Head Tilt, Disorientation in Dogs

Head tilt in dogs refers to a condition in which the dog may persistently turn the head along its central axis to one side of its body or the other. Head tilt is a sign of dog feeling imbalanced and it appears that the dog is trying to prevent itself from falling or struggling to retain a balanced posture.

Head tilt is usually associated with disorders of vestibular system (a sensory system located in the inner ear that provides information needed to hold the body in an upright position and move about confidently). The vestibular system regulates the body’s ability to orient itself in space, maintain balance, preserve posture and coordinate movement. In effect, it "tells" the body where it is in relation to earth, whether iupright, upside down, being still or moving. Peripheral vestibular disease occurs when there's irritation to the nerves connecting the inner ear with the brain. Some older dogs develop a temporary head tilt from an unknown cause. This is sometimes called 'old dog vestibular disease. Unless determined otherwise by a veterinarian, head tilt should be considered a serious problem and medical help should be sought as soon as possible.

Besides head tilt, other signs that may be seen include

Abnormal head posture

Head tilt to either side

Stumbling, lack of coordination (ataxia)

Constantly falling over

Eye movements erratic, apparent inability to focus

Circling (turning in circles)

Nausea, vomiting

Leave a Comment