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What is Moving Slowly?

Pain, exhaustion, or lack of energy can cause a dog to move slowly. If you notice that your pet is sleeping more often, displaying slowed response to stimulation, and no longer shows interest in foods or treats he may be experiencing slow movement due to any number of underlying issues. 

  • Infection 
  • Pain
  • Parasites (Anemia)
  • Kidney Cancer

A dog’s moving slowly can be a side effect of illness or injury. While the issue may be resolved on its own, it is best to take your dog to a vet for a checkup if prolonged symptoms occur.

Why Moving Slowly Occurs in Dogs

While there are many reasons why a need to move slowly can occur in dogs, the three most common are infection, pain, and parasites. Additionally, illnesses such as kidney cancer can contribute to this symptom. It is important to pay attention to your dog’s behavior and note any symptoms that may arise. Some minor issues can be resolved on their own within a day, however, any loss of energy or change in ability to move that is accompanied by more serious symptoms such as diarrhea or difficulty breathing will need to be addressed by a veterinarian immediately. 

Infection

 

Any kind of infection, such as distemper, kennel cough, or parvovirus can cause your dog to become lethargic or slow to move. It is of the utmost importance to get your dog to the vet in order to get the infection under control before secondary complications develop. 

Pain

If your pet is experiencing a need to move slowly due to some kind of injury it is best to monitor his behavior in order to determine the severity. Whether the injury is minor or major, if the symptoms continue for longer than 24 hours it would be best to visit your veterinarian for further diagnosis of the issue. Fractures, spinal injuries, and damaged ligaments may cause your pet to have hindered movements.

Parasites

Fleas and ticks can cause serious issues for your dog. A severe infestation can lead to anemia, which is the loss or destruction of a large amount of red blood cells. When anemia occurs your dog will experience loss of energy, decreased appetite, and energy intolerance. In some cases, an animal may show no signs of anemia at all. While this situation can be life threatening, the more minor cases can be treated without much difficulty at all. It is extremely important to get your dog to the vet as soon as you suspect anemia may be the underlying issue to your dog’s lethargy. Quick examination can result in a quick recovery. 

Kidney Cancer

When renal tumors occur, they can start out inside the kidney or spread from somewhere else in the body. This is not a common occurrence, yet all ages of dogs have the potential to grow such a tumor. It is extremely important to get your pet to the vet as soon as possible if any of these symptoms are seen in addition to slow movement:

  • Blood in the urine
  • Increased thirst
  • Vomiting
  • Depression

While lethargy or lack of willingness to move are not necessarily deadly symptoms, kidney failure can result in death, so early detection of this issue is vital.

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What to do if your Dog is Moving Slowly

If you notice that your dog is moving slowly and exhibits additional symptoms, the first thing you will want to do is to monitor his behavior for 24 hours. If the problem does not resolve itself within that time, you will need to visit your veterinarian in order to seek further testing. While this symptom cannot be treated directly, treatment can be determined based on the specific underlying issue causing the slow movement.

Your veterinarian may want to order blood tests, urinalysis and a fecal evaluation in order to get an idea of your pet’s general health situation. Further diagnostic tools may be utilized, like x-rays or ultrasounds for a detailed view of muscle or bone injury.

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Prevention of Moving Slowly

Because there are so many reasons why a dog moving slowly can occur, it is difficult to determine any prevention. The best thing to do is pay careful attention to your dog’s behavior in order to catch any issues in the early stages.

As well, at all times provide a nutritional food source for healthy bones and exercise for cardiac health. An annual wellness check is a good way for your veterinarian to get to know your pet’s typical behavior and demeanor; deworming and flea prevention can be kept up to date with regular clinical visits, too.

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Cost of Moving Slowly

Treatment cost will vary depending on the cause of your dog’s need to move slowly. For instance, if your dog is diagnosed with kidney cancer the cost of treatment can range from $3000 to $16000. If your dog is diagnosed with parasites, treatment will vary depending on the severity; for example the elimination of ticks and the treatment of accompanying complications may range up to $1500.

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Moving Slowly Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Ask a Vet

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German Shepherd/ huskey mix

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Seventeen Years

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Unknown severity

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Leg Swelling

Hi, I have a 17 year old dog. Who has been having trouble getting up once or twice a day. She has also been walking slow. She still eats, drinks and goes to the bathroom good. Is there anything I can do to help her

Sept. 11, 2020

Owner

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Jessica N. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Hello- Thank you for your question. If she isn’t already I would recommend getting her on a glucosamine supplement for her joints. I would also recommend scheduling an appointment with your veterinarian so they can evaluate her limbs and mobility and assess for pain. Usually at this age pets develop arthritis just as elderly humans do. There are safe anti-inflammatories that can be prescribed to dogs to help with pain and stiffness from arthritis. I hope she feels better soon.

Sept. 11, 2020

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Rat Terrier

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Seven Years

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Unknown severity

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1 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Low Energy

Minnie is very energetic every day she runs around the house and gets these hyper bursts and she follows us from room to room, especially when I’m making dinner. She was her normal self yesterday and today she’s had no energy. She’s been sleeping all day and when she attempts to walk she moves really slowly and won’t jump on the couch. She didn’t follow us around the house today and she didn’t watch me make dinner. I boiled some chicken and rice for her and she ate her serving and I gave her some bananas and oats in case she has an upset stomach.

July 23, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. From your description, Minnie may have hurt her back or neck, or she may have an upset stomach. Since this is such a dramatic change from her normal self, it would be a good idea to have her seen by a veterinarian today. They can examine her, see what might be causing this problem, and get treatment for her so that she feels better. I hope that all goes well for her!

July 24, 2020

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English Coonhound

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Eight Years

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Unknown severity

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2 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Yelping, Lathargic, Tail Between Legs

For the last 9 hours, since I got home from work. My dog has yelped 4 times, is moving slowly, and keeps her tail tucked between her legs. One time I touched her stomach and she yelped. But hasn't yelped at me touching that spot again. Her stomach is not rumbling and gurgling like it has before when she's had digestive issues. I took her for a walk. And her ears perked up when I asked her "do you want to go for a walk" like I normally do. She didn't hesitate to go on the walk with me. We went around the block and she had her tail tucked the whole time but was sniffing around and used the bathroom

July 14, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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Thank you for your question. Your dog may be suffering from a back or neck injury, or a muscle or nerve injury. Without seeing her, unfortunately, it is difficult to say, and having her seen by a veterinarian if this problem continues would be a good idea. They will be able to examine her, see what might be hurting her or causing this, and get any medication that she may need. I hope that all goes well for her!

July 14, 2020

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Hugo

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Newfoundland

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6 Years

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Serious severity

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Moving Slowly In Pain

My Newfie suddenly started moving very slowly and looks like he’s favouring limbs but I can’t figure out which ones. He is staggering a bit and has a hard time getting up. I can’t think of any injury that he has had recently, but it is very hot here. I just groomed him yesterday, but he was fine all day. He’s very hesitant to move. I don’t think it’s his hips, I have examined his paws, seems like his paws and joints are a bit sore when I put pressure but nothing major- just a little whine if anything. He normally follows me everywhere and he isn’t and I’m really worried. His vaccinations are not up to date as I have just discovered. Other than this, he’s a healthy dog

Aug. 10, 2018

Hugo's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1611 Recommendations

Without seeing Hugo, I can't say for sure what might be going on with him, but arthritis, joint disease, and immune conditions can all look like that. It would be best to have him examined by a veterinarian, as they can see him, determine what might be going on, and see what treatment he needs to feel better.

Aug. 10, 2018

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Apollo

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Mutt

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6 Years

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Fair severity

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Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Low Energy

My dog started walking slow from one day to the next and is not eating. It happened over night, he went to bed his normal self and then woke up walking slow, no energy and no appetite. He's a big dog (100 lbs) and he's about 6 so my first thought where hips or pain in his joints, but he let us move his legs around with no whimpers, signs, or obvious discomfort. he has been like this for over 24 hours. Any ideas what else might cause this?

July 18, 2018

Apollo's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1611 Recommendations

Apollo may be having joint pain, or GI disease, or a systemic problem - since I can't examine him, it would be a good idea to have him examined by a veterinarian, as they can look at him and determine what might be happening. I hope that he is okay.

July 18, 2018

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Faith

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Great Dane

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1 Year

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Mild severity

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Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Vomiting
Tired
Sluggish

We were getting out of the car and Faith wouldn't get out of the car. Then an hour later she threw up. we tried to take her outside and she wouldn't go down the steps. I took her back in and she just threw up again a few minutes ago

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Buster

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Beagle

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6 Years

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Fair severity

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0 found helpful

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Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Shaking
Walking Tenderly
Head Tilt
Not Eating
Sleeping
Drinking Water More

Buster is walking very slowly and he is not eating anything. He is limping and also drinking a lot of water. He was fine yesterday happy and energetic as possible but I'm worried about him please help I don't want to lose my best friend. We can't go to the vet because we have a special needs brother and it is a problem. Can you give me some things I can do here at home to help our little beagle. Thank you have a good day.😀

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Pugsy

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Yorkshire Terrier cross Westie

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13 Years

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Mild severity

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0 found helpful

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Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Moving Slowly And Eating Little

A couple of weeks ago Pugsy lost all interest in moving or playing and when he did,it was very slow. I got him some yumove and within 24 hours he was starting to look like his old self, each day he was full of more energy and back to his normal self. Then a couple of days ago he refused to take the tablets even hidden inside Ham etc since then he had become slower and slower, has no interest in anything and now he's only eating very, very little. He is still drinking normally, he's not being sick or has diarrhoea just doesn't want to move or eat really. I'm hoping it's just because he's stopped having these tablets and nothing more sinister but if I can't get him to take the tablets he's only going to get worse. I don't know what to do

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Bella-Marie

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Bullmastiff mixed

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4 Months

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Fair severity

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Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Vomiting
Sluggish
Hasn'T Had Shots

Bella is my bull mastiff mixed dog that is very energetic, she is always running around but today she was vomiting and moving sluggish. She hasn't had any of her shots and she sleeps in her dog house in the backyard, what's wrong?

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Bean

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Goldendoodle

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3 Years

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Mild severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Moving Slowly

Bean is being really weird today. he woke up and wouldn’t jump from the bed like he usually does, and I had to lead him down the stairs (he usually barrels down them). He is just moving very slow and it’s worrying me because he is usually a high energy dog. He went outside this morning to potty and everything seemed normal. He ate some food. nothing is out of the ordinary except that we just moved into a new house. He hasn’t shown these symptoms before though. He hasn’t eaten anything strange or hurt himself. I checked his ears and his bones and his breathing and all seems normal. I don’t know what’s wrong with my boy?? please help

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