Why Do Dogs Bend Their Paws – Is It Normal?


Most dogs have their cute quirks, and for some dogs bending their paws is one of them. However, sometimes dogs bending their paws can be a sign of a health condition or physical trauma. As a result, dog owners need to ask themselves: why do dogs bend their paws?

Dogs bend their paws because they are sore. Knuckling in dogs can also signify some health conditions that require veterinary care, such as Intervertebral Disc Disease and Degenerative Myelopathy.

In this article, we will be explaining all of the reasons why a dog may be bending its paws. We will also be answering some other commonly asked questions about this topic, along with some other things to consider about paw bending in dogs, such as when you should visit your vet.

Reasons Dogs Bend Their Paws

There are five main reasons why dogs bend their paws. Although the most common cause for knuckling is simply sore paws, this can also signify a more canine severe health condition. Here are the five causes for dogs bending their paws.

Your Dog Has Something Wrong With His Paws

Just like people, dogs typically avoid walking on their feet if they are very sore. Serious issues like embedded objects and burns could be the cause of your dog bending his paws.

However, even minor bugs like bug bites and snow in between paw pads can lead some dogs to bend their paws.

Therefore, you should always gently and carefully examine your dog’s paws if you notice out-of-the-blue knuckling, and usually, a simple fix or a quick trip to the vet will help your dog walk normally again.

It Could Be A Sign Of A Deformity

There is a deformity that can cause knuckling and other wrist or leg abnormalities as they grow. This deformity is called Carpal Flexural deformity, and it is caused by puppies having too much protein in their diets.

Luckily, this deformity can disappear over time with proper vet care and a proper diet.

It Could Be A Sign Of An Age-Related Condition

Many age-related health conditions can cause knuckling in dogs. Possibly the most common age-related condition that can cause knuckling is canine arthritis.

However, Intervertebral Disc Disease and Degenerative Myelopathy are also medical conditions that have been known to cause knuckling in elderly dogs.

Intervertebral Disc Disease is caused by the degeneration of one or more discs in a dog’s spine. Although this is usually associated with elderly dogs, dogs can also develop IDD if they experienced extreme physical trauma.

In addition to this, canine obesity can put a dog at a higher risk of developing this condition. IDD can be painful, and severe cases will require surgery. However, mild cases have been treated noninvasively with medications.

Degenerative Myelopathy is almost exclusively associated with old age, however. Unlike IDD, Degenerative Myelopathy is not a painful medical condition, and it is caused by the breaking down of myelin that surrounds the spinal cord.

Although this condition is not painful for dogs, it is still essential that you seek veterinary care for treatment. This is a progressive disease, and it usually leads to dogs being unable to walk over time.

Your Dog Could Have Physical Trauma

Physical trauma can lead to knuckling in dogs, especially if the physical trauma was severe. Back, head, leg, and paw injuries can all lead to paw bending. As a result, it is crucial to take your dog to the vet anytime you know or suspect that your dog has been injured.

It Could Be A Sign Of A Back Problem

Intervertebral Disc Disease, Fibrocartilaginous Embolism, is another severe back problem in dogs that could cause knuckling. This condition occurs when a piece of a spinal disc breaks off and gets lodged into a blood vessel. This is a severe condition that requires veterinary care.

What Does It Mean When A Dog Bends His Paw

If your dog bends his paw every once in a while, then it is likely that he is just a little bit stiff. However, it would help if you still took your dog to the vet to rule out any more serious health problems.

Why Do Dogs Sleep With Their Paws Bent

Dogs often sleep in strange positions, and this can include sleeping with their paws bent. If you haven’t noticed any knuckling when your dog is awake, then he is likely just making himself more comfortable for his nap.

However, you should always take a dog to the vet for knuckling when walking around, especially if your dog does this frequently.

Why Do Dogs Sit With Their Paw Bent

Sometimes dogs can sit in strange ways, but sitting with their paws bent could be a cause for concern, especially if your dog does this all the time and if he also walks with his paws bent.

It is essential to take your dog to the vet if you notice your dog knuckling so that they can either rule out or treat health conditions that could cause a dog to bend its paws.

What Does Knuckling Mean In Dogs

There are many causes for knuckling in dogs. However, some are more common than others. Here is a list of conditions that could cause knuckling in dogs, if it is serious, and if you should see a vet.

Cause of KnucklingIs It Serious?Should You See a Vet?
Uncomfortable Paws (Bug Bites, snow stuck in paws, rock stuck in paws, etc)Not ReallyNot Usually
Injured Paws (imbedded objects, burns, etc)YesYes
ArthritisNot too serious, but still requires careYes
Head/Neck/Back InjuriesYesYes
Intervertebral Disc DiseaseYesYes
Degenerative MyelopathyYesYes
Fibrocartilaginous EmbolismYesYes
Carpal Flexural deformityNot too serious, but still requires careYes

More Thoughts

There are some other things that you should consider when it comes to a dog walking strangely. This includes other common leg and paw abnormalities in puppies, and other times you should visit a vet about your dog’s strange walking.

Is Your Puppy Walking Weird

Many different types of conditions can cause a puppy to walk strangely. These mainly include deformities caused by genetics that lead to abnormal development of structures inside of the legs.

However, puppies can begin walking weirdly if they have experienced leg injuries and the leg has not healed correctly.

Other Times You Should See A Vet

We have already gone into detail on when you should take your dog to the vet for knuckling or paw bending. However, there are some other strange walking habits that you should take your dog to the vet for.

This is because these can also be a sign of an injury or medical condition. You should take your dog to the vet if he has shown symptoms of:

● Collapsing
● Limping
● Struggling to get up
● Signs of being in pain
● Wobbly walking
● Lowering the neck/head while walking
● Staggered walking
● Any other strange or troubling symptoms

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