Head, Shoulders, Knees, And Toes: Why Is Your Dog Having Walking Issues?

Problems with walking can be caused by a variety of issues, and if the cause is not readily apparent, such as a cut foot or a torn claw, your dog should be taken to an animal hospital for diagnosis and treatment. 

Possible causes for your dog's walking issues

Head trauma or infections in the brain

If your dog's limbs appear flaccid or it has difficulty in controlling its movements, there could be a traumatic brain injury. This may occur from being struck by a vehicle or other actions that may result in a sharp blow to the head. Eyes that are unresponsive to light are another symptom to look for if a head injury is suspected.

Encephalitis, an inflammation of the brain, is a viral infection that may be contracted from a variety of sources. It may affect the entire brain or portions of the brain, and can manifest itself in movement terms by inordinate fatigue and muscle weakness. 

Inflammation of one hemisphere of the brain may cause your dog to walk listlessly in a continuous circle, as one side of the brain dominates and controls movement.

Prompt diagnosis and treatment of brain injuries or infections is essential in restoring brain function and saving the life of an affected pet.

Shoulders and hips

Shoulder injuries in dogs will often occur after vigorous and extended running, particularly for the pets of "weekend warriors", who bring the pet along with them as they engage in strenuous activities that are not the norm in their daily lives.

Shoulder injuries in dogs are usually noticed in a reluctance to engage in normal activities. it may lie down with one leg extended, or walk with a pronounced limp. If your dog doesn't recover after a few days of rest, it's time for a visit to the vet to check for a sprain or strain injury.

Hip Dysplasia

This is a genetic malformation of the hip socket, which creates friction and bone wear in the hip, and eventual crippling arthritis in some larger breeds of dogs.

Persistent limping is a strong indicator of hip dysplasia, and if your pet's breed is prone to this condition, you should refrain from activities, such as strenuous running and jumping, that may aggravate the condition..

Vets can diagnose this condition through scanning and recommend treatment.


Dogs may suffer from the same types of ligament tears as their owners, which may occur from vigorous activities such as jumping for frisbee catching or stepping into a hole while running. A sudden yelp and an inability to place weight on the leg may be an indication of a ligament tear.

A vet will examine the knee and its range of movement. If a ligament is simply stretched, rest and recovery is usually sufficient, but a complete tear requires surgery. 

Toes and Feet

Torn or bruised foot pads or nail issues may make walking painful for your dog. Look for signs of cuts or foreign objects protruding from the pads. Torn or cracked toenails can also be painful. Be sure to check the webbing between the toes, which can be cut or infected.

The dew claw, which is the curved claw that is in a higher position of the back of the foot, may have hooked itself into a piece of furniture or rug, so check the dew claws for signs of tears or trauma. 

Injuries such as broken toes can only be seen by scanning at an animal hospital, but will usually heal by themselves over time.

Walking problems can exhibit the same symptoms from many conditions, so if they persist over a few days, or a brain event is suspected, it is important to have your dog's condition diagnosed by a vet. They would do it for you.

About Me

Communicating Effectively With Your Pet's Veterinarian

As soon as our pet started acting strangely, we knew that she was having some health problems. She was having a hard time eating, and just seemed sad as she moped around our house. Unfortunately, we didn't communicate all of her symptoms effectively to her veterinarian, which led to a bad diagnosis and incorrect treatment. As soon as we realized our mistake, we talked with our pet's veterinarian, who adjusted her treatment immediately. If we would have communicated better in the first place, we might have been able to speed up our pet's recovery. Read this blog to learn tips for talking with your vet.

Latest Posts

30 September 2016
Halloween is a fun holiday for kids and adults alike, and many pet owners have decided to include their pets in the festivities, too. Dressing up your

22 September 2016
Halloween can be fun for every member of the family, including the family pets. However, it can also present dangers to your pets, so it would be wise

21 July 2016
Does your favorite hamster have a skin injury? If so, you are likely worried about whether it is causing them pain. You may also wonder if the injury