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My German Shepherd Has Started To Drag and Knuckle Their Back Paws. What Should I Do?

My German Shepherd Has Started To Drag and Knuckle Their Back Paws. What Should I Do?

Your German Shepherd might have started dragging one or both back paws in the house or on walks. It could have started suddenly or slowly, and you might have noticed it getting worse with time. It will make your dog wobble or become unbalanced when they walk or try to get up off the floor.

When your German Shepherd drags their paws, it can make their skin bleed. The nails can get shorter as they no longer walk on their paw pad. It doesn’t look nice and it can be painful for your dog.

Importantly, it can increase the risk of infection in their paw as they can get dirt inside their cuts or scratches, so you must keep the paw clean and protected! This is likely to be a medical condition called Paw Knuckling

Does Your German Shepherd Paw Knuckle?

You might have noticed your German Shepherd’s paw curling over - knuckling - and your dog can no longer walk flat on their paw pad. They will likely step on the top of their paw rather than the paw pad, and as a result, the skin on the paw can get scraped and bleed while the nails can get much shorter. Your dog might weave, look unsteady, limp, or drag this knuckling paw. This is all dog knuckling.

If you think your pug is paw knuckling, read more here:

Paw Knuckling: The Causes, Prevention and Treatments

Commonly paw knuckling is a sign of an underlying medical condition, very often for German Shepherds this a medical condition is Degenerative Myelopathy. It could be another medical condition for your dog, so get your dog checked out by your vet, however we see Degenerative Myelopathy all the time, so we will go into this medical condition further below.

Knuckling Boots Can Help Your Dog

Getting a good pair of boots can protect your German Shepherd's nails and paw skin from further damage. If your dog has severe paw knuckling, boot don't work that well as they can swivel, but if your German Shepherd needs a bit of extra grp and protection as they have light or moderate knuckling, boots can be a great option. 

Find boots for protection here

Story of Daisy, German Shepherd

Daisy is 8 years old. Daisy started dragging her back paws, first on one side and then on both. She was diagnosed with Degenerative Myelopathy, as her illness progressed a wheelchair was the best way to keep her active

Degenerative Myelopathy

If your German Shepherd's paws are curling, it might be a sign of an underlying medical condition called Degenerative Myelopathy. This is a neurological condition, which means it affects the nerves. The nerves change and make the paw curl. It is more common in German Shepherds than in other breeds.

Degenerative Myelopathy is a progressive, and very sadly, fatal neurological disease. Degenerative Myelopathy typically begins in the hind legs making your dog wobbly or unbalanced. This means that sometimes dogs are misdiagnosed with arthritis or other age related medical conditions.

If you think your dog is paw knuckling, read more here:

Degenerative Myelopathy The Causes, Prevention and Treatments

Dog Wheelchairs Help Degenerative Myelopathy

It is important to get a confirmed vet diagnosis. If your dog does have Degenerative Myelopathy, read how other German Shepherd owners have used a dog wheelchair to help their dog exercise like before. Dog wheelchairs can seem overwhelming, but they have a transformational effect on dogs. As German Shepherds are heavy, the wheelchairs will carry their weight and allow them to exercise like normal again. Keeping fit and healthy, while being independent.

You can read more about German Shepherd wheelchairs here.

Other Possible Underlying Medical Conditions

If it is not Degenerative Myelopathy, you might want to read about other rear end medical conditions which make the rear paws start to drag.

If you would like to read about other medical conditons in the rear paws, read more here:

Reasons for Rear Leg Weakness in your Dog

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Read more about Paw Knuckling - Causes, Prevention and How to Help at Home

Read here

Mr Finlay, the Rough Collie dog, Paw Knuckles due to Spondylosis

Read here

Best Dog Knuckling Boots & Braces

Knuckling aids here
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