There are few things more heartwrenching than watching your older dog’s hind legs give out – especially when your dog also struggles to get back up. Back legs collapsing indicates a weakness in the hind legs.
Signs of hind leg weakness in older dogs include:
- Trouble getting up from a sitting or lying position
- Avoidance of stairs
- No longer enjoying long walks or exercise
- No longer jumping up on the bed or sofa (if that was previously accepted behavior)
- Walking with a “bunny hop”
- Hind leg tremors
There are several potential causes of back legs collapsing in older dogs, and each cause shows various signs of hind leg weakness. Before you can know what to do or what your treatment options are, it’s important to first understand what the potential causes could be. Ultimately, your veterinarian will need to diagnosis the cause of back leg collapse.
Scroll to the bottom for treatment options.
Common Causes of Back Leg Weakness in Older Dogs
Arthritis is stiffness in the joints that can affect hind legs and cause weakness. Older dogs are especially at risk. As a dog ages, the cartilage between the joints may deteriorate, which can cause inflammation and pain. The condition may become what is known as Degenerative Joint Disease, which is the canine version of osteoarthritis. If your dog’s back legs are collapsing, look for these additional signs that may indicate osteoarthritis:
- Difficulty getting up
- Pain when petted or touched
- Difficulty squatting to use the bathroom or having accidents in the house
Hip dysplasia is a chronic condition caused by the hip joint ball and socket rubbing together due to a malformation. Over time, the rubbing together causes significant cartilage loss and can develop into osteoarthritis. Older dogs with hip dysplasia may experience back leg collapse, but also look for the following:
- Difficulty getting up
- Grating sounds in the hip area during exercise
- Joint stiffness
Learn more about Dog Hip Dysplasia.
Degenerative Myelopathy (DM)
Degenerative Myelopathy is a genetic and incurable neurodegenerative disease marked by deterioration and loss of function of the nervous system, especially the neurons in the brain. Onset typically occurs when dogs reach about eight years of age. The most notable symptom differentiating DM from the other potential causes for old dogs’ back legs collapsing is that the dog will experience NO PAIN. Additionally, be on the lookout for:
- Back legs dragging
- Loss of overall coordination
Learn more about Degenerative Myelopathy.
Dogs, like people, may experience weight gain as they get older. If weight gain is the cause of back leg collapse in your older dog, you’re in luck – it’s the easiest to remedy. Be sure your older dog gets plenty of exercise and maintains a healthy diet. Older dogs do not require as much food as younger dogs. Also, consider foods with lower fat content.
Support and Treatment for Old Dog Back Legs Collapsing
Depending on your dog’s diagnosis, treatment options will vary. Consult first with your veterinarian to determine the appropriate course. Particularly for older dogs, surgery is often not an option. Ortho Dog offers orthopedic braces to provide additional support for older dogs that may be experiencing collapsing in their hind legs.
Ortho Dog’s Hip Hound Brace was designed specifically to help dogs with arthritis and hip dysplasia by providing support and stability that minimizes pressure on joints. Additionally, the hip brace may reduce pain during exercise and activity.
Learn more about the Hip Hound Brace.
With support from orthopedic braces, a healthy diet, regular exercise, as well as homeopathic support, your older dog may have many happy and healthy years ahead, free of back leg collapse. Talk to your vet and ask if a hip brace may alleviate your older dog’s hind leg weakness.