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What is Having Trouble Walking?

If your dog is having trouble walking, you may observe his having a slower and/or awkward gait, or he may be unable to stand up and walk at all. There are numerous reasons why your dog may be having trouble walking, to include:

  • Arthritis
  • Orthopedic issues
  • Neurological conditions

The veterinarian can evaluate your companion by doing a physical exam and using imaging tools such as x-rays. Upon determining the cause of your dog’s having trouble walking, you will be able to work with your veterinarian on obtaining treatment which may involve lifestyle changes, medication, or in some cases, surgery.

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Why Having Trouble Walking Occurs in Dogs

Your dog may be having trouble walking due to the following:


Arthritis, which is a degenerative disease, is the most common reason for pain in aging dogs and can also be seen in younger dogs. Arthritis occurs as a result of everyday wear and tear on your dog’s joints and causes him to experience joint pain.

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.

Orthopedic Issues

There are a myriad of orthopedic issues that can affect your dog and his ability to walk. These include rupture of the anterior cruciate ligament or cranial cruciate ligament, hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia and fractures.

Neurological Conditions

Numerous neurological conditions can result in your dog having trouble walking. These include degenerative disc disease, degenerative myelopathy, myasthenia gravis and myositis. Your veterinarian will be able to examine your dog in order to determine what is causing him to have trouble walking.

What to do if your Dog is Having Trouble Walking

If you notice that your dog is having trouble walking for more than a day or two, it is a good idea to take him to the veterinarian. Once he is being seen, your veterinarian will ask you for information regarding your dog, to include any unusual symptoms you have noticed (aside from your dog having difficulty walking) and when you first noticed them. If the veterinarian is not familiar with your dog’s medical history, he will ask for that information as well as details on any medication your dog is currently taking.

Your veterinarian will conduct a full physical examination of your dog. During the examination, your veterinarian will look for signs of arthritis, an orthopedic problem or a neurological condition. Based upon what he sees when examining your dog, he will likely conduct testing to diagnose the cause of your dog’s walking difficulty. A radiograph can be taken to look for arthritis, dysplasia, degenerative disc disease, a broken bone, or numerous other possible problems. In the case of a possible issue with the spinal cord, a myelogram, where dye is injected around your dog’s spinal cord and x-rays taken, may be conducted. An MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) or CT (computed tomography) scans make also be utilized.

Once your veterinarian has determined what is causing your dog to have trouble walking, he will be able to develop a treatment plan for the particular condition. For example, should your dog be diagnosed with arthritis, your veterinarian will recommend lifestyle changes as diet and exercise are important for maintaining and hopefully improving your dog’s quality of life. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) may be prescribed in order to reduce the pain and inflammation your dog is experiencing and in some cases, cortisone may be injected to provide relief. Other options include visco-supplementation (injecting a gel-like substance into your dog’s joint in order to lubricate the cartilage), steroids and glycosaminoglycans. Physiotherapy can help reduce scar tissue, decrease pain, and increase the mobility of your dog. Massage and water therapy may also be recommended. In some cases, depending upon the particular condition, surgery may be recommended.

Once your dog has received a diagnosis, it is important to follow the treatment plan recommended by your veterinarian and attend follow up appointments as requested to ensure the best outcome for your dog.

Prevention of Having Trouble Walking

A healthy diet that provides your dog with the nutrients he requires, along with regular exercise, are both important in maintaining the health of your pet. In addition, you will want to take your dog for an annual examination with your veterinarian. This will help your veterinarian find any possible issues and begin treatment before they become more significant.

Keeping your dog on a leash when walking outside your home will help him avoid certain injuries; for example, his being on a leash will ensure that he does not run out in front of a car and get hit, leading to a painful injury.

Cost of Having Trouble Walking

The cost of your dog having trouble walking will depend upon what is causing it to occur.  Should your dog be having trouble walking as a result of arthritis, the cost of treatment averages around $300, depending on the specifics of your dog’s condition and the location where he is receiving treatment. If a broken leg is the cause of your dog struggling to walk, the average cost of treatment is $2000 and will vary based on the severity and location of the break, as well as where treatment is received.

Having Trouble Walking Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Border Collie
12 Years
Serious condition
0 found helpful
Serious condition

Has Symptoms

Trouble getting up

i have a 12 yr old border collie and he is currently on vet prophen and tramdol... 100 mg vetprophen in am with tramadol and 50mgs at night, he just started having trouble getting up with the meds.. should I consider injections at this point.. its def arthritis, we have established that...

Michele King
Dr. Michele King, DVM
277 Recommendations
Thank you for your email. I'm sorry that Dallas is having problems, arthritis can be a painful disease, for both dogs and people. I'm not sure what treatment options you and your veterinarian have discussed, or what injections you are referring to, but there are a few options for treatment of arthritis in addition to pain medications. Adequan is an injectable medication that can help increase the fluidity of the joints and can make a difference in some dogs, and is available through your veterinarian. Laser therapy and acupuncture have both been shown improvements in some arthritic dogs, especially if they still have muscle mass in their hind end. Hopefully one of those options can give him some relief. I hope that he does well.

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7 Years
Mild condition
0 found helpful
Mild condition

Has Symptoms

Trouble Walking

I have a 7 year old cacopoo and he just recently started having trouble walking. The last two nights he’s been licking his pass non stop. I don’t have the money to take him to the vet to get x-rays done and I’m very worried about him. He’s had a stroke last year. Me and him were on my bed and I was just watching tv. Then all a sudden he started to shake bad. And I tried to hold him but he wouldn’t stop shaking. I’m not to sure whats going on with him. Or if he’s just getting old but I really would like some help understanding this.

Callum Turner
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
1815 Recommendations
Paw licking may be a sign of food allergies, you should prevent further paw licking by placing a cone on JB and bathing the paws to remove any saliva and irritants which may be present. You should also give JB some rest but consider the possibility that he has developed a food allergy which may be cause of the paw licking, moving to a restricted ingredient diet may be useful but ideally you should discuss with your Veterinarian regardless of cost. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Hi. Good Day Doc.
My dog also experienced the same symptoms, he is having trouble to stand up and walk for almost two days now.His appetite is still good but when he eats his head is shaking just like his getting colds. I really don't have any idea what are the following treatments just to lessen the pain he is going thru or just to help him recover. We don't any money as well in taking him to the vet. Basty is a typical Filipino dog (2 years old). Thank you.

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4 Years
Serious condition
0 found helpful
Serious condition

Has Symptoms

Yelp When Lifted
Pain When Lifted
Difficulty Walking

Medication Used


Hello, my 4 year old dachshund/chihuahua mix is experiencing pain and difficulty walking. I took him to the vet yesterday and they examined him and took X-rays of his neck and spine. He did not experience many of the symptoms at the vet as he displays at home. The vet did not see anything of major significance and had the x-rays referred to a specialist. He was also prescribed pain medication which did not seem to help. The next morning it seems to symptoms have redoubled. He eats and drinks normally but has trouble walking to go to the bathroom. He walks slowly and most every step results in a yelp or him just stopping entirely. The vet said he didn't see or notice any breaks or fractures as he was handled pretty well during the initial examination.

Callum Turner
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
1815 Recommendations
There are a few different conditions which may be causing some pain and difficulty walking especially with Napoleon being having some Dachsund in him, this may lead to some lumbar spine issues which are common to the breed; other possible causes may be due to a spinal lesion, nerve inflammation, poisoning (less likely) among a few other causes. I would wait on the results of the Specialist seeing the x-ray and would strongly recommend you give Napoleon cage rest to see if that helps too. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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pomeranian cross
1 Year
Serious condition
0 found helpful
Serious condition

Has Symptoms

Trembling and diarrhea

Hello. My 1 year old dog just started to have some strange symptoms yesterday. She had diarrhea three times last night, and is now having trouble walking. Her balance seems to be alright, only she moves her legs as if they are numb. Each step is stif and slow. She won't walk more than a step or two.

Callum Turner
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
1815 Recommendations

Some cases of diarrhoea and weakness are short lived and resolve without much intervention and other times medical intervention is required, there are many possible causes for these symptoms including infections, poisons, cancer among other causes; if you believe that Luna may have had contact with poisons or vermin I would strongly recommend visiting your Veterinarian immediately (or Emergency Veterinarian), otherwise ensure that Luna keeps hydrated and visit your Veterinarian on Monday. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

My 2 year old Jack Russel has been seen by our Vet who told us he's missing vertebrates in her neck and back. What can be done for her?

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