Dog is Acting Drunk and Wobbly – Top 3 Reasons Why

Waking up and noticing that your dog is acting like he is drunk and wobbly is definitely cause for concern. There are a few different issues that could be causing your dog to act drunk and wobbly, but it’s usually not a life-threatening or serious situation.

1. Your Dog Has Vestibular Disease

Vestibular disease is often referred to as “old dog syndrome” and it’s a non life-threatening disorder that older dogs are more likely to get. Before we get into what vestibular disease is, it’s important to know what this system does and is responsible for. The vestibular system helps with the balance of the limbs, neck, head, and eyes.

There are both central components and peripheral components of this system with the central system being the brain. Peripheral components include the inner ear, and the function is to help transmit various types of information to the brain. Balance, spatial orientation, and motion are all a part of the vestibular system.

To put it very simply, vestibular disease is essentially vertigo, although it can be mistaken for other very serious health issues. Brain tumors and strokes are often times what is mistaken for a simple case of vertigo, also referred to as vestibular disease. Peripheral vestibular disease is the most common, but central vestibular disease also exists.

With central vestibular disease, it involves the brain, which could indicate brain bleeding, cancer, and many other possibly life-threatening situations. The good news is that central vestibular disease is rare in dogs and most cases are due to peripheral vestibular disease.

2. Your Dog Has an Ear Infection

Just like with people, an ear infection may cause a dog to lose balance. When this happens and their balance is thrown off, you might notice your dog walking around like a drunk. Your dog also might shake his head, paw at the ear with the infection, and be less likely to chew his food. If your dog stops eating due to the pain of opening his mouth and jaw, you need to seek a veterinarian immediately to prevent dehydration and other issues.

Often times medications are given to help clear out the ear infection and the veterinarian might also take tissue samples to see what’s going on. It’s always a good idea to head to the veterinarian if you think your dog has an ear infection since if left untreated, it can become very serious and potentially life-threatening.

3. Your Dog May Have Had a Stroke

A stroke is one of the more serious health issues that could be causing your dog to become wobbly. Abnormal behavior, falling, uncoordinated walking, head tilting, and other symptoms may be present in a dog that had a stroke. Strokes happen most often in older dogs with other health issues such as heart disease, kidney disease, cancer, and other more serious disorders.

The treatment for a stroke depends on the cause, but getting your dog to the veterinarian right away is the most important step. Luckily, strokes are pretty rare in dogs and the veterinarian can easily determine whether it was a fainting spell or stroke and begin proper treatment quickly.

Is Vestibular Disease in Dogs Fatal?

The good news is that vestibular disease is not fatal in dogs and often clears itself up within a couple weeks. A veterinarian will usually just tell you to wait and see and it should be gone within 14 days. If your dog is experiencing nausea as a result of the dizziness, an anti-nausea medication might be prescribed.

It’s also important that you keep your dog away from stairs or any other situations where he could fall and get hurt due to being wobbly until it clears up.

Disclaimer: The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional veterinarian advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of a veterinarian when in doubt.


  • Mary Ellen Copeland | 28/01/2020

    You need to add 2 other reasons! Antifreeze and marijuana. My 1-year-old dog ingested marijuana somehow when he got loose. First he threw up. Then when he tried to walk, he fell down after a few steps. His eyes were glassy. The only thing I could think of was antifreeze. I took him to the vet and the antifreeze test was negative. Due to his slow heart rate (poison would cause an increased heart rate), the vet suspected marijuana. There is no reliable blood or urine test for marijuana in dogs, so if the dog recovers by the next day, matter of elimination indicates marijuana. Dogs are HIGHLY susceptible to the effects of marijuana, more so than humans, and vets are seeing it more often because of increased use. They can get into an owner’s stash, eat a roach off of a lawn, or eat a plant that someone is growing in their yard. PLEASE ADD THIS TO YOUR WEBSITE. Dog owners need to know.

  • jesus of the apes | 23/03/2021

    So psychoactive substance can make your dog wobble ? A roach off the yard is not going to make your dog fall over . It would take a larger amount of THC to make your dog fall down . if your dog was falling down he ate a lot of cannabis or was given smoke by someone . It takes at least 20 mg of THc delta 9 to mentally affect a dog over 10 lbs psychoactively and much more to incapacitate that dog . If your dog was stumbling around and completely out of it they ate a good amount of cannabis or were given smoke . You vet telling you that small amounts of THC delta 9 can affect your dog negatively is lying, does not know what they are talking about, or letting personal bias drive there diagnosis . Yes cannabis will mess up a dog if they ingest a lot of it but it will not make your dog fall over and stumble until the dose become very large . The idea that the vet guessed this was the cause with no proof whatsoever says all you need to know about this Vet . They did not know so they turned to demonizing something they are getting lots of info on from the Vet associations . Your vet is a bad vet and you should take your dog to a vet who knows more about things .

  • Chris | 25/03/2021

    How would you know for sure? Are you a Vet? If the dog has allergies, I’m sure a smaller amt can affect them and in a not good way.

  • Kenni | 03/05/2021

    Jesus of the apes, Hate to say it but you are completely wrong! I have a 78 lb pitt bull that ingested a half of a marijuana cigarette, “a roach” and she did exactly the same thing mary Ellen’s dog did, and so did a friend of mines dog. Apparently your getting tje wrong information, or you be never experienced it first hand. …or don’t have a dog? Worse yet, u don’t smoke? Lolol …but gospel truth right there.

  • Lauren | 13/09/2021

    Actually that is very false. My puppy ate the very end of a weed roach. Very minuscule amount, and was falling over, wobbling his head back and forth, rolling his eyes back, couldn’t stand up. Lasted for hours. He is a small puppy. But this is real man. So don’t act like you know, cause you clearly don’t.

  • B P | 03/07/2020

    My dog was acting this way and it ended up being kidney failure. Don’t wait, take them to the vet.

  • Celita Collins | 09/07/2021

    I just got a 4 year old toy poodle rescue, and for the first time after just 2 days in my home i witnessed this behavior, he got wobbly and weak on his feet so i picked him up and held him and I also gave him some raw sugar off the tip of my finger he licked it and when I put him down he was back to normal. I still want to know if he is in serious condition, Im waiting to hear form the previous owner to see if they already took him to the vet for this issue.

  • Link Smith | 13/10/2021

    My dog is dizzy and has a upset stomach

  • Rebecca L Jurek | 16/10/2021

    My dog is unsteady and wobbly, I took him to the vet she said she tested him for cannabis it was negative and his blood work is normal I’m so worried any Ideas?

  • morgan allen | 18/12/2021

    My 2 year old siberian husky woke up tonight wobbly kinda out of it gave her a treat and she acted like she could barley open her mouth . A few days ago she killed a possum out in our yard but we quickly got it from her before she could eat it.. No major health issues . Could she have got into something she wasn’t supposed to? I looked all around the house couldn’t find anything. Vets here are closed for the weekend and we are very worried as she is normally a very energetic dog

  • Savvy | 24/01/2022

    My pug puppy was barely born at the end of September… the other night he was wobbling around and acting like he was stoned but he didn’t get into anything like that and he potty’s inside on the puppy pad, I thought maybe he was in bad condition so I took him to the vet and they finally sent him home and I paid them to jus tell me he’s acting like he ingested weed!!! When I know he didn’t… and now he’s back home he was fine but tonight he started doing it again and he puked this time.. seems like he keeps getting really hyper then acting dizzy and puked idkk I hope he is just hyper not Sick 🙁

  • Cliff | 26/03/2022

    My pug puppy is doing the same thing again…. Any answers ??

  • Dave | 05/04/2022

    Can you guys follow up what happened to your dogs? I still need to know what’s happening to my dog.

  • Yvonne | 11/10/2022

    Hi, my chihuahua is two yrs old in the last few months I noticed she walks around like she is drunk and very slow going down the stairs and going up the stairs, so now I just pick her up either way, when she’s outside she still loves to try and play , it’s like her legs don’t coordinate with each other and she will topple over, she’ll walk very slow and cautiously coming into the house, I took her to the vet and the doctor stated she has a neurological disorder so I’ve made an appointment to go to Purdue Lafayette the soonest time i could get in is in December, otherwise she’s such a good loving dog eats well potty trained, doesn’t whine or cry out ever, so I dont know what to do. Her name is Xena.

  • H | 14/12/2022

    Well I guess I’m the only clean , responsible , 420 friendly pet owner here . Well they are actually my sister’s dogs. But also my dad has a cat. But they are mine when my family are all at work ahaha

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