Tips for when your senior dog’s legs are giving out.
Written by Megan McCorkle LVT
A common concern that many pet parents have as their senior dog ages is that the legs specifically the hind legs seem to give out on them.
What is the cause of this “giving out from under them”? There can be a variety of causes. Statistically most senior dogs develop some amount of arthritis as they age. This discomfort causes them to move less even contributing to a decrease in muscle mass overtime. The loss of muscle leads to loss of their ability to 'control' their legs and so they appear to have weakness in the hind legs and the legs fall beneath them when they are getting around. There can also be neurologic causes especially if it seems like they can't use their legs right (and if you notice those, call the vet right away as those can be more of an emergency).
Here are a few tips for things you can do around your home to help your dog with mobility as they age.
No. 1: Prepare Non-Slip Areas Throughout Home: first, have some non-slip areas for them to access. You can use area rugs on a hardwood floor, or other carpeted areas they can get to as they get around. These should be non slip rugs and should be placed strategically around the house for good access.
No. 2: Consider a lifting harness: We also recommend assisting them using a towel or lifting harness to get them moving a bit before leaving them standing alone. A simple towel can be rolled up and placed around the abdomen, using the ends to pull them up and support them as they get moving. Some harnesses are nice because they wear them around the house, and many have handles you can grab and pull up from to assist them.
No. 3: Get examined by your vet and discuss if pain meds, supplements or diagnostics could be helpful: In the Senior Dog THRIVE course for pet parents, senior dog focused veterinarians Dr. Monica Tarantino and Dr. Lisa Lippman discuss more tips on mobility, specific supplements they recommend and how to help your aging dog to thrive no matter where they are in their journey. They encourage us trying to keep our senior and geriatric dogs active within reason as a way to maintain muscle mass and lubricate the joints.
These simple tips can make a world of difference in your pets’ confidence and overall happiness. Doing these things can help your combat the most common concern of senior pet parents.
If you're interested in learning about how to create a life of happiness and health for your senior dog as they age, sign up for the Senior Dog THRIVE Course for pet parents which is revolutionizing the way we approach senior dog care for our pets, and give them their best golden years.