Dog Can’t Walk On Back Legs Suddenly – Why?

Many things will cross your mind when your dog cannot stand or walk on its back legs.

It’s a cause of concern to both you and your dog, which may be in pain by this time.

Back leg weakness is quite common, and many reasons behind it.

Dog Cant Walk on Back Legs Suddenly Why

These reasons vary, and they are not tied to old age as people think.

This article takes you through some of the possible causes for this and the solutions. Read on!

Reasons Why Your Dog Can’t Walk On Back Legs Suddenly

You have been playing with your dog all day, and then out of the blue, you notice that it cannot walk on its back legs.

Lameness in dogs can either happen gradually or suddenly.

Be keen on the changes in behavior in your dog. It might save you this pain.

Anytime your dog is weak, the first place to notice it will be on the back legs.

The back limbs do so many activities compared to other body parts.

Back leg weakness has many possible causes, one reason being acute injury.

Other causes may require the attention of the veterinarian.

Even when it seems okay, monitoring your dog will help you determine what best action to take.

Some of the possible causes why the dog is unable to walk on its back legs include the following:

Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD)

Often IVDD contributes to the dog’s inability to walk on its back legs.

Intervertebral Disc Disease emanates from spinal cord issues.

These, in turn, lead to severe back pain, thereby causing paralysis in the dog.

The disease may not have any prevalent warning signs that the dog is experiencing severe pain.

IVDD is often described as an orthopedic issue.

However, when the discs in the ailing dog start to exert pressure on the spinal cord, it now becomes a neurologic condition.

It is common in smaller dog breeds, but larger dogs can suffer.

If IVDD signs are known in advance, there can be measures to prevent lameness.

If the IVDD is mild in a dog, it will only experience back pain and leg weakness.

When the discs severely compress the spinal cord, your dog will not be able to walk on its back legs completely.

Symptoms Of Intervertebral Disc Disease

  1. The dog is unable to lift its head fully.
  2. Weak movement in the hind limbs or all the four legs
  3. The dog holds its neck low
  4. The dog pants, shivers, and cries
  5. The dog is unable to urinate


If the IVDD injury is mild and you discover it early, your dog can recover and become as active as before.

Steroid treatment, anti-inflammatory medications, and 4-6 weeks of crate rest for the dog will help reduce the pain.

In severe cases, surgery is the best option, followed by physical therapy for the dogs.


Arthritis is why your dog cannot suddenly walk on its back legs.

The most common type of arthritis that will affect your dog’s back legs is Osteoarthritis.

A dog’s bone will have layers of cartilage that lubricate and protect the joint as it moves.

If the cartilage does not lubricate the joints well, there will be pain in them, noticeable as the dog moves.

Also, the cartilage can break down, causing inflammation in the joints.

It is what causes Osteoarthritis, which affects how the joints function.

When the dog has Osteoarthritis of the hips and knees, this might eventually cause weakness in the back legs.

Aging dogs and giant breed dogs are mainly at risk of getting arthritis.

Symptoms Of Arthritis In Dogs

  1. Dogs’ is unable to get up and down
  2. Swollen joints
  3. The dog is reluctant to move or perform activities that it was able to perform before
  4. Limping in one or more legs
  5. The dog might get irritable and reluctant when you touch some parts of the body.
  6. Stamina loss


Arthritis has natural remedies that can help treat it. First, maintain a healthy weight for your dog.

When the dog has a smaller weight, the joints will remain healthy.

Ensure that the food you are feeding your dog is appropriate and meets his nutritional requirements.

Veterinarian-recommended foods may be especially beneficial in treating your dog’s arthritis.

A natural anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and Omega fatty acid ingredients are frequently found in these foods.

It is also important that you feed your dog with natural whole grains and fruits. Processed food might cause inflammation in the joints.

Antioxidants will also help avoid inflammation. Be sure also to get the dog to exercise.

Light exercises will help strengthen the joints.

Fibrocartilaginous Embolism (FCE)

FCE is a neurological disorder that can make your dog not walk on its back legs suddenly.

It occurs when a cartilage piece blocks the artery.

Once this happens, your dog will immediately lose its ability to function with the back legs.

FCE might affect one leg. There will be a sign of pain in your dog once it experiences this spinal stroke.

Larger dog breeds like German Shepherds will mostly get this condition.

However, it can happen to any dog, including middle-aged and miniature schnauzers.

Dogs mostly get FCE during exercise. They may show a sign of pain, but it won’t last long.

FCE is not a progressive condition, so it’s easy to correct.

Symptoms Of FCE

  1. Sudden signs of weakness from one or both limbs
  2. Asymmetric signs in one leg
  3. A sudden cry of pain
  4. Less pain after a few minutes of crying


Keep the dog rest in a well-padded bed. Physical therapy will also help the dog with FCE recover.

Dogs with FCE have an excellent prognosis, recovering quickly and leading daily lives.

Dog Cant Walk on Back Legs Suddenly Causes & Solutions

Degenerative Myelopathy

Another reason your dog can’t walk on its back legs suddenly is because it has degenerative Myelopathy (DM).

This disorder is often inherited and is more prevalent in older dogs.

It mainly attacks German Shepherds, Boxers, and Huskies, but it can also attack other dog breeds.

Degenerative Myelopathy is usually progressive, eventually leading to paralysis of the back legs.

It occurs when the spinal cord degenerates.

Once it deteriorates, it alters the functioning of the dog’s nerves.

The process is pretty slow but progressive.

If your vet notices that your dog has DM, they might take a genetic test for the dog.

This test shows whether your dog has two copies of the mutated gene.

Having these copies puts the dog at a high risk of developing this condition.

Symptoms Of Degenerative Myelopathy

  1. The dog is unable to get up from a lying position
  2. The dog falls when pushed
  3. Knuckling the toes so the dog can walk on the paws
  4. Weak hind limbs
  5. Trembling on the back legs


There is no viable treatment for Degenerative Myelopathy.

However, your dog can lead an everyday life if treated as the symptoms appear.

Exercises such as walking and swimming will help the dog with DM live a better life.

Identifying the symptoms early enough may help prevent the back legs from paralyzing.

Also, selective breeding is the best thing that can avoid DM.

Ask for the SOD-1 gene mutation results of the dog you are purchasing.

They will show whether the parents are carriers of two copies of the normal genes.


Cancer of the bones, often known as Osteosarcoma, is quite common in most dog breeds.

Once it occurs, it becomes pretty aggressive, requiring quick treatment.

It can affect the back leg s bones, soft tissues, and even the nerves.

As the cancerous cells grow, they will press against the nerves.

Dogs with Osteosarcoma start with simple limping that progresses to them being unable to walk on their back legs.

If cancer advances, the leg will get fractures.

There is no real reason why a dog might develop this cancer. Like any other type of cancer, there are tons of reasons.

It can either be hereditary or may be caused by some environmental factors.

Symptoms Of Cancer In dogs

  1. Distinct swelling on the limb
  2. Lameness
  3. Loss of appetite in the dog
  4. The dog may not walk or play like before
  5. The dog indicates severe pain


The treatment plan for bone cancer in dogs is dependent on various factors.

The vet will create a unique treatment plan for the dog depending on age, weight, and more.

Most vets will recommend amputating the legs.

Amputation, however, will not prevent cancer from spreading.

So, the dog can go through various therapy sessions.

Such will delay or prevent the cancer cells from spreading.

Lumbosacral Stenosis

Lumbosacral stenosis is a degenerative condition that affects the lumbosacral joints.

It occurs when a narrowing spinal cord exerts pressure which often emanates from various tissues.

It then leads to issues on the dog’s backside.

This condition will start by affecting the stability of the dog’s back legs.

The symptoms that your dog exhibits depend on how severe the disease is.

Also, it depends on the spinal cord.

Symptoms Of Lumbosacral Stenosis

  1. Pain in the backside of the dog
  2. Dog losses bladder control
  3. Inability to rise from a lying position
  4. Inability to raise the tail


Several treatment procedures can address the dogs’ pain and inflammation.

Also, try and restrict certain activities for the dog to recover.

Exercise must often be modified to avoid strenuous activities such as jumping, climbing, twisting, and turning.

The amount of exercise for dogs should be gradually increased over a period of weeks, starting with frequent short walks on a leash.

Patients who are overweight ought to start eating fewer calories.

The majority of affected animals will benefit from analgesics.

The use of muscle relaxants, anti-inflammatory drugs, and neuropathic medications may all be advantageous.

Injecting a long-acting steroid (cortisone) via a lumbar puncture around the compressed spinal nerves may also be used to treat lumbosacral stenosis.

In some cases, repeat injections may be required. If the condition is severe, surgery is recommended.

The procedure demands a general anesthetic.


If your dog can’t walk on its back legs suddenly, something must be behind it.

Seek medical attention once this occurs to know the cause.

Diagnosing the conditions early enough creates better room for recovery.