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Our 13.5 year old german shepherd was diagnosed with vestibular disease almost three weeks ago (19 days ago). In this time she has yet to stand up on her own or obviously walk either but she has improved in all other areas from personailty, strength, appetite. She has a severe head tilt and many of the other VD symptoms.

We have had every kind of tests done from brain MRI's to spinal taps, checked for tumors and cancer, etc... Everything has come back crystal clear except that she did have some elevated liver levels which no one says was anything serious . The only other thing is we treated her for cushings disease also but those pills are about to run out.

It's now almost three weeks and my vet(s) say they see no reason that she won't walk again in time but me and my wife are really struggling with that as she still can barely sit up for no more than 10 seconds before she lays right back down. This was a very healthy and active dog before all of this happened, looking five years younger than she is. We have done everything we can think of and are tired of this minute to minute care that we have had to give her (cleaning her as she goes the bathroom where she lays, etc), it's been so very hard as the dog is 110 lbs but we also love her more than anything in this world and don't want to give up either.

Any suggestions would be beyond helpful. We are so desperate, exhausted and frustrated right now praying every day this ends. Has anyone heard of vestibular lasting this long where a dog can't walk? When is it official she won't walk again? Do we trust our vets and keep waiting for this big improvement. We obviously don't want to put the dog down as the vets keep saying that she will walk again and is in no pain at all outside of being frustrated herself.

Anyone heard of anything like this before? A VD case this severe? Any other thoughts or suggestions?

Thanks for your time!!!
 

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I'm sorry you are going through this. A couple of things come to mind... Has your vet treated the VD with antibiotics, steroids, and anti nausea meds? If the dog has cushings, then usually they don't give steroids, as steroids makes cushings worse. So if they left out steroids, did the vet use something else to reduce inner ear imflammation? It seems like they should have (maybe an NSAID).

A side effect of liver disease is sometimes dogs that will walk in circles and seem unbalanced. Has the liver disease been treated? Adenosyl 223 is helpful, but I don't know if you can give it to a cushingnoid dog.

I'd probably forward the medical records to a top teaching hospital and have them review it for a 2nd opinion. It wouldn't be that expensive, but I would make a decision bsed on what they suggest.

Good luck, and pls update us.
 

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Excellent response and greatly appreciated.

As for the meds used, we have been on everything you mentioned except steroids for the exact reasoning you pointed out. As for the liver disease that you bring up, some very good points and we haven't really gone that route.

I am convinced now that the vets are wrong with their diagnosis and it's something else but what it is I have no idea at all. This liver thought yoou mentioned is an idea that I will look into.

The vets say just too wait it out and have nothing else for us (so frustrating). If they were a little more grim with their hopes then I think we would have our answer but they are saying this is just a severe case of VD and she will eventually be fine. I have researched the subject back, front and sideways and have never heard a dog go this long as we have. A part of me wonders if we are not being patient enough but three weeks of putting your life on hold is pretty patient, IMO.

The vets have talked about us once again bringing the dog if she is still not walking but between moving around a 110lb dog and the money (already $5,000 into this) it's hard to go that route unless they were positive they knew.

Any top teaching hospital you reccomend, etc?
 

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Any top teaching hospital you reccomend, etc?
Off the top of my head, I don't know who to recommend. Post a thread on the General Forum with a title like "Help! Ill dog...Need vet teaching hospital recommendation for 2nd opinion". You should get more feedback there. You can also link this thread in your post for more ideas.

Did your vets give any NSAIDS to reduce imflammation of the inner ear? My vet said that imflammation and hardening of the inner ear structures are one of the causes of VD in older dogs. Maybe an NSAID would help. (but check with your vet...People NSAIDs are toxic to dogs).

Dogs with liver disease will usually circle to the left.
 

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I would also suggest contacting a Vet Teaching Hospital. What state are you in?
 

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If your vet isn't worried about the elevated liver values, I doubt that the liver is causing the problems. Dogs with cushing's have elevated liver enzymes and often times they will normalize with treatment but sometimes they continue to have mild elevations. There is a specific pattern with cushing's, in that the ALKP (Alkaline Phosphatase) is usually the enzyme with highest elevation with mild elevation in ALT. ALT is a liver specific enzyme so if liver disease is involved, you would see more than a three or four fold increase and there would most definitely be other abnormal blood values.

One of the hallmark symptoms of VD is nystagmus, which is involuntary movement of the eyes. In VD that movement is rapid and hard to miss. If this was a symptom upon diagnosis, I think you probably have a correct diagnosis and even if you didn't notice, I believe your vet has been extremely thorough in eliminating other possibilities, i.e. MRI and spinal tap. Most vets don't go that far in confirming a diagnosis. Each dog is unique in how long it takes for recovery and I've seen some take a few months. How long have you been treating for cushing's and what medication are you using? When was the last time you had cortisol levels checked? Low cortisol can cause extreme weakness but if your dog is eating, I doubt that's the case. Once cushing's treatment brings cortisol down, hip dysplasia/arthritis is often unmasked. With your dog's breeding and age, joint problems are common and perhaps this could be compounding her inability to stand.

I'm a member of a great canine cushing's group and we do have a few members who have dealt with VD. Please consider visiting www.k9cushings.com and becoming a member. It's a great place for support.
 
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