Why Is My Dog Walking Sideways?

Have you ever noticed your dog taking peculiar sideways steps during their walks, making you wonder what on earth they are up to, “why is my dog walking sideways”?

Watching our furry companions engage in unusual behaviors can be both perplexing and intriguing.

One such behavior that can leave dog owners scratching their heads is when their beloved canine decides to strut sideways instead of the usual forward march.

But fear not, for in this article, you will embark on a journey to uncover the reasons behind why dogs may walk sideways.

We’ll explore the various factors, including medical conditions, behavioral motivations, and even some endearing quirks that may contribute to this sideways stroll.

Get ready to unravel the mysteries and gain a deeper understanding of your furry friend’s unique way of navigating the world.

Reasons For Sideways Walking

Medical Reasons

If your loyal companion begins to move with a sideways gait, several medical conditions might be the underlying cause.

Vestibular disease, stroke, ear infections, or Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD) can disturb a dog’s balance, leading to a tilt or stagger in their walk.

But why do dogs walk sideways in response to these conditions?

The answer is rooted in the effects these conditions have on a dog’s equilibrium, which is primarily controlled by the inner ear.

Imagine navigating on an abruptly tilting floor, and you’ll get a sense of how your dog perceives its surroundings during such health episodes.

Behavioral Reasons

Fear or Anxiety, Learned Behavior, Attention-Seeking

The sideways meander isn’t always a medical concern.

Sometimes, it’s an outward display of an internal emotional state.

Dogs, like humans, manifest their fear or anxiety through physical behaviors.

In an effort to distance themselves from a perceived threat, they may begin to walk sideways.

Furthermore, if this sideways strut has previously resulted in attention or rewards, they might repeat it as a learned behavior.

Recognizing and distinguishing between these behavioral cues is a vital yet often overlooked aspect of responsible dog ownership.

Neurological Disorders

Conditions like seizures, tumors, or traumatic injuries

Neurological disorders may also answer the question: ‘why does my dog run sideways?’.

Conditions such as seizures, brain tumors, or traumatic injuries can impact a dog’s motor control, leading to aberrant movements.

If you’ve ever tried to walk during a dizzy spell, you’ll have a fair understanding of how these conditions can make your pet feel.

Immediate veterinary attention is necessary if your dog exhibits additional signs such as loss of coordination, twitching, or sudden collapse.

Canine Cognitive Dysfunction (Ccd)

For those who share their homes with senior dogs, the sideways locomotion could hint at Canine Cognitive Dysfunction (CCD).

Often likened to Alzheimer’s in humans, CCD is an age-related cognitive decline that can result in disorientation, leading to behaviors such as walking in circles or sideways.

This information is not widely known but is essential for understanding and caring for our aging canine companions.

Musculoskeletal Issues Musculoskeletal issues can also answer the puzzling question: “why is my dog walking sideways?”

Problems affecting muscles, bones, or joints can induce pain, leading to an altered gait.

Just as we might limp when we have a footache, dogs too modify their movement to alleviate discomfort.

This adaptation can take the form of a sideways saunter.

Exposure To Toxins Or Drugs

Substances ranging from household toxins to certain medications can prompt a dog to walk sideways.

These substances can have a profound effect on a dog’s nervous system, leading to abnormal behavior.

It’s an important reminder to maintain a pet-friendly environment, keeping potential toxins out of their reach and monitoring any adverse effects of prescribed medications.

Genetic Or Congenital Conditions

Lastly, genetic or congenital conditions specific to certain breeds can lead to a sideways gait.

For instance, French Bulldogs and other brachycephalic breeds may suffer from a condition known as hemivertebrae that affects their ability to walk normally.

This highlights the importance of understanding the specific health risks associated with your dog’s breed.

In each of these paragraphs, we’ve uncovered new layers of understanding, revealing a world beneath the surface of our everyday interactions with our pets.

We’ve discovered the ‘why’ behind the sideways walk, a journey that underscores one fundamental truth: our pets are always communicating with us.

Through these revelations, we become not just better pet owners, but also the empathetic, attentive companions our dogs deserve.

We continue to strengthen the bond we share with our pets, an enriching experience that truly embodies the joy of pet ownership.

Differentiating Normal And Sideways Walking

Understanding our dog’s usual gait is the first step to identifying when something might be amiss.

Typically, dogs walk by moving their legs in a coordinated, rhythmic manner.

They may also display unique, breed-specific traits.

A deviation, such as a sideways gait, can appear as a slight drift or a pronounced crab-like walk.

Notably, a playful side-scoot during playtime or the occasional sideways hop when excited doesn’t necessarily indicate a problem.

It’s persistent, unprovoked sideways movement that should draw our concern, especially when coupled with other symptoms such as dizziness, lethargy, or loss of appetite.

How To Respond When Your Dog Walks Sideways

Initial Actions And Home Remedies

If your dog starts walking sideways, stay calm and observe their behavior.

Try to identify any possible triggers, such as recent changes in their environment or diet.

If the strange walking pattern continues for more than a few hours, or if it’s accompanied by signs of distress, initiate some mild home remedies.

Ensure your dog stays hydrated and provide a comfortable, quiet place for them to rest.

However, these are only interim solutions.

Consulting A Veterinary Professional

The next step is to consult a veterinary professional.

Providing the vet with a detailed description of your dog’s behavior, any potential triggers, and the frequency and duration of the sideways walking will assist in the diagnosis.

Your vet may recommend tests such as a physical examination, blood work, radiographs, or even more specialized tests to identify the root cause.

It’s crucial to follow through with these suggestions, as the issue may be more serious than it appears on the surface.

Management And Treatment Options

Treatment options vary depending on the cause.

Medical issues may require medication, surgery, or other interventions.

Behavioral concerns might warrant a consultation with a dog behaviorist or trainer, who can suggest techniques to unlearn the unwanted behavior.

Neurological disorders often involve long-term management strategies that can include medication, physical therapy, or modifications to your dog’s environment.

For elderly dogs with CCD, the treatment may encompass medications, dietary changes, and mental stimulation exercises to slow cognitive decline.

Preventative Measures

Creating A Safe And Stimulating Environment

An often overlooked yet vital aspect of dog ownership is creating a safe and stimulating environment for your dog.

Eliminate potential hazards and ensure your pet can’t access harmful substances.

Simultaneously, provide opportunities for mental stimulation.

Toys, puzzles, and regular interactive playtime can keep their minds sharp and reduce anxiety, thereby decreasing the likelihood of behavior-induced sideways walking.

Ensuring Regular Exercise And A Healthy Diet

A balanced diet and regular exercise are essential for overall canine health.

Proper nutrition aids in maintaining healthy body functions, while exercise keeps their muscles strong and joints flexible.

Both can help prevent conditions that might cause abnormal gaits.

Research your dog’s breed to understand their specific dietary and exercise needs.

Importance Of Regular Veterinary Check-Ups

Regular veterinary check-ups are invaluable in catching potential health issues early.

Vets can often detect subtle changes that we might miss, enabling early intervention.

These visits are also an excellent opportunity to discuss any concerns, ensuring you’re providing the best possible care for your beloved canine companion.

Observing your dog walking sideways might initially provoke amusement or mild curiosity.

However, understanding that this might be a significant sign of underlying issues underlines the importance of attentive and knowledgeable pet ownership.

By observing, understanding, and reacting appropriately to such changes, we can ensure our dogs lead comfortable, happy, and healthy lives.

Remember, our furry friends might not be able to talk to us, but they communicate in myriad other ways.

It’s up to us to listen.

Before You Go…

Now you know why dogs walk sideways.

If you want to learn more, read the following articles too!

Or watch this video:

Mena Emad, DVM
Mena has a Bachelor’s degree in veterinary medicine. His expertise, passion for animal welfare, extensive knowledge, and experience in the field of veterinary medicine make him an excellent resource for our readers.