Skip to main content

Dog Word of the Day: Nystagmus

Today's dog word of the day is "nystagmus" a neurological term that dog owners may stumble upon when their vet refers to their dog's abnormal eye movement. This is a condition that can occur in humans as well and can be quite alarming to witness as it is often accompanied by other concerning symptoms. Nystagmus is often seen in senior dogs, but it can occasionally occur in younger dogs as well. This article as any other of our other article tackling health topics, is not meant to be used as substitute for professional veterinary advice. If your dog is experiencing signs of nystagmus, please see your vet.

What's Going On?

dog third eyelid

Nystagmus entails involuntary (not under the dog's control) eye movements also known as "dancing eyes." These eye movements are mostly side-to-side with up and down eye movements being less common. What causes these abnormal eye movements in dogs? It's mostly a matter of something going on with the dog's vestibular system. The vestibular system includes parts of the dog's inner ear and brain responsible for processing sensory information involved with controlling balance and eye movements. It also helps coordinate eye movement with head movement. In a healthy dog, when the dog turns his head to right, the eyes move to the left, and when the dog turns his head to the left, the eyes move to the right. This is known as the vestibular-ocular reflex.

[otw_is sidebar="otw-sidebar-1"]

Problems start when the eyes are darting back and forth occur despite the head being motionless. When this happens, it's therefore often indicative of a problem with the dog's vestibular system. The eye movements aren't always obviously noticeable, therefore, in some cases, dog owners will need to keep their dog's head completely still and look at the eyes to notice it.

Discover More

trailing dog

Research Unveils Whether Dogs Smell Their Own Urine

Whether dogs smell their own urine is an interesting query that is worthy of investigating. Dogs are fascinating creatures, they live in a world of smells which makes us wonder how they must perceive the world around them. New research frequently unveils interesting findings on a dog's ability to smell, let's discover the latest!


What's Up With Dogs Digging Holes All of a Sudden?

With dogs digging holes all of a sudden, you may be wondering what they may be up to, and most of all, what is causing this whole new fascination with dirt. In the dog world, there is digging and digging, and therefore, to get to the root of the problem, you'll need to take an investigative look at what exactly drives the behavior.


What's a Snipey Muzzle in Dogs?

A snipey muzzle in dogs is something to be aware of, especially if you are planning to breed dogs or enter the show ring business. Even if you plan to use your dog as a hunting partner, you should be aware of snipey muzzles and how they may impact your dog's ability to perform the tasks he was bred for.

dog fear

Causes of Nystagmus

What can cause abnormal eye movements in dogs? Since the dog's inner ear is related to the dog's vestibular system, any disease or injury involving it such as an ear infection involving the inner ear could lead to symptoms such as nystagmus along with balance and neurological symptoms (staggering, drunk-like gait, tilted head, falling over). Another common cause of nystagmus in older dogs is vestibular disease also known as "Geriatric Canine Idiopathic Vestibular Syndrome." Other possible causes of eyes darting back and forth may include head traumas, cancers affecting the dog's brain or inner ear, low thyroid levels and acute inflammation of the brain.

Did you know? Dogs with nystagmus may tilt or turn their head so that they can see more clearly.

A dog with nystagmus

 [otw_is sidebar="otw-sidebar-1"]

Related Articles