Sudden Weakness

When a dog is suddenly having trouble walking, the owner often assumes that the dog has a spinal cord injury. Although this may be one of possible reasons, many other conditions (not all of them spine-related) also can cause this problem. If a dog is suddenly unable to walk, he probably feels extremely weak. Any number of diseases can make a dog weak, including heart disease, diabetes, anemia, or shock. So, if your dog is suddenly unable to move, he should be seen by a veterinarian ASAP. Difficulty walking can also come on gradually which is often seen in arthritis of the hips and various nerve diseases.

Exactly what causes the nerve degeneration usually cannot be determined. Genetic factors do play a part, however, because different breeds of dogs often develop specific forms of these nerve diseases. Breeds that have higher than average incidence of progressive nerve diseases leading to difficulty walking include the Boxer (central peripheral neuropathy, progressive axonopathy), German Shepherd Dog (giant axonal neuropathy), Rottweiler (neuroaxonal dystrophy, distal sensorimotor polyneuropathy), Golden Retriever (hypomyelinating polyneuropathy of Golden Retrievers), Alaskan Malamute (hereditary polyneuropathy of Alaskan Malamutes), Tibetan Mastiff (inherited hypertrophic neuropathy), Dalmatian (leukodystrophy of Dalmatians), Cocker Spaniel (multisystem neuronal degeneration), Jack Russell Terrier and smooth-coated Fox Terrier (neuromyotonia) and Labrador Retriever (spongy degeneration of the white matter). Conclusive diagnosis often requires nerve and muscle testing.

Jack Russell terrier, a breed predisposed to sudden weakness
Jack Russell terrier, a breed predisposed to sudden weakness.

Causes Of Sudden And Unexpected Death Of Dogs


  1. Betsy Brevitz. Hound health handbook
  2. Richard W. Nelson, C. Guillermo Couto. Small Animal Internal Medicine



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