The Most Common Causes of Pet Mobility Issues

It’s heartbreaking when your beloved pet is having difficulty moving around or is unable to do things they used to enjoy. Mobility issues in pets are a common challenge that many pet owners face. Often, you can effectively treat or manage the causes of these problems with the right information and access to veterinary care. Learn the most common causes of pet mobility issues below so you can better understand how to prevent them or how to best help your pet if they experience them.

Arthritis and Joint Degeneration

One of the most frequent causes of mobility problems among pets, especially as they age, is arthritis. This condition entails inflammation of the joints and can lead to pain, stiffness, and reduced range of motion. Osteoarthritis is more common in dogs, whereas cats are more prone to rheumatoid arthritis. To help alleviate pain and improve joint function, consider the following interventions:

  • Weight management: Extra weight can strain joints and exacerbate arthritis symptoms. Maintain your pet’s ideal weight through a healthy diet and regular exercise.
  • Joint supplements: Glucosamine, chondroitin, and other supplements can promote cartilage health and reduce inflammation in the joints.
  • Pain medication: Consult your veterinarian to determine if prescription pain management is appropriate for your pet’s condition.
  • Physical therapy and massage: Regular physical therapeutic interventions can help keep your pet’s joints functioning smoothly.

Hip Dysplasia

Hip dysplasia is a genetic condition characterized by abnormal development of the hip joint, leading to arthritis and pain. This condition is more prevalent in large-breed dogs, like German shepherds, Labrador retrievers, and golden retrievers. Early detection and intervention are crucial to ensure the best possible outcome for your pet. Treatments for hip dysplasia may include the following:

  • Weight management: Just as you would for arthritis, keeping your pet at their ideal weight can alleviate unnecessary pressure on the joint.
  • Modified exercise: Low-impact exercises, such as swimming, can benefit pets with hip dysplasia.
  • Surgery: In some cases, surgical intervention may be necessary to repair the joint and restore stability.
  • Pet wheelchairs: For pets with limited mobility due to hip dysplasia, a wheelchair can significantly improve their quality of life.

Neurological Conditions

Intervertebral disc disease (IVDD), degenerative myelopathy, and other neurological conditions can also result in pet mobility issues. These conditions can lead to nerve damage, resulting in weakness, paralysis, or loss of coordination. Here are some possible treatment options for neurological mobility issues:

  • Medications: Pain medications and anti-inflammatory drugs can help manage symptoms and control inflammation.
  • Physical therapy: Regular physical therapy can help strengthen muscles and improve coordination.
  • Acupuncture and alternative therapies: Some pets with neurological conditions respond well to complementary treatments like acupuncture.
  • Pet wheelchairs: For pets with limited or absent mobility, a wheelchair can provide the necessary support and allow them to continue enjoying their lives.


Obesity in pets can significantly impair their mobility. Excess weight puts additional stress on the joints and muscles, increases the risk of diseases such as arthritis, and can lead to general lethargy and unwillingness to move. It is a highly preventable condition that requires a conscious effort from the pet owner to ensure a balanced diet and regular physical activity for their pet. These are some treatment options for obesity in pets:

  • Dietary adjustments: Consult with your veterinarian about a low-calorie, balanced diet for your pet.
  • Regular exercise: Daily walks and play sessions can help your pet burn calories and gain muscle.
  • Weight monitoring: Regular weight checks can help track progress and indicate whether an exercise or diet adjustment is necessary.
  • Treat management: Limit your pet’s treat intake and choose healthier alternatives when you do give them. Avoid table scraps as well!

Injuries (Sprains, Fractures, Etc.)

Accidents, rough play, or missteps during regular activities can lead to injuries. Sprains, fractures, ligament tears, or dislocated joints can all contribute to temporary or long-term mobility problems. While minor injuries may heal with rest and pain management, major ones may require surgical intervention and extensive post-operative care. Help your pet recover with the following solutions:

  • Rest and limited activity: Allowing your pet’s body time to heal is crucial. Limiting their activity can prevent further injury and speed up the healing process.
  • Pain medication: Your vet may prescribe pain relievers or anti-inflammatory medication to control pain and inflammation due to injuries.
  • Surgery: In case of severe injuries like fractures or torn ligaments, surgery might be necessary. This is typically followed by a recovery period involving rest and rehabilitation.
  • Physical therapy and rehabilitation: Post-injury rehab can help your pet regain strength, flexibility, and mobility. It may include exercises, massage, and hydrotherapy.

Old Age

The aging process is a natural cause of mobility issues in pets. As pets grow older, their bodies undergo various changes that can affect their mobility. Old age also brings about a natural slowdown in activity levels, and this decrease in physical activity can lead to stiffness and a loss of muscle mass. You should understand the effects of aging on your pet’s mobility to provide them with the necessary care and support. Here is how you can support an elderly pet:

  • Regular vet check-ups: Routine visits to the veterinarian can help detect any potential age-related issues early.
  • Moderate exercise: Regular, gentle exercise can help keep your pet’s joints flexible and maintain muscle mass.
  • Dietary adjustments: Senior pets may require a diet lower in calories but still rich in essential nutrients.
  • Comfortable living environment: Providing your pet with a comfortable living space, including soft bedding and easy access to resources, can make their daily life easier.

Now that you know about the most common causes of pet mobility issues, you can better understand how to support your pet and maintain their overall health and happiness. Remember to always speak with your pet’s veterinarian if you suspect any mobility issues. They will be able to provide you with the best course of treatment and solutions to help your furry friend.

If your pet could benefit from a mobility aid, such as a dog rear-leg wheelchair, do not hesitate to reach out to Best Friend Mobility. We would love to help you and empower your pet to remain active and engaged despite their limitations.

The Most Common Causes of Pet Mobility Issues