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What Causes Sudden Loss of Mobility in Senior Dogs and How Can It Be Treated?


Dear VetBabble: My Senior Dog’s Sudden Loss of Mobility: Cause and Treatment?

My beloved, 15-year-old West Highland Terrier unexpectedly lost the sensation in his back legs, leading to quite a few stumbles and falls. Thankfully, my vet prescribed Prednisone, and it’s already yielding significant improvements. However, I’d like to understand more about what may have led to this sudden challenge and how I can best support my ageing companion in the future. Could you provide some insights?

Understanding Canine Ageing and Mobility Challenges

Dear pet parent, firstly, thank you for entrusting us with your concerns. Witnessing one’s pet grapple with mobility issues can be unsettling; however, we’re here to shed more light on the reasons behind this change and helpful interventions. As dogs transition to their senior years, they are prone to a number of health conditions that may impact their mobility, balance, and general well-being. Thereby, what you’ve noticed in your Westie may be a symptom of age-related issues, such as Vestibular Disease, arthritis, or even potential seizures.

The onset of momentary unsteadiness, circling, or frequent falling may be indicative of Vestibular Disease frequently associated with ‘Old Dog Syndrome’. While this can appear alarming, many dogs often improve within a few days to weeks with supportive care and veterinary guidance.

Arthritis and Other Potential Culprits

Equally, arthritis is a common culprit in senior dogs, causing discomfort in their joints, and subsequently, movement challenges. Our detailed guide on Arthritis in Dogs will provide a more in-depth understanding of this condition and its management.

Your mention of lingering weakness in the hind legs may also raise a question regarding neurological issues, such as seizures. These can sometimes present in subtle ways, including intermittent weakness or collapse. Refer to our comprehensive overview of Seizures in Dogs to help you spot potential warning signs and understand the steps involved in diagnosis and treatment.

Next Steps to Take

If you notice intermittent limping or prefer to stay proactive about potential mobility issues, our article, Why Is My Dog Limping? When to Worry and What to Do, will make for essential reading. On a positive note, your Westie’s recovery with Prednisone indicates a strong resilience. Please continue this prescribed medication and consider speaking to your vet about a comprehensive senior care plan. This can involve regular vet check-ups, a balanced diet, moderate but consistent exercise, and plenty of TLC.

The golden years of our pets’ life can indeed bring about unforeseen challenges. Nonetheless, with a keen eye on their changes, a nurturing spirit, and ongoing veterinary support, we can help them age gracefully and comfortably.

Remember, your Westie is lucky to have you by his side, steering through the sunset years with care and lots of love. Stay strong, and keep us posted on his journey!

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