Neurological Symptom: Dragging Hind Legs

Pets cannot verbally describe their neurological symptoms, but some presentations are very obvious. Partial paralysis, for instance, may involve your pet dragging their hind legs. If you see your pet is unable to move their hind legs, bring them to The Animal Neurology & Imaging Center (The ANIC) for specialized neurological care.

Types of Leg Dragging in Dogs and Cats

For most pets, leg dragging is obvious—your pet has full mobility in their front legs and paws, but both back legs lie flat against the floor and are dragged as your pet makes forward movement. Occasionally, hind-leg dragging may also involve the scuffing or dragging of one or both front legs. Very rarely a dog or cat may have full mobility of hind legs while dragging (or pushing) front paws/legs.

What Dragging Legs May Indicate

Most cases of hind leg dragging is the result of a spinal cord issue or injury. However, what the specific problem may be requires careful neurological examination and, possibly, diagnostic imaging.

Hind leg dragging is rarely the symptom of another medical condition, but other medical issues can present with similar symptoms, such as:

  • Limping
  • Wobbling
  • Scuffing toes

Pet owners do not have to properly assess whether their pet’s mobility issues are paralysis or another type of gait abnormality. The neurologists at The ANIC will be able to accurately describe and diagnose the symptom and determine the next steps for proper care.

Tips for Transporting Your Pet

Because hind leg dragging may indicate a spinal cord injury, it is important to stabilize your pet’s back and head to the greatest extent possible. When transporting your pet to our clinic, please:

  • Do your best to minimize jostling while getting your pet in/out of your vehicle
  • Secure your pet in a kennel if possible
  • Position your pet in the kennel or on the seat in a way that seems to provide the most comfort

Because your pet may experience pain with movement, take care to prevent bites.

Please contact us to schedule an appointment or to seek emergency service.

Hind leg dragging is a sign of partial paralysis. If your pet is presenting this symptom,  contact The ANIC for emergency service.

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