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UKVETJH, Veterinary Surgeon
Category: Dog Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 1022
Experience:  BVet Med MRCVS since 2004. Certificate in Veterinary Acupuncture
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My dog is dragging her hind legs, but appears not to be in

Resolved Question:

My dog is dragging her hind legs, but appears not to be in pain, is eating, urinating, defecating, wagging her tail, barking, all other activities as normal, but has this hind end paralysis. What could be going on?
Submitted: 7 years ago.
Category: Dog Veterinary
Expert:  UKVETJH replied 7 years ago.

Hi there,


What breed is your dog?


How long has this problem been going on?


Did it occur very suddenly, or come on gradually?


Is it getting gradually better, worse or staying the same?


Is she able to stand at all?


Are the medications you have her on prescribed by your vet?


How much does your dog weigh?

Customer: replied 7 years ago.
She's a mut, weighs about 25-30 lbs., came on suddenly, situation is staying the same, can't stand, am using penicillin I had on hand, have not been to the vet due to expense. She just dragged herself to the front door with our other dogs to bark at someone arriving at our house. She acts so normal besides this paralysis! It's very strange! Oh, I forgot to mention that there is an extra protrusion out of her vulva area and she licks it alot, but again, doesn't seem to be in pain. I have had all kinds of animals and try home treatments before I resort to the expense of a veterinarian. I am interested in what you have to say about this....
Expert:  UKVETJH replied 7 years ago.

Hi there,


Thanks for the extra information.


Usually, when this happens in older dogs, it is due to a loss of function in the nerves that supply the back legs, often due to age-related degeneration, or even a problem with one of the discs in the spine that sit between the vertebrae.


The fact that the condition in your dog does not appear to be paiful again suggests that the problem lies with the nerves, as dogs need intact nerves in order to move their legs, but also to feel pain. This may also explain the lack of tone of the vulva. Although it is not possible to say exactly what has happened without being able to examine your dog or perform any tests, at the age of 11 I would imagine that if there has been deterioration to the point of complete paralysis of the back end, the chance of resolution back to a normal dog is unfortunately unlikely. This may or may not progress to incontinence too, but it's again difficult to say.


I would say though, that the most likely way to get any improvement here would be to seek conventional veterinary treatments rather than home remedies - this is a severe and debilitating problem and it would be better to go straight for treatments that have scientific backup, as you might end up spending more on home remedies that don't work. In situations like this, if you want to go ahead and treat her, your vet may well consider corticosteroids as the best option - if so these are not expensive to supply once the dog has been examined and the vet has determined if this is suitable. It's also important to take care when giving medicines at home without the supervision of a vet as the drugs designed for humans are often not suitable for pets and can cause nasty reactions, toxicity and side effects.


If you are looking down the route of alternative rather than drug therapy, then you may find that your dog might benefit from some acupuncture - this can help to relieve muscle tension, increase blood supply and nerve regeneration in some cases.


At home i think the best thing that you can do would be to try to protect the areas of her legs that are in contact with the floor form getting sore, rubbed or ulcerated due to the extra pressure put on them. Padding the floor with mats and blankets can help, as can putting socks etc over the feet if the top side of the foot os getting dragged and damaged. You can also try to provide soe physiotherapy t try to keep the muscles supple and the blood supply up and running - this involves gentle massage of the legs from foot up towards the body to help the venous circulation and stop fluid building up in the legs. Moving the legs gently through their range of movement in terms of gently flexing the legs comfortably and extending them can help to keep the muscles going too.


In the long term, the way you feel about having a paralysed dog, and the dog's quality of life are very important things to consider. Lots of people feel that they are able to allow an good quality of life to dog that is permanently disabled but it is a really important thing to think about - the dog may appear happy at the front end but the loss of the function of the hindlimbs is very difficult for them to deal with. You may want to take advice from your vet here, even if it is by phone, to discuss your options.


I hope this helps,



Customer: replied 7 years ago.
How would cortizone, steriods help her condition? Actually, a friend just came by and she said she thinks Ellie is getting around better, so there might be some improvement. Another friend had a dog that had a slipped disc, dragged her legs around for some time, but it did get totally well, so is there some chance of her walking again?
Expert:  UKVETJH replied 7 years ago.

HI again,


Corticosteroids are potent anti-inflammatories and act particularly well on tissues of the nervous system, so they can often have beneficial effects in inflamed tissues of this type. They also indirectly provide a certain degree of pain relief whhich may be useful if there is a mild discomfort there that the dog os not showing signs of. As these guys spend more time dragging the hindlimbs, the muscles of the front limbs and spine can get quite tired and strained due to the extra work they are doing, so the steroids can act to reduce pain here too.


As I said, the chances of complete recovery are doubtful, but they are not unheard of. I think though that the sooner you can get a vet involved, potentially the more likely you are to get her walking again. I just would not want to get your hopes up as to giving her a high chance of recovery - they do surprise us sometimes though!

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