Why Don’t Dogs Get Dizzy From Spinning

Dogs do not experience vertigo in the same way that people do. As an illustration, you may recall spinning around in the grass as a youngster and crashing into the ground in a state of extreme vertigo. Dogs are not susceptible to vertigo from such movements or excessive spinning. So don’t worry if your dog chases their tail too vigorously; they won’t pass out as you would if they did.

Dogs get vertigo when anything disturbs their vestibular systems and causes them to lose their balance. Your dog’s vestibular system is in charge of preserving regular balance, and when something throws that balance off, your dog may really become unsteady.

Can dogs develop vertigo?

On a sunny day, it’s common for kids playing in a grassy area to spin around and around until they become so lightheaded they pass out in laughter. Similar movements can be seen in a puppy chasing its tail, however unlike a dog, the puppy never trips over. Dogs can’t be susceptible to vertigo, right? Wrong.

While dogs don’t experience vertigo from that kind of movement, they can. Losing his balance and falling over are a few symptoms of vertigo in dogs, as are head tilting, nausea, vomiting, and eyes that flicker from side to side. Another indicator that your dog is feeling unsteady is circling.

Dogs can become lightheaded for a number of reasons, including:

Vestibular Syndrome

Dogs and many other mammals get their sense of balance from their vestibular systems. Your dog may experience vertigo if this mechanism is malfunctioning. These symptoms frequently appear unexpectedly and can be confused with stroke symptoms. The underlying cause of this condition is frequently ear infections.

Ear Infections

Dizziness in dogs is frequently brought on by inner ear infections. A dog with an ear infection may shake his head a lot, tilt his head, and wander in circles. Additionally, he might paw or itch his ears. There can be a discharge, a lot of redness within one or both of his ears, and an odor coming from one or both of them.


Your dog may be experiencing vertigo as a result of a head or inner ear injury. You must keep an eye out for symptoms because your dog is unable to communicate his pain to you verbally. Heavy panting, dilated pupils, altered hunger, refusal to lie down, slower reflexes, and licking or biting the injured area are a few signs of discomfort in dogs. He might crave more of your attention or even wag his tail more than normal.


In addition to dizziness, brain tumors can also result in seizures, behavioral abnormalities, head tremors, any of the pain indicators mentioned above, or a wide range of additional symptoms. Although they can arise in younger dogs as well, Boston Terriers and Boxers are particularly susceptible to developing brain tumors.

Other Causes

Although there are numerous causes for your dog to feel lightheaded, they are all grave and may even be fatal. Intoxication can make dogs feel queasy. Vertigo may be a symptom of encephalitis, a swelling or inflammation of the brain. Encephalitis can develop in your dog for a variety of reasons, including infections and illnesses transmitted by ticks. Take your dog to the veterinarian if you see any of these signs. The greatest strategy for a full recovery is to swiftly identify and treat the underlying issue.

It’s common to describe to someone acting a little oddly as “dizzy.” Enjoy your silly dog’s silly clown behavior for what it is if it comes from him. However, if he actually starts to act queasy, take him to the doctor as soon as you can. This is your dog’s way of pleading with you for assistance.

Do animals become queasy when they spin?

Pets can suffer vertigo just as people. Vestibular illness is frequently the root cause of the feeling of imbalance and dizziness. An animal’s sense of balance is controlled by the vestibular system, which has parts in the inner ear and brain.

Dr. Patrick Mahaney, a veterinarian in Los Angeles, believes there are two different types of vestibular dysfunction. Peripheral vestibular disease is brought on by conditions outside the body, such as inflammation in the inner ear, while central vestibular disease is caused by issues inside the skull, such as a tumor or stroke. The outcome for dogs with peripheral vestibular illness is typically better. It is more prevalent.

A dog’s age is the main factor in vestibular illness.

In fact, it’s sometimes called “old dog vestibular sickness.” There is still no known underlying explanation for the illness, according to scientists. Mahaney reports anecdotal evidence that it appears to afflict larger dogs, but any breed or mixed breed is vulnerable.

According to Dr. Cathy Meeks, a board-certified internal medicine specialist and group medical director at BluePearl Veterinary Partners in Tampa, Florida, cats can also feel vertigo, although it’s extremely uncommon. In cats, cancer or an inner ear infection are frequently to blame for the disease. Additionally, benign tumors and polyps in cats’ ears might cause them to feel dizzy.

How can spinning prevent vertigo?

This past Sunday, I was instructing Courtney, a brilliant and hardworking 12-year-old student of mine, in how to perform a scratch spin, an upright spin and one of the first spins that figure skaters are taught. I gave her a demonstration of the spin so she could see how a correct scatch spin is executed, and I advised her that after she mastered this fundamental spin, she could move on to learning variations like a camel spin, layback spin, and haircutter spin (the sit spin has always been my all-time favorite spin ever since I was young). Courtney asked a really straightforward yet insightful question as I showed her all these different spins: “How do you spin without becoming so dizzy?” The question from my young student left me speechless. I hesitated and gave it some thinking, but I couldn’t think of any reason why I never feel lightheaded, so I just said, “I’m used to it.” My pupil looked perplexed and kept asking, “How do you get used to it without collapsing to the ground from spinning so rapidly,” thus it was obvious she did not like my response.

I was aware that this question had a scientific solution that used the concept of inertia. But I don’t like science, so I won’t start taking physics until my final year of high school next year. Next week, when I review our spin lesson, I’m sure my student will ask me the same question. Since I was like I should know the answer, I looked it up on Google as soon as I got home. What I discovered is this…

Due to the movement of fluids while you spin, you become lightheaded. Your inner ear contains three fluid-filled tubes, each of which is aligned with a different motion (up and down, left and right, and side to side). Your brain interprets messages carried by sensory nerve cells in the ear canal’s hair lining as movement. The fluids in your ear continue to splash around after you stop spinning, giving your brain the false impression that you are spinning and making you feel dizzy.

Like all of us, figure skaters and ice dancers have tubes and fluid in their ears, and those fluids are likewise whipped around. Then why don’t they become disoriented and lightheaded when they spin or twitch? There is no way to prevent being dizzy, and you can’t even hide your dizziness if you’re not an expert skater. Practice, practice, and more practice is the solution! If you repeatedly practice spinning, your body will become accustomed to it and gradually get over the dizzy. I guess I was right when I told Courtney that I just get used to spinning without getting dizzy! I can recover from a spin with grace and no sense of vertigo since I have trained hard for so long. In the end, there was no scientific justification.

Skaters train hard to make their moves look so effortless!

I did discover from my research that there are tactics and/or gimmicks a skater can employ to combat vertigo.

keep a constant speed. You only feel queasy when you accelerate or decelerate if you can control your spin and maintain a consistent pace.

Keep your feet firmly planted. When you spin, you can lessen vertigo if you stay on a mark and don’t move across the ice.

When you slow down or emerge from a spin, fix your gaze on a fixed spot. Even though your ears are still spinning, focusing on a landmark will help you find your bearings. This reminds me of what ballet dancers do, I believe. When I first started studying ballet many years ago, I recall being instructed to perform a move called “spotting,” in which I pick something and keep my eyes fixed on it as I turn. Of fact, skaters can’t “spot” because they spin too quickly and their heads aren’t facing forward as they turn. To decrease the vertigo, users can instead “spot” on a specific point as they slow down or emerge from a spin.

Do dogs experience vertigo?

The owners of older dogs may find the vertigo sickness to be extremely alarming. The dog develops a balance issue all of a sudden, generally wobbling but occasionally unable to stand and, less frequently, actually rolling over.

Can cats suffer vertigo?

Cats can experience vertigo, however it is uncommon. If they run in small circles for too long, they could become lightheaded. They might experience vertigo, for instance, if they pursue a laser pointer too quickly or are spun too quickly.

However, a number of distinct medical conditions can also cause cats to feel lightheaded. As people get older, these conditions can become grave, even deadly, or drastically reduce their quality of life.

It is recommended to take your cat to the vet for an ultrasound or X-ray if you observe that they start to stumble or walk with stiff legs suddenly, such as when they start to run around in circles quickly.

Do horses experience vertigo?

I compare teaching a horse to spin to learning to dance. The horse goes through a lot of different phases. The spin first enhances steering in general before becoming progressively more refined. The horse will make “mistakes” as it learns, but they are really just part of the process. There are frequently uncoordinated times when you see a youngster learning to walk or a dancer learning to dance, especially in the beginning.

Some horses become woozy when they first start spinning. Some people go through this stage quickly and scarcely notice it, but others may need a little more time. As they become more adept at taking the steps and start to pick up speed, they frequently become lightheaded. The important thing is to be conscious of this phase and work to keep the horse from becoming very lightheaded. The challenge is that horses are still struggling to develop their cadence and rhythm at this period. As the rider, I am assisting the horse in finding rhythm and cadence, but it can be challenging to determine whether the horse is losing rhythm because they need some assistance or because they are becoming lightheaded.

Watch the horse become unsteady in the video below. Watch how she sways to regain her balance when we come to a stop. Watch it again and notice how her ears are pointing forward as she makes an effort to concentrate as soon as I say whoa. They flick back swiftly when I notice her swaying and attempt to stabilize her.

This filly felt queasy for the first time. We just so happened to be taping for another purpose and we got to capture this. Even though I’ve continued to spin her, I’m more conscious that she’s reached this point, so I try to keep her from being lightheaded. As a result, I have to halt more frequently when I sense her losing rhythm. If she is only losing rhythm because she is considering stopping, this can slow down the training. Nevertheless, I decide to stop before I continually make her queasy because it’s possible for them to become sufficiently lightheaded to fall over.

It’s amazing to me that all the horses I’ve ridden have figured out how to avoid becoming lightheaded at some point. Once they have completed their training, they can spin for extended periods of time before becoming physically exhausted and, even at high speeds, not experiencing any vertigo.

Which animals experience vertigo?

It’s not just humans who suffer from vestibular problems. Dizziness can happen to any animal with a vestibular system, including cats, dogs, and fish.

The brain receives critical information about body position in relation to gravity through the vestibular (inner ear) organs. Dogs and cats can sense whether they are upside-down, right-side up, tumbling, spinning, falling, or accelerating thanks to the vestibular system. In order to assist your pet maintain balance and have clear vision when moving, the vestibular system works in conjunction with sensory data from vision and proprioception (touch sensors in the paws and other regions of the body). In dogs or cats, vestibular dysfunction most frequently involves the peripheral system (inner ear) rather than the central system (brain).

How do I know if my pet has a vestibular problem?

Animals that have vestibular illness may exhibit the following symptoms:

  • Circling (spinning or walking in circles)
  • Taking an overly wide stance when standing
  • Head cocked
  • tumbling or swaying to one side
  • Nystagmus (involuntary drifting eye movements)
  • Strabismus or squint (abnormal position of the eyeballs)
  • Ataxia (stumbling, staggering, or lack of coordination without weakness or involuntary spasms)
  • Head trembling
  • Vomiting
  • feeling dizzy
  • Perhaps it will become obvious when your dog no longer enjoys riding in the backseat with you.

There might be additional behavioral alterations. For instance, a cat’s nimble and beautiful motions could change to halting and unnatural ones. Instead of standing to slurp from the water bowl as normal, a dog who is puzzled when gazing down may recline on his tummy in front of it to drink.

Additionally, your pet might prefer to sleep on the floor rather than a pillow or a sofa since the firm, flat surface will lessen the likelihood that he will be startled awake by vestibular signals brought on by slight head movements or changes in posture while he is dozing. This is so because the vestibular system transmits data to the reticular formation, a region of the brain that functions in part as a survival monitor and regulates wakefulness. Arousal would be triggered, for instance, if you or your pet began to fall off a bed while you were asleep, thanks to sensory information provided from the vestibular system to the reticular formation.

Veterinarians often roll an animal from side to side to speed the animal’s recovery from anesthesia because the movement of the animal’s head and body causes activity in the reticular formation. Similar to humans, your pet may have trouble falling asleep if his dysfunctional vestibular system sends erroneous or exaggerated sensory information about movement and spatial orientation to his brain.

Bolivar suddenly lost his ability to walk straight in January 2011. According to his owners, he was “not the silly, puppy-like seven-year-old he was. But he had greatly improved after four weeks. Fortunately, his owners have informed us “He has largely improved. He still exhibits a few minor symptoms, the most notable of which is probably his diminished ability to catch thrown objects. We simply roll it gently, and he continues to enjoy playing chase.

Causes of animal dizziness

In dogs and cats, peripheral vestibular dysfunction is frequently idiopathic (of unknown cause). Middle ear infections (such as those brought on by severe ear mite infestations), ototoxicity from specific medications (such as streptomycin or gentamicin), hereditary factors, and head trauma are less frequent causes. In pets, vestibular dysfunction can also be caused by a brain lesion, an underactive thyroid gland, or other central issues.

A problem in a dog’s inner ear balance system with uncertain (idiopathic) cause has been referred to as old dog vestibular syndrome. It is more accurate to refer to this inner ear problem as canine idiopathic vestibular illness because it can affect dogs of any age. Feline idiopathic vestibular illness is the name of the similar condition in cats.

How can I help my pet?

Similar to in people, the specific diagnosis determines how to treat canine and feline vestibular disorders. To rule out diseases like hyperthyroidism or a stroke, it is crucial to get your pet assessed by a veterinarian. An underlying, treatable problem affecting the inner ear may also be discovered during the test. A key component of treatment, for instance, will be to get rid of the infection if an ear infection is causing inflammation in the tissues and nerves of the vestibular system.

A veterinarian may give some medicine to temporarily relieve your pet’s motion sickness if the issue is determined to be the more prevalent ailment known as canine- or feline idiopathic vestibular disorder, but they frequently take a “wait and see” approach to treatment. You can support your pet’s recuperation in a number of ways during this time:

  • Time out for your pet. Owners are alarmed by the abrupt onset of symptoms, which frequently causes an understandable sense of urgency. Idiopathic vestibular illness in dogs and cats, however, is not fatal. The majority of pets in good general health will automatically adjust and make up for the symptoms, such that they start to get better in about three days and almost totally go away in two weeks, though a head tilt may still be present.
  • By controlling your own tension, you can soothe your pet. Pets are particularly perceptive to their owners’ moods. Your pet will be less upset by your illness and more relaxed as a result.
  • Provide a peaceful place to rest. Ensure that your pet gets a space to rest apart from the hectic home activities. Avoid exposing your pet to boisterous children and noisy televisions, for instance. Help your pet stay out from the centre of a traffic pattern. Despite your best efforts to avoid stepping on him or over him, your pet may be more susceptible to startling due to his increased motion sensitivity.
  • Proprioceptive assistance and lighting are required. For your pet to be able to use visual cues to confirm or correct the messages concerning head position supplied by his vestibular system, good lighting is crucial. Additionally, think about giving your pet a proprioceptive “environment” to cuddle against. Take a long, thick blanket, roll it up like a jelly roll, and then wrap it in a C shape around your pet to do this.
  • Don’t transport your pet. Your pet has to retrain his system by navigating on his own, much like a person with a vestibular problem needs to move around to assist calibrate sensory information. When a pet walks or runs, the touch sensors in his paws give him useful sensory information about his balance, but they won’t work if his paws are hanging in the air. Therefore, avoid transporting your pet. Instead, put your hands on both sides of his body to assist him with walking independently. His body will feel more pressure against your hand if he begins to tilt, and these proprioceptive cues will alert him to the need to correct his balance. Alternatively, you can support your pet while he walks by looping a cloth or sling under his tummy. If you must carry your pet, lift him slowly and grip the pads of his paws as you move.

The importance of a healthy vestibular system

The health of people, dogs, and cats depends on the vestibular system. It enables us to comprehend our spatial location and our motion. The vestibular system is essential to the survival of animals in the wild because it enables us to make adjustments that maintain and sustain our balance and sharp vision. Peripheral vestibular impairment frequently causes drastic and unsettling behavioral changes in domesticated animals. However, the dizziness in your animal can be treated with a good diagnosis, the security of your home, and your care.