Weakness in a dog’s hind legs – Common causes

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A dog’s loss of strength in its hind legs can be due to a myriad of causes. Poisonings, neurological, systemic problems, trauma, etc. They can affect the hind legs and impede the normal walking of the animal.

As there are so many diagnostic possibilities, a visit to the vet is mandatory in order to start treatment. Below we offer a sample of the most common pathologies behind this disorder.

Index of contents

  • 1 Back leg weakness from poisoning
  • 2 Lack of strength due to hypothyroidism
  • 3 Liver failure
  • 4 Brain hemorrhages
  • 5 Encephalitis
  • 6 Tick ​​paralysis
  • 7 Botulism
  • 8 Hypokalemia
  • 9 Spinal cord injuries
  • 10 Herniated discs on the back
  • 11 Postpartum eclampsia or paresis
  • 12 Hypoglycemia
  • 13 How to heal a dog that has no strength in its hind legs?

Back leg weakness from poisoning

The clinical picture that causes poisoning or poisoning will depend on the type of poison, the route of contact, the amount and the characteristics of the dog. Some trigger a neurological picture.

Symptoms such as hypersalivation, involuntary muscle movements or weakness in the hind legs stand out. It is a veterinary emergency since, depending on the factors that we have indicated, it can be fatal.

  • Symptoms of poisoning in a dog
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Lack of strength due to hypothyroidism

Hypothyroidism is a disease that occurs when the thyroid gland does not secrete enough hormones. The affected dog will present different symptoms, the most common being poor hair growth, alopecia, weight gain, lack of heat, etc.

This pathology has also been associated with myasthenia gravis, a disorder that affects the transmission of nerve impulses. This produces generalized muscle weakness that, above all, becomes visible in the hind legs. Both diseases need medication.

  • Complete information on hypothyroidism in dogs

Liver failure

When the liver fails, various toxins accumulate in the body. This can lead to hepatic encephalopathy, which is inflammation of the brain. Symptoms include lack of coordination, weakness, behavioral changes, or hypersalivation.

Treatment involves controlling the symptoms, avoiding encephalopathy as much as possible and looking for the cause behind the liver failure. There are different circumstances that can damage the liver.

  • Types of hepatitis in dogs and their symptoms

Brain hemorrhages

When intracranial bleeding occurs both inside and outside the brain, for example from a strong blow, clots form that will press on different areas. The dog will present a reduced level of consciousness, dilated pupil and weakness or, directly, paralysis in one or more extremities. It is an urgency.


Encephalitis is inflammation of the brain, leading to fever, behavioral changes, depression, uncoordinated wandering, seizures, or, in more severe cases, coma. It is an emergency because it can be associated with diseases as serious as distemper, rabies, pseudorarabia or herpesvirus.

Tick ​​paralysis

The saliva of some ticks contains a toxic that affects the nerves, causing weakness and paralysis. The clinical picture begins approximately one week after the sting. Weakness is progressive and can lead to respiratory arrest. It is an urgency.

  • Tick-borne diseases
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It is a disease that causes paralysis. It is due to the neurotoxins that the bacteria produce Clostridium botulinum. Dogs are spread by eating decaying carrion or poorly canned food. The prognosis depends on the evolution of the disease.


Refers to a low level of potassium in the blood. Causes a generalized muscle weakness. It can be treated by administering potassium and controlling the cause. There are several such as severe vomiting, use of diuretics, Cushing’s syndrome, or diabetic ketoacidosis, which is a serious complication of diabetes.


Spinal cord injuries

The spinal cord can be injured by car accidents, falls, or gunshots. This produces symptoms such as pain, weakness or paralysis in the legs, loss of sensation in the extremities, tripping when walking, incontinence, etc. The dog cannot stand on its hind legs. It is an emergency and the prognosis is reserved.

Herniated discs on the back

More common in small breeds and especially in the dachshund, the signs appear between 3 and 6 years. They can do it gradually or suddenly. Highlights include pain, reluctance to jump or climb, weakness, lameness, wobbly gait, tremor, and even complete paralysis of the hind legs. They require medication and sometimes surgery.

Postpartum eclampsia or paresis

It occurs in bitches due to low blood calcium levels a few weeks after delivery. More common in small breeds, large litters, malnourished mothers or those who have consumed calcium supplements during pregnancy. The bitch is anxious, breathing fast, her mucous membranes pale and she is uncoordinated. It is an urgency.


It is the low level of glucose in the blood. It is distinguished by depression, wobbly gait, muscle weakness, and tremors. In severe cases seizures and even death occur. Hence the urgency to go to the vet at any of the signs mentioned. You need treatment and look for the cause.

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How to heal a dog that has no strength in its hind legs?

Since the weakness of the hind legs has so many possible causes a good diagnosis is essential. For this it
is important that we explain to the vet how the weakness in the dog’s paws has appeared and if we have perceived any other symptoms.

The professional will carry out the pertinent tests to find the cause, since only from it it is possible to establish a treatment and offer a prognosis on its evolution. Hence the importance of going to the veterinary center at the first symptom. In fact, several of these pathologies represent true emergencies.