Having Trouble Walking in Dogs

Why is my dog having trouble walking?
Why is my dog having trouble walking?

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.

Why Having Trouble Walking Occurs in Dogs

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

Arthritis 

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Worried about the cost of treating your pet's symptoms?

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Having Trouble Walking Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

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Staffordshire Bull Terrier

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One Year

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0 found helpful

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Has Symptoms

Starting To Walk Strange And Sometimes Won'T Walk A Tall

She's not yellping or giving symptoms of being in pain she's eating her food and seems in good form.

Sept. 26, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. . Since I cannot see her, but it does seem like she is having problems, It would be best to have her seen by a veterinarian, as they can examine them, see what might be going on, and get treatment if needed.

Oct. 17, 2020

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Boxer

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Ten Years

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0 found helpful

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0 found helpful

Has Symptoms

Staggering Can’T Walk Two Front Paws Are Curled Peeing On Himself

My boxer is 10 years old and he had an episode where he would try to stand and walk and all 4 legs would spread out and his two front paws were curled so he was stepping on the tops of his paws instead of his pads and he was peeing on himself and his head would tilt

Aug. 3, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. From your description, your boxer sounds like he needs some help. It would be best to have him seen by a veterinarian right away, and he may be having a stroke, a vascular event, or a neurological problem. They will be able to examine him, see what might be causing this problem for him, and let you know what treatment options there might be. I hope that he is okay.

Aug. 3, 2020

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