Six weeks ago, my 11-year-old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Maisey, was diagnosed with vestibular syndrome. It was a very scary experience (I think worse for us than her). Maisey is now 90 per cent better, but it has left her with a head tilt and paralysed eye and we are using eye drops to stop her eye drying out.
My main concern now is that she is due to have her annual vaccinations and I am worried if it could set her back? I am considering having a titre test instead and just wondered what your thoughts were?
Graham Finch advises…
I’m really sorry about Maisey, especially as this has left her with some long-term consequences. We don’t know what causes idiopathic vestibular syndrome (IVS), but my understanding is that it occurs as a result of a small area within the brain becoming inflamed for reasons unknown. Most dogs will make a full recovery, but as you have sadly discovered, some dogs are left with permanent deficits.
I would find it hard to associate vaccination with IVS – typically, this is a disease of the older dog, and if vaccination were a trigger in any way, then we might expect to see it more frequently in younger dogs. Vaccinations ultimately protect against the risk of infectious disease. That being said, vaccinations do trigger an immune response, which is inflammatory by nature. You could say there was an element of risk either way.
If she were mine, I’d vaccinate as usual, but ultimately, I think this is a decision for you to weigh up in your own mind. It might be worth asking your vet if there are any hot spots of infectious disease in your region, as this might have a bearing on your decision. I can empathise with your dilemma – let us know what you decide.