Vestibular disease: anatomy, physiology, and clinical signs

Compend Contin Educ Vet. 2012 Jul;34(7):E1.


The vestibular system is responsible for keeping an animal oriented with respect to gravity. It is a sensory system that maintains the position of the eyes, body, and limbs in reference to the position of the head. Proper interpretation of neurologic deficits and precise neuroanatomic localization are essential to diagnose and prognosticate the underlying disorder. Neurologic examination can confirm whether the vestibular dysfunction is of peripheral or central nervous system origin. Idiopathic vestibular syndrome is the most common cause of peripheral vestibular disease in dogs and, despite its dramatic clinical presentation, can improve without intervention. Central vestibular diseases generally have a poorer prognosis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cat Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Cat Diseases / physiopathology
  • Cats
  • Dog Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Dog Diseases / physiopathology
  • Dogs
  • Neurologic Examination / veterinary
  • Prognosis
  • Vestibular Diseases / diagnosis
  • Vestibular Diseases / physiopathology
  • Vestibular Diseases / veterinary*
  • Vestibule, Labyrinth / anatomy & histology*
  • Vestibule, Labyrinth / physiology*