it's currently late in the evening and we won't be able to get my dog to a vet right away. My dog wasn't acting strangely today, but all of a sudden she struggled to get up. When she did, she could barely walk, and was walking as if she was drunk. She stopped and rested against our couch, and was shaking and trembling excessively, she was also drooling quite a bit. I comforted her for a moment, and the shaking seemed to go away. We took her outside in case she wanted to vomit, but she didn't. She's looking a lot better now, but she still seems a bit off. Any idea what this could be?

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    Could be damned near anything from poisoning to stroke to severe allergy to you-name-it. I'd go to vet rather than Internet, if possible.
    – keshlam
    Dec 14, 2023 at 21:56
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    As stated above, almost anything. But if I had to put money on it, I'd say she had a seizure, and what you saw was her post-seizure behavior. I didn't witness my dog's first seizure, but her behavior afterwards was very similar. I thought she had a stroke. It was terrifying to watch, and it seemed she was terrified as well. By the time the vet's office was open, she was just fine. She had several more before we discovered she had a brain tumor. Dec 15, 2023 at 12:06
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    Even if regular vets are not open, call or visit an emergency vet!
    – SerenaT
    Dec 20, 2023 at 19:38
  • If you're in the Boston area I have absolutely no hesitation in recommending the MSPCA's veterinary clinics for emergency care. Angell Memorial is probably one of the best animal hospitals in the country, and they have a few satellite locations.
    – keshlam
    Dec 21, 2023 at 17:06

1 Answer 1


Decided to expand my comment into an answer for reasons I'll explain below.

...if I had to put money on it, I'd say she had a seizure, and what you saw was her post-seizure behavior.

Some seizures in dogs are evident: the dog falls slowly and starts the jerky movements you see on the screen. Then the dog stops, seems to rest for a bit, then carries on as if nothing happened. My first dog, a Labrador Retriever manifested the condition this way.

My last Border Collie manifested in a much scarier scenario. Asleep at my feet, suddenly she started to hyperventilate heavily. She tried clumsily to get up, failing many times. When she could stay up, she staggered in circles, bumping into things, trembled and cried loudly. Initially she drooled excessively. She seemed to be blind, confused, and in great distress (her cries were anguished). This went on for about 45 minutes while I frantically tried to reassure her (I wasn't reassured at all) and help her not bump into things. She wouldn't drink, though her mouth was very dry.

Finally she was able to walk, still clumsily, and started to drink. Afterwards, she rested. Because she was completely well afterwards, I knew it probably wasn't a stroke, and couldn't figure out an agent of poisoning, so I started researching seizures in dogs.

This site described it all very well. About six weeks later, I saw the actual seizure, which was not scary at all: it looked like a dog having a dream and "running in her sleep", legs twitching a bit. Then the post-ictal phase started, as dramatic and frightening as the first time. By the time a brain tumor was diagnosed, both she and I were less afraid of the seizures. (Sometimes, she was also incontinent of urine and feces.) It seemed as if she knew what to expect, but I may be projecting.

I wrote this answer because, in spite of being in health care for decades and having seen many seizures, I had absolutely no idea seizures could be so bizarre in dogs. It's not at all like that in people, and dog diseases are usually very similar to those of humans. Now I know better, and maybe someone reading this will know what might be happening to their dog if they see this behavior.

Poisoning was the top other possibility in my mind. My favorite goat poisoned herself by eating a single mountain laurel leaf (witnessed). She had some of the same symptoms: confusion, clumsiness, difficulty staying upright, "staring into space". Both her vet and Poison Control said just to watch her, which I did, as she was leaning against me and wouldn't move. Well, apparently she got pretty "high" and liked it, because whenever we walked that particular trail in the woods, she'd make a beeline for that shrub and drag me along holding onto her collar. It was all I could do to stop her and drag her away!

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