There are many reasons why a dog is unable to stand up. Orthopedic problems, leg injuries, aching joints from arthritis, and even old age can impact a dog’s ability to stand up on theirits own. Although old age is the most common reason why a dog struggles to stand up on all four feet, there can be other more serious reasons, including a neurological condition that can impact a dog’s mobility and leg strength.
Signs a Dog’s Hind Legs are Weakening
As a pet parent, nothing is more difficult than watching your dog struggle to stand on weak back legs and see their back legs give out. Struggling to stand up is often the first and most noticeable sign that a dog is losing strength in its hind legs. Other signs of hind leg weakness include:
- Difficulty getting up off the floor, especially after a long period of inactivity
- Running with both back legs together
- Frequently slipping and losing traction while walking
- Uncoordinated movements
- Shaking or wobbling while walking or standing
A dog dealing with hind leg weakness will also have a difficult time going up or down the stairs, struggle to get into a car, and have a hard time jumping up on the furniture. If your dog only has trouble getting up but walks fine, their leg weakness is likely caused by joint pain.
Medical Conditions Impacting a Dog’s Ability to Stand
We expect an older dog to move a little slower or for their legs to stiffen, but how can you tell if it’s something more serious? These are a few of the most common medical conditions that impact a dog’s ability to stand up:
- Slipped Disc
- Degenerative Myelopathy
- FCE or Fibrocartilaginous Embolism
- Vestibular Disease
- Hip Dysplasia
- Trauma or injury
A dog’s medical history can play a big part in their leg strength as well. For example, a dog with diabetes may be shaky and struggle to stand up when their blood sugar is low.
How to Help Your Dog If They Can’t Stand Up
It’s difficult to watch your dog is in pain or struggles to stand. Luckily there are a few simple things you can do to help your dog to stand up and improve its quality of life.
Visit the Veterinarian
A dog who is struggling to get up or is having a difficult time walking needs to be seen by a veterinarian immediately. The Veterinarian will ask you questions about your dog’s medical history, any noticeable changes in your dog’s behavior, as well as what your dog was doing before their difficulty standing. Along with an exam, your dog may need an MRI or cat scan to fully assess what is causing their weak back legs.
Lift Support Harnesses for Dog Back Legs
For dogs that have a hard time standing up, a dog rear lift harness may be exactly what you need.
A rear support harness is an easy way to support your dog’s back legs. The harness slides up your dog’s back legs and allows you to give a gentle boost to help your dog stand up. Along with helping your dog to stand, a rear harness helps stabilize your dog and offers continued support to help get your dog outside to pee or poop.
A support harness also allows you to help your dog on the stairs and to lift them into the car.
For dogs who have trouble getting up, but walk fine a simple, rear support leash is often the best mobility solution. The best part of a dog lift leash is that it’s easy to put on while a dog is lying down!
Rehabilitation Therapy and Physiotherapy
Ask your vet if rehab exercise would be beneficial for your pet. Through physiotherapy, many pets can build up their leg strength, increase muscle tone, and help prevent leg atrophy through various exercises. A recent study shows that even pets with a degenerative condition can see benefits, regular exercise may help to slow down the progression of their mobility loss to help them stay active for longer.
Once your dog is standing up, they may still require support to help them walk and get around. A dog wheelchair is designed exactly for this purpose. A dog mobility cart supports your dog’s back legs to help them maintain their balance and reduce the weight placed on their weak hind legs to make it possible for them to walk on their own.