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What is Dog Knuckling?

What is Dog Knuckling?

Dog knuckling is when the paw curls over and your dog is no longer able to walk flat on their paw pad, your dogs nails can get shorter and their paw skin damaged and bleeds. Your dog can weave when walking, often looking unsteady on their feet. Dog knuckling is commonly caused by a motor neuron disease, or hip and back injuries.

Knuckling Boots & Braces Here

Dog Knuckling Symptoms

You might have noticed your dog knuckling. The most common dog knuckling signs are:

  • Paw curling in one or more paws
  • Dog knuckling can occur in either the front or back paws
  • Paw skin can bleed due to damage from paw curling
  • Nails get shorter due to paw dragging
  • Curling can come and go, getting better or worse throughout the day
  • Over time, dog knuckling can get worse. In severe cases, dogs can struggle to walk short distances without damaging their paws
  • Your dog can weave around when walking, they look unsteady of their feed especially if it is rear paw knuckling
"My poor dog is now unable to walk on hard surfaces as his claws are worn so short"

"My poor dog is now unable to walk on hard surfaces as his claws are worn so short"

Protect the paw, nails and skin from infection especially if the nails get too short or if there is further bleeding and an open wound

Tangle uses protection boots
Ted, a French Bulldog, has light rear knuckling due to spine deterioration

Ted, a French Bulldog, has light rear knuckling due to spine deterioration

"Due to a weak spine, his back legs weave occasionally showing signs of knuckling in his rear paws. Painkillers haven't really worked, if anything they've made him worse as he can't feel his feet to steady himself"

Ted Uses Maximus PawsUp

What medical conditions cause Dog Knuckling

  • Any nerve damage, this includes damage in an accident or a neurological condition especially Degenerative Myelopathy
  • Herniated discs
  • Arthritis where dog knuckling develops as a secondary condition
  • Hip weakness including hip arthritis, hip dysplasia or hip dislocation
  • Spine weakness or injury including IVDD

How to help around the house

It is a good idea to put mats down so your dog gets as much traction as possible. Slippery wooden floorboards or smooth surfaces are best covered.

What age does a dog get Dog Knuckling

A dog can be any age to be diagnosed with dog knuckling. Dog knuckling is most common in older dogs, where dog knuckling gradually progresses as time goes on. You can choose to help protect the paws with boots or you can try and re-train the paw again. Knuckling in puppies is a known condition, read the blog here to help your puppy live a more active life.

What is Severe Dog Knuckling

Severe dog knuckling is when the paw curls over and stays in this fixed position nearly constantly, causing great discomfort for your dog and often means they find it very painful or unable to walk. Severe dog knuckling can be in one or more paws

Treatment for Dog Knuckling

The treatment choices for your dog are linked to the level of dog knuckling your dog shows. See below for recommendations.

Treatment for Mild to Moderate Dog Knuckling

  1. Protect the paws with dog knuckling boots with extra rubber to protect their skin and nails: WagWear Wellies or Walkabout Knuckling Protection Boot

2. For correcting the paw position, Maximus PawsUp is the best dog knuckling brace on the market

3. Use a Bootie Splint to provide support underneath the paw, encouraging your dog to walk flat again

4. Joint Supplement - use a strong joint supplement and it will improve walking on the pad

Treatment for Severe Dog Knuckling

1. Rear paws: Use a dog wheelchair with Maximus Skates, this is a popular route for severe dogs

2. Front paws: Order a custom paw brace made for your dog, it will make your dog walk flat again

3. Joint Supplement - give your dog strong joint supplements, this will improve paw function

Roxanne, a German Shepherd, using Maximus PawsUp for her Rear Paw Knuckling

Roxanne, a German Shepherd, using Maximus PawsUp for her Rear Paw Knuckling

Roxanne is two years old with nerve damage due to a fractured pelvis, her rear right paw is showing signs of dog knuckling. She has started to lose weight due to cage rest to help her pelvis recover. She now uses a Maximus PawsUp brace to help her rear leg muscle strengthen, the brace allows her to put her paw flat on the floor once again and walk unaided.

See Maximus PawsUp

Customer Dog Knuckling Questions & Answers

"My dog has started to show signs of rear paw knuckling. What would you recommend to help him?"

As your dog is only starting to show signs of dog knuckling rather than severe, it would be good prtoect the paw skin from bleeding which will reduce the chance of infection and also to protect the nails from getting short. To do this, look at the boots we offer particularly the Walkabout Knuckling Boots. These have extra thick rubber front and back on the boot lid so will keep your dog protected. You might also look at the Maximus PawsUp Brace. This will help encourage your dog to stop or reduce the dog knuckling and start to put their paw flat on the floor, retraining the paw muscle,

"My dog has arthritis in all her limbs but does have possibly underlying neuro problem in her back legs. When walking she catches her nails and injures her right paw due to knuckling. What could you recommend for her to protect her paws/nails?"

To protect the nails and skin, it is best to look at the Walkabout Knuckling Boot. This will protect from any further injury or damage to your dogs skin and nails. If you are looking for a breathable boot, the WagWear Breathable boots are a good idea. They are made of rubber so will not wear through with use, the holes allow ventilation which is good in the summer months as your dog will sweat and the boot design will make sure the paw is kept airy.

"My 11 year old boxer has just been diagnosed with spondylosis. He drags his back paw and has worn down the claws. When walking on pavements his paw bleeds after a time so at the moment we are just walking him on grass. I would like to get him a boot for his paw. Could you recommend which would be the most effective for him. Thank you."

It would be good to look at the Maximus PawsUp brace, they are particularly designed for rear paw knuckling. Your dog can wear one or a pair. The brace works with a boot and elastic cords. Put the boot on and attach the cord brace to the top of the hock, this will encourage your dog to walk flat on its paw pad once again. The brace will build up muscle so that the nails won't bleed when you take your dog for a walk on the pavement next time.

"My 10 year old Canaan Dog had an accident with a vehicle and has always had back issues but lately the knuckling is pretty bad on her right back. Her gait is pretty bad as well as her stance, she swings the right back around whilst total knuckling, scuffing the top of that "foot". I think primarily she needs some kind of protection. How do I measure?"

It sounds like your Canaan Dog has moderate to severe dog knuckling. In cases like this, it is best to use Maximus PawsUp or move your dog onto a dog wheelchair and add Maximus Skates. If your dog is unable to walk in a straight line and also needs quite a bit of support, a wheelchair and skates are a very common combination. The wheelchair will take the weight off your dog's back legs and reduce the swinging. Skates will allow her to use her muscle and will improve her gait. When a gait is distorted, it can start to show problems in the hip and lower back. In situations like this, it is best to take the weight off your dog by using a wheelchair.

Zoomadog Customers: How to Help Your Dog

Dog Knuckling

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