My Dog Is Having Trouble Standing and Walking
Few sights are more distressing for a pet owner than when you see your beloved dog’s hind legs not work properly and your dog can’t stand or walk.
When your older dog’s weakened hind legs begin to wobble and they’re too unstable to stand due to serious injury, congenital defect or age-related health problems they are more vulnerable to accidents and further injury.
Fortunately, with a combination of modern medicine and alternative healing methods you can potentially help your struggling friend overcome the limitations of back leg weakness.
Why Can’t My Dog Stand Up?
Hind leg weakness issues can make walking, running, or climbing either extraordinarily painful or completely impossible for our four-legged companions.
The reasons behind a weakness in your dog’s back legs can vary.
While obvious trauma can weaken muscles and tissues, and age can contribute to the degeneration of muscles and joints, other conditions can wreak havoc on the spinal cord, nerves, and hormones.
Dogs share some basic physical similarities to humans. And a dog can sustain some of the same kinds of hip, knee, or neurological ailments and injuries as humans. But these problems are compounded when any or all of the animal’s four legs are afflicted.
Let’s take a look at some of the problems that can make a dog back legs suddenly weak, how those problems affect comfort and mobility, and how the right corrective measures can restore your dog’s quality of life.
Dog Back Legs Weakness
Witnessing your dog being unable to stand-up or move normally can be very alarming! Your dog’s condition can happen as they age, or it could be the result of a prior injury, illness or genetic abnormality.
In any case, instead of waiting to see if your dog’s condition gets better on its own with time, schedule an appointment with your vet immediately–time is of the essence–your dog could be experiencing unnecessary pain if you avoid the issue.
Causes Of Back Leg Weakness in Dogs:
There are a number of orthopedic problems that can affect your dog’s ability to walk. These include rupture of the anterior cruciate (AC) ligament or cranial cruciate ligament (CCL), hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia and bone fractures.
Arthritis / Osteoarthritis
Arthritis afflicts dogs just as it does humans. In the most common form of this inflammatory disorder, Osteoarthritis, the joints lose their ability to lubricate their components even as the cartilage between bone ends starts to disintegrate. These changes result in painful joint friction whenever the dog tries to move his hip, knee, or ankle.
Arthritis is a chronic condition; symptoms include lameness, stiffness (particularly after rest), a slow gait, trouble getting up from a resting position, lethargy, sleeping more than usual, the atrophy of muscles, swelling, urinating inside, pain, excessive licking of joints, increase or decrease in weight, depression, nervousness or aggression and being hesitant to jump or be active.
Spinal Cord Injuries (neck, back or head)
A serious injury to a dog’s spinal cord can interrupt the normal flow of electrical impulses from the spine to the hind legs. This may cause total paralysis, making it impossible for your pet to operate his hind legs at all.
A less severe spinal cord injury may cause ‘partial paralysis’, leaving the hind legs noticeably weak and wobbly but still functional. The instability progressively grows worse as muscles atrophy due to non-use.
Numerous neurological conditions can result in your dog having trouble standing and walking. These include Degenerative Disc Disease (DDD), Canine Degenerative Myelopathy, Myasthenia Gravis and Myositis. Your veterinarian will be able to examine your dog in order to determine which of these is causing your dog to have trouble standing & walking.
Geriatric Vestibular Syndrome
Geriatric vestibular syndrome (GVS) is more common in older dogs–which is why it’s known by the name ‘old dog inner ear disease’. GVS is an inner ear disorder that affects a dog’s balance, resulting in dizziness.
Potential causes of GVS are recurring ear infections, perforated eardrums (from trauma or excessive ear cleaning) or the use of certain antibiotics and drugs. It can also be present from birth as a congenital disease. Fortunately, there is a full recovery in almost all cases of GVS; with minor head tilts being a left-over effect.
Canine Degenerative Myelopathy
In Degenerative Myelopathy the myelin sheaths that surround and protect the nerves in the spine degenerate to eventually expose the nerve fibers. This degradation of the myelin sheath disrupts the body’s communication between the spinal cord and brain, leading to a progressive weakness that can result in total paralysis.
Dog Can’t Stand Up – Lesser-Known Illnesses for Hind Leg Weakness
While you’re probably aware of all of the above reasons for why a dog suddenly can’t walk, there are some lesser-known illnesses that your dog could be suffering from.
Other conditions in dogs that can cause hind end weakness include:
- Heat Stroke
- Cushing’s Disease
- Spinal Tumor (cancer)
- Toxic Poisoning
Dog Hind Leg Weakness Treatment
Depending on the diagnosis, the course of treatment for dog hind leg weakness can vary considerably.
The degree of recovery for a dog can’t stand up depends on the cause of the weakness, the severity of the condition, and how soon treatment is begun.
For toxic poisonings, timing of immediate treatment is essential, as some toxins can be fatal for dogs.
- Acute injuries should be treated according to the severity of the trauma. Mild to moderate muscle strains & ligament sprains can recover with proper rest and immobilizing the joint.
Surgery might be recommended for more serious ‘joint compromised conditions’, but for other conditions such as Degenerative Myelopathy, Intervertebral Disc Disease, Cushing’s disease or Cancer, medical management along with supportive home care may be preferred.
- Cushing’s disease can also be managed through the use of hormone drugs to balance levels in the body.
Many canine diseases, such as Diabetes, Arthritis, and Degenerative Myelopathy, can be managed through an appropriate diet and exercise plan that can keep your dog’s weight under control and aid full range muscle movement.
- Diabetes will require lifelong management through special diets and exercise plans, blood glucose monitoring, and daily insulin injections.
- Osteoarthritis often responds well to a combination of medication, light exercise, and dietary modifications to promote weight loss or reduce inflammation.
Severe degeneration due to Arthritis and/or Hip dysplasia may require joint surgery or even joint replacement. A total hip replacement can restore both full hip function and full comfort in many canine patients.
For dogs with neurological dysfunction, your dog might benefit from herniated disc removal and spinal fusion surgery, plus the use of strong anti-inflammatory drugs to reduce swollen tissues that pinch nerves.
If you have a dog having trouble walking all the sudden, check with your local veterinarian for a proper diagnosis and individualized treatment plan. With early intervention and appropriate care, you can share a long and active friendship with your dog.
Curtis has been passionate about the health and welfare of animals since his first dog rescue.
After studying Sports Medicine & Biology at the University of Oregon, Curtis went on to excel in a career of Clinical Nutrition, later owning a health care supplement company serving private-practice physicians.
Known for his expansive knowledge of natural health and alternative medicine, Curtis believes that natural plant-based therapies can be applied to veterinary animal care which led him to study the science of Cannabinoid Medicine. His expertise in Functional Medicine led him to formulate a unique hemp-based canine care product, Canine Support Formula, fulfilling a dream to combine natural pet-care strategies with the new therapeutic potential of medical cannabis.
In reverence for his own dog, Parker, Curtis has dedicated his company–K9 Medibles–to improving the health and longevity of all dogs.
To learn more about Curtis and how K9 Medibles can help your dog, click HERE.