Dog Temporarily Loses Control of His Back Legs – Top 4 Reasons Why

If you have noticed that your dog temporarily loses control of his back legs, it can be a very concerning situation for you as a pet owner. This symptom is usually an indication of an underlying medical issue and it’s not to be taken lightly. There are several different medical issues that could be causing your dog to temporarily lose control of his back legs that you should be informed about.

1. Your Dog Has Degenerative Myelopathy

Degenerative myelopathy is a medical term that means disease of the spinal cord and it’s often inherited. A lot of large breeds are more susceptible to degenerative myelopathy including German Shepherds. In this condition, the myelin sheath, which protects and surrounds nerves within the spine begin to deteriorate.

As the deterioration progresses, it will come to a point where the nerve fibers are exposed. The brain and spinal cord will begin losing communication with one another, which means that the brain cannot accurately send signals for normal body movements.

When the disease begins to progress, there will be more noticeable weakness, such as in the back legs and possible complete paralysis. The final stages can affect both the brain and respiratory system and will often lead to a pet owner choosing to euthanize their dog.

2. Sudden Paralysis is Caused by Tick Bites

Tick bites can cause sudden paralysis in dogs, which could result in your dog losing control of his back legs. A tick can feed on a host for up to six days and will produce a neurotoxin that is the main cause of the paralysis. When tick paralysis happens, it can take up to one week for symptoms to appear or become noticeable.

The back legs often are paralyzed first and then the front legs soon after, and if you notice this then you need to seek veterinary assistance immediately. This can spread to other parts of the body and lead to more severe symptoms.

You may have checked your dog for ticks but missed it, which is why the veterinarian is so important. The neurotoxin can be eliminated and it’s possible that the paralysis can be reversed if treated quickly. A good prognosis depends more on early detection and treatment and the location of the tick.

3. Your Dog Has a Disc Disease

A disc disease might also be causing your dog to temporarily lose control of his back legs, and this often happens as the result of a disc within the spine rupturing or herniating. Pain and severe inflammation can occur and it leads to many different symptoms. The symptoms for disc disease really depend on where the disc herniated or ruptured along the spine.

Old age and conformation are the most common causes of disc disease. The discs will just lose their flexibility and shock-absorption ability over time, which leads to leg weakness, paralysis, and back pain or stiffness. Treatment includes options such as medications or crate resting, and in some situations surgery is preferred. Ultimately, it may also help to get your dog a wheelchair to alleviate the back leg pains.

4. Your Dog Has Thromboembolism

An aortic thromboembolism is the most likely type of blood clot that would trigger back leg weakness and paralysis. Usually rear leg pain and paralysis are the first and most common indicators, but overall weakness could also happen. You might not be able to feel a pulse in the rear leg femoral arteries and difficulty breathing is also a sign.

Sometimes a dog might begin to vomit and also have a lower temperature. An irregular heartbeat or a murmur might also be present with this disease. This condition is rare in dogs, although it has a higher rate of recurrence. Often times treatment consists of treating the underlying medical issues, such as congenital heart failure.

Disclaimer: The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional veterinarian advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of a veterinarian when in doubt.


  • Marilyn Riekhof | 22/08/2021

    Max is a year-and-a-half-old he’s very very active I fed them a few Beets last night when I was eating supper and he started to eat some you seem like you like them so I gave him a couple more and he played and everything that he always does and he was laying on the floor this time this morning next to the bed and when I told him to get up there it wouldn’t move he was whining I don’t know what to do

  • Marilyn Riekhof | 22/08/2021

    His back legs seem to be red and swollen and he won’t let you touch his feet

  • Dianne Keam | 15/05/2022

    My maltese toy poodle is 17 months old. Every 4 weeks he experiences wobbly hind legs that only lasts 5-10 minutes then he’s all better again. He’s had this happen 3 times

  • Mike | 09/01/2023

    WHY the hell are you feeding beets to a carnivore!! Dogs NEED 80-10-10, 80% meat, 10% bone, 10% organ meat. You people wonder why at 10yrs old if that your dogs are old acting with all kinds of problems. Making your dog eat vegan is abuse an only satisfy your warped sense of reality.

  • Martin | 15/12/2023

    @ Mike. You need to tone that down a little bit. Giving a dog beets doesn’t mean she’s trying to feed the dog a vegan diet. Lots of people give their dogs various foods/treats. Beets are fine for dogs, as are different vegetables. I have a dog that gets constipated if it doesn’t get fiber in its diet. I’ll mix in spinach or some other veggie. Otherwise the dog gets mostly meat.
    Our last dog lived a long & happy 17 years, and not solely on a meat diet.
    Good day to you & try to be kinder to people. It generally comes back to you.

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