Dog Stumbling While Walking – Causes And Solutions

Sometimes your puppy shows some strange behaviors, which are initial signs of serious diseases or potential disorders.

Among them, a dog stumbling while walking is an utter concern.

You should be alert to this unusual conduct because many dangerous culprits are behind it. Suppose you don’t know how to solve the issue.

In this case, don’t panic soon and analyze our article carefully before reaching a conclusion. Let’s get started!

What Does A Stumbling Walk Look Like?

dog stumbling while walking

Stumbling is a word used to describe an unstable walking style. When your dog is stumbling around, it seems intoxicated from drinking or alcohol-related agents.

In other words, each step is unbalanced, and you may feel that your puppy is unable to control its walking mechanism and easily fall.

Under most circumstances, this issue is rendered by the failure in the brain’s activity, shown by cognitive disorders.

The following section will delve deeper into the causes you should pay close attention to. \

It would be best to consult a professional vet, so she could check your canine’s overall health and diagnose the exact culprit.

Why Is My Dog Stumbling While Walking?

Some common factors of your dog’s staggering walk include vestibular disease, ear infections, trauma, stroke, brain tumor, and brain inflammation.

Let’s take a closer look at each case.

The Vestibular Disease

This disease has several names, such as the dog idiopathic vestibular ailment, “Old dog” syndrome, vestibular syndrome, or ataxia.

It is a perilous disorder that induces an imbalance in an array of canine activities due to problems within its middle ears.

An old dog usually falls victim to this disease rather than younger ones, but a few exceptions exist.

Popular symptoms are loss of balance, walking in circles, vomiting, constant eyes flicking, or head tilt. The ailment could be completely eradicated unless it is too late.

If the vestibular ailment is an underlying root of the medical issue, IV fluids might come in handy and prove their effectiveness to dogs with mild symptoms.

Ear Infections

Middle ear infections are another cause. You can easily note this issue via clear signs, like swelling within a dog’s ears, discharge, redness, and unpleasant odor.

Severe and expanded infection is conducive to odd behaviors, like staggering, scratching, head shaking, dog ears getting hot at night, etc.

If your puppy frequently scratches their ears or uses their legs to impact the surrounding area, it may try to notify you of the problem. 

Please take it to a reliable clinic for a comprehensive check-up. Untreated and prolonged infections result in worse complications, especially meningitis.


Sometimes your canine has been impacted by solid objects, leaving internal injuries, particularly head trauma.

If this kind of trauma becomes more serious, it will likely wreak havoc on the proper operation of nerves responsible for controlling general conduct.

It is dangerous because you have difficulty figuring out its external symptoms. Dogs are even better at hiding signs of pain head, so this task seems harder.

Yet, suppose you see your dog is suddenly tired, doesn’t crave food, or their pupils are enlarged; the scenario of head trauma is possible.


A stroke happens when a blood vessel in the brain bursts or is blocked, which deteriorates most normal functions of the brain.

Staggering walk is a minor consequence of this disease, as some even face death or inability to move.

Loss of vision, limping, seizures, head tremors, or house training accidents are other stroke-related problems.

If your puppy displays these signs, call the nearest hospital via an emergency hotline to secure its health.

Brain Tumor

A brain tumor is the growth of cells in the brain tissue or near it. Nearby locations include the membranes, nerves, the pineal and pituitary glands.

Brain tumors are fatal if not treated properly. When the cells enlarge and get broken, they will block all the blood passages to your canine’s brain.

Without a sufficient blood level, it cannot perform its functions to the full and render various health issues, like a sudden change in appetite, lack of coordination, pacing, seizures, or abnormal eye movements.

The symptoms depend on the brain tumor’s position.

Brain Inflammation

Encephalitis is the inflammation of a brain’s active tissues that are commonly triggered by fungal infections, viruses, tick-borne diseases, and parasites.

It causes the brain to swell and has repercussions for its operation, like brain tumors.

Yet, encephalitis is not as dangerous as a brain tumor because it is simple to cure with a sensible treatment process.

For more information, you are advised to consult the vet’s advice.

What To Do If Your Dog Is Staggering Or Stumbling?

stumbling in dogs

Four steps below, including physical exam, testing, diagnosis, and treatment, will help you out.

Physical Exam

Before having your dog examined by a qualified vet, you must describe every symptom you have observed in full detail.

This greatly facilitates the physical exam and helps your doctor form a comprehensive picture of your canine’s condition.

Then, he will use specialized tools, which are carefully sterilized, to undertake an overall check-up and rely on provided symptoms to reach an initial conclusion.


Testing is another important step. There are many tests that your dog should complete, like an MRI of its ears, radiographs, or a brain CT scan.

Depending on the disease’s extent, it may undergo some or all of the above tests.

A cerebrospinal fluid analysis is effective at finding any inflammatory and infectious ailments.

Brainstorm auditory evoked response (BAER) is also a helpful test, evaluating its ear’s pathways and channels.


Based on the results obtained from physical exams and testing, a vet will diagnose your canine’s diseases and give a detailed prescription for drugs.

My dog has been diagnosed with vestibular ataxia.

And to ascertain the result, my doctor checked my puppy’s object awareness and mental state before concluding and prescribing the necessary medicines.


You may receive a medication named propentofylline that alleviates symptoms of vestibular disease and diminishes the damage.

If your dog shows signs of dehydration, intravenous fluids will be provided.

Other drugs, such as antioxidants or fatty acids, etc., are beneficial for their ability to recover and heal.

Please listen carefully to your vet’s guidelines and warnings about each medicine to avoid using the wrong drugs.

Frequently Asked Questions

why is my dog stumbling

What Is The Best Way To Prevent Dog Stumbling When Walking?

The optimal preventative method is taking supportive care of your puppy. Provide a well-nutrition meal with some foods, like bacon and eggs (but in moderation).

Frequent exercise with daily walks is highly recommended, boosting its general health. When jogging with it, you should use a leash and keep an eye on your canine.

Remember to follow the medication that your vet has prescribed and get annual examinations.

What Is The Medication Cost For A Canine’s Staggering?

The answer varies greatly, depending on the disease’s extent, health conditions and frequency of check-ups, etc.

But normally, the cost for your dog staggering is not cheap at all, falling in the range of 1000 dollars.

The Bottom Line

This post has unraveled the main culprits behind a dog stumbling while walking, coupled with feasible solutions through four stages, physical exam, testing, diagnosis, and treatment.

If you find our article helpful, please share it with your family and friends as a way of helping more people stuck in the same predicament.

Stay tuned for our next sharing about dog’s care!


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Hi I am Mitchell. Dog Growth is a blog about dog caring and training where I share my experiences to my community. Hope you enjoy it!

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