What Causes Our Pets' Loss of Mobility?

There are many causes that can lead our furry pals—dogs and occasionally, cats—the loss of mobility (particularly in the hind legs).

There are the accidental injuries that can result in either temporary or permanent mobility issues such as sprains, dislocations, muscle pain, bone fractures, tendon tears, nerve damage, and amputation. Then, there are also diseases that may affect our pets’ overall health, quality of life, long-term care, and mobilty. Below are some of the most common culprits.

Degenerative Myelopathy (DM)

Most common in larger dogs, degenerative myelopathy is the slow, progressive, non-inflammatory degeneration of the spinal chord’s white matter. This condition is often found in dogs older that 5 years and manifests in non-painful weakness in the hind legs that leads to an unbalanced gait. The symptoms usually progress to lower-end of body paralysis in the span of six months to three years; acuteness of the symptoms varies.


  • Osteoarthritis

    Osteoarthritis is one of the most common types of arthritis in dogs. Commonly referred to as DJD or degenerative joint disease, this is the gradual and lifelong deterioration of the cartilage around the joints that older dogs are susceptible to. A pet suffering from osteoarthritis may show occasional lameness, lessened activity, and stiffness in gait that is aggravated by exercise.

  • Infectious Arthritis

    Other types of arthritis can strike our pets. Next to osteoarthritis, the most common is infectious arthritis. This type of arthritis is not limited to senior dogs; it can affect pets of all ages. Infectious arthritis is the result of organisms entering a joint and multiplying, causing swelling and pain. It can affect a single joint or multiple joints. When a single joint is affected, it can generally be traced to a wound infection, whereas pain and swelling in multiple joints can point to bacteria coming from an active infection from another part of the body that has been carried in the bloodstream into the joints.

Spondylosis Deformans

This is the non-inflammatory, degenerative condition in the spinal column in which the edges of the vertebrae form bone spurs. These bone spurs may sometimes fuse together forming what might seem like bony bridges along the spine. Spondylosis in dogs often show up behind the chest area and on the upper edges of the vertebrae of the lower back; cats, meanwhile, are often affected in the vertebrae of the chest. These bony growths usually cause pain, limited motion, and stiffness.

Hip Dysplasia

This condition is characterized by an abnormal hip joint. This is a congenital problem that features a poor connection between the “ball and socket” within the hip joint. This malformation that manifests in the poor fit or looseness in the joint leads to the progressive deterioration and loss of function of the hip joints.

This most common of skeletal ailments in canines is not gender specific but it does show a definite bias toward certain breeds. The larger breeds are, unfortunately, most commonly struck and rarely do the smaller breed of dogs suffer this ailment. The onset of hip dysplasia manifests while a dog is still young and has yet to reach physical maturity. Signs of hip dysplasia include a swaying gait, spasmodic or persistent hind leg lameness, loss of muscle mass in hindquarters, increase in size of shoulder muscles, decreased activity, pain, reduced range of motion in the hip, and difficulty in rising.

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