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My Dog is Drunk & Wobbly – 7 Causes & Treatments Revealed Full Guide of 2024

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Wondering why your pup is acting drunk and wobbly? It’s time to take a closer look at the possible causes of this concerning behavior. From seizures to vestibular disease, heatstroke, and toxins, there are lots of things that could be causing your pet distress.

In this article, we’ll give you all the information you need about why your dog is drunk and wobbly – 7 causes and treatments revealed.

Let’s dive into understanding more about common signs associated with these issues, as well as diagnosis methods for identifying potential underlying health concerns that may require veterinary care.

Key Takeaways

my dog is acting drunk and wobbly

  • Drunken behavior in dogs can be caused by various factors such as seizures, vestibular disease, heatstroke, and toxin ingestion.
  • Symptoms of drunken behavior in dogs may include fainting or collapsing, head tilting and walking in circles, unsteady gait, and muscle twitching.
  • Diagnostic testing such as MRI imaging and spinal tap may be necessary to determine the underlying cause of the drunken behavior.
  • Immediate veterinary attention is crucial in cases of heatstroke, toxin ingestion, and vestibular dysfunction, as prompt treatment can improve outcomes and prevent further complications.

Causes of Drunken Behavior in Dogs

Causes of Drunken Behavior in Dogs
You’re understandably worried when your beloved pet starts acting strange and uncoordinated. There are a number of causes of drunken behavior in dogs that range from seizures to toxins, so it’s important to seek veterinary attention right away.

Fainting or collapsing can be one cause, as well as vestibular disease which affects the balance centers in the inner ear. Idiopathic forms occur more often in older dogs and may result in long-term effects such as residual head tilt.

Heatstroke is another potential cause due to their inability to cool themselves through sweating like humans do. Signs include panting heavily, drooling excessively, and seeming lethargic. Vet attention should be sought immediately if these symptoms appear during hot weather periods.

Spinal diseases such as ataxia or slipped discs can also lead to an unsteady gait, while toxins found around the home may also produce this effect if ingested by a dog. Rapid veterinary treatment will help eliminate any toxic substances before they become fatal.

Vaccination schedules, traveling precautions for different climates, along with regular exercise requirements, all play an important role too when keeping your canine pal healthy and safe & sound!

Seizures as a Cause

Seizures as a Cause
Surprisingly, seizures can be a cause of your pet’s strange and uncoordinated behavior. They’re usually caused by loud noises or stressful situations that trigger the onset. Age-related seizure disorders may also occur in older dogs, along with medication side effects or dietary changes.

A vet will take a blood sample to check for any underlying causes, as well as perform a neurological exam following the seizure event itself.

If your dog is diagnosed with vestibular disease, they’ll need further examination to determine if it’s the idiopathic form, which is more common in senior pets. This would account for their unsteady gait and head tilt after episodes have ended.

By taking cautionary measures like keeping noise levels down when you’re out together and monitoring their diet closely, you can help prevent future occurrences while giving them necessary supportive care should another one arise.

Fainting or Collapsing

Fainting or Collapsing
Another cause of a dog’s strange and uncoordinated behavior is fainting or collapsing. This can happen due to environmental factors, such as extreme heat or cold, dehydration from insufficient fluid intake, a slipped disc in the spine causing vestibular ataxia (ataxia in dogs), and idiopathic vestibular disease, which affects the central portion of their vestibular system.

It is important to seek veterinary attention immediately if you think your pet has experienced a collapse episode, as underlying causes need to be ruled out with an examination and diagnostic testing.

Prevention strategies include properly managing environmental temperatures through air conditioning/heating systems, while maintaining adequate hydration by providing fresh water daily for your pup!

Treatment options vary depending on what was identified during vet visits but may involve supportive care like medications that help reduce inflammation, along with physical therapy exercises that can improve balance control over time.

Vestibular Disease

Vestibular Disease
Vestibular disease is a medical condition that can cause your pet to show signs of uncoordinated behavior, such as head tilting or walking in circles. It occurs when the peripheral vestibular system is affected and can be caused by toxins, infections, tumors, or other underlying causes of vestibular dysfunction.

Symptoms may also include nystagmus (rapid eye movements), nausea/vomiting, and falling/rolling. Diagnostic testing usually involves MRI imaging to evaluate the inner ear and brain, while a spinal tap may be performed for inflammation assessment.

Treatment options depend on what was identified during vet visits but could involve supportive care like medications that reduce inflammation, along with physical exercises aimed at improving balance control over time.

Veterinary attention is important if you observe any strange behaviors since this will help identify what’s causing them so they can receive proper treatment right away before it progresses into something more serious!


While vestibular disease can be a cause of your pet’s drunken behavior, heatstroke should also be considered. Your dog is unable to cool down through sweat like humans do and needs extra care when exposed to hot temperatures for extended periods of time.

To prevent this condition, provide adequate hydration levels with fresh water daily and take extra caution in brachycephalic breeds during extreme weather conditions.

It’s important to recognize the warning signs of heatstroke in dogs: heavy panting, excessive drooling, trouble breathing, seizure episodes, confusion/disorientation, and more.

Cooling methods such as wet towels on their body or providing plenty of shade are beneficial until professional help arrives. However, it’s best if they receive medical attention quickly so that proper treatments can begin right away for the best possible outcome.

Spinal Disease

Spinal Disease
Spinal disease could also be the cause of your pet’s unusual behavior, so take caution and keep an eye out for any signs such as ataxia or slipped disc. Ataxia is characterized by uncoordinated movements, while a slipped disc can cause severe pain.

If these symptoms are present, be careful and seek immediate veterinary attention to determine if spinal injury has occurred. Your vet may order X-rays or a neurological assessment, along with urine and blood samples, to confirm the diagnosis of spinal disease in dogs.

The vestibular system in dogs consists of two parts: the peripheral portion located within the inner ear, which detects changes in head position, and the central portion responsible for maintaining balance via rapid eye movements (nystagmus).

Prevention includes providing adequate support when lifting or moving around larger breeds that may have weak backs due to age or other conditions related to the aging process, like arthritis, etc. Allowing plenty of rest during hot weather periods can help reduce the chances of developing this condition, so it’s important to provide extra care for older animals exhibiting drunken behavior.


Another potential cause of your pet’s drunken behavior is toxin ingestion. Common toxins include bacterial poisoning, liver toxicity from certain medications, food contamination with mold or bacteria, and exposure to pesticides and rodenticides.

If ingested, these can lead to muscle twitching or a wobbly walk in dogs due to intoxication.

Additionally, if you notice any abnormal signs such as vomiting or difficulty breathing after being exposed to hot weather, it could be an indication of heatstroke, which requires immediate veterinary attention.

Toxin ingestion has many potential causes, so it is important that you take your dog for a vet examination immediately if they have been exposed. This is necessary in order for the underlying condition causing the intoxication symptoms to be identified and treated accordingly.

Some common treatments include injections, depending on the type of toxin ingested, as well as administering medication designed specifically to flush out toxins from their bodies before permanent damage occurs.

Diagnosis and Treatment of Vestibular Dysfunction

Diagnosis and Treatment of Vestibular Dysfunction
Vestibular dysfunction is a common cause of abnormal behavior in pets, which requires prompt evaluation and treatment to prevent progression. Signs can include drunken or wobbly movements, head tilting, nystagmus (rapid eye movement), walking in circles, nausea/vomiting, and collapsing.

The underlying condition causing the vestibular dysfunction may be related to nutritional deficiencies, environmental triggers such as heatstroke or toxins ingested by the pet, genetic predispositions, stress levels, medication side effects, or the pre-ictal phase of seizures.

It is important for your vet to perform an examination and diagnostic tests such as MRI scans in order to determine the exact cause. This will allow proper treatment to be administered accordingly for your pet’s safety and comfort level.

Older dogs are more susceptible to vestibular dysfunction due to their weakened immune systems. However, any dog showing these signs should not be left untreated, regardless of age. It is also important to pay extra attention during hot weather periods, as certain breeds like brachycephalic ones have higher risk factors associated with heatstroke symptoms.

These symptoms may include excessive drooling and a frequent need for water breaks. Therefore, it is wise to always observe them closely, especially when outdoors and temperatures start to rise too much.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What are the long-term effects of idiopathic vestibular disease?

The long-term effects of idiopathic vestibular disease in dogs can vary. Some may show persistent signs of dysfunction, such as a residual head tilt; others may improve with time and supportive care. Veterinary evaluation is important to determine the cause and offer appropriate treatment options for your pet.

What are the signs of heatstroke in dogs?

Signs of heatstroke in dogs include panting, drooling, an increased heart rate, loss of coordination, and weakness. They may appear lethargic or disoriented. The skin may be hot to the touch with a bright red color.

Are there any preventative measures for heatstroke in dogs?

Yes, there are preventative measures for heatstroke in dogs. Provide plenty of shade and water when outdoors, avoid exercising or playing during the hottest parts of the day, and keep an eye on brachycephalic breeds that can’t cool off as easily.

What are the signs of spinal disease in dogs?

Signs of spinal disease in dogs can include ataxia and slipping, which can cause a wobbly or drunken gait. Call your vet if you notice any change in mobility – early diagnosis is key to successful treatment.

How is toxin ingestion treated and prevented in dogs?

Treatment for toxin ingestion in dogs involves administering an antidote, if available, and providing supportive care. Prevention is crucial: ensure household chemicals are secure and store food items away from your pup to avoid accidental poisoning.


If your dog is displaying any symptoms of drunken behavior, it is important to contact a veterinarian right away. An underlying cause could be anything from a seizure or fainting to toxins or vestibular disease.

A thorough examination and diagnostic tests are the best way to determine the cause and to get your pet the right treatment. As the old adage goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. To reduce the chances of your dog developing any of these conditions, always provide regular exercise, adequate hydration, and a safe environment.

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Mutasim Sweileh

Mutasim is the founder and editor-in-chief with a team of qualified veterinarians, their goal? Simple. Break the jargon and help you make the right decisions for your furry four-legged friends.