First Walk is on Us!

✓ GPS tracked walks
✓ Activity reports
✓ On-demand walkers
Book FREE Walk

Jump to Section

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.

Book First Walk Free!

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. 


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. 


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.


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.

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.

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.

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.

Moving Slowly Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

6 Years
Fair condition
0 found helpful
Fair condition

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?

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
1415 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.

Add a comment to Apollo's experience

Was this experience helpful?

Italian Greyhound
7 Years
Mild condition
0 found helpful
Mild condition

Has Symptoms

Walking tenderly

My dog has recently began moving very slowly. She had her tail somewhat between her legs and would only wag when she was offered a treat. She drank a lot of water and when we picked her up and placed her on a bed, when she jumped off she whimperd slightly. Im conceded as to what the problem could be.

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
1415 Recommendations
Thank you for your email. Without examining her, I cannot comment on what might be going on with her, but from your description she sounds painful, and should be seen by her veterinarian for an exam to try and localize the pain, or diagnose whatever else might be happening, and get her started on some treatment so that she is comfortable. I hope that she is okay.

Add a comment to Mia's experience

Was this experience helpful?

Shih Tzu
4 Years
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

Walking slow

why is my dog throwing up and her poop is watery? when she poops its comes out liquid and when she throws up its always the food she just ate, also she slowing walking when i take her on walks

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
3000 Recommendations
It sounds like Candi has a severe gastrointestinal infection which is causing the vomiting and diarrhoea; however other conditions like parasites, foreign objects, poisoning among others may also cause similar symptoms. If Candi is lethargic, give her rest and visit your Veterinarian for an examination and treatment. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Add a comment to candi's experience

Was this experience helpful?