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Dog is walking funny,

Species: Dog
Breed: mut
Age: 11-15 years
I have a 14 year old dog. About a year ago he lost most of his hearing. About 2 weeks ago I noticed Duke falling occasionally. It usually happened when he was playing on a slick tile floor. He also has been shedding small chunks of hair, again not that unusual for Duke. Today I came home for lunch (2pm) and let Duke out. He went both pee and poop. I then came home about 5pm and noticed he was walking funny and off balanced. I then left for about 2 hours (coach son's basketball team) and I received a call from my wife. Duke could not stand without falling and he peed on himself while he was laying down (he could not get up). I called the emergency hotline and they did not give me much help, but to reevaluate in the morning. Duke is in no pain and very peaceful. I even lifted him up to clean him because he had been laying in his own urine. He showed no signs of pain. I am struggling with a family and do not have any money to spend on a 14 year old dog that our whole family loves. Again he is in no pain and surrounded by people that care for him. Thanks for any answers you might give. Ben


Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

Oh, I am sorry to hear that Duke is not doing well. There are a few things that could be causing these symptoms.

He may have something called geriatric vestibular syndrome. This is something that happens to older dogs. It is similar to a stroke but most dogs will recover from it. Symptoms include:

  • wobbliness

  • walking in circles

  • head tilted to one side

  • nystagmus - eyes going back and forth like a typewriter

  • vomiting

  • not eating



If this is vestibular syndrome then most dogs are completely normal within a a few days. Some dogs will always have a head tilt afterwards.

Another possibility is a back problem such as a prolapsed disc. This is more serious. Some dogs can be treated with high doses of steroids but if the disc is completely prolapsed then surgery is often needed.

It's also possible that there is something else such as a tumor affecting the spine.

Another possibility is if he had a large tumor in the abdomen that had ruptured and released a large amount of blood into the abdomen causing him to be very weak.

I wish I could give you some hope and things you can do at home. But, if he is not making an improvement by now you will need to have your vet see him and help determine whether it is time for euthanasia.

I hope everything is ok.

Dr. Marie.

---This question was asked in our Ask A Vet For Free section.---


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Disclaimer: Although Dr. Marie is a qualified veterinarian, the information found on this site is not meant to replace the advice of your own veterinarian. AskAVetQuestion.com and Dr. Marie do not accept any responsibility for any loss, damage, injury, death, or disease which may arise from reliance on information contained on this site. Do not use information found on this site for diagnosing or treating your pet. Anything you read here is for information only.

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Dr. MarieDr. Marie is a veterinarian who practices in a busy animal hospital in Ottawa, Ontario. She created Ask A Vet Question as a resource for good, accurate veterinary advice online. Dr. Marie treats dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pigs, and rats. She has been a vet since 1999.

Is an online vet visit just as good as a trip to your veterinarian? No! But, many times, asking an online veterinarian a question can help save you money. While Dr. Marie can't officially diagnose your pet or prescribe medications, she can often advise you on whether a vet visit is necessary. You can also ask Dr. Marie for a second opinion on your pet's condition.