Young Dog Has Trouble Getting Up: Solutions for Smooth Mobility

If you have a young dog, you might have noticed that they’re having trouble getting up, but they walk just fine once they’re on their feet. This can be a cause for concern, especially when it comes to our beloved pets’ health and well-being.

In the text below, we’ll explore some possible reasons behind this issue and discuss what steps you can take to support your canine companion.

There are various factors that could contribute to your dog’s difficulty in rising from a resting position.

Arthritis can affect dogs of all ages, including younger ones, and it might be the reason your pet finds it hard to get up initially. However, there’s no need to panic just yet, as there are other potential causes to consider, such as injuries or muscular strain, that might not be as serious or permanent.

Identifying Mobility Issues in Young Dogs

mobility issues in young dogs

You might have noticed situations where a young dog has trouble getting up but walks fine afterward. This may raise concerns and point towards underlying problems. Learning how to identify mobility issues in young dogs is crucial to ensuring their health, and detecting any problems early can significantly improve their quality of life.

Recognizing Difficulty in Rising

To identify mobility problems, you should pay close attention to your dog when they try to rise from sitting or lying down. Some common signs to look for include:

  • Reluctance to move or stand up
  • Whimpering or whining when attempting to stand
  • Shuffling during the process of standing up
  • Stiff or shaky limbs while rising

If any of these behaviors are consistently present, your dog might be experiencing mobility issues, so it’s important to consult with a veterinarian.

Differentiating Normal and Abnormal Walks

Once your dog is up and walking, observe their gait and movement to spot potential problems. Keep in mind the following differences between a normal and an abnormal walk:

Normal Walk:

  • Even, steady pace
  • Smooth forward movement
  • All four limbs moving in coordination
  • No noticeable discomfort or pain

Abnormal Walk:

  • Limping or favoring one leg
  • Sudden stops or jerks while walking
  • Stiffness or limited range of motion in joints
  • Excessive shivering or shaking

If your young dog exhibits signs of an abnormal walk, make note of the specific symptoms and discuss them with your veterinarian.

Underlying Causes of Difficulty Getting Up

reasons why a young dog has difficulty getting up

If you have a dog, it can be concerning to see your young dog struggle to get up but seem fine once they start walking. There are a few potential underlying causes for this behavior, which can be classified under three main categories: joint problems, muscle weakness, and neurological concerns.

Joint Problems

One possible reason for a dog’s difficulty in getting up is arthritis. Although more common in older dogs, it can sometimes affect younger dogs as well. Symptoms may include:

  • Stiffness and difficulty in getting up
  • Swelling in joints
  • Limping or favoring a limb

In addition to arthritis, canine hip dysplasia (CHD) can cause mobility issues. CHD results from abnormal development of the hip joint, leading to a poor fit between the ball and socket. While CHD tends to develop gradually over time, it’s important to monitor your dog for signs of discomfort.

Muscle Weakness

Muscle weakness or injury can also be a potential cause for your dog’s struggle to get up. Various injuries, including trauma to the back, rear legs, muscles, and hips, can make it painful for the dog to move or stretch. Keep an eye out for symptoms such as:

  • Reluctance to jump or climb stairs
  • Limping or uneven gait
  • Shivering or trembling in affected muscles

If you suspect muscle weakness or injury, consult a veterinarian for diagnosis and treatment.

Neurological Concerns

Neurological issues can also impact your dog’s ability to get up. Conditions like intervertebral disc disease (IVDD) affect the spinal cord and can cause pain, stiffness, and reduced mobility. Other neurological concerns may include:

  • Degenerative myelopathy
  • Wobbler syndrome
  • Nerve damage or inflammation

Look for symptoms like loss of balance, muscle atrophy, or even paralysis in the hind legs. If you suspect a neurological issue, it’s essential to consult with a veterinarian for further evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment.

Non-Medical Reasons for Difficulty Getting Up

young dog having a hard time rising

In this section, we’ll discuss three non-medical reasons for your dog’s difficulty getting up: improper sleeping spots, lack of exercise, and dietary influence.

Improper Sleeping Spots

Your dog’s sleeping area might be causing discomfort or difficulty getting up. Ensure your dog has a comfortable and supportive bed to rest on, especially if they’re a larger breed or prone to joint issues. Look for these features in a dog bed:

  • Orthopedic foam: Provides support and comfort for your dog’s joints.
  • Size-appropriate: Ensure the bed is large enough for your dog to stretch out comfortably.
  • Machine washable cover: Easy cleaning helps maintain a hygienic sleeping environment.

Lack of Exercise

Just like humans, dogs need regular exercise to maintain their strength, flexibility, and overall health. A sedentary lifestyle can contribute to difficulty getting up due to muscle weakness or stiffness. Make sure your dog receives daily exercise, such as:

  • Walks: Regular walks help keep your dog’s muscles and joints in good shape.
  • Playtime: Engage in games like fetch, tug-of-war, or any activity your dog enjoys.
  • Mental stimulation: Training exercises, puzzle toys, and socialization with other dogs promote mental and physical wellbeing.

Remember to adjust the intensity and duration of exercise based on your dog’s breed, age, and individual needs.

Dietary Influence

A well-balanced diet plays a significant role in your dog’s overall health and mobility. The wrong diet can lead to weight gain, putting extra pressure on your dog’s joints and making it harder for them to get up. To support your dog’s health and joint function, ensure their diet includes:

  • High-quality protein: Lean meats, chicken, and fish provide essential amino acids for muscle and joint health.
  • Healthy fats: Omega-3 fatty acids, found in fish oil and flaxseeds, help reduce inflammation and support joint function.
  • Vitamin and mineral balance: A well-rounded diet with the necessary vitamins and minerals contributes to overall health, including muscle and joint function.

Consult with your veterinarian to determine the best diet and appropriate portion sizes for your dog to maintain a healthy weight and proper nutrition.

What to Expect at the Vet

Veterinary Examination

When your young dog has trouble getting up but walks fine, it’s essential to consult with a veterinarian promptly. They will be able to evaluate your dog’s overall health, assess their mobility, and identify any underlying issues that could be causing this discrepancy in movement.

During the examination, the veterinarian may:

  • Observe your dog’s gait and posture
  • Palpate the joints to determine any discomfort or swelling
  • Assess muscle tone and strength

This assessment will help in identifying if the issue is associated with joint pain, muscle weakness, or neurological problems.

Diagnostic Tests

Based on the initial evaluation, your veterinarian might recommend a series of diagnostic tests to pinpoint the cause of your dog’s difficulty in getting up. These tests may include:

  • X-rays: These images can reveal abnormalities in the bones and joints, such as hip dysplasia, arthritis, or spinal issues.
  • Blood tests: A blood sample can help identify any underlying infections, inflammation, or metabolic disorders that could be affecting your dog’s mobility.
  • Ultrasound: This imaging modality can examine soft tissues, muscles, and tendons, detecting any tears or strain injuries.
  • Neurological tests: Your veterinarian may perform a neurological examination to evaluate reflexes and nerve function, which can help identify issues such as intervertebral disc disease or nerve damage.

By conducting a thorough professional evaluation through both veterinary examination and diagnostic tests, you’ll be on the right path to understanding why your dog is having trouble getting up and taking further steps to improve their health and quality of life.

Managing Trouble in Getting Up

Let’s explore three key areas that can help alleviate your dog’s difficulties, making their life easier and more comfortable.

Physical Therapy

Physical therapy can bring significant benefits to your dog’s overall well-being. It can help strengthen their muscles, improve flexibility, and reduce pain. Consider these options when seeking physical therapy for your dog:

  • Massage: Gently massaging your dog’s muscles can help increase blood flow, alleviate stiffness, and relax their muscles.
  • Heat/Cold Therapy: Applying heat pads or cold packs can reduce inflammation and soothe sore joints or muscles. Remember always to use a barrier like a towel to protect your dog’s skin.
  • Exercise: Gradual and controlled exercises, such as walking or swimming, can help your dog build up their strength and mobility.

Please consult with a professional, such as a veterinarian or a certified canine rehabilitation therapist, before trying any therapeutic treatments on your dog.


Medications can play an essential role in managing your dog’s pain or discomfort. Talk to your veterinarian about the best options for your dog’s specific needs. Some common medications for improving mobility include:

  • Anti-Inflammatories: Reducing inflammation can provide relief from joint pain or stiffness.
  • Pain Relievers: Prescribed pain medication can help manage your dog’s discomfort during the initial stages of treatment.
  • Joint Supplements: Glucosamine and chondroitin are often used to support joint health in dogs.

Remember to follow your veterinarian’s guidelines and never give your dog human medications without consulting an expert.

Dietary Supplements

Incorporating dietary supplements into your dog’s diet can support their joint health and overall well-being. Some popular supplements for dogs with mobility issues include:

  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Fish oil or other sources of omega-3 fatty acids can decrease inflammation and promote healthy joint function.
  • Turmeric: Known for its anti-inflammatory properties, turmeric can be added to your dog’s food with guidance from your veterinarian.
  • Vitamin E: This essential antioxidant can help support your dog’s immune system and reduce oxidative stress on their joints.

Consult your veterinarian before adding any dietary supplements to ensure proper dosage and compatibility with your dog’s diet and medications.

By focusing on physical therapy, medications, and dietary supplements, you can help your young dog overcome their initial struggles in getting up and enjoy a happier, healthier life. Remember to always speak with your vet or a professional for guidance in managing your dog’s unique situation.

Preventive Measures

If you have a dog, you can take some important steps to help your young dog who has trouble getting up but walks fine. In this section, we will discuss preventive measures to ensure your dog’s continued health and well-being.

Regular Exercise

One of the best preventive measures is to engage your dog in regular exercise. This may include:

  • Walks: Take your dog on daily walks to maintain their overall fitness level.
  • Swimming: This low-impact activity can help strengthen your dog’s hip and joint muscles, making it easier for them to get up.
  • Fetch: Encourage your dog to play games like fetch, which promotes both mental and physical stimulation.
  • Agility training: Participate in agility training with your dog to help them maintain their flexibility and muscle tone.

Healthy Diet

Another crucial preventive measure is providing your dog with a balanced and healthy diet. Make sure their diet includes:

  • High-quality dog food: Choose a reputable brand that meets your dog’s nutritional requirements.
  • Proper portions: Follow your veterinarian’s advice on portion sizes to avoid overfeeding or undernourishing your dog.
  • Supplements: Consider incorporating joint supplements like glucosamine and chondroitin into your dog’s diet, as they can promote joint health.
  • Weight management: Regularly monitor your dog’s weight to prevent obesity, which can strain their joints and make it more difficult to get up.

Routine Check-Ups

Don’t forget the importance of routine veterinary check-ups for your dog’s overall health. Ensure you:

  • Schedule regular appointments: Visit your veterinarian for routine check-ups at least once a year, or more often if advised.
  • Monitor your dog’s behavior: Keep an eye on any changes in your dog’s behavior, such as difficulty getting up or walking, and report those changes to your veterinarian.
  • Follow veterinarian’s advice: Be sure to follow your veterinarian’s recommendations regarding treatment, medication, or other preventive measures to help your dog stay in optimal health.