Dog Having Trouble Walking All of a Sudden – How to Take Care of Your Dog

dog suddenly having trouble walking

Just as they can be for humans, mobility issues can be extremely debilitating for dogs. If you have noticed that your furry friend is suddenly having trouble walking, we can help you identify the potential cause. More importantly, we can explain some ways you can take care of your dog as they struggle to regain their ability to walk!

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Why Is Your Dog Having Trouble Walking?

dog’s inability to walk properly

It can be very alarming if you notice that your dog cannot walk properly.

The issue could be as minor as a blister on the paw pad, or something more serious, like joint disease, spinal cord injury, disc disease, or a completely broken leg. It is important to narrow down the cause of your dog’s inability to walk properly.

The following are some of the more common conditions that can suddenly impair your dog’s mobility:

Arthritis and Other Forms of Joint Pain

Osteoarthritis is a very common condition in dogs. It is particularly common in larger breeds, obese dogs, and dogs that have entered their senior life stage.

Arthritis and other similar issues can impact just about any joint in an affected dog’s body. Not only can these issues cause significant pain and discomfort, but they can also be quite debilitating. In more severe cases, dogs can have difficulty walking and even just standing up.

Common areas susceptible to canine osteoarthritis include:

  • Hips
  • Elbows
  • Shoulders
  • Wrists
  • Knee Joints

In the early stages, you may have noticed that your dog was limping, seemed to have trouble standing up quickly, or even begun to walk with a somewhat abnormal gait. As these joint issues progress, you may notice that your dog could even have trouble walking.

How to Care for Your Arthritic Dog

Care for Arthritic Dog

The first step is ensuring that your dog has a healthy body weight. Carrying excess weight can worsen arthritis, hip dysplasia, and other joint-related issues.

You should also make sure your pet gets veterinary attention. If your veterinarian diagnoses osteoarthritis, they can prescribe a range of medications to help your dog with pain management. 

Certain prescription diets and supplements can also help to slow joint deterioration. Most of these diets and supplements will contain glucosamine and omega-3.

As part of its Canine Health Foundation initiative, the American Kennel Club has published a thorough guide to Managing Canine Arthritis, which you can use to learn how to help your dog live with arthritis pain.

A Leg, Paw, or Back Injury

Another common cause of mobility issues in dogs is injuries to body parts used while a dog walks and runs. If it appears your dog will not put weight on a particular leg, there is a good chance that they are suffering from an internal or external injury.

Fortunately, injuries that can reduce a dog’s ability to walk properly are not always serious. Something as little as a minor cut in a sensitive area, a blister, a damaged toenail, or even just a splinter could be enough to slow your pooch down.

That said, broken bones and other serious injuries can also impact a dog’s mobility. Remember, just because you did not see your pooch get injured does not mean that the dog has not picked up an injury.

How to Care for Your Injured Dog

Care for Injured Dog

The care you provide as a dog owner will depend on the location and severity of the injury.

The first step will be identifying the injury. If your dog seems slow or like they will not put weight on a certain leg, visually inspect the leg and paw pad for signs of injury. Be extremely gentle, as you can worsen the injury if you are not careful.

If it is something minor, like a small scratch or cut, you can try to clean the injury and let it heal naturally. However, if you cannot locate the injury or it appears severe, you should visit an emergency veterinarian immediately. Back and spinal cord injuries can be dangerous if they do not receive proper treatment. has recently published their list of the 8 Most Common Pet Injuries, which contains useful information on how to identify and treat injuries that can impact a dog’s mobility.

Illness or a Paralyzing Infection

There are plenty of substances that are toxic to dogs. In many cases, a dog could become temporarily paralyzed after consuming one of these substances.

Some diseases are transferred to dogs through tick bites that could leave your dog unable to walk. For example, a tick bite could carry Lyme disease, which could leave your dog immobile for some time.

Another common type of infection that can leave a dog unable to walk is exposure or consumption of raccoon saliva. In many cases, exposure can leave dogs with temporary or semi-permanent paralysis of all four legs.

Some types of illness can leave your dog with extreme lethargy, which, as you would expect, can reduce their ability to walk throughout their sickness.

How to Care for Your Sick or Infected Dog


One of the most important things you can do if you suspect your dog cannot walk from an infection or illness is to seek immediate veterinary attention.

In most cases, the quicker you act, the better the results will be for your furry friend. By acting quickly, there is a good chance that your dog will make a full recovery.

Your veterinarian can prescribe medications that can help your dog recover. They will also be able to develop a treatment plan you can follow to ensure your dog is comfortable during its recovery.

You can also prevent these issues from affecting pet health by ensuring that all toxic substances in your home are sealed and kept out of the reach of your dog.

If you are in an area with Lyme disease-carrying ticks, you can also avoid taking walks into the deep brush and long grass. Always inspect your dog’s body for signs of tick bites after you go on these types of walks.

Check out our Top Tips for Keeping Your Dog Healthy!

The American Kennel Club has an informative and useful guide to Lyme disease in canines titled Lyme Disease in Dogs – Symptoms, Tests, Treatment, and Prevention.

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