Dog Paralyzed Back Legs – Causes & Treatment


The foremost worry for pet owners dealing with a dog that has lost mobility in its back legs is ‘How can I help my dog?’. They are most anxious to discover ‘Can a dog regain the ability to use its paralyzed hind legs?’

This guide attempts to answer those questions and more.

What Can Cause Sudden Paralysis in Dogs?

According to veterinary experts, if  you have a pet with paralyzed back legs, then the following reasons could be the cause:


Sudden onset paralysis could be due to a simple toenail injury or a broken bone or fracture. If your fur buddy has ingrown toenails, misformed nails, fingers slightly spread, or swelling in the paw pads, then it might refuse to walk on those legs and may drag itself.

Similarly, paw or leg injury including something stuck in the paw pads could be a factor that causes sudden paralysis in the hind or front legs in dogs.

Other common injuries in dogs’ hind legs are torn ligament/muscle/cartilage/or tendons. Your pet might even have a dislocation or sprain. Similarly, serious spinal cord injuries or spinal disease can also lead to a paralyzed dog.

Neurological Issues

Neurological issues are the more serious reason behind the paralyzed dog. Here are 4 common neurological issues that can result in a dog’s paralysis:


A tumor in the peripheral nerves sheath system can result in the sudden onset of canine paraplegia. In this type of hind leg paralysis, usually, just one leg is affected at first. The affected dog appears in pain and may be unable to walk or put steady pressure on the leg. As the disease progresses, there may be muscle atrophy and the other leg could also be affected.

IVDD or Intervertebral Disc Disease

Intervertebral disc disease is a type of dog hind leg paralysis that is usually seen in breeds such as Dachshunds, Beagles, Basset Hounds, and Shih Tzus. It causes the gel-like centers of the intervertebral discs to become dry and brittle. this puts pressure on the spine. Affected dogs are unable to walk and move without pain.

Eventually, this causes compression in the spinal cord and the ruptured disc could even press on the nerve roots. Affected dogs often collapse without warning.

Fibrocartilaginous Embolism (FCE) 

A condition called Fibrocartilaginous Embolism (FCE) is a neurological issue in dogs that can result in a dog’s paralyzed back legs. FCE causes a piece of the Fibrocartilage to lodge in the blood vessel, blocking the flow to the spinal cord. This type of paralysis in dogs is usually seen in miniature schnauzers and certain large-breed dogs. 

Fortunately, this type of paralysis in dogs usually does not worsen progressively. Also, with treatment, physical therapy, and surgery, it can even be treated.

Slipped Disc

In slipped disc, the gel-like center of the intervertebral discs shoots out and causes injury, swelling, and bleeding in the dog’s spine. It is commonly seen in active medium-to-large-breed dogs.

Thankfully, this type of dog paralysis also does not get worse progressively although your dog might feel pain after walking.

Also Read: Essential Facts About Slipped Disc in Dogs

What to Give a Dog That is Paralyzed?

As per experts, to treat a paralyzed dog at home, you can do several things:

Firstly, get your paralyzed dog examined by a veterinary doctor. If it is a simple injury or a fracture, the vet can provide the right medication, physical therapy, and treatment that can help your paralyzed dog recover from the paraplegia.

If the cause of the canine paralysis is untreatable due to one of the above neurological issues, please do the following to make your dog more comfortable:

  • Provide comfortable bedding – orthopedic dog beds help reduce pressure on the joints, reduce pressure sores on the skin, and allow your dog to sleep peacefully.
  • Use a dog wheelchair or special harnesses – Vets can get paralyzed dogs with limited mobility customized dog wheelchairs or other mobility aids to help them walk and get around.
  • Express dog’s bladder – Some spinal injuries could prevent your dog’s bladder from emptying out. In this case, you may need the manual expression of the bladder with hands flattened on the bladder region. Your vet can guide you.
  • Use doggie diapers – This is essential to let your dog poop and pee. Make sure that your dog’s bladder empties completely. Keep your dog clean using baby wipes.
  • Provide frequent baths – This will keep your dog’s skin clean and prevent skin issues. Use skin sprays and ointments to further keep the skin healthy.
  • Hydrotherapy and low-impact exercises – it is important that your pet still walk and get daily exercise (as advised by the vet). This is important to prevent muscle atrophy and to keep other limbs active.
  • Supplements and diet – you also need to provide affected dogs with the best dog food and a full course of joint supplements like chondroitin, MSM, and glucosamine. These can prevent further degradation of the dogs’ joints.

Can a Dog Paralyzed Legs Live Healthy Life?

Yes, some dogs with back legs’ paraplegia can still live a fairly regular life and enjoy some of the same activities as other dogs. You need to work with your veterinarian and come up with an exercise and diet plan that can help your dog with rear leg paralysis regain strength in its legs and also prevent further wear and tear. 

An animals specialist might even suggest the use of dog wheelchairs or carts to ensure that your dog can poop on its own and move around a bit. You can even make some home improvements like adding ramps, pet staircases, etc. to help your dog move around the house.

Paralyzed Dog – Physical Therapy for Canine Hind Legs Paralysis

Your vet will decide when to begin PT for your fur buddy. They may recommend actions like rubbing, tickling, or squeezing your pets four legs several times throughout the day.

Massage therapy on the four legs can also help with mobility. Gently begin massaging and apply steady pressure on the affected limbs. You can even scratch your dog’s itchy spot. Some dogs respond by kicking a hind leg in response. With the help of a second person, you can even get your dog to move on a ball.

FAQs – Paralyzed Limbs in Dogs

How to treat a disabled dog?

Paralyzed pets need a multi-faceted approach. You can work with a vet who might recommend spinal surgery or laser therapy so your buddy can live a normal life. The vet may even recommend supplements to reduce inflamed nerves.

Can dogs recover from partial paralysis?

Yes, most dogs with partial paralysis have fully recovered with the help of a physical therapist, a healthy diet, and supplements. However, this depends on the underlying cause.

When is a dog considered paralyzed?

A paralyzed pet that is unable to move one or more limbs is considered as paraplegic. It may be due to spinal damage.

How to prevent urine scald in paralyzed dogs?

Paralyzed dogs often have urine issues due to the inability to control the bladder muscles and sphincter. The urine starts to leak and causes redness and inflammation around the genitals.

Caring for a paralyzed dog involves keeping the genital area clean and dry. Many dogs with full bladder suffer from urine scald and older dogs with urine incontinence can benefit from topical ointments to soothe the scald.

Conclusion – How to Get a Dog with Paralyzed Back Legs to Move Again?

Depending on the cause, dogs paralysis could be temporary or permanent. Please have your dog examined by your vet. In some cases of dog paralyzed legs, surgery and medicines can help reverse it.

In other cases of canine paralyzed rear legs, you could use mobility aids, supplements, physiotherapy, and healthy food to help make your dog with hind leg paralysis more comfortable.

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