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Why is my dog losing balance and shaking?

If your dog is staggering, stumbling, or falling over, it may be the result of a variety of medical issues, including injury, stroke, poisoning, or an infection. Here, our Orange Park vets explain why you should get to a veterinary hospital right away.

Why is my dog old dog losing balance?

If you notice that your dog suddenly loses their sense of balance in their hind legs, front legs, or both, they could be suffering from any of the following health issues. Signs of loss of balance should not be ignored since they can indicate a serious medical emergency. If your dog shows signs of any of the following health issues it's time to head to the vet straight away. 


Ataxia is a condition relating to sensory dysfunction that results in a loss of coordination in the rear end, head, or limbs. Three kinds of ataxia are commonly seen in dogs: vestibular, cerebellar, and sensory.

The inner ear or brainstem condition known as vestibular ataxia can cause this condition. When the cerebellum is harmed, cerebellar ataxia develops. When a tumor or a bulging intervertebral disk compresses the spinal cord, sensory ataxia results.

As well as staggering, stumbling and falling over, signs of ataxia include flicking of the eyes from side to side, head tilt, walking in circles, vomiting, and nausea.

Ear Infection

In dogs, balance problems are frequently brought on by inner ear infections. You might also see additional signs of an ear infection in your dog, including redness, swelling, discharge, and odor in or around the affected ear, as well as head shaking and scratching, circling, and flicking of the eyes.


Balance problems in dogs can result from head trauma, injury, or inner ear damage. Dogs have a propensity for hiding their pain, so it can be challenging to determine if one is hurt. Dogs who are experiencing pain may exhibit heavy panting, slowed reflexes, altered appetite, enlarged pupils, biting or licking the injured area, reluctance to lie down, and anxiety.


Strokes in dogs are relatively uncommon, but they do occur. Blood clots, high blood pressure, hemorrhage, head trauma, kidney disease, or migrating worms can all cause a stroke. Loss of balance, head tilt, circling, loss of vision, and collapse are all symptoms of a stroke in your dog.

Brain Tumor

Brain tumors can occur in dogs, particularly senior dogs, and can cause a general loss of balance, staggering, and stumbling. Other symptoms of a brain tumor include changes in behavior and/or appetite, seizures, signs of pain, head tilt, swaying, a wide stance, lack of coordination, head tremors, pacing, and eye flicking.

Brain Inflammation

Dogs who have encephalitis, or inflammation of the brain, may stagger, stumble, or fall over. Fungal infections, tick-borne diseases, and parasites are all causes of brain inflammation. Depression and fever are other encephalitis symptoms.

It could be a sign of a severe ear infection if you notice your dog tilting their head and losing balance. Contact our Orange Park vets if you do and we'll do our best to diagnose your dog.

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