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Reasons My Older Dog Won't Walk

| Updated September 26, 2017

As dogs age, they tend to get aches and creaks just like humans do. Of course, since they can't talk, it's harder to figure out why they aren't feeling well. If your older dog isn't walking, there are a number of potential causes. Regardless of why your dog isn't walking, you should visit your vet for a proper diagnosis and treatment.


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If your dog is favoring one limb or is hesitant to jump, arthritis may be the culprit. Just like humans, many dogs develop arthritis as they age. Often the condition goes untreated until a dog is limping, has shaking legs or simply can't walk. A simple x-ray can usually diagnose this condition.


Dysplasia affects a dog's hip, causing pain and lameness. While it usually manifests during a dog's adolescence, older dogs may present worsened symptoms.


When an older dog is injured, it tends to take longer to recover. Simple actions like jumping off a couch may lead to a knee or hip injury. Sometimes older injuries worsen and may lead to paralysis. With older dogs, you should treat all injuries immediately, as they can't just walk it off.

Neurological Disorder

Nerve conditions can affect one or all of a dog's limbs. Usually caused by an injury or degenerative disease, simple neurological conditions may lead to lameness or paralysis. Usually a dog with nerve injuries will drag the affected paw.

Disk Disease

Canine degenerative disk disease and intervertebral disk disease affect the spinal cord and may lead to paralysis, most often in the hind legs. In simple terms, the condition is a ruptured disk applying pressure to the spinal cord. The rupture progresses without treatment. Many older dogs who can't walk have a form of disk disease.


Sometimes it isn't an injury or condition directly affecting the legs or back that causes your dog not to walk, but pain in another unrelated part of the body. Older dogs do not hide pain as well as their younger counterparts. Pain may lead to instability or vertigo. It may also just cause your dog to refuse to walk in order to avoid pain. Everything from a urinary tract infection to a serious ear infection may leave your dog appearing lame. Look for other symptoms to substantiate a possible underlying cause.