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What is Dizzy?

You observe your dog walking around in circles.  He seems very disoriented and is staggering.  His head is tilted to the side and he seems to have lost his sense of balance.  It is very upsetting to see him acting this way.  A dog who is experiencing spells of dizziness may have other symptoms such as pain, lethargy, loss of coordination or trauma wounds. There are several reasons that your dog may be feeling dizzy and a veterinarian visit is warranted as soon as possible. The underlying cause will need to be addressed.

  • Vestibular syndrome
  • Middle or inner ear infection
  • Brain tumor
  • Trauma
  • Stroke
  • Low blood sugar
  • Poison

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Why Dizzy Occurs in Dogs

Idiopathic Vestibular Syndrome

Idiopathic vestibular syndrome has a sudden onset of symptoms and has no detectable cause. Idiopathic vestibular syndrome usually occurs in senior dogs. Typically, symptoms go away within several weeks.

Middle or Inner Ear Infection

The middle and inner ear help to control balance. Therefore, bacterial and yeast infections in the middle or inner ear can cause the loss of balance and hearing. If treated in the early stages, middle or inner ear infections have a good recovery prognosis.

Brain Tumors

Brain tumors may cause dizziness. A tumor is an abnormal growth of tissue, which may be benign (non-cancerous) or malignant (cancerous). The level of malignancy can vary in different tumors. Brain tumors are more common in older dogs.  Any dog may get a brain tumor but certain breeds are predisposed such as the Golden Retriever, Boxer, Boston Terrier, and the Collie.

Trauma 

Trauma to your dog’s head can result in brain injury, which can cause dizziness. Trauma may have occurred from a fall or being hit by a moving vehicle.  If you believe your dog has a brain injury, he must be seen by a veterinarian as soon as possible. Additional symptoms may include blood coming from the ears, cuts, laceration and coma.

Stroke

Strokes occur when a blood vessel ruptures or becomes clogged, which then causes the brain to be deprived of its blood supply. The brain needs to receive oxygen from the circulating blood in the body. Many strokes are the result of an embolism. An embolism is a blood clot that develops and travels to a blood vessel in the brain. Once the embolism reaches the brain it causes a blockage.

Low Blood Sugar

The medical term for low blood sugar is hypoglycemia. Hypoglycemia is common in toy breed puppies under 3 months of age.  Low blood sugar may also be caused by Addison’s disease, liver disease and tumors of the pancreas.

Poison

There are numerous substances, which can be toxic to dogs such as certain plants, chocolate, grapes, chemicals, insecticides, artificial sweeteners and human medications. A dog that is poisoned may have loss of coordination, vomiting, diarrhea, seizures and weakness.  If you suspect that your dog has been poisoned, he must be seen by a veterinarian ASAP.  Time is of the essence to ensure that the poisoning is not fatal.

What to do if your Dog is Dizzy

Dizziness in a pet should not be ignored; an evaluation by a veterinary professional should be scheduled without delay. Once at the clinic, relay your pet's recent travel and medical history to the clinical team. The veterinarian will perform a physical examination on your companion and he may also recommend a few diagnostic tests such as a complete blood count (CBC), serum chemistry panel and urinalysis. He may suggest x-rays, an electrocardiogram (EKG) and an MRI.  

Dogs that have been poisoned or have severe trauma may need to be hospitalized.  Patients with ear infections will be treated with antibiotics. Patients with tumors may be referred to a veterinary oncologist.

Prevention of Dizzy

Many conditions can’t be prevented but some can be. Ear infections may be prevented by drying your dog’s ears after a bath or a swim. Dogs should not be left outside unsupervised as an unsupervised dog can jump a fence and be hit by a car or subject to exposure to hazardous materials. Substances that are poisonous to dogs should be out of his reach.  

Consult your veterinary clinic about providing several meals and adding a tablespoon of Karo syrup to your puppy’s water in order to help prevent low blood sugar. Dogs should have yearly wellness visits.  Puppies and senior should be seen more often.  Ask your veterinarian what wellness plan he would suggest for your dog.

Cost of Dizzy

Therapy for dizziness can vary greatly and the end result may differ. The cost of treating a brain injury may be as high as $3500. If your dog ingested a human medication the expense for detoxification may be $800. An ear infection may cost $300 to treat.

Dizzy Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Honey Bear
American Eskimo
11 Months
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

My dog is dizzy like she is drunk. She is not spay and also has constipation on the regular.

She can act normal during our day-to-day but will still have a (monthly) occurance of

Is this something I should be worried about?

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
1099 Recommendations
Thank you for your email. Without seeing her, or knowing more abour her, it is difficult to comment on what those epsiodes might be. It would probably be a good idea to have her seen by a veterinarian, as it doesn't sound completely normal. your veterinariam will be able to examine her and determine if anything is wrong. I hope that she is okay.

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Baby
Chihuahua
5 Years 2 Months
Serious condition
0 found helpful
Serious condition

Has Symptoms

Disorientation

Won't sit still walking all over the place and falling over, throwing up

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
2514 Recommendations

There are a few possible causes for the symptoms you are describing including poisoning, dehydration, liver disease, kidney disease or a severe infection. Given the severity of the symptoms, I would recommend you visit your Veterinarian for supportive care and to determine the underlying cause. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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