Can Vestibular Disease Kill a Dog?

Score for Seniors:
Activity Level:
Weight: Pounds


dog shaking head

Vestibular disease arises spontaneously, and, often, resolves itself in the same way. For the most part, vestibular disease is a treatable condition, and many dogs will make a full recovery within 2-3 weeks. However, can it kill a dog in certain cases?

Can Vestibular Disease Be Fatal to Dogs?

Vestibular Disease in dogs can be the result of a variety of medical conditions, such as inner ear problems, brain tumors, collar-related injuries, or nervous system dysfunctions. There is often no clear trigger or underlying issue that can be found: this study found that vestibular disease did not have a specific cause in almost 70% of dogs diagnosed with the condition (the most prevalent cause was “otitis media and/or internal” (ear problems) for about 26% of dogs with vestibular disease).

In rare cases the cause of vestibular disease might be something more sinister and so a dog’s prognosis in this situation might be worse. Dog’s that suffer from vestibular disease as a result of a tumor, trauma or poisoning may be in a more critical condition

Although it isn’t the vestibular disease itself that can kill a dog, the other effects of these causes could result in a dog’s death. In this case, vestibular disease is simply a result of a more serious condition that could be fatal to your dog.

Should You Euthanize a Dog With Vestibular Disease?

In extreme cases, if a dog is suffering from vestibular symptoms that are so severe that they affect your dog’s quality of life and stop them from enjoying normal day-to-day activities, then that may also be a reason to have them euthanized. However, while the symptoms of vestibular disease may seem alarming, causing owners to wonder if they should put their dogs to sleep to end this suffering for their old friends, it is important to keep in mind that most dogs will make a full recovery in a matter of days or weeks. Read more about this in our guide to vestibular disease in dogs.

How Long Can Dogs Live with Vestibular Disease?

This will depend on the cause of the vestibular disease. Dogs with idiopathic vestibular disease or an ear infection may make a full recovery within 2-3 weeks and continue to live a normal healthy life. However, dogs that develop vestibular disease due to a trauma or a brain tumor might have a shortened lifespan because of this; exactly how long their life expectancy is will depend on the severity of the trauma or the type of tumor present.

Other Helpful Posts About Vestibular Disease:

dog head tilt Should You Euthanize A Dog With Vestibular Disease? by Dr Cathy Barnette - After 14 years of working as a vet, I can diagnose some client concerns in an instant. When a client… [...]
dog tilting head Recurrence of Dog Vestibular Disease by Dr. Winnie, Veterinarian - In many cases, vestibular disease resolves itself spontaneously: most dogs will start to improve within 2 to 4 days, with 71%… [...]
dog at the vet What to Do if Your Dog Is Not Recovering from Vestibular Disease by Dr Alex Crow, Veterinary Surgeon - Being able to maintain balance is a pretty basic ability, so losing your footing makes life very difficult. The symptoms… [...]
dog with bowl of food How to Feed a Dog with Vestibular Disease by Dr Alex Crow, Veterinary Surgeon - If your dog suffers from vestibular disease, you’ll know how much they can struggle to eat. Many dogs with vestibular… [...]
Dog Vestibular Disease: a Veterinarian Guide for Dog Owners by Dr Alex Crow, Veterinary Surgeon - Old Dog Vestibular Disease can be triggered by a number of things, including inner ear problems, a collar-related injury, a… [...]


  • Dr Alex Crow, Veterinary Surgeon

    Alex Crow, VetMed MRCVS, is an RCVS accredited Veterinary surgeon with special interests in neurology and soft tissue surgery. Dr Crow is currently practicing at Buttercross Veterinary Center in England. He earned his degree in veterinary medicine in 2019 from the Royal Veterinary College (one of the top 3 vet schools in the world) and has more than three years of experience practicing as a small animal veterinarian (dogs and cats).

    View all posts

Disclaimer: This website's content is not a substitute for veterinary care. Always consult with your veterinarian for healthcare decisions. Read More.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.