough physical examination will be the first step. The vet will check for ear infections, observe eye movements, and assess the dog’s head tilt.

Diagnostic Tests

Blood tests, X-rays, and MRI scans may be conducted to rule out other conditions such as tumors or strokes.

Treatment Options

Fortunately, most cases of CIVS are self-limiting and improve with time. However, supportive care is crucial for managing symptoms.


Anti-nausea and anti-inflammatory medications can help manage symptoms and make your dog more comfortable.

Supportive Care

Providing a safe environment for your dog is essential. Remove any obstacles that could cause injury and consider using a harness to help them walk.

Physical Therapy

In some cases, physical therapy may be recommended to help your dog regain balance and coordination.

Long-term Prognosis

The good news is that most dogs recover from CIVS within a few weeks. However, some may have a residual head tilt or occasional balance issues.

When to Consider Euthanasia

While CIVS is generally not a life-threatening condition, the symptoms can be severe and distressing for both pets and their owners. If your dog’s quality of life does not improve, you may need to consider humane options.

In-Home Euthanasia

If you’re considering in-home euthanasia in Jupiter, FL, contact Rover Veterinary Care. Our compassionate team can help guide you through this difficult decision, ensuring your pet’s comfort and dignity.

Signs to Consider

  • Persistent pain and discomfort
  • Inability to perform daily activities
  • Severe and unmanageable symptoms


Canine Idiopathic Vestibular Syndrome can be a challenging condition to manage, but with the right care and support, most dogs make a full recovery. If you’re considering in-home euthanasia in Jupiter, FL, contact Rover Veterinary Care today for more information.

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