Jump to section

What is Falling Down?

Dogs have the ability to support their own weight for long periods of time. They have strong legs and a musculoskeletal system that is firm for supporting their weight while standing, running, jumping, and romping. This is why when a dog falls over continuously, or even sporadically, there may be a cause of concern. Stumbling or falling down occurs when a dog’s sense of balance goes awry, or when another health condition that brings weakness, dizziness, or pain to the dog causes the dog to fall over. 

Typically, dogs can fall over because of mild to moderate disorders, such as injuries or inner ear infections, or they can fall over because of more serious conditions, such as stroke or poisoning. Either way, if your dog is falling over you should contact your veterinarian as soon as possible. There are several different reasons why dogs can fall over uncontrollably, and they may include:

  • Injury or trauma to the legs, back, or hind area
  • Ataxia
  • Vestibular disorders
  • Cardiovascular disorders
  • Stroke
  • Illness
  • Poisoning

Why Falling Down Occurs in Dogs

If your dog is falling down without any real known cause or any visible signs of injury, contact your veterinarian. Falling down or falling over may be a sign of something serious. Causes may include:

Injury or Trauma

An injury or trauma can include a cut, bite, scrape, sprain, or similar incident to the leg or other area that makes them sore and causes weakness and pain.

Vestibular Disorders

The vestibular system is responsible for the balance of the dog. In this vital system, there are several components which are centered in the brain, middle ear and inner ear.

Cardiovascular Disorders

The heart and related systems are comprised of the organ and the blood vessels. The blood which is pumped through the body from the heart has oxygen and essential nutrients needed in order for your dog’s cells to do work. If this system has a deficit or disease, your dog can become quite weak and have other symptoms of illness. These symptoms may result in falling down.

Stroke

A stroke is a serious disorder that can make the dog fall over, and even become unconscious. When a stroke occurs, the blood vessels to the brain become inflamed and burst if the brain becomes deprived of oxygen due to a blockage.

Illnesses

Other illnesses, such as dehydration, high fever, infections, seizure disorders, tumors, and diseases can also make your dog weak and shaky, thus causing them to fall over.

Poisoning

If your dog ingests a toxic substance, this can cause many side-effects, including seizures and dizziness that can cause your dog to suddenly collapse.

arrow-up-icon

Top

What to do if your Dog is Falling Down

If your dog is falling down for no apparent reason known to you, make an appointment as soon as possible or take him to the emergency veterinarian clinic. This may be a sign of a serious condition, such as a stroke or seizure, and it may need to be treated as soon as possible. 

Once you arrive at your veterinarian’s office, he will immediately begin assessing your dog’s vitals and possibly hook him up to IV fluids, oxygen, and any other immediate treatment to get your dog stabilized. He may begin by asking about his symptoms and taking a few laboratory tests. A biochemistry profile to check the functionality of his organs, blood work, and urinalysis may be performed. 

If your veterinarian notices your dog may be having a stroke, he will stabilize him and perform any treatment for this condition. He may also order scans and imaging of his brain to diagnose where the stroke occurred and to lead him to the next step in treatment.

Poisoning will be immediately assessed and treated with IV fluids and decontamination of your dog, as well as using a gastric tube, activated charcoal, and other treatments for this potentially serious condition.

Other tests may be conducted to check for other illnesses or diseases your dog may have that is causing him to fall over. One illness he may check for is an inner ear or middle ear infection. Each test conducted will rule out other conditions and alert the veterinarian as to what to test for next. Neurological exams, CT scans, imaging, and other tests may need to be performed in order for him to find the cause of the falling over.

arrow-up-icon

Top

Prevention of Falling Down

Depending on your dog’s health condition, in order to prevent him from future falls you must take care of him by monitoring him at home. If you are working during the day and he is home alone, you may want to have someone come and watch him or put him in a crate. This may be very hard to do, especially if your dog is not used to being crated. Another option is a doggie day care if you are very concerned that your dog is falling over.

The medication your dog is taking may help him not fall as much. It is important to administer the medication as your veterinarian has advised you do so. Try to limit running and jumping and other rough play in order to prevent him from falling over as well. 

You can also ask your veterinarian for ways to prevent him from falling. Your veterinarian will be very knowledgeable of your dog’s health condition, and will know exactly what to do to prevent further falls. Also, once the health condition is treated, the falls should decrease or cease altogether.

arrow-up-icon

Top

Cost of Falling Down

If your dog is falling down and needs treatment for a specific cause, the cost will vary. For vestibular disorders, the cost can be approximately $1000. For an ear infection, treatment can cost $300. Other, more severe health conditions, such as tumors of the nerves, can cost $7500.

arrow-up-icon

Top

*Wag! may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page. Items are sold by the retailer, not Wag!.

Falling Down Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

question-icon-cta

Ask a Vet

dog-name-icon

Rambo

dog-breed-icon

Puggle

dog-age-icon

12 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

thumbs-up-icon

1 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Imbalance
Imbalance; Paralysis

My 12 year old Puggle was diagnosed with Cushing's and is now being treated for this disease (10 days in), but prior to the official diagnosis we have been treating him holistically w/ ongoing vet care for the past year. Three weeks before we had him officially tested and diagnosed he started have difficulty walking and getting up. His entire right side is affected. The worst time is in the evening and morning, but he seems to improved during the day. He eats and drinks well, but some mornings are so bad that he can't walk at all. I am wondering if this is a normal symptom of the Cushing's or if there is something else going on that we should look for with the vet? Can there be an inter ear infection that does not show on the blood work they have done for Cushing's? I just want to make sure we are doing everything to support his health.

Aug. 27, 2018

Rambo's Owner

answer-icon

recommendation-ribbon

3320 Recommendations

Muscle atrophy is a characteristic of Cushing’s especially of the legs and may result in some leg weakness; the blood test for Cushing’s is specifically for the condition and your Veterinarian may not have run standard blood tests (haematology and/or biochemistry). Keep an eye on Rambo and monitor for any changes, if you are concerned you should bring this up with your Veterinarian. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Aug. 27, 2018

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

Angel

dog-breed-icon

Mutt

dog-age-icon

5 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

thumbs-up-icon

1 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Falling Over

My dog has recently had about 3 occurances within the last month ( 2 of which happened in just the last 24 hours). She suddenly loses balance and stumbles/ falls over to one side when she tries to walk. During this time her body sways from side to side when she is actually able to stand. I usually have to pick her up and carry her outside to help nurse her back to health there. While I try to help by keeping her from walking, trying to get her to drink water (which she refuses) and comforting her I’ve notived she salivates heavily, almost uncontrollably as it just drips and drips from her mouth. I’ve also noticed that she poops (solid poop) during this time while she may be sitting or while she walks, it looks as though it comes out without any force from her at all. Typically after she’s pooped she begins to feel better and suddenly becomes playful again, wanting to run around the yard and jump up on me or our trampoline. Her episodes typically go on for about 10-15 minutes and then she’s back to her usual self. After she’s through she drinks some water and socializes and then takes a nap or lays down. (Side notes: she doesn’t tilt her head or shake it. Her eyes don’t anything that seem strange. She just has a worried look about them and I also want to mention that she has had an ear infection about 5 months ago that I took her to the vet for and was treated with prescription ear drops and an ear wash)

April 30, 2018

Angel's Owner

answer-icon

recommendation-ribbon

3320 Recommendations

It is difficult to say what the cause of these episodes are, they may be neurological or cardiac in origin; you should try to determine if there are any triggers which induce these episodes since sometimes some noises, lights or smells may cause similar types of episodes to occur. Another possible cause is heart disease where the heart cannot pump enough blood to the brain which results in a loss of balance and other symptoms. You should visit your Veterinarian for a thorough examination including the heart and a neurological examination to try to determine an underlying cause. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

April 30, 2018

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

Chloe

dog-breed-icon

Japanese Spitz

dog-age-icon

9 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Collapsing

Hi, my nearly 10 yr old female Japanese Spitz has been out of sorts for 3 days now. The first day she was crying but not obvious where the pain was, Vet wasn't too sure either. She was given 2 pain injections, one Metacam and the other a "stronger opiate" i'm told. The day after and today she has been very wobbly/unbalanced on her legs, often collapsing, slipping and bumping both her face and back end off of the furniture. Can tell from her eyes she is slightly disoriented and upset. Eating normally and managing to do toilet business fine. Note her back end is slightly rounded now too, as if she is scared and has her tail low. I am concerned it may be her hips, it could be her ribs, perhaps legs or even a slipped disk. I have an appointment tonight at the vet. Do you have any ideas or advise? Thanks

April 5, 2018

Chloe's Owner

answer-icon

recommendation-ribbon

3320 Recommendations

If not done so already I would have an x-ray done to look at the hips and spine to look for any anomalies which may explain the symptoms; in the meantime keep Chloe rested and try to prevent her from walking. If an initial x-ray doesn’t show much, myelography should be considered to get better detail of the vertebral canal. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

April 5, 2018

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

Bailey

dog-breed-icon

Labrador Husky

dog-age-icon

2 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Wobbly
Disoriented

Hi, I have a 1 year 8 month old lab/husky mix. She is extremely playful and by anyones definition she is a perfectly healthy and happy pup. However last night (i work third shift) I came home on my break as I always do and let Bailey out of the kennel. Like any other night I let her outside, we play a little fetch, she does her potty jobs (everything was normal) and I let her back inside. 10 minutes later I hear a boom and look to my shock as she is stumbling around like she was drunk! She couldn't balance enough to even stand up properly. I then immediately check her mouth for something she could have gotten into and found nothing. I picked her up and carried her outside where i sat with her for 10 minutes. After this time passes she was completely back to normal! Like nothing had ever happened, she walked fine, she was panting a bit due to what she had just gone thru im sure. Brought Bailey back inside and set out fresh water and she drank normally. I am going to call my vet this morning to make an appointment but was wondering if you could offer an opinion on what it could possibly be. Her eyes were not jolting back and forth like a typical seizure episode that i have read about and she wasn't foaming at the mouth or had any kind of head tilt or spasms that were very apparent. Just the very wobbly and disorientated look. Please if you have any kind of opinion it would be much appreciated as to what I could maybe ask the vet to check for if they potentially miss something. Thank you.

March 21, 2018

Bailey's Owner

answer-icon

recommendation-ribbon

3320 Recommendations

It is difficult to think of a specific issue since it occurred so quickly and resolved as fast as it started, I cannot say with any certainty but I would pay close attention to the heart in case there was an issue pumping blood when Bailey was exercising and excited which lead to a reduction of blood flow to the brain. Again, I am not saying that is the cause but I would focus on the heart. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

March 21, 2018

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

Zeus

dog-breed-icon

Pittbull Great Dane mix

dog-age-icon

8 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Thirsty
Anxiety
Ears Down
Falling Over
Stress
Shaking Leg
Tight Stomach

My dog is a pittbull great dane mix, he's rather huge and he's usually perfectly fine. He gets very depressed when my mom goes to work and he won't eat or drink all day, yesterday she was gone a bit longer than normal and when she finally got home he ran to greet her and then his back left leg started to shake, shortly after that he started to wobble and fall over, he fell four or five times before we got him to get a drink of water then fed him some wet food and he was fine - he seems alright now but i'm worried it might mean there's something wrong that we can't see, i'd love some advice

March 16, 2018

Zeus' Owner


answer-icon

Dr. Michele K. DVM

recommendation-ribbon

1611 Recommendations

Thank you for your email. It is unlikely that the signs that Zeus showed are related to missing your mom. He is at an age where bone and joint problems can become an issue, and he should be examined by a veterinarian to determine what might be going on, and if there are any necessary or available therapies. I hope that he is okay.

March 16, 2018

I was more thinking he was forcing himself into dehydration because when she's gone he won't eat or drink, we're trying to plan a trip to the vet - it's hard when he's so big and doesn't like being around people very much, but i was trying to figure out if he was dehydrated or there was something more before we took him in

March 17, 2018

Zeus's Owner

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

Lily

dog-breed-icon

toy poodle

dog-age-icon

9 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Falling, Stumbling

My 9 year old toy poodle started to have weakness in walking about a month ago,then periodically falling down. I took her to her vet. She has chronic right ear infections and have been on many meds for allergies. She is now intermittently falling face planting and tipping over. Been to two vets and neither could tell me why she is getting worse. I stopped all of her medications, thinking maybe she is having an adverse reaction, and was starting to get better. The last two days she is worse again. I am at a loss of what to do next. At times, she acts like her legs are paralyzed. But then will get back up like nothing is wrong.

dog-name-icon

Kona

dog-breed-icon

Miniature Pinscher

dog-age-icon

8 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Fall

Today, our min pin as fallen right over while pooping. He just laid there for a few minutes like he couldnt get up. It wasn't that he just laid down while pooping, he fell right over. I went over to help him and he just wouldnt move. It has happened twice today. He is fine while peeing. Other then that, he had been fine today. Eating and drinking well. His normal active self inside. What could be wrong with him?

dog-name-icon

Prince

dog-breed-icon

Chihuahua

dog-age-icon

10 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Falling Over
Fall

1 week ago Prince jumped the bottom step of the staircase and landed on the floor, his front legs gave way and he banged his face into the tiled floor. His back end dropped to the floor with him and he lay unmoving. When I picked him up he was intitrely floppy and started pooing himself and dribbling. He gradually staggered up and over to his bed. He was checked by two vets who found no injury to any limbs and prescribed metacam but he still can’t walk without falling over and looks very depressed. When he walks he walks diagonally and then falls over in a heap and struggles to regain balance. I don’t know where to go from here?

dog-name-icon

Furball

dog-breed-icon

Chihuahua

dog-age-icon

7 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Falls Over

7 year old chihuahua has fallen down twice only in morning and then is fine. His legs go out and he falls over. This has happened twice and only after he wakes up in morning after that he is fine. I pick him up and seems to be ok then.