Why is My Dog Walking Sideways? [MUST KNOW!!]

Why is My Dog Walking Sideways? [MUST KNOW!!]

Have you noticed your furry companion walking in an unusual manner, with a distinct sideways gait? If so, you may be wondering why your dog is walking sideways and what could be causing this peculiar behavior. In this blog post, we will delve into the possible reasons behind your dog's sideways walking and explore the various symptoms associated with this condition. Understanding the causes and symptoms will help you seek timely veterinary care and ensure your dog's well-being. So, let's unravel the mystery of why your dog is walking sideways and discover the potential treatments and management strategies that can help alleviate this issue.

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Understanding Canine Locomotion: The Normal and The Unusual

Before diving into the specific causes of sideways walking in dogs, it's essential to have a basic understanding of normal canine locomotion. Dogs typically walk with a coordinated and balanced gait, moving their legs in a diagonal pattern. This rhythmic movement allows for efficient and smooth locomotion.


However, there are instances when dogs may exhibit unusual walking patterns, such as walking sideways. This abnormal gait can be an indication of an underlying health issue affecting their balance, coordination, or nervous system.

 Dog in the grass - Why is My Dog Walking Sideways

To comprehend why dogs might walk sideways, it's crucial to explore the normal locomotion patterns and the various factors that can disrupt this natural rhythm. Understanding the mechanics of normal canine walking will provide a foundation for identifying potential abnormalities and determining the appropriate course of action.


In the next section, we will delve into the common causes of sideways walking in dogs, shedding light on the conditions that can lead to this peculiar gait.

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Common Causes of Sideways Walking in Dogs

Sideways walking in dogs can be attributed to various underlying conditions that affect their balance, coordination, or nervous system. Identifying the specific cause is crucial in order to provide appropriate treatment and management. Here are some of the common causes to consider:


  • Inner Ear Infections: Infections in the inner ear can disrupt the dog's balance and coordination, leading to a sideways gait. The inner ear plays a vital role in maintaining equilibrium, and when it becomes infected, it can result in vestibular dysfunction.
  • Stroke: Similar to humans, dogs can also suffer from strokes, which occur when there is a disruption in blood flow to the brain. Strokes can lead to neurological damage, affecting a dog's ability to walk normally and causing them to walk sideways.
  • Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD): IVDD is a condition in which the discs between the vertebrae in the spine degenerate or become herniated. This can put pressure on the spinal cord, leading to neurological symptoms such as a sideways gait.
  • Vestibular Disease: Vestibular disease is a disorder that affects the vestibular system, which is responsible for maintaining balance and spatial orientation. When the vestibular system is compromised, dogs may experience a range of symptoms, including a sideways or wobbly gait.


These are just a few examples of the common causes of sideways walking in dogs. It's important to consult with a veterinarian for a proper diagnosis and to rule out any other underlying conditions. In the next section, we will explore the symptoms associated with sideways walking in dogs, which can further help in identifying the specific cause.

Beagle sitting on the chair - Why is My Dog Walking Sideways

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Symptoms Associated with Sideways Walking

Sideways walking in dogs is often accompanied by several other symptoms that can provide additional clues about the underlying cause. These symptoms may vary depending on the specific condition affecting your dog. Here are some common symptoms associated with sideways walking:


  • Loss of Balance: Dogs experiencing sideways walking may have difficulty maintaining their balance. They may stumble, fall, or lean to one side while walking. This instability is often a result of the disrupted coordination and equilibrium caused by the underlying condition.
  • Head Tilt: A noticeable head tilt is another common symptom seen in dogs walking sideways. The head tilt can be towards the side of the affected ear or towards the side of the body where the abnormal gait is observed. This head tilt is often a result of the disturbance in the vestibular system or inner ear.
  • Nystagmus (Involuntary Eye Movement): Nystagmus refers to the involuntary rhythmic movement of the eyes. Dogs with sideways walking may exhibit nystagmus, where their eyes move rapidly from side to side or up and down. This abnormal eye movement is often associated with inner ear infections or vestibular disease.
  • Nausea and Vomiting: Some dogs with sideways walking may experience nausea and vomiting. This can be a result of the disruption in their vestibular system, causing a sensation of dizziness and an upset stomach.

It's important to note that these symptoms can vary depending on the underlying condition. It's crucial to monitor your dog closely and take note of any additional symptoms or changes in behavior. In the next section, we will explore the diagnostic procedures that veterinarians use to identify the cause of sideways walking in dogs.

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Diagnosing the Problem: Vet Procedures and Tests

When your dog is experiencing sideways walking, a thorough veterinary examination is essential to determine the underlying cause. Veterinarians employ various procedures and tests to diagnose the problem accurately. Here are some common diagnostic methods used:


  • Physical Examination: The first step in diagnosing sideways walking is a comprehensive physical examination. The veterinarian will assess your dog's gait, balance, coordination, and overall neurological function. They will also check for any signs of pain or discomfort. This examination helps in narrowing down the potential causes and may guide further diagnostic testing.
  • Blood Tests: Blood tests are often conducted to evaluate your dog's overall health and rule out any underlying conditions. These tests may include a complete blood count (CBC), blood chemistry panel, and thyroid function tests. Blood work can provide valuable insights into potential infections, organ dysfunction, or metabolic disorders that may contribute to sideways walking.
  • Imaging (X-rays, MRI, CT scan): Imaging techniques are commonly used to evaluate the structure of the brain, spinal cord, and inner ear. X-rays can help identify any abnormalities or injuries in the spinal column or joints. MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) and CT (Computed Tomography) scans provide detailed images of the brain and can detect issues such as tumors, inflammation, or stroke.

 Dogs playing - Why is My Dog Walking Sideways

Additional tests may be conducted based on the veterinarian's findings during the examination. These may include cerebrospinal fluid analysis, electroencephalography (EEG), or specialized blood tests for specific conditions.


By utilizing these diagnostic procedures and tests, veterinarians can determine the underlying cause of sideways walking and establish an appropriate treatment plan. In the next section, we will explore the various treatment and management options available for dogs experiencing sideways walking.

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Treatment and Management of Sideways Walking

The treatment and management of sideways walking in dogs depend on the underlying cause identified through diagnostic procedures. Once the cause is determined, a veterinarian will recommend the most appropriate course of action. Here are some common treatment and management options:


  • Medication: Depending on the specific condition, medication may be prescribed to alleviate symptoms and address the underlying cause. For example, if an inner ear infection is the culprit, antibiotics or antifungal medications may be prescribed. If a stroke is the cause, medications to manage blood pressure or improve blood flow to the brain may be recommended.
  • Surgery: In certain cases, surgical intervention may be necessary. This is often the case with conditions such as intervertebral disc disease (IVDD), where surgery may be performed to relieve pressure on the spinal cord. Surgical options will be discussed with you by your veterinarian, taking into consideration the severity of the condition and the overall health of your dog.
  • Physical Therapy: Physical therapy can play a significant role in the rehabilitation of dogs with sideways walking. Therapeutic exercises, such as balance and coordination training, can help improve muscle strength, joint stability, and overall mobility. Your veterinarian or a specialized veterinary physical therapist can guide you in implementing an appropriate physical therapy program for your dog.
  • Home Care and Management: Depending on the specific condition, there may be certain home care measures you can take to support your dog's recovery. This may include providing a safe and comfortable environment, ensuring your dog has easy access to food and water, and taking precautions to prevent accidents or falls. Your veterinarian will provide specific instructions tailored to your dog's needs.

It's important to follow the recommended treatment plan and stay in regular communication with your veterinarian. They will monitor your dog's progress and make any necessary adjustments to the treatment and management approach.

 Dog on the beach running

In conclusion, understanding why your dog is walking sideways is crucial for their well-being. This unusual gait can be a sign of various underlying conditions, including inner ear infections, strokes, intervertebral disc disease (IVDD), or vestibular disease. Recognizing the symptoms associated with sideways walking, such as loss of balance, head tilt, nystagmus, and nausea, can help pinpoint the specific cause.


Veterinarians employ a range of diagnostic procedures, including physical examinations, blood tests, and imaging, to identify the root issue accurately. Once diagnosed, the appropriate treatment and management plan can be tailored to your dog's needs, which may include medication, surgery, physical therapy, or home care.


Transitioning from understanding the normal canine locomotion to recognizing the common causes, symptoms, diagnostic procedures, and treatment options, this article aims to provide a comprehensive guide to help you address the mystery of why your dog is walking sideways. Remember, timely veterinary care and diligent follow-through with the recommended treatment plan are essential for ensuring your furry companion's health and well-being.

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