Dogs who drag their back legs are common, but it’s not something you should ignore.
It can be a sign of pain or injury that needs to be taken care of as soon as possible.
Most dogs who drag their back legs do so because they have an itch.
This is one of the most common reasons why dogs drag their back legs, which means you need to pay close attention to any unusual behavior your pet displays.
Possible Reasons Why Your Dog Might Be Dragging His Back Legs
The most common reason for a dog dragging his back legs is an itch.
There are other causes too, though.
Here they are:
A muscle spasm
Foreign body stuck in paw
If you notice your dog dragging her back legs, it’s important to understand the possible causes before you do anything about it.
If you don’t know what to look out for, then take your dog to see a vet right away.
1. Excessive Rubbing
The most obvious way to test whether your dog has an itch is to rub her paws over rough surfaces, like carpet.
If she starts licking her paws, then this could indicate excessive rubbing.
Itching is an uncomfortable feeling, and if your dog is repeatedly scratching herself, she might end up with skin irritation, which will require medical treatment.
2. An Allergy
Allergic reactions happen when the immune system recognizes an allergen as foreign.
This leads to inflammation and swelling of the affected area.
As a result, the affected areas become red, swollen, and painful.
This type of reaction can also affect the eyes, ears, nose, throat, mouth, and even the genitals.
If your dog is allergic to fleas, ticks, pollen, mites, or dust, she might start itching all over her body.
She may also develop a rash on her belly and chest, which is a sign of atopy.
You should get your dog checked by a veterinarian if you suspect she has allergies.
He will perform tests to confirm the diagnosis.
3. Chronic Pain
Some dogs suffer from chronic pain.
They keep doing things they shouldn’t be doing because they feel bad whenever they stop.
Most often, these dogs have arthritis.
They need to learn how to live with the symptoms, so they can avoid further problems.
If your dog is suffering from chronic pain, he might drag his back legs.
This is because it hurts him to walk normally, so he does everything he can to ease the discomfort.
4. A Muscle Spasm
Muscle twitching is called a spasm.
Some people think it’s normal, but it isn’t.
If your dog is experiencing a muscle spasm, he might drag his back legs.
Usually, this happens after strenuous exercise.
When the muscles contract, they can cause pain and stiffness.
If you notice your dog dragging his back legs, it’s best to rest him until he calms down.
Sciatica refers to pain caused by nerve compression in the sciatic nerve.
Dogs can suffer from this condition too.
It usually affects older dogs, especially those who spend most of their time lying down.
If your dog is dragging her back legs, it could mean she has sciatica.
This is a serious condition that requires immediate veterinary treatment.
When your dog suffers from neuritis, she experiences burning pain in her hindquarters.
This pain might spread to the lower back, buttocks, thighs, and knees.
Sometimes, she might even lose control of her bladder or bowels.
She could also experience difficulty walking.
If your dog is dragging her back legs, this might be a sign of neuritis.
7. Neurological Disorder
Your dog might be dragging her back legs because of neurological disorders.
These conditions can cause changes in coordination, balance, and movement.
They can affect different parts of the nervous system, including the brain, spinal cord, or peripheral nerves.
Dogs with neurological disorders might display abnormal behaviors such as circling, head-shaking, tail-wagging, stumbling, falling, or crawling.
In severe cases, your dog might even lose control of her limbs altogether.
Bacteria, viruses, and fungi can infect your dog’s body.
When this happens, her immune system becomes compromised.
The infection can spread throughout her body, causing various health issues.
One of the most common infections affecting dogs is ringworm.
If your dog is dragging her back legs, this could be a sign of ringworm.
It occurs when fungus grows on her skin, causing hair loss and redness.
To treat ringworm, you must remove the affected hairs with clippers or scissors.
Then, apply antifungal creams to prevent further growth of the fungus.
9. Inflammatory Disease
Inflammatory diseases are a group of conditions that involve inflammation of the tissues.
One example is arthritis.
Arthritis affects joints, bones, cartilage, ligaments, tendons, and muscles in both humans and dogs.
It tends to increase gradually over many years.
If your dog is dragging his back legs, this could be a symptom of inflammatory disease.
In addition to joint pain, she might experience weight loss, lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea, fever, lameness, or excessive thirst.
Tumors can occur anywhere in the body, but they commonly grow in the kidneys, pancreas, lymph nodes, abdomen, or liver.
They can also form inside the brain or spinal cord.
They can be benign (noncancerous) or malignant (cancerous).
If your dog is dragging her back legs, you should take her to the vet to find out if there is any mass present.
A fracture is a break in the bone.
It can be caused by a direct blow or by repeated stress.
It can also be the result of a fall or a car accident.
It’s easy to confuse a broken leg with a sprained ankle, so always consult a vet if you suspect your dog has a broken bone.
12. Foreign Bodies Stuck in Paw
Sometimes, foreign bodies can get stuck in your dog’s paw.
This can lead to abscesses or infection.
If your dog is dragging her back legs, you should consult a vet immediately.
They will help you remove the object.
When You Should Worry and Take Your Dog to the Vet
If your dog shows any signs of discomfort, such as dragging his back legs, he may also be showing some other symptoms too.
Unexplained bleeding from the eyes or nose
If you notice these things in your pet, contact your vet immediately.
How to Diagnose Why Your Dog Is Dragging His Back Legs
There are several different causes of dragging your dog’s back legs.
Some of them don’t require medical treatment at all while others may require immediate veterinary attention.
Your dog might be dragging his back legs due to a skin infection such as ringworm or fleas.
In this case, your vet will likely prescribe a topical medication or oral medicine to treat the condition.
If your dog is dragging his back legs due to arthritis, he may be in severe pain.
Arthritis in the hock joint (the joint between the foot and leg) can cause your dog to drag his back legs.
He may experience limping, stiffness, or even swelling in the affected area.
If your dog has arthritis, he will need regular treatments until it goes away completely.
Another reason why your dog could be dragging his back legs is if he has hip dysplasia.
Hip dysplasia occurs when the ball-and-socket joints in the hips become deformed.
This often leads to limpness and pain in the rear end.
If your dog has hip dysplasia, he may also experience difficulty getting up from sitting down.
As long as your dog’s hip dysplasia doesn’t affect his walking ability, there’s no need to worry about him dragging his back legs.
It’s normal for dogs to scratch themselves on occasion.
However, if your dog is scratching excessively, rubbing himself against things, or licking his paws constantly, you should take him to the vet immediately.
These behaviors can indicate a serious problem like urticaria or dermatitis.
Urticaria is a skin rash caused by itching, while dermatitis is an inflammation of the skin.
If your dog is dragging his back legs because he has an ear infection, it’s best to see your veterinarian right away.
Ear infections can be painful and lead to inflammation in the ears, which can result in drooling and scratching.
The good news is that ear infections usually go away quickly with proper treatment.
Treatment Options for Dogs Who Drag Their Back Legs
The first step in treating your dog’s dragging his back legs is to determine if there is an underlying cause.
If your dog has been dragging his back legs for a while and there are no signs of discomfort, then this could be nothing more than a habit.
However, if your dog shows signs of discomfort—such as limping or favoring one leg—then he may have an issue with his back legs.
There are several different causes for this type of behavior, including hip dysplasia, arthritis, cruciate ligament damage, and even cancer.
If your dog has hip dysplasia, then you should take him to see a veterinarian immediately.
Hip dysplasia occurs when the cartilage covering the ball-shaped end of the femur (the thigh bone) develops abnormally.
This can lead to joint pain and lameness.
Arthritis is another common reason for dragging your dog’s back legs.
In this case, the bones become inflamed and painful, leading to stiffness and pain in the joints.
When this happens, your dog will favor one side of the body over the other, resulting in dragging.
Cruciate ligament damage is also a common cause of dragging your dog’s back legs.
In this case, either the front or rear cruciate ligaments are damaged, causing your dog to limp or drag one leg when walking.
Finally, cancer is the last thing on our list as a reason why a dog might drag its back legs.
However, if your dog has a tumor on the spine or spinal cord, it could be a factor.
This type of tumor can result in dragging the affected leg.
How to Prevent Your Dog from Dragging His Back Legs in the Future
If your dog starts dragging his back legs, he may also display other symptoms such as limping or favoring one leg over the other.
You might notice that he has trouble getting up on his hind legs and walks with a limp, or even falls down when walking.
These are all signs that your dog is in pain, and if you don’t take action fast enough, it could lead to serious problems.
Diagnosis of the Problem
The first thing you need to do if your dog is dragging his back legs is to make sure there isn’t anything wrong with him physically.
For example, if your dog is pulling at his fur, this could mean he is scratching himself.
Look around your house and see if you can find anything that he could be chewing on.
A lot of times dogs will chew on their toys, which can cause them to drag their back legs.
Make sure you check under furniture, in cabinets, and behind appliances to see what else your dog may be chewing on.
Next, look at whether your dog has a problem with his paws.
If he doesn’t wear any shoes, then inspect his feet carefully.
He may be having issues with his pads, which can become irritated easily.
If you notice any swelling or redness, it’s important to get it checked out right away.
It could be a sign of an infection.
Treating Your Dog’s Pain
Once you’ve ruled out physical causes for your dog’s dragging his back legs, you still need to treat the underlying issue.
There are several ways to help your dog feel better, including treating any infections or removing any parasites.
But before you start treating your dog’s pain, it’s important to understand how to prevent your dog from dragging his back legs in the future.
Some solutions require a little more work than others, but they all provide relief to your dog.
What to Do If Your Dog Continues to Drag His Back Legs
If you notice that your dog continues to drag his back legs when he walks, this could mean that he has an itch on his back.
You will want to make sure that you take him for a visit to the vet if he starts dragging his back legs.
This might also indicate that he is having difficulty walking and may need some help with mobility issues.
You can find out what kind of itch your dog has by looking at his body.
Look at his ears, paws, belly, and tail. Is there anything sticking out?
You might see fleas, ticks, or other parasites.
If your dog has any of these, you will need to treat them immediately before they become more serious health problems.
If your dog is scratching his back legs while walking, he’s likely doing so to remove a dead skin cell or two.
This is normal for dogs, especially older ones.
However, if he drags his back legs for longer than a few seconds, then it could be a sign of discomfort.
He might even yelp or whine while going about his business.
The best way to prevent your dog from dragging his back legs is to keep him clean.
Make sure that he gets plenty of exercise every day.
This will encourage him to use his muscles and get rid of the build-up of waste matter in his system.
That being said, if your dog is still dragging his back legs after all of this, then you need to bring him into the vet.
Do I need to worry if my dog keeps dragging his back legs?
If your dog drags her back legs constantly and doesn’t seem to stop when you try to distract her, then yes, you need to take action immediately.
You may be able to treat this problem on your own by using some natural remedies, but if you want to avoid more serious issues, then you will need to see a vet.
The good news is that there are many types of conditions that can cause a dog to drag its back legs.
How Can I Tell If My Dog Is in Pain?
Before you can determine whether your dog has an itch, you need to know how to tell if she is in pain.
This involves watching for signs such as:
How Long Will It Take to Heal?
One of the most important things you can do if your dog keeps dragging her back legs is to get them checked out by a veterinarian as soon as you notice the symptoms.
This will help them find out what exactly is wrong with your pet.
Once you have done this, it will be up to the vet to decide the best course of action.
However, if you don’t seek medical treatment right away, then you could end up with permanent damage.