We suggest checking out this article if your pet's hind legs seem weak. Our veterinarians in Douglasville can offer advice on how to help your pet strengthen or maintain their leg muscles.
What Causes Sudden Hind Leg Weakness in Dogs?
Many things can weaken your pet's hind legs. Let's look at some of these reasons.
Dogs can get arthritis, just like people do. One type, called osteoarthritis, often causes problems in their back legs. This occurs when their joints don't have enough lubrication, making their movements painful. If your dog shows any of these signs, it's a good idea to bring 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 you observe that your pet's hip joints are looser than usual, this 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
Your pet may be experiencing degenerative myelopathy, a condition in which the protective covering of their nerves deteriorates, 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
Did you know that diabetes can weaken your pet's hind leg joints? When there isn't enough insulin, it messes with their blood sugar levels, which can happen. Keep an eye out for signs like more drinking and eating, accidents, and weight loss. If you see these symptoms in your dog, it's a good idea to talk to a vet and get a blood test to confirm diabetes.
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 requires surgery like a tibial plateau leveling osteotomy (TPLO) to fix their leg, it can improve their ability to move. But, according to the surgeon's advice, your pet might have to cut back on physical activities while they recover after the operation. This limitation might make them temporarily less active, but it's vital 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 cold laser 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 look at other options 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 preventive veterinary care and early detection of any health issues to ensure a good quality of life.
Our vets in Douglasville specialize in taking care of older pets. They're really good at finding and treating problems when they first show up so your pet can stay healthy and happy.