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Why Can’t My Dog Stand Up? Some Causes and Solutions

Last Updated on July 17, 2023 by Nurse Vicky

Why Can’t My Dog Stand Up? Some Causes and Solutions

Having a pet dog is an amazing experience; they’re not just pets but our best friends, family, and a beacon of unconditional love.

That’s why it’s particularly distressing when they fall ill. One common concern among pet parents is when their dog shows difficulty standing up. If you’ve been wondering, “Why can’t my dog stand up?”, you’re not alone.

This issue can be a sign of various underlying health problems. In this comprehensive guide, we will unravel the mystery behind your dog’s inability to stand, and provide solutions to help your four-legged friend regain their strength and vitality.

Understanding Your Dog’s Mobility

Mobility is a crucial aspect of your dog’s life. Dogs love to run, play, and explore their surroundings. They’re naturally active beings, and any form of restriction on their movement could indicate a health issue. Therefore, when your dog struggles to stand up, it’s crucial to take this matter seriously.

What Determines Your Dog’s Mobility?

Dogs, like humans, have a complex musculoskeletal system that controls their ability to move. This system includes muscles, bones, tendons, ligaments, and the nervous system. A problem in any of these areas could result in your dog facing difficulty while standing up.

Reasons Why Your Dog Can’t Stand Up

Several conditions could be responsible for your dog’s inability to stand. These might range from simple fatigue to serious health issues. Let’s discuss these in detail:


Osteoarthritis, also known as degenerative joint disease, is a common reason for dogs’ immobility, especially in older dogs. It’s a progressive disease affecting the cartilage within a dog’s joints, causing them to become inflamed and painful. This inflammation could lead to your dog having difficulty standing or walking.

Hip Dysplasia

Hip dysplasia is a genetic condition where a dog’s hip socket doesn’t fully cover the ball portion of the upper thighbone. It leads to instability and decreased range of motion. Large breed dogs, like German Shepherds and Labrador Retrievers, are more susceptible to this condition.

Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD)

Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD) is another possible cause for your dog’s inability to stand. It involves a disc in your dog’s spine rupturing or herniating, leaking its content into the spinal cord area.

Neurological Disorders

Neurological disorders

stand, there are several additional symptoms that could indicate an underlying issue. Keep an eye out for these signs:

Changes in Posture

An unusual posture or difficulty in maintaining balance can be a warning sign. For instance, your dog might lean to one side, walk with a hunched back, or have an unusual gait.

Lack of Appetite

A sick dog may show a decrease in appetite. If your dog suddenly becomes disinterested in food, it might be worth a visit to the vet.

Agitation or Unusual Behavior

Dogs in pain or discomfort often show signs of restlessness or agitation. If your dog is unusually irritable, aggressive, or displays a significant behavior change, it could be an indication of an underlying issue.

Diagnostic Tests for Dogs That Can’t Stand Up

It’s important to consult a vet if you notice your dog having difficulty standing up. The vet might recommend the following diagnostic tests:

Physical Examination

A thorough physical examination can help identify any abnormalities in your dog’s body, such as swelling, pain, or deformities.


X-rays are essential for evaluating your dog’s bones and joints. They can reveal issues like arthritis, fractures, or hip dysplasia.

CT Scan or MRI

In some cases, a CT scan or MRI might be necessary to provide a more detailed view of your dog’s skeletal and nervous systems.

Blood Tests

Blood tests can detect underlying conditions such as infection or inflammation in your dog’s body.

Treatment Options for Dogs That Can’t Stand Up

The treatment for a dog that can’t stand up depends on the underlying cause. Here are some common treatment methods:


Your vet might prescribe anti-inflammatory drugs, pain relievers, or disease-specific medications.

Physical Therapy

Physical therapy can significantly improve your dog’s mobility and strength. It includes exercises, massages, and sometimes hydrotherapy.


In severe cases, especially for conditions like hip dysplasia or IVDD, surgery might be required.

Preventative Measures

Prevention is always better than cure. Here are some steps you can take to reduce the chances of your dog facing mobility issues:

Regular Exercise

Regular and appropriate exercise is crucial for your dog’s overall health and mobility. It helps maintain a healthy weight, which is beneficial in preventing arthritis and hip dysplasia.

Proper Diet

A balanced and nutritious diet is vital for maintaining your dog’s health. It helps ensure that your dog’s body functions optimally, and reduces the risk of obesity, a significant contributor to mobility issues.

Regular Vet Check-ups

Regular vet check-ups can help identify any potential health issues before they become severe.

Frequently Asked Questions

 Why is my dog suddenly having trouble standing?

Sudden difficulty standing in dogs could indicate a serious issue, such as a neurological disorder or an injury. Immediate veterinary attention is recommended.

 Can a dog recover from not being able to stand?

The recovery of a dog that can’t stand depends on the underlying cause. Some conditions can be managed with medication and therapy, leading to significant improvement.

 What breeds are most prone to hip dysplasia?

Large breed dogs such as German Shepherds, Labrador Retrievers, and Golden Retrievers are more susceptible to hip dysplasia.

 Can arthritis in dogs be treated?

Yes, arthritis in dogs can be managed with the right medications, a healthy diet, regular exercise, and sometimes, physical therapy.

How can I help my dog with intervertebral disc disease?

Intervertebral disc disease (IVDD) treatment varies based on severity. It could involve medication, physical therapy, or surgery.

 How can I improve my dog’s mobility?

Improving a dog’s mobility can be achieved through regular exercise, maintaining a healthy weight, physical therapy, and medication if necessary.

What should I feed my dog to keep him healthy and active?

A balanced diet rich in protein, healthy fats, and fiber can help maintain your dog’s health and activity levels.

How often should I take my dog for a check-up?

For adult dogs, an annual check-up is typically sufficient. However, puppies, senior dogs, or dogs with health conditions may need more frequent check-ups.

 Can I give human pain relief to my dog?

No, never administer human medication to your dog without consulting a vet. Some human medications can be toxic to dogs.

How can I tell if my dog is in pain?

Dogs in pain might show signs of restlessness, loss of appetite, unusual behavior, or changes in movement or posture. If you suspect your dog is in pain, consult a vet immediately.


When your dog can’t stand up, it’s natural to feel worried and helpless. However, understanding the potential causes and solutions can empower you to make informed decisions about your pet’s health.

Early diagnosis and treatment can significantly improve your dog’s quality of life. Remember, our furry friends rely on us for their well-being. Being proactive and vigilant about their health will ensure they lead a happy, active, and comfortable life.


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