Back Legs fail in old dog
Older dogs develop back leg problems. Recently while visiting an elderly friend of mine, I noticed her German Shepard dog was having a hard time walking. She mentioned that he was getting progressively worse and would often time collapse or stumble while walking. She had taken the animal to a local vet and discovered that the dogs hips and joints where deteriorated & bone-on-bone causing much pain and suffering for the creature. She new the time was getting close that she would have to put the animal down due to it’s increased suffering, difficulty walking, and age.
Evidently, this is a common occurrence in older dogs, especially larger animals that have carried around a little more weight over their lifetime. I found this article that explains the condition more thoroughly than I ever could and am happy to share it with my fans -
I have a Yellow Lab that is 13 years old. In the past year his back legs have been acting goofy. They will just give out on him once in a while. He doesn’t go up stairs anymore either but
he can go down them. I understand that he is a rather old dog but is there any way to boost his legs back to normal? He has the heart of a puppy and we would like him around for as long as possible. Sincerely – Danni
Answer: (by Dr. Barchas)
Weak rear legs are common in older large dogs such as Labrador Retrievers. Dogs with weak rear legs may have trouble standing up. Their hind legs may suddenly give out, causing the hindquarters to collapse. Because the rear legs do most of the work when climbing stairs (the front legs exert more effort when descending), dogs with weak rear legs may have difficulty going up stairs but no problems going down.
In my experience, two factors play a role in causing the symptoms you describe.
First, all individuals become weaker and less agile as they grow older. Joints become less flexible. Muscle strength deteriorates. Neurological control of the limbs becomes less precise. Most people who make it to 80 are familiar with these issues.
Second, arthritis is extremely common in older pets. I discussed treatment of arthritis relatively extensively in a previous post.
You may be able to help your dog by managing his weight (if he is overweight), performing physical therapy (such as gentle range of motion exercises), and feeding dietary supplements including glucosamine and omega-3s.
Regularly walking your dog will help to build strength, maintain flexibility, and keep his weight down. And it’s fun! I recommend that he get as much mild or moderate exercise as possible. Avoid any activities that seem to make him sore the next day.
Finally, talk to your vet about trying a prescription arthritis medication. One of these medicines may make your dog feel dramatically better.