Loss of Balance in Dogs

As a pet owner, have you ever noticed your dog losing their balance and stumbling around? This behavior can seem like it came on all of a sudden and out of nowhere, which makes it upsetting and confusing. Dogs can also be very upset by this experience which can make it hard to assess the dog for any other symptoms.

If your dog has started to show symptoms of a loss of balance, you need to take them to the vet right away. There are various conditions that can cause this problem, and your vet will need to diagnose the condition to help provide the proper treatment. If you are ready to learn some more about the loss of balance in dogs, you need to keep reading.

loss of balance dogs

Symptoms of Loss of Balance in Dogs

Dogs can show a wide range of symptoms when they are dealing with a condition that makes them lose their balance. Your dog might be showing signs of staggering and stumbling or even falling down. In some dogs, you might see a head tilt but no staggering behavior. Some dogs will just lie down and hide because they cannot balance. Your dog might also show rapid eye movements that are associated with possible inner ear issues or dizziness.

Causes of Loss of Balance in Dogs

The main causes are listed below:

1. Head Injury

If your dog has been hit by a car or struck in the head, they might be showing a loss of balance due to an injury to the brain. This condition might get better over time, or there might never be an improvement in your pet’s symptoms. Most vets will prescribe medications to help with the symptoms of the injury and offer a wait-and-see plan to give your dog time to heal. In many cases, there is some improvement in symptoms over time as the brain heals.

2. Encephalitis

Inflammation in the brain is most commonly caused by tick-borne diseases, parasites, and fungal infections. This can be quite serious as well as quite hard to treat, and you will need to get your dog to a vet right away to be evaluated. If this is the diagnosis that you have been given, the treatment plan will often take months but can typically resolve at least some of your dog’s symptoms. Your vet can advise about possible secondary problems that you will need to be on the lookout for as well.

3. Brain Tumors

Brain tumors can be present for a long time without causing symptoms. In most cases, symptoms of neurologic behavior related to a brain tumor appear rapidly and seem to have come out of nowhere. Brain tumors are not usually operable in dogs, and your vet will instead help your pet by putting them on medications to help control neurological symptoms and other problems that are related to the tumor. This is a progressive condition in most cases which owners need to be aware of as they engage in treatment to keep their dog comfortable.

4. Ear Infection

When your dog has a severe ear infection, the inner ear can be impacted, which can lead to head tilting, rapid eye movements, stumbling and staggering, and pain and itching. Your dog might be scratching at its ears, or it could have discharge from the ears as well. Thankfully, a course of antibiotics will usually resolve this issue. Ear infection prevention is easy if you make sure that your dog does not have ear mites and that their ears are dried thoroughly after bathing or playing in the water.

5. Stoke

While not as common in dogs as other pets, dogs can suffer from a stroke. This can lead to a very sudden onset of neurological symptoms that might be upsetting to both you and your dog. Your vet can evaluate your dog to see if a stroke is the reason for their loss of balance. This is another condition, rather like a head injury, that will require time and patience to see improvement. Some dogs never regain their full balance and normal function, but many pets will see a significant reduction in symptoms with proper treatment and time.

6. Back Injury

When dogs suffer a fall or are hit by a car, they can injure their back or their pelvis. This can lead to instability in the spine or the lower limbs, which can cause stumbling and falling. This is usually much more obvious than conditions associated with the brain, and you might even be aware of the accident that caused the injury. Broken limbs might need surgery or splints to heal, but back injuries can only be healed with time and rest. Your dog might have to be confined to a kennel or a small room for a few months to give their back time to heal. Broken bones and bruising of soft tissue will improve over time, but some dogs will never regain full function of their limbs.

Loss of Balance in Dogs Can be Quite Serious

When your dog is suffering from symptoms like stumbling and loss of balance, you need to take them to the vet to be evaluated. There are so many reasons that your dog might be showing these symptoms, and not all of them are easy to diagnose on your own. Treatment and a care plan for this kind of condition is best made by a vet, and you will find that you will feel much better when you have a clear diagnosis of what is wrong with your dog.

Making sure that you allow your dog time to heal is important for most of these conditions. You might have to be patient for a few months for conditions like these to start to show improvement. Your vet will be able to offer medications and treatment plans that will help you and your dog to get through this tough healing process together. While stumbling and loss of balance can be quite scary for you and your dog, many dogs improve greatly with the right treatment plan in place. For additional information, contact EVCC by calling one of our locations. Our skilled and compassionate veterinarians are dedicated to providing the best care possible for your pet.

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