What To Do If My Dog Can’t Get Up

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Dog laying in grass (text in image: What to do if My Dog Can't Get Up)Witnessing your dog being unable to stand up suddenly can be very alarming. This can happen as dogs age, or it could be the result of an injury or illness.

Instead of brushing it off and seeing if it gets better with time, call your vet and schedule an appointment immediately. It could be something you can fix, but you don’t want to wait too long because time is of the essence and your dog could be experiencing pain. The sooner you determine the cause, the sooner your dog can hopefully start feeling her happy self again.

Keep in mind that it’s in a dog’s nature to put on a brave face when he is hurting. So by the time you notice he is hurting, it can be severe pain he’s experiencing. That’s why we recommend contacting your vet ASAP.

Why Can’t My Dog Stand Up?

Some common reasons your dog may be unable to stand include:

You’re probably aware of all of these, but there are some lesser-known illnesses that your dog could be suffering from. They include:


Botulism is a serious, rare condition caused by toxins from bacteria called Clostridium botulinum. Common sources of the toxin include decaying hay, grass and grain, decomposing carcasses and spoiled vegetables. The most common way for a dog to suffer botulism is by eating a dead carcass with the toxin.


Symptoms present 12 to 36 hours after contact with the toxin.

  • Excessive drooling
  • Dilated pupils
  • Weakness
  • Paralysis that begins in the hind limbs and moves toward the front
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Facial nerve paralysis


Dogs suffering from botulism are treated differently depending on the severity. If mild, your dog may be hospitalized and be given a urinary catheter and IV feedings. If severe, your dog’s breathing may be closely monitored in an intensive care unit (ICU). While in the ICU, a stomach tube may be placed for feeding and a ventilator can be used to help your dog breathe.

No matter the severity, you dog will receive an antitoxin to help neutralize the toxin your dog ingested. Recovery takes an average of 1 to 3 weeks. If gone untreated, botulism can lead to fatal respiratory failure.


Keep your dog away from dead carcasses and don’t let him ingest anything besides the food and treats you give him.


The average cost for treating botulism is $2,000, but it can range from $500 to $4,000.

Degenerative Myelopathy

Degenerative myelopathy (DM) is when the spinal cord nerves begin to degenerate, which causes communication issues between the brain and limbs. This is typically found in dogs between 8 and 14 years old.

It first presents with coordination loss in the hind legs, which may appear as the dog wobbling while walking or dragging his feet. Sometimes it will appear in one leg and then the other. After 6 to 12 months, the dog will not be able to stand or walk. Eventually, the dog will lose function of the front limbs as well. DM is not physically painful for dogs.


DM is not curable, but physical therapy can help with quality of life.


It costs $1,800 on average to help maintain a good quality of life for your dog, but it can cost as much as $3,000.

Geriatric Vestibular Syndrome

Geriatric vestibular syndrome (GVS) is presumed to be caused by a brain lesion or hemorrhage, but there is no evidence to support this thought. GVS affects balance and results in dizziness. It is more common in older dogs. Fortunately, there is a full recovery in almost all cases; minor head tilts are the only effect left over.


  • Recurring ear infections
  • Perforated eardrums caused by excessive ear cleaning or trauma
  • Stroke
  • Tumors
  • Polyps
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Meningoencephalitis
  • Certain drug and antibiotics

It can also be present from birth as a congenital condition.


Evaluations can cost $500 to $1,000 alone. Additional training may be necessary, which costs more.


Ticks that carry and spread Lyme disease can cause paralysis in dogs. If your dog experiences this, it could extend into the bloodstream and reach your dog’s organs, which can be fatal.

If there is a tumor located on your dog’s spine, it can also result in paralysis. Tumors can spread viruses throughout your dog’s body that are life-threatening. The viruses can also go through the nerves and damage your dog’s organs. Paralysis due to tumors is typically a slower progression and not as fast-acting as paralysis from Lyme disease. If a tumor is present, it most likely will affect the hind legs first, followed by the front if not treated.

Infections that aren’t treated correctly (especially around the face and ears) can also cause paralysis. Infections can damage the nerves, muscles and vital organs.

Rabies and distemper can cause paralysis because they spread viruses into dogs’ brains. These are two viruses that can be extremely fatal and should be treated with seriousness. You can prevent rabies and distemper by vaccinating your dog against these diseases.


If you think your dog is suffering from paralysis, go to the vet immediately. Waiting can cause more damage, so if your vet is closed, take your dog to the emergency vet.

Your dog may be given a combination of painkillers, anti-inflammatories and steroids. These can help decrease swelling, improve nerve function and reduce any pain your dog may feel. If these medications are unsuccessful, your dog may be taken into surgery.


Treatment can cost between $4,500 and $8,500.

What Should I Do If My Dog Can’t Stand Or Walk?

Ultimately, the reason your dog is unable to get up could be due to a number of reasons. Our best recommendation is to take your dog to the veterinarian. There is no substitute for a professional physical exam and consultation. We hope everything goes well, and please keep us updated.

Your vet may recommend a wheelchair for your dog. If that’s the case, we can help you find the right size for your dog and one that’s high quality but won’t break your bank account. There are also additional mobililty-enhancing tools that may prove helpful.

Paying For Treatment

Finally, many of the treatment options we’ve discussed in this article are quite expensive. If you’re concerned about your ability to financially care for your dog’s health needs, then consider pet insurance. Our comparison guide and quote form can help you choose a policy that’s right for you and your family. Please be aware that no pet insurance company will pay for a pre-existing condition. So, if your dog is already having issues, it’s probably too late. However, if you’re concerned about these kinds (or other) health issues arising in your dog’s future, then definitely consider insuring your pup.

Do you know why your dog is unable to walk?

About The Author:

Kimberly received her Bachelor of Arts in multimedia journalism from Simpson College. She has been writing about dogs since 2014, covering subjects such as dog insurance, training, health, accessories and more. Her natural curiosity helps her research as she seeks the truth when learning about, comparing and personally testing canine products and services. With every piece she writes, her goal is to help our readers find the best fit for their unique needs.

Kimberly grew up in a family that loved Labrador Retrievers and remembers running and playing in the yard with them as a child. In 2017, she and her husband adopted their Coonhound mix, Sally, from a local shelter. Kimberly's research was put to good use since Sally faced some aggression issues with other dogs and needed some training to be an inside dog. She worked daily with Sally and sought help from professionals to help Sally become the happy pup she is today.

One of Kimberly's favorite pastimes is spoiling Sally with new toys, comfy beds and yummy treats (she even makes homemade goodies for her). She tries to purchase the safest products for Sally and knows that each canine has their own specific likes and dislikes. Kimberly is passionate about dogs, and knows the bond between humans and canines is like no other.

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just help

my dog seems to be in a lot of pain recently he won’t eat, his hips are failing, and he won’t get up please help!!!

Apiffany Gaither Billings (Admin)

Hi, we always recommend seeing a vet as soon as possible when you think something is wrong with your pet. If you cannot take your dog to a vet, perhaps this online vet service can help.

Plz helpppp

My dog he just randomly collapsed on the floor resting on his head just laying there not moving and breathing rapidly he’s about more then 5or 6 years old and is a mix small dog we got from the pound when I was ten now I’m 15 what can we do?? My parents rushed out with him and I want to know what’s wrong plz help


my dog won’t stand but my dad says to wait it out! i know he’s in pain and there’s nothing i can do.

debbra borish

my sons dog has been to the vet twice in a three day period. He was given a non steroid antiflammitory drug on 1st visit. this seem to upset what ever was wrong with him because now he wont get up. the second visit he was given 2 steroid shots. now its been 4 days sine those shots and he is still laying down. we have to manually give him food and water. he still drinks and eats and pees and poops. what is wrong with our dog? why wont he get up?

Matt parish

Please tell us what the diagnosis was? My dog is in the same situation? Please help

Richard S.

This answer to Bojak’s condition answers my question, but where the owner of Bojak’s owner failed I will not! I want to thank you very much for taking the time to answer this question I had about my dog’s condition. As a matter of fact, Sheba (my dog) says thank you, also.