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Healthy Dogs

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Why Is My Dog Falling Down?

Little kids love spinning in place until they fall down. But when we're talking about our dogs, there's really no good reason for loss of balance.

So why do dogs fall down? Is it possible to treat loss of balance? And when should your canine companion see a vet?

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Dogs are born to work for a living. They’ve worked alongside us for thousands of years, and most are bred for a particular purpose, like hunting, herding livestock or providing protection. Dogs’ wild relatives spend most of their waking hours scavenging and hunting for food, caring for offspring, defending territory and playing with each other. They lead busy, complex lives, interacting socially and solving simple problems necessary for their survival. The most common job for our companion...

Read the Exercise for Dogs article > >

When to See a Vet

Injury, stroke, poisoning, and infections can all cause your dog to lose its balance. Because these things can be dangerous or even life threatening, call your vet immediately if your dog is falling down.

Dog Loss of Balance: Common Causes and Treatments

A few of the more common causes of falling down in dogs include:

Vestibular Syndrome. Vestibular syndrome is caused by dysfunction of the inner ear. Because the symptoms occur suddenly, they are sometimes confused with symptoms of stroke. Along with loss of balance and falling over, signs may include head tilt, walking in circles, vomiting, nausea, and flicking of the eyes from side to side.

Treating vestibular syndrome depends on the cause. Many dogs need support for secondary symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, and dehydration.

Ear Infection. Inner ear infections are a common cause of dogs losing their balance. Other symptoms include head shaking and scratching, eye flicking, walking in circles. Often there may be redness, swelling, discharge, and odor associated with the affected ear.

Left untreated, infections of the external parts of the ear can move deeper, become more serious, and lead to complications like inner ear infection or meningitis. So always have your dog seen by a veterinarian if you suspect an ear infection. Treating ear infections may include a professional cleaning, topical medications, antibiotics, anti-inflammatories, and possibly surgery for chronic or serious infections.

Injury. Injuries such as head trauma or damage to the inner ear can cause dogs to lose their balance. Your dog can't tell you when it's in pain, and dogs sometimes mask hurt with behaviors such as wagging their tail. So it's important to be aware of canine signs of pain. They include slower reflexes, heavy panting, biting or licking the wounded area, anxiety, enlarged pupils, reluctance to lie down, and change in appetite.

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