My dog is paralyzed


This is just the besstt week ... I came home from Canada and found my dear chocolate lab, Molly, paralyzed in her hind legs. husband said it came on over four days. Turns out she has horrible hip arthritis, but we basically knew that and had her on medications; the vet is hanging her hat on the x-ray showing arthritis but it looks like something neurological to me, maybe degenerative myelopathy.

I couldn't face putting Molly down right away; she's happy, pain-free, and completely normal, except that she can't walk. It's just too much to face with all the other stuff going on. So I'm cooking her a high-nutrient diet and husband and I started her on some steroids and daughter helps me take her outside to do her business. Maybe we'll see a miracle and she'll get something back (she does move her hind legs a little, she just has no strength). I've even ordered a dog wheelchair from a place in MA. At least, if it doesn't work out, we'll have done what we could. Am I crazy? :(

Hound dog

Nana's are Beautiful
You are most certainly not crazy. How about a 2nd opinion with another vet? Sounds neuro not really arthritis. Otherwise I'd think she'd be in an awful lot of pain.

I see you've already thought of the doggie wheelchair. :) But be sure to keep trying to coax her to walk too........after you make sure she somehow didn't injure her spine. Even severe buising of the spinal cord could cause such paralysis.......Hmmm does husband know what she was doing when it started??

Poor baby. :( As long as she's not suffering.....plenty of TLC is best.



Well-Known Member
Aw, poor puppy :<<< Do you know they have little carts for hind legs so that dogs can walk even if they are paralyzed? I've seen some special needs dogs who use them! Maybe you should ask about it. If she isn't suffering, it seems like a shame to put the angel down...


Active Member
That's got to be gut wrenching to see your friend like that. I sure hope you don't have to put her down.


Roll With It
It is totally NOT crazy to do what you can for a beloved family member! Especially when she is not in pain. And if your instincts say it looks like something neurological, then maybe a second opinion is a good idea.

I think helping her in and out is wonderful, and ordering the wheelchair is very sweet. I hope it arrives ASAP and she can use it for a while until her system repairs itself or you can figure out how to fix this.

Sending very gentle hugs. This has been an extremely rough week for you.



Well-Known Member
I'm so sorry...glad she isn't in pain. Also hoping for a miracle. Hugs from me and the Bud.


Apparently it came on overnight, after a night when the heat failed and our house got pretty cold. When husband got up in the morning it was 50 degrees in the house and the dog could stand, but she couldn't walk. Then over a couple of days she couldn't stand either.

The good news is that now she can stand for a little bit if we get her feet under her properly, and she can move her legs a little. So it's not complete paralysis, but it's some sort of neurological problem.

I'm pretty excited about the wheelchair. It takes two weeks to make them since they build each one custom for each dog, but they look well designed. A mechanical engineer started making them 20 years ago when his 10 year old Doberman became paralyzed. Until it arrives I've ordered a two-handled harness called 'Help 'Em Up' (or Help Me Up ??) to make it easier on our backs to help Molly outside. She weighs almost 80 pounds! But I really, really hope she does well with the wheelchair. She's such a happy, sweet-natured dog - a real treasure. I don't want to lose her too soon.
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Hound dog

Nana's are Beautiful
Hmmmm. Wonder if she could've curled up in an awkward position trying to stay warm and maybe pitched a nerve??

My Molly, who is now 8 no longer sleeps "curled up" if she can help it I've noticed. And when she does she's so stiff and her gait is really wobbly like she can't get her feet under her right. Most especially if it's really cold outside. Although if she has arthritis it must not bother her too much as yet.

I hope the cart/chair arrives soon. Such wonderful inventions. And keeping fingers crossed you continue to see improvement in her mobility. And I hope you have many more years with your sweet Molly.



call 911
I think that when we love our family - we don't love them conditionally. We just do. What you are doing for your kid is normal, not nuts. I'm glad to know that there are other people out there in this world that just don't think loving someone with fur is an oddity.

PROUD OF YOU and sending warm and furry prayers your way.

Massage ALSO helps - DF does massage on our big dog for his hurting hips can check with your vet (depends on the weight) Enteric coated aspirin can help with pain. Our dog gets 2 when we see him walk stiff. It also may help to put her on EFA and Fish oils...our vet tech with Molosser breeds swears by it.


Well-Known Member
Oh, Katya, poor Molly.
My dog has that problem, but hers is less severe. In humans it's much more painful. In dogs, it leads to a loss of function.
Our dog is on Rimadyl and Tramadol and it really helps her hip and leg mobility. She still poops all over though, and has no idea she is doing it.
Lots of people use doggie carts. You're in good company.


Well-Known Member
Awww. Poor Molly.
I hope the chair comes soon for her, and I agree with the others that you do what you do for family, whether fur-bearing or not.

Sending many gentle hugs, and doggie treats for Molly.



Crazy Cat Lady
I deal with this as well. I've got a seven year old German Shepherd who came up partially paralyzed last winter.

It was thought he had myelopathy(like multiple sclerosis in dogs)as German Shepherds are the poster children for this condition and he was of the right bloodlines and age for it

Turns out he doesn't as he not only is still alive, but has recovered most of his function. What he does have is ankylosing spondylitis and spinal stenosis.

IOW, he has severe arthritis of the lower back where the vertebrae are growing together and the space for the spinal nerves is narrowed.

He still has an abnormal gait, insists on sleeping curled up and gets up "wonky", and yes...he ruined my livng room rug during the worst of it. He still holds it for as long as he can and then it's an emergency.

It isn't comfortable for the poor dog to "assume the position". I have Tramadol on hand for pain, and Robaxin (muscle relaxer) for the back spasms.

Last year we had him on steroids for while to get the swelling down.

It's still a rotten prognosis. At some point he will go "down in back" and I'll have to have him put down. He weighs ninety lbs and I have a very bad back. I can't lift half his weight let alone all of it.

He won't tolerate crate rest (circles constantly) without being sedated and I seriously doubt that even if I could manage hauling him around, he'd use a 'k-9 kart' style wheelchair.

Katya, I wish you the best of luck with your dog. The good thing, if it can be said, about myelopathy is that there's no pain, just numbness

My dog experienced a lot of pain and still does if not medicated.


Going Green
Massage ALSO helps - DF does massage on our big dog for his hurting hips can check with your vet (depends on the weight) Enteric coated aspirin can help with pain. Our dog gets 2 when we see him walk stiff. It also may help to put her on EFA and Fish oils...our vet tech with Molosser breeds swears by it.
Oh dog LOVED getting his hips and upper rear legs rubbed. I started doing it for him when he was younger and would sleep all hinky. When he woke up he would have one leg that was asleep and would take a few steps then shake that one leg until I rubbed it. It go to the point that when he woke up like that, he would just head straight for me to get his rub. As he got older though, he liked it for his arthritis. On him, I would rub the widest part of he rear legs with an up and down motion using the whole hand and somewhat up over his back/hips. If he was lying down and I did one leg at a time he would stretch that leg waaaaay out (like a good morning stretch) and just close his eyes and enjoy it. Unless it hurt him for some reason, he would stand there and let you do it as long as you were willing to rub.

I hope everything works out for him and you. There towards the end, mine couldn't walk and sometimes I think the humiliation got to him more than the pain. The spirit was still willing...his body couldn't keep up.


Active Member
I know it's midwinter, but is there even a faint possibility it could be tick paralysis? That affects the back legs first, and in a large animal may not go any further. It can come on seemingly overnight (although you usually notice a hindquarters wobble a day or two beforehand). Also often associated with it a a change in the voice, like a horseness (sounds like mild laryngitis) as the throat muscles get affected.

It's a common problem for us in Australia, but then we have mild enough winters for the Ixodes ticks to still be able to cause problems year-round.

Although tick poinsoning is potentially fatal, it is still an easy fix, if tat's what it is and you find the tick and remove it. It just takes a few days more for the toxin to reach a peak and then begin to subside.

In a larger animal, sometimes the tick gets full and drops off before the toxin reaches a lethal level.

Fingers crossed for you. I know it's a really long shot. You could have done without this, on top of everything else.



Thanks for all the great suggestions and good wishes. The Help 'Em Up harness arrived today and it's great! Fits well, is well made, and husband can help Molly around with it. In spite of some initial skepticism on his part, he's pleased that we can help her. I'm going to do massage work on her daily (I trained to do it on horses so will adjust for her) and have put her on a homecooked diet with extra vitamins and omega 3's. She's on her second day of steroids so I hope we'll see improvement. She can control her bowels and bladder ... which is huge! so I am hoping more will come back.

Crossing my fingers and waiting for the cart ...


Active Member
Sending hugs to your pup.
I know sometimes this can be temporary, so I pray that is the case.
Regardless, she is not in pain, and is loved, that is what is most important.


I know it's midwinter, but is there even a faint possibility it could be tick paralysis?
Thanks Marg, I'll check her over with a bot comb. It's been totally freezing here recently so perhaps not that likely but I'll check out any possibility. She might have picked up a tick right before the big subarctic freeze.


Crazy Cat Lady
Katya, being as you are a doctor; the side effects of steroids in dogs are about the same as in humans.

In fact, the excessive drinking and urination are even worse. It is possible your dog might start to have trouble controlling her urine while on the 'roids.

Don't worry too much. Odds are good that problem will quiet down once she tapers back off of them.

My dog does not have problems with urination, his is with assuming the position to defecate when his back is acting up.