Dogs Issues

Why Is My Dog Stumbling On Its Front Legs? 12 Possible Reasons

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In this article, you will know the answer to the query “Why Is My Dog Stumbling On Its Front Legs?“.

If your dog begins to stand on its front legs, it could be suffering from a wide range of medical problems, from neurological deterioration to spinal injuries. 

If the dog is stumbling, its front legs may seem paralyzed or it may appear clumsy in general. 

Stumbling in either direction can indicate more serious problems. Dogs losing their balance is not normal and should not be ignored. 

You should schedule an appointment with your vet as soon as possible if you notice any of the following symptoms in your dog.

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If your dog is unable to walk or stand, you may need to take him to an emergency vet. 

In order to figure out what the problem is, the vet will probably perform a number of tests, including physical exams, mobility tests, X-rays, and blood tests. 

It may be possible to perform diagnostic imaging to determine whether the paralysis is caused by the nervous system, the skeletal system, or the muscular system. 

An accurate diagnosis will allow your vet to determine the best course of treatment for you and your dog. Among the possible diagnoses are:

1. Spinal Injury

It is the most common cause of dogs’ legs becoming paralyzed, resulting in them stumbling.

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A direct blow to the shoulder or pulling the front leg away from the body may cause the shoulder’s nerve tissue to separate from the joint, resulting in a brachial plexus avulsion.

Symptoms

  • The weight of their responsibilities is too much for them
  • Deficiency of severe proportions
  • Dogs with this condition flex their wrists and drag their paws against the floor as a result of loss of sensation below the elbow. This is referred to as “knuckling over.”
  • There may be eye abnormalities such as sunken eyes, droopy eyelids, and smaller pupils.

Common Causes

  • Falling
  • Having an automobile accident
  • Wounds caused by gunshots

Possible Treatments

  • Boots and bandages for protection
  • Therapy through physical activity
  • An anti-inflammatory medication

2. Arthritis

Stumbling is often caused by osteoarthritis, especially in older dogs. Your vet can help you devise a treatment plan for your dog after a diagnosis is made.

Symptoms

  • Painful and inflamed joints
  • Atrophic Muscles
  • Weakness in legs
  • Movement is less

Common Causes

  • Degeneration of cartilage
  • Getting old
  • Injury history
  • Obesity
  • Infection
  • Genetics

Possible Treatments

Osteoarthritis has no known cure, but there are steps that can be taken to alleviate the pain.

  • Eating a healthy diet
  • Physical activity
  • Supplements joint
  • Medicine prescribed by a physician
  • The physical therapy

3. Tumors

Paralysis can occur in a dog’s body as a result of nerve sheath tumors. In order to confirm or rule out tumors, a number of diagnostic tests may be required, including myelograms, CT scans, and MRIs.

Symptoms

  • When you move your leg or touch your armpit, you feel pain
  • Paralysis that gradually worsens in one leg
  • A large mass can be felt
  • Atrophic Muscles

Common Causes

It is unknown. A nerve sheath tumor can grow without apparent cause, affecting neighboring tissues.

Possible Treatments

  • Surgical removal of the tumor
  • Amputation of the affected limb
  • If the tumor extends into the spinal canal, it will require spinal surgery
  • Radiation therapy may be an alternative to surgery if surgery is not possible

4. Brain Tumor

Stumbling and lack of balance are common symptoms of brain tumors in older dogs. There is no paralysis associated with brain tumors, but rather a general feeling of unsteadiness in the legs.

Symptoms

  • Stumbling, staggering, and losing balance
  • Behavioral and dietary changes
  • Seizures
  • Pain signs
  • Head tilt
  • Swaying
  • Broad stance
  • Coordination issues
  • Tremors in the head
  • Eyes flickering
  • Pacing
  • Circling

Common Causes

Canine brain tumors are not known to have a definitive cause.

Possible Treatments

  • Surgical neurosurgery
  • Treatment with radiation
  • Medication for chemotherapy
  • Steroids
  • Epilepsy medications

5. Ataxia

Ataxia is a neurological disorder characterized by a lack of coordination. Ataxia can occur anywhere in the dog, however, we will focus on the spinal cord since that is where front leg issues would occur. 

Symptoms

  • Falling over, staggering and stumbling
  • A tilted head
  • Circumnavigating
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Eyes flickering

Common Causes

  • The degeneration of the spinal cord (also called degenerative myelopathy)
  • Stroke of the spinal cord
  • Spinal cord abnormality
  • Spinal cord tumors or tumors of the spine
  • Inflammation of the spinal cord
  • Trauma to the spinal column
  • Intervertebral disc or vertebral infection
  • Instability of the spine
  • An enlargement of the spinal canal

Possible Treatments

  • The management of pain
  • Medication for pain, inflammation, or infection
  • Braces
  • The supplements
  • Depending on the cause, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and surgery may be necessary

6. Ear Infections

Your dog may have an inner ear infection if he is more wobbly or clumsy on his front legs than paralyzed. Dogs’ sense of coordination and balance are controlled by their inner ears. Dogs can become disoriented and lose their sense of proprioception if they are infected. 

Symptoms

  • Balance loss
  • Shaking head
  • Stretching
  • Circling
  • Eyes flickering
  • In or around the ear, there is redness, swelling, discharge, and odor

Common Causes

  • The most common cause of ear infections is bacteria in the ear
  • Yeast
  • Fungi
  • Mites in the ears
  • An ear full of foreign objects
  • Trauma caused by physical contact
  • Those with tumors
  • Polyps

Possible Treatments

A veterinarian may thoroughly clean your dog’s ears with a medicated cleanser. There are also other options: 

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  • Cleansing solution for ears
  • The topical application of medication
  • Antibiotics and anti-inflammatories can be taken orally

7. Head or Inner Ear Injury

Dogs can also lose their sense of balance and coordination due to head injuries or inner ear injuries. There is the possibility that your dog has a concussion or damage to its inner ear. 

Symptoms

  • Deficiency in balance
  • Heavily panting
  • Reflexes slowed
  • Appetite Change
  • Pupils with larger pupils
  • Feelings of anxiety
  • Reluctance to lie down.

Common Causes

  • Accident involving a vehicle
  • A dog altercation
  • Falling

Possible Treatments

  • A bandage on the ear
  • Medication for pain
  • Oxygen
  • Fluids IV
  • Water and salt-expelling medications
  • Steroids
  • Severe cases may require surgery

8. Brain Inflammation

Inflammation of the brain, known also as encephalitis, can affect dogs for a variety of reasons. If identified early and treated aggressively, encephalitis can often be cured or mitigated. Encephalitis is more common in young and middle-aged dogs, as well as smaller breeds. 

Symptoms

  • Balance loss
  • Sessions
  • Feeling disorientated
  • Behavior changes
  • Circulating
  • Pain in the neck, especially the cervical spine
  • Fever occurs occasionally

Common Causes

  • Infections of the brain caused by bacteria, viruses, fungi, or parasites
  • Illnesses that compromise immunity

Possible Treatments

Inflammation of the brain can be treated in several ways, depending on the cause:

  • Antibiotics
  • Medication to treat fungal infections
  • Suppressing the immune system with medications
  • Taking steroids

9. Vestibular Disease

The vestibular disease usually affects older dogs and is connected to the brain and inner ear, leading to sudden, non-progressive loss of balance and coordination. After several weeks, the symptoms will usually disappear on their own.

Symptoms

  • Loss of equilibrium suddenly
  • Feeling disorientated
  • A tilted head
  • Flickering of the eyes
  • Falling or leaning in the direction of the head tilt

Common Causes

  • The middle ear or the inner ear is infected
  • Medications that are toxic to the ear
  • An injury or trauma to the body
  • Those with tumors
  • Insomnia and hypothyroidism

Possible Treatments

  • Fluids IV
  • Stabilizers
  • Antinausea medication
  • Antibiotics

10. Wobbler Syndrome

Wobbler syndrome is a disease of the neck that primarily affects large breeds, particularly Doberman pinschers.

Symptoms

  • An unbalanced state of affairs
  • Coordination issues
  • Atrophic Muscles
  • Knocking over
  • Having neck pain
  • Weaknesses

Common Causes

Wobblers syndrome has not yet been linked to a known cause. Although some believe genetics may play a role, there is no evidence to support that claim.

Possible Treatments

  • Medication and pain management
  • Medications that reduce inflammation
  • Restrictions on activities
  • Using a chest harness instead of a neck leash
  • Anesthesia

11. Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD)

There are many degenerative diseases that can cause pain and mobility problems in your dog, such as IDD, slipped discs, bulging discs, and herniated discs.

Symptoms

  • Movement is affected to some extent
  • Stumbling
  • The way he walks is peculiar
  • Incapacity 
  • Weaknesses
  • Having a stiff neck
  • Having a backache
  • Crying or yelling when picked up or handled
  • Shivering
  • Playing or running with reluctance

Common Causes

  • Physical trauma that has been sustained over time (e.g. jumping onto the couch, hard landings, etc.)
  • Getting old
  • A serious injury

Possible Treatments

  • anti-pain medication
  • Medications that reduce inflammation
  • Rest in cages
  • Therapy through physical activity
  • Operation

12. Stroke

Dogs with strokes are less common than dogs with the other injuries and illnesses listed, but they can still occur. Take your dog to the vet immediately if you suspect they are having a stroke or have just had one.

Symptoms

  • An unbalanced state of affairs
  • A tilted head
  • Circulating
  • I’m falling apart
  • Persistent loss of vision

Common Causes

  • Clots of blood
  • Having high blood pressure
  • Blood loss
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • The disease of the kidneys
  • Migration of worms

Possible Treatments

Although there is no specific treatment for stroke damage already done, your vet will investigate the underlying cause of the stroke and, if possible, treat it to prevent future strokes.

Conclusion

It is best to take your dog to the veterinarian if they show symptoms of any of these conditions.

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The information in this article is meant to be informative, but only your veterinarian can provide a detailed diagnosis for your dog and its particular situation.

To help your vet be able to treat your dog most effectively, list all the symptoms your dog is experiencing, when they began, and how often they occur before your appointment.

If you want to read more about dogs health tips, read here: Dog Health Tips and Tricks.

Why Is My Dog Stumbling Front Legs? (Watch Video)

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