If your pet's back legs seem weak, check out this article. Our veterinarians in Springfield can provide guidance on how to improve or maintain their leg strength.
What Causes Sudden Hind Leg Weakness in Dogs?
Various factors can lead to the weakening of your pet's hind legs. Let's explore some of these causes.
Dogs can get arthritis, too, especially in their back legs. Osteoarthritis is a type of arthritis that particularly affects the hind legs. This occurs when their joints don't have enough grease, resulting in painful movements. If your furry friend experiences any of the following symptoms, it's best to take them to the vet for a check-up:
- Difficulty climbing stairs or walking
- Bunny hopping while moving
- Development of large front-leg muscles and weakening of rear-leg muscles
If your pet's hip joints seem more flexible than usual, it could be a sign of hip dysplasia. This condition can cause problems with balance and, in more serious cases, osteoarthritis. It is more common in larger dog breeds, including:
- German Shepherd
- Labrador Retriever
- Saint Bernard
- Great Dane
Hip dysplasia is primarily caused by genetics, but other factors such as size, weight, and overuse may also play a role in developing this condition.
Canine Degenerative Myelopathy
Keep an eye on your pet for signs of degenerative myelopathy, a condition where their nerve coverings wear out, causing nerve problems and resulting in improper nerve function. Keep an eye out for the following symptoms:
- Quivering hind legs
- Hind legs coming together while standing
- Feet positioned at unusual angles
Many breeds of dogs are susceptible to developing a spinal condition, but certain breeds, such as:
- German Shepherd
- Cardigan Welsh Corgi
- Rhodesian Ridgebacks
Diabetes can cause weakness in your pet's hind leg joints. This happens when their body produces insufficient insulin, leading to unusual blood sugar levels. Look for signs like increased thirst and hunger, incontinence, and weight loss. If you notice these symptoms in your dog, it's best to seek advice from a veterinarian and have a blood test done to confirm the diagnosis.
Fibrocartilaginous embolism (FCE) is a condition that can affect dogs, where a small piece of cartilage blocks their bloodstream, leading to spinal swelling. The result is temporary hind leg movement restriction and pain, which is especially common in larger dog breeds. Breeds such as German Shepherds and Irish Wolfhounds often receive a diagnosis of FCE.
If your pet needs surgical intervention such as tibial plateau leveling osteotomy (TPLO), they might have to take it easy, as advised by the surgeon. This might make them temporarily less active, but it's important for their complete and successful recovery.
What are the main signs and symptoms of a dog's back legs not working?
Identifying the underlying problem without medical assistance can be challenging due to the similarity of symptoms among the conditions listed below. Therefore, it is crucial to seek advice from a veterinarian as soon as possible. If you notice any of the following behaviors in your dog, taking action promptly is important:
- Hind leg tremors
- Swaying of the hind end
- Trouble transitioning from lying or sitting to a standing position
- Difficulty walking or complete inability to walk
- Inability to climb stairs
- Sudden reluctance to go for walks or play
- Stumbling and lack of coordination
- Muscle mass loss
- Decreased walking speed in general
Tips on How to Strengthen old dog's hind legs
Once you have pinpointed the reason for your pet's distress and have received treatment suggestions, there are non-medical actions you can take to assist in their recovery and assist them in regaining their vitality.
- It is recommended to take your furry companion for brief yet consistent walks on a daily basis. This will aid in gradually restoring their hind-leg muscles.
- Let your dog swim in a safe place. Swimming provides a low-friction way to work their muscles and benefits their overall strength.
- As dogs age, their metabolism slows down, and excess weight can strain, weakening legs. To prevent this, ensure your pet enjoys a healthy diet with lean, protein-rich foods.
- One way to support your pet's joint health and mobility is by giving them supplements that contain Omega-3 fatty acids. These supplements can help reduce inflammation and provide extra nutritional support for aging joints.
- Inflammation-reducing treatments such as acupuncture and regenerative therapy can greatly address limited mobility and reduce pain.
Alternative ways to alleviate discomfort
If your dog can't do strengthening exercises anymore, it might be time to try other ways to make them feel better.
You can consider using mobility aids like a wheelchair, rear lifting harness, or hip brace. These aids will give your dog a certain level of freedom, enabling them to enjoy an active lifestyle during the longer, warmer summer months.
As pets get older, they need regular check-ups with the vet to catch any health problems early and keep them feeling good.
Our veterinarians in Springfield specialize in helping older pets maintain optimal health. They identify and treat emerging health problems at an early stage and provide proactive treatment while it's still manageable and convenient.