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Is My Puppy’s Wobbly Walk, Sleepiness, and Warmth a Sign of a Serious Condition?


Dear VetBabble,

I’ve noticed that my 10-month-old puppy seems to be walking into things and her legs are giving way. She has been acting quite hot and sleepy lately, almost as if she’s drunk! I’m extremely concerned and would like some advice on what might be causing this issue and what the best course of action is. Would it be something serious that requires immediate veterinary attention?

Understanding Your Puppy’s Behavior

Dear Pet Owner,

First and foremost, it is essential to note that any significant change in your pet’s behavior should always be taken seriously, and it is highly recommended that you consult with your veterinarian for a professional opinion. While you described your puppy’s symptoms as acting “drunk,” this article will help you to better understand the potential underlying causes of the issue and what steps to take.

Common Causes for “Drunken” Behavior in Dogs

There are numerous reasons why your puppy might be experiencing these symptoms, ranging from temporary to more serious conditions. Various factors like intoxication, heatstroke, hypoglycemia, and neurological issues could be to blame. Here are several typical causes:

Toxin Ingestion

Dogs, especially curious puppies, are notorious for eating things they shouldn’t. If your puppy ingested a toxin, it could cause her to stumble and lose her balance. Common harmful substances include chocolate, cleaning products, and certain plants. For more information on toxin ingestion and how to proceed when you think your dog ate something it shouldn’t have, this helpful article can point you in the right direction.


Heatstroke is a possible cause of your puppy’s situation and can be life-threatening. If your dog has been exposed to high temperatures for an extended period, stays in a poorly ventilated area, or has spent excessive time exercising, heatstroke becomes a critical concern. For more information on heatstroke prevention and early warning signs, refer to this informative article on heatstroke in dogs.


Low blood sugar, or hypoglycemia, primarily affects small and toy breed puppies but can also occur in other breeds. Lack of food, a sudden increase in energy demand, or an underlying medical condition can trigger hypoglycemia. In these cases, your puppy may require prompt treatment to prevent a decline in her overall health.

Neurological Conditions

A wide range of neurological conditions can cause your dog to lose her coordination and balance. These issues could stem from an infectious disease, head trauma, or even a seizure disorder. It is crucial to observe your dog’s behavior and share any additional symptoms with your veterinarian. One example of such a condition is seizures in dogs, which is explained in more detail in this article about seizures.

Vestibular Disease

While more common in older dogs, vestibular disease can also affect puppies. This condition is usually characterized by sudden, uncontrolled eye movements, head tilt, and loss of balance. To learn more, read Old Dog Syndrome: What is Vestibular Disease in Dogs?.

When to Consult a Veterinarian

Since the reasons for your puppy’s “drunken” behavior could span a wide range of possibilities, it is vital to consult with your veterinarian as soon as possible. In the meantime, carefully observe your puppy’s symptoms and collect as much information as possible to help your vet determine the underlying cause and best course of treatment. Keep track of when the behavior started, any items your dog may have come into contact with or ingested, and whether she has been exposed to excessive heat recently. Your veterinarian will thank you for your diligence!

Remember: when your pet’s health is on the line, it is better to be proactive than wait for the situation to worsen. It is always a good idea to err on the side of caution and consult with your veterinarian as soon as possible. Together, you and your vet can ensure your beloved puppy receives prompt and proper treatment, leading her back on the path to a happy, healthy life.

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