Why Does my Dog's Leg Give Out?

 |  Jan 23rd 2009  |   0 Contributions


I have an 11-year-old dog, half Australian Shepherd/half
German Short Haired Pointer. Sometimes when he
walks one of his front legs will give out. It's almost
like he's tripping over himself or like he's
kind of dragging one front paw. It happens maybe
a couple times a week that I notice. He weighs 55
pounds, is not overweight, and is in very good
health. Any thoughts on what could cause this?

Doreen
Bothell, WA

As everyone who is lucky enough to become elderly knows, getting older can be hard on the body.

An eleven-year-old dog who weighs 55 pounds is elderly. And even when they age gracefully, elderly dogs are prone to a number of syndromes that can interfere with walking.

Older animals have decreased muscle mass relative to younger pets. Their joints are not as flexible. This combination often contributes to incoordination when older pets have trouble properly moving their legs into position as they walk.

Also, older pets sometimes suffer from mild neurological deterioration. This can make it hard to place their feet properly while moving.

Arthritis is extremely common in older pets. Arthritis can lead to soreness and weakness in one or multiple legs.

Other, rare causes of trouble walking in older pets include slipped discs, degenerative diseases of the spinal cord or brain, metabolic problems, and certain tumors.

Doreen, based on your description I doubt that your dog is suffering from a serious illness. However, I'd recommend that you have your vet check your dog. The vet may be able to recommend exercises, dietary supplements, or medications that can help the problem. However, it would be unrealistic to expect your dog's mobility issues to resolve completely. The march of time ultimately affects all of us.

Photo: Eshu is moving well!

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