My Dog is Dragging the Top of His Paws
Dogs don't shuffle. They don't even appreciate the concept of cool. Therefore, if your dog is dragging the tops of his paws when he walks, there is definitely something wrong. Usually this represents something known as a proprioceptive deficit. This is similar to the feeling we get when our legs “fall asleep.” In dogs, it is always a sign of some form of neurological problem and should be evaluated by a veterinarian, preferably a neurologist.
What to Look For
Start by observing your dog closely as he walks toward you, then away from you. Look for evidence of unsteadiness or any unevenness of gait. Watch as each paw strikes the ground. Evaluate both your dog's way of carrying himself as a whole and, more specifically, the way he holds his head.
Next, stand him beside you and, one at a time, lift each paw and place it on the ground “knuckled under.” His normal response should be to immediately lift the paw and replace it correctly, pads down. Finally, perform an ocular exam like the one outlined in “My Dog's Eyes Are Red” and a spinal exam like the one included in “My Dog Is Stiff” [not available online].
What to Do
When to Get the Vet
If you know what chemicals or medications your dog has possibly ingested or inhaled, call the ASPCA National Animal Poison Control Center at 888-426-4435 for immediate advice. Plan to make a trip to the nearest animal emergency facility as well.
Text © 2007 by Robert D. "Jake" Tedaldi, D.V.M.