Why is My Puppy Walking Funny? [Solve the Mystery]

Zack Keithy, our author, is a certified veterinarian technician (UC Blue Ash) for over 6 years (contact him here). The articles written here are based on his expertise and experience, combined with a review by our expert vet reviewers including Dr M. Tarantino. Learn more about us here.

Are you a new puppy parent who’s noticed that your furry friend is walking funny?

Don’t worry, you’re not alone!

Many puppy owners experience this issue as their pups grow and develop. Some might find their puppy walking funny to be a cute thing, but is it?

In this blog post, we’ll explore some common causes and offer some solutions to help your pup get back on track.

By the end of this post, you’ll have a better understanding of your puppy’s behavior and know how to help them stay happy and healthy.

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why is my puppy not walking properly

What is Lameness in Dogs?

Lameness in dogs is when your dog struggles to use his/her limbs effectively. It is often due to an underlying injury.

Dogs of all ages can be affected.

When dogs experience lameness, it is most often caused by a strain or sprain of soft tissue, joint injury, dislocation, or fracture.

Many conditions can also cause lameness in dogs, such as osteoarthritis or hip dysplasia, resulting in them not wanting to walk in certain directions at times.

Doggy says, consider reading this too: Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Not Sleeping at Night?

What are the symptoms of an abnormal gait in dogs?

Gait refers to the pattern of movement; a dog’s gait pattern involves the movement of all limbs during walking and running.

When your dog’s gait is considered abnormal, it means that his/ her gait does not follow the normal/ expected pattern of movement.

Gait abnormalities include:

  • limping
  • loss of balance
  • Shuffling
  • dragging a limb/ limbs
  • Incoordination
  • Uneven weight distribution between limbs.

Doggy says, you might be keen to read this too: Do dogs go through terrible twos?

What Are the Signs That Your Dog is in Pain?

Several signs can indicate that your dog is in pain; here are a few that you should look out for

  • Change in behavior: Your dog may become aggressive or antisocial when in pain or experiencing discomfort. If you notice a behavior change like this, something is likely wrong.
  • Change in habits: The following habitual changes should raise concerns: loss of appetite, increased sleep duration, and decreased levels of activity.
  • Barking & yelping: If your dog is in pain, he/ she will likely try to communicate that with you to seek help.
  • Increased heart rate and rapid shallow breathing can also indicate that your dog is suffering. These symptoms suggest a state of pain or discomfort and should be taken seriously.
  • Lameness: If your dog struggles to walk properly this often indicates something is wrong and your dog is in pain.
  • Signs of shock such as trembling or shaking show that your dog is experiencing pain or fear.
  • Excessive licking: This often takes place over the affected/ painful area to soothe the discomfort. You should assess the area that is being licked and contact your vet if necessary.

Doggy recommends you to read this too: Cocker Spaniel Not Sleeping at Night?

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What Are the Main Causes of Puppies Walking Funny?

One of the common causes of a puppy walking abnormally is vestibular dysfunction.

It refers to the impairment of the functioning of the inner ear that allows for adequate balance.

In most cases, it is caused by infections to the inner ear, trauma, tumors, and hypothyroidism.

Symptoms of vestibular dysfunction include poor balance, incoordination, and abnormal gait.

The sections below will explore some other causes of your puppy walking funny.

Do you know what to do if your dog doesn’t pee while traveling?

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Wobblers syndrome

Wobbler’s syndrome is characterized by spinal cord and spinal nerve root compression in the cervical spine.

This compression causes neck pain that is often accompanied by nervous system deficits.

Dogs affected by this syndrome have a ‘wobbly gait’ due to nervous system deficits and pain.

Nutritional imbalances

Good nutrition is needed for adequate growth and function, and several disorders can be a result of nutritional imbalances.

Growth disorders are a common result of nutritional imbalances.

When dogs have either too much or too little calcium in their diet, during early life, they may develop joint disease and increased/decreased rates of bone growth.

This can affect the way your dog walks, especially in its growing-up years.

Luxating Patellas

A luxating patella is a form of knee dislocation, where the knee bone pops out of place.

The knee bone can also pop back in on its own due to a change in movement.

This can be seen in dogs with a temporary limp that seems almost instantaneously cured before your dog even notices.

Hypoglycemia

Hypoglycemia refers to abnormally low blood glucose levels.

A dog has Hypoglycemia if he/she has a blood glucose concentration of less than 3.3 mmol/L.

This condition can cause your dog to exhibit sluggish movements due to decreased energy levels.

Infections

Injuries and surgical sites create an ideal environment for infection.

This can cause both pain and inflammation in the area, causing pain and affecting your puppy’s ability to walk normally.

Hip dysplasia

Hip Dysplasia causes loosening of the hip joint, which results in pain, discomfort, and dysfunction.

This condition can cause your dog to walk with a pronounced limp, which can be difficult to manage.

Some dog breeds are more predisposed to having this condition, such as the Great Dane, English Bulldog, and German Shepherd.

Legg-Calve-Perthes disease

Legg-Calve-Perthes disease is a condition that causes a disruption in blood supply to the hip bone, causing degeneration of the hip joint.

The hip joint is the connection between your dog’s femur and pelvis.

When the blood supply is disrupted, it causes the bone to be replaced with cartilage, which then begins to wear down over time.

The end result of this condition is a painful limp that can affect your dog’s ability to walk normally.

This disease is most common in small breeds, such as Dachshunds and Cocker Spaniels, and often strikes between the ages of 4 and 12 months.

Panosteitis

Panosteitis is an inflammatory condition affecting the bones in dogs as they grow.

It is quite commonplace among young, growing dogs and is characterized by inflammation of the long bones in the legs, which can cause pain and lameness.

The exact cause of panosteitis is not well understood, but it is thought to be related to rapid bone growth and abnormal bone metabolism.

Treatment of panosteitis typically involves managing the symptoms with pain medication and rest.

In most cases, the condition will resolve on its own as the dog matures.

Congenital abnormalities

Some puppies have congenital abnormalities that only become noticeable later in life when they start walking.

These abnormalities are present at birth and can affect the bones, joints, or muscles of the legs, resulting in difficulty walking or standing.

Some common congenital abnormalities that can cause lameness in dogs include elbow dysplasia and deformities of the feet or toes.

Treatment of lameness due to congenital abnormalities will depend on the specific condition and may involve surgery, physical therapy, or other forms of medical management.

Ate the wrong thing

If a puppy ingests something that is toxic or indigestible, it can irritate the gastrointestinal tract and cause abdominal pain.

This can lead to lethargy, loss of appetite, and difficulty walking or standing.

In severe cases, the puppy may need to be treated with medications to control vomiting and diarrhea, and supportive care to prevent dehydration.

Do you know what does it mean when your dog keeps trying to poop after pooping?

Nervous system diseases

These conditions can affect the nerves that control the muscles of the legs, leading to weakness, difficulty walking, and loss of coordination.

Some common nervous system diseases that can cause lameness in puppies include distemper, rabies, and encephalitis.

They cause incoordination, clumsiness, and poor balance, which impact your dog’s ability to move normally.

Drank alcohol

Alcohol has the same effect on you as it will on your puppy, causing abnormal gait and dysfunction.

It is very dangerous for puppies, as they are much more sensitive to its effects than adult dogs.

Alcohol can cause a range of symptoms in puppies, including vomiting, diarrhea, loss of coordination, and difficulty walking or standing.

In severe cases, alcohol poisoning can lead to coma and even death.

Keep the bottle out of their reach!

Doggy says, consider reading this too: Dog Pooping After Spaying – Common Issues

What Can You Do if Your Puppy is Walking Funny?

The first thing you should do if your puppy is walking funny is to look for any cuts and wounds, and also look under your puppy’s paws for thorns and burns.

Wounds, especially if they are on your dog’s limbs can cause your dog to walk funny to avoid being in pain.

If your dog does have any wounds make sure to clean and treat the area appropriately.

Although there may be normal reasons for your dog to be limping, persistent lameness is a concern and you should consult your vet.

Alternatively, you can first check out how to do a lameness exam on your dog.

When is Lameness in Dogs an Emergency?

If your furry best friend is suddenly unable to walk or stand, it could be a sign of a serious emergency.

Firstly, bleeding, trauma, fractures, dislocations, and extreme pain will require immediate attention.

I would advise you to seek the help of a vet if lameness occurs suddenly and lasts for a duration longer than 20 – 30 minutes.

If your dog is also showing other symptoms such as fever, vomiting, or loss of appetite, don’t wait for the problem to get worse – your dog’s health and well-being are at stake.

It’s always better to err on the side of caution and contact your veterinarian for advice.

They will be able to assess your dog’s condition and provide the necessary treatment to help them feel better and get back on their paws.

Doggy recommends you to read this too: Why Do Cavaliers Sleep on Your Head? Is This Real Love?

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is it normal for puppies to walk weirdly?

Puppies below 6 months have a slightly irregular gait, with their back legs facing more outward while running and general clumsiness caused by their excitable nature and developing coordination skills. After about 6 months, it is not normal for puppies to walk weirdly, and further inspection is required to determine if there is a medical condition.

Why is my dog walking weirdly with its back legs?

Your dog may be walking weirdly with its back legs due to many reasons, such as hip dysplasia, Luxating Patellas, Osteochondritis, and Legg-Calve-Perthes disease. If it persists, speak to a veterinarian to determine the cause of their abnormal gait and to determine the appropriate treatment.

What are the signs of Hip Dysplasia in puppies?

Signs of Hip Dysplasia in puppies include Lameness, Decreased levels of activity, Decreased range of motion, Swaying, Stiffness, and Difficulty with running, jumping, and stair climbing.

In Conclusion: Why is My Puppy Walking Funny?

It is indeed discerning when we see our little puppies behaving in ways that seem out of the ordinary.

The key thing for all dog owners alike is not to panic and inadvertently cause more stress to your dog and everyone around you.

Take a few minutes to check on your dog and observe its behavior for a while.

If the problem seems to persist or if your dog is in obvious pain, don’t hesitate to contact your vet for help.

Got a few more minutes? Consider reading more on dog behavior on our blog with articles such as potty training regression after spaying, why is your dog licking paws after grooming, my dog won’t move with cone on, and many more!

You’ve made it to the end, but I hope it’s not the end of our journey. We want to hear your voice! Share your thoughts, problems, suggestions, or anything related to your dog in the comments section. And don’t forget to join our newsletter today too.

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Zack Keithy
Zack Keithy

Hey, I'm Zack, the Chief Editor here. I was formerly a Certified Veterinary Technician (CVT) for a good 6 years before moving on to greener pastures. Right now, I am still heavily involved in dog parenting duties, and it is my desire to share all our knowledge with fellow dog owners out there! Connect with me on LinkedIn, or read more about Canine Care Central!

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