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My Dog Is Moving Slow (With Head Down): 7 Reasons + 3 Tips

My Dog Is Moving Slow With Head Down

Your dog has always been playful and friendly when they see you… 

But one afternoon, while approaching your pooch, they moved so slowly towards you with their head down. 

Since then, you never saw your dog with their head upright. And this troubles you.

Let’s put an end to second-guessing.

Continue reading to find out:

  • What signs can you see if your dog is in pain.
  • When this canine behavior is a cause for worry.
  • 7 Reasons your dog moves slowly with their head down.
  • 3 Tips when you see your dog moving slowly. 
  • And much much more…    

Why is my dog moving slowly?

Your dog moving slowly with their head down is because they’re in pain. Other reasons maybe they are scared, don’t have energy, are aging, being submissive, know they will be rewarded, or sniffing something. 

My dog is moving slowly (with head down) – 7 reasons

#1: Your dog may be in pain

There’s a chance that they are injured or in pain. Dogs that walk slowly with their head down may do it due to these health concerns:  

Pinched nerves (slipped disk)

For better understanding, let’s first have a quick brush up on dog anatomy. 

Our dogs’ spine is made up of vertebrae that protect the spinal cord. The vertebrae also support the flexible movement of the neck to the back area. 

At the middle of each vertebra are circular disks known as intervertebral disks. They act as cushions to avoid friction from one vertebra to another. 

They also protect the spinal cord as it contains several nerves that reach out to other parts of the body. 

The spinal nerves act as messengers that relay information from the brain to the rest of the body.   

All is good until your dog becomes obese or overweight. They might also suffer from trauma or have disk degeneration. The intervertebral disks then press on the nerves in the spinal cord causing pressure and pain. This dysfunction is more popularly known as a slipped disk or ruptured disk

Dog breeds that are prone to this illness have long backs and short legs like Dachshunds and Pekingese.  

Warning: Here are the signs that you should watch out for on your pets who may have pinched nerves or slipped disks:

  • Pain.
  • Paralysis.
  • Stiff neck.
  • Changes in walking.
  • Inability to properly sense their position.

Neurological disease (Distemper)

Your pet’s neurological disease may also cause them to move slowly with their head down. 

The nervous system is the body’s control center. Dogs who lose coordination with their movements and responses may have neurological disorders.    

Below are the most common neurological diseases in dogs:

  • Distemper. 
  • Neosporosis.

Distemper is a canine virus related to measles. It affects the central nervous system and causes brain inflammation. 

Warning: Dogs can get infected by direct contact or airborne exposure. But you don’t need to worry if your pooch is updated with their vaccines.

They’ll show signs like nasal discharge, uncontrollable movements, aggressiveness, lethargy, and excessive drinking

Neosporosis is a disease spread by parasites. It goes inside your dog’s body through eating raw meat or animal feces. 

Though it is common in puppies, some adult dogs can also get this disease. It causes partial paralysis of the hind legs. When not treated properly, it can cause more severe signs.

Vestibular syndrome 

This illness affects the dog’s inner ear and balance. As it’s more common among older dogs, it’s sometimes mistaken for a stroke. 

Loss of balance leading to frequent falls, walking in circles, vomiting, excessive salivation, dehydration, and walking with their head down are some of its symptoms

Animal specialists suggest that this disease may be caused by an infection or ear damage from trauma or injury. It can also be due to lacking nutrition or abnormal growth of tissue. 

Note: Here are more signs that your dog is in pain:

  • Limping or lameness.
  • Difficulty in standing.
  • Difficulty in lying down. 
  • Restlessness in sleeping.
  • Avoiding slippery surfaces.
  • Hesitant in accepting treats.
  • Walking while urinating or pooping.
  • Eating or drinking while lying down.
  • Hesitant in going up or down the stairs.

Read also: Why Do Dogs Arch Their Backs? 13 Reasons & 9 Situations

#2: Your dog is scared

“Hmmm?… I don’t know what you’re talking about. You’re telling me that I was the one who bit your shoes? You don’t even have proof!”

Another reason why your dog moves slowly with their head down is that they’re scared or guilty!

From how you react, dogs understand if they’re being yelled at or corrected. They become aware of what they did wrong. 

They must’ve been scared thinking you’ll get angry at them for doing something bad.

Warning: Most dogs exhibit defense mechanisms when they are fearful. Do not agitate them further as their growl may be paired with aggression. 

If you are a Mom/Dad of a fearful dog, be calm but confident in your treatment. Don’t try to calm or worse punish them. Divert their attention by moving them to a more comfortable and less threatening location.

Check out also: Why does my dog lay on top of me?

#3: Your dog has no energy 

Your Dog Is Moving Slowly Due To A Lack Of Energy

Like humans, our pooches have bad days too. 

This can happen both in puppies and adults but is more common in aging dogs. They feel fatigue caused by their illness or due to an upset stomach. 

You’ll realize that it’s their diet when you compare their food from yesterday and today.

Sometimes, they’ll look like they lack energy only because they feel sleepy. So don’t worry too much.

You might also be interested in: 15 reasons why your dog wants to be alone (all of a sudden)

#4: Your dog is aging 

The sad truth is, our pooch ages faster than we do. 

So grab the opportunity to play with them. Do the things which you both love while they’re young.

Aging dogs are like humans. (But it’s more complicated to deal with them since they can’t talk!)

As they age they feel various sorts of pain – from their joints, back, and other body parts. 

When you notice that your dog is in pain, take them to a vet for an examination.

Further reading: 17 Odd Reasons Why Your Dog Suddenly Wants To Sleep Alone

#5: Your dog is being submissive

Your dog can act submissively while walking slowly with their head down if they know you well. Being submissive is something that they openly do (it’s not forced on them). 

They may exhibit such behavior if you act annoyed with them or if you give them a “scary face”. 

Imagine yourself as a parent who gets annoyed with their child. The child then tries to “act scared” with your head bowed to reduce the tension.

#6: Your dog knows they will be rewarded

Dogs are the smartest living creatures!

When you pet them for doing something unusual or great, they remember it. They might associate this behavior as a means to get rewarded if you unknowingly encourage it.

#7: Your dog is sniffing something

While walking around the neighborhood, your dog must’ve found something interesting.

Dogs have an incredible sense of smell! As their primary sense, they put this to use whenever possible. That includes transmitting information via their wet noses!

Imagine if you could’ve more than 100 million scent receptors. Well, that’s what our pooches have. 

Read next: Why is my dog constantly sniffing the ground?

BONUS: Your dog is trancing

Have you seen your dog walking so slow while they allow objects like leaves and draperies to brush their backs lightly? This is also called trancing or ghost-walking. 

Watch this video for more information on dog trancing:

My dog is moving slowly (with head down) – 3 tips

#1: Make an immediate visit to the vet

If your dog suffers from back or neck pains or any pain or injury, take your dog immediately to the vet.

Your vet will run a series of neurological tests to assess the general health of your dog. 

If they suffer from a slipped disk or neurological dysfunction, ordinary x-rays will not give extensive results. More specific tests like myelography, computed tomography (CT), or Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) must be done.

#2: Allow your dog to rest

Your dog may be feeling tired so just let them rest.

Observe their movements within the next 24 hours. If your adult dog is moving slowly with their head down, check for possible sources of fatigue.   

Bonus! Here are 7 Simple Dog Health Checks You Can Perform at Home (as fur parents)

  • Look at their nose – check for swelling or nasal discharge.
  • Examine their ears – observe if there’s a sticky discharge or foul smell.
  • See their coat – notice if there are rashes or lumps, also check for ticks and fleas.
  • Inspect their tail and bottom – examine if there’s redness or swelling in their anus.  
  • Look at their nails – check for discomfort as most owners have trouble nail clipping.
  • Check their eyes – notice if there’s yellow or green discharge or if their eyes are too watery.
  • Inspect their gums – look for any lump on their gums or under the tongue, also observe if there’s a foul smell.

#3: Have a regular exercise routine with your dog

Your dog is waiting to have fun with you.

If your pooch shows no signs of pain or fatigue, their lack of energy is due to boredom. This is why you need to get up and awaken their sleeping muscles! 

Daily exercise for 15-20 mins. may change the general disposition of your pooch.

Let them run on the fields. You can also take your dog to the park and play frisbee.

Or if you’re bringing your older dog outside, a simple walk wouldn’t also be bad. Observe their breathing and the way they walk. Make sure they don’t feel exhausted and the sun should be almost down if you want to take them out. 

People also ask:

Why is my dog walking very slowly?

Your dog may be walking very slowly due to their age, pain or injury, or infection. It can also be since they are tired, are scared, want to sniff on things, or are trancing. Walking very slowly among canines is common particularly on older dogs who are either ill or tired.

If you see your dog walking very slowly, check their breathing and posture. For aging dogs, it’s ordinary to walk slowly so you shouldn’t be alarmed. But when you notice your dog having discomfort, pain, or injury, take them to a vet immediately.

Why do I have to drag my dog on walks?

You may be dragging your dog on walks because of some pains they feel like sore hips, backs, and muscles. Other reasons are your pooch is fearful or anxious, it’s an opposition reflex, or they don’t like to walk. Or maybe they are just plain dog-tired and don’t want to move. 

When your dog has to be dragged on walks, pause for a bit as they may need to stop and catch their breathing. However, if it’s due to opposition reflex, their initial reaction when someone pulls their leash; practice daily walks with a loose leash. This will help in reducing the pressure on their throat, a trigger in their opposition reflex.

Why is my dog so weak walking?

Your dog walking so weak may be due to an infection, metabolic diseases like heart or liver problems, medications like new anti-worm or anti-tick and flea medicine, anemia, and poisoning. It is also possible that they are experiencing pain, trauma, diarrhea, hypothyroidism, or they have tumors.

The infection of your dog includes parvovirus, distemper, kennel cough, and leptospirosis. 

These infections may be ruled out when your dog is updated with their vaccines. 

Do dogs walk slower as they age?

Dogs walking slower as they age is only normal and should not be a great cause for concern. Like humans, our pets can also eventually suffer from joint problems (arthritis) that are keeping them from walking fast.

If you see your dog walking slower and limping, it’s time to take them to a vet. Their health must be checked right away. The vet will also prescribe some supplements if this is a joint problem.