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Is My Dog’s Sudden Vomiting, Unsteadiness, and Shallow Breathing a Cause for Urgent Concern?


Dear VetBabble,

I’m worried about my dog who has suddenly started vomiting multiple times within a few hours, seems unsteady and is falling to one side, appears confused, and has shallow breathing. We are currently on vacation. Should I be concerned about these symptoms and take my dog to a local veterinary clinic urgently?


It’s understandable that you’re worried about your dog’s health, especially when you’re away from home and might not have immediate access to your regular veterinarian. Your dog’s symptoms absolutely warrant a visit to a local veterinary clinic as soon as possible. The combination of vomiting, unsteadiness, confusion, and shallow breathing could indicate a serious medical issue that needs professional attention. In this answer, we’ll discuss some possible causes of these symptoms and provide some insight into when to worry and seek veterinary care.

Vomiting and Potential Causes

Vomiting in dogs can be caused by a variety of factors, some of which may not be serious; however, with the frequency and the other symptoms your dog is experiencing, it’s important to rule out any serious health issues. To learn more about vomiting in dogs, check out Vomiting in Dogs: Causes, Treatment & When to Worry.

Some causes of vomiting in dogs include dietary indiscretions (eating something inappropriate), gastrointestinal obstructions, and various infections. In some cases, vomiting can also be a symptom of more severe issues affecting the inner ear, brain, or other body systems.

Unsteadiness, Confusion, and Shallow Breathing

The combination of unsteadiness, confusion, and shallow breathing is concerning and could be related to a neurological or systemic issue. Unsteadiness and falling to one side may indicate a problem with your dog’s inner ear, which could cause balance difficulties. Confusion could also be a sign of neurological impairment, such as from an infection, trauma, or other medical conditions.

Shallow breathing is also an alarming symptom, as it can be indicative of respiratory distress or other systemic issues. A dog’s normal breathing should be regular, quiet, and effortless. If you observe rapid or shallow breathing, this may be a sign of an underlying problem that requires prompt veterinary care.

Next Steps and Seeking Veterinary Care

Given the severity and combination of your dog’s symptoms, it’s crucial to have them examined by a veterinarian as soon as possible. A veterinarian will assess your dog’s condition and potentially run diagnostic tests to determine the underlying cause of the symptoms. This might include blood work, X-rays, and other imaging studies.

While it’s normal for pet owners to worry about their pets experiencing gastrointestinal issues like diarrhea and vomiting, it’s important to know when these issues warrant a visit to the vet. Check out Diarrhea in Dogs: When to Worry and Why Does My Dog Have Diarrhea? to learn more about what to look for and when to seek professional help.

To better understand the potential reasons for coughing in dogs, have a look at Coughing in Dogs: Types, Diagnoses and Treatment.

In summary, it’s essential to bring your dog to a local veterinary clinic for an examination due to the severity and combination of their symptoms. Prompt veterinary care can help you identify the underlying cause of your dog’s illness and ensure they receive appropriate treatment to return them to their best health as soon as possible. Wishing you and your dog the best on your journey to recovery.

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