Let’s Talk Mobility Issues in Large Dog Breeds & How to Help Your Pet

Written by: Sarah Seward-Langdon

Published on: 01/19/2022

Who doesn’t love to watch adorable Alaskan Malamute puppies clumsily fall down steps on Instagram? Or what about passing a beautiful, fun-loving Saint Bernard on the street? Large dog breeds are some of the most recognizable breeds out there, and lots of people dream of one day owning their own furry giant as the perfect cuddle buddy.

However, due to their size and body structure, most large breed dogs are prone to more mobility issues than their smaller or medium-sized friends. Now, don’t let that statement scare you away from your dream dog—many canines, no matter the size, breed, or age, can still run into mobility problems!

The most important thing to remember is that there are ways to help your dog’s chance of living with less pain and ability to explore the world, even if they’ve already started showing signs of slowing down.

Now before we share with you some essential ways to help your pup, there are other important things to go over. On top of advice on actions you can take to aid your pet, this inclusive guide will also provide vital information about symptoms to watch out for and possible causes of your dog’s mobility issues.

And remember, if you find you and your dog’s situation relatable in any way to the information provided in this article, our best advice is to see a vet!

Does Your Dog Have Symptoms of a Mobility Issue?

There are several signs that you can look at if you're worried about your large breed dog having mobility issues.

What are the clear signs you should have your pet checked out by your vet? [1]

  • Lameness, ie. If your dog is limping or favoring one leg

  • Having difficulty rising from sitting or laying positions

  • If your dog has trouble walking or appears to be unsteady on their feet

  • Your dog is showing signs of pain, such as crying out or yelping when touched?

  • Less active or less interested in playing and exercising

4 Common Causes of Mobility Problems in Dogs

Before you can start to figure out how to help your dog with mobility problems, it’s important to know exactly what is causing them. With your vet you can figure out whether your dog is suffering from a trauma, common disease, or even a hereditary disease that is common to the breed.

Here are some of the common health issues that relate to mobility when you get a large dog.


Osteoarthritis, also known as arthritis, is a degenerative joint disease that causes inflammation, pain, and stiffness in the joints. It’s more common in older dogs and can be exacerbated by obesity.

Large breed dogs, such as Great Danes and Mastiffs, are also more prone to developing arthritis due to the strain that their size puts on their joints. It doesn’t help that large dogs age faster and are prone to other mobility issues that can cause the onset of arthritis at a younger age [2]!


Dysplasia, whether hip or elbow, is an issue many people are familiar with since it’s mentioned so often. In fact, ask any large or giant dog breed owner and they’ll tell you their terrified of hearing those words from their vet—that’s how well-known it’s become among the larger dog community.

Hip or elbow dysplasia is a condition in which the joints don’t fit properly together and can cause lameness and mobility problems. It’s more common in large breed dogs due to the strain that their size puts on their joints [2]

Cruciate Ligament Tears

Cruciate ligament tears, like the name indicates, is when a dog tears a ligament. Dogs of all sizes can suffer from these injuries; however, because of large dogs’ size and weight, they are more prone to tearing ligaments. It could be as simple as turning a corner too sharply or jumping off the couch in a weird way [2].

Since larger dogs are prone to cruciate ligament tears, it’s especially important to make sure your dog is physically healthy. Furthermore, being mindful of what type of exercise your dog does can also prevent unnecessary injury. Remember to always build up conditioning, especially when participating in high impact activities or dog sports. In other words, if your dog has never done agility, don’t push them to go around a difficult course at full speed!

Another way to ensure your dog avoids ligament tears, and a host of other issues, is to watch their weight. An overweight dog is more likely to get injured, so keep your dog healthy and appropriately active.

Wobblers Disease

Wobblers is a malformation in a dog’s spine around their neck that impacts how the vertebrae are aligned. It’s more common in very large breeds like Irish Wolfhounds, and dogs can experience neck pain and spinal cord compression [3].

This disease can be hereditary, but there are many different reasons dogs get it. When a dog does suffer from Wobblers it causes weakness and an unsteady gait. Eventually, as the disease progresses, dogs lose the ability to move around normally at all [2].

Diagnosing Movability Issues

After learning about the most common symptoms and causes of mobility issues for large breed dogs, it’s good to know about how you go about diagnosing your furry friend. As mentioned above, it’s essential to work with a trusted vet to get to the bottom of your pet’s ailment!

Based on your pet’s symptoms, your vet will suggest a variety of tests to determine what is causing your pet to move more slowly. Even if there’s a likelihood it’s being caused by one thing, it’s essential for proper treatment to confirm a diagnosis.

Here are some of the things your vet could order for your dog [4]:

  • Diagnostic blood tests

  • Biochemistry profile (checking for infections or imbalances)

  • X-rays, also known as radiographs

  • Exam for neurological functionality

  • Samples of the synovial fluid

How to Prevent or Manage Mobility Issues

It’s all good and well to know these things, but what about avoiding these issues all together? Or if your dog has already been diagnosed, what are the best ways to manage your dog’s health issues?

We’ve got you with a quick list of great ways we know can help your pet fight against mobility problems or avoid them completely.

Consistently Visit Your Vet

We know that vets can sometimes be costly, and your dog may not enjoy those visits. However, no matter how much your dog dislikes the vet, it’s important that you keep bringing them in. It is better to keep track of your dog’s health conditions closely so that you could save money and take away your pup’s main faster!

Feed Your Large Breed Dog a High-Quality Food

It’s no doubt that larger dogs eat more. With an already shorter lifespan than their smaller counterparts, and often higher likelihood that they’ll suffer from the health problems mentioned above, it’s important to focus on the quality of food.

Now you don’t need to switch to a complete raw diet to follow the advice of feeding your dog a high-quality food. If you’re all in, raw food can be good for some dogs; whereas, other pups react badly. It’s all about working with the dog in front of you! This can mean cooking their food, adding in more rotation between proteins, getting them bone broth or other toppers.

Add Supplements to Your Dog’s Diet

Alternatively, think about looking into supplements—specifically joint supplements. Fish oil is known to be a great source of essential fatty acids (EFAs) which help relieve joint pain and inflammation. Another type of oil that has excellent EFAs is camelina oil. Camelina oil from the right company is often cold-pressed, more environmentally friendly, and an alternative to all those looking to get away from fish.

Camelina Oil for Equine

✅ Single ingredient, 100% pure Camelina Oil.
✅ Non-GMO
✅ Ideal balance of Omega-3 compared to other products, like soybean oil.
✅ Canadian produced and operated.

Camelina Oil for Canine


✅ Single ingredient, 100% pure Camelina Oil.
✅ Non-GMO
✅ Ideal balance of Omega-3 compared to other products, like soybean oil.
✅ Canadian produced and operated.

Try Out Low-Impact Exercise

Those fast-paced dog sport videos make intense workouts look fun. Plus, it looks like an amazing bonding experience for you and your dog. However, if you have a larger dog that is prone to mobility issues, you need to make sure to build their stamina or opt for lower impact exercises.

One of our favourite low-impact activities is swimming, and most dogs love it too! Now some dogs start off a little slow—hard to believe but most dogs aren’t natural born swimmers. But, if your dog can get past the initial hurdle, then they’ll love it almost as much as their bodies do! Try out swimming if you're looking for a new, fun activity to keep your dog active and healthy.

Look Into Alternative Therapies

Trying to directly treat mobility issues can be challenging and the treatment plan will vary based on what your dog suffers from. The most obvious treatment avenues are things like vet-specified stretches (or exercises), medications, and sometimes surgery.

If none of these methods are working or sound like the route you want to go, you can look into the growing number of alternatives. There are professionals who now offer treatments like hydrotherapy, therapeutic massage, and acupuncture or acupressure to dogs [1]!

Make Sure You’re Helping Your Dog Live Longer, Healthier, and Happier!

We hope you now know how to prevent and deal with mobility issues if your dog starts showing symptoms. After becoming more knowledgeable, we also hope you know that mobility problems aren’t the end of the road for you and your dog! Whether or not you’re trying to prevent a health issue or treat one, there are lots of ways you can help your dog live a longer, healthier life!

Camelina Oil for Equine

✅ Single ingredient, 100% pure Camelina Oil.
✅ Non-GMO
✅ Ideal balance of Omega-3 compared to other products, like soybean oil.
✅ Canadian produced and operated.

Camelina Oil for Canine


✅ Single ingredient, 100% pure Camelina Oil.
✅ Non-GMO
✅ Ideal balance of Omega-3 compared to other products, like soybean oil.
✅ Canadian produced and operated.

Follow us!

About Sarah

Sarah is a marketing specialist with a passion for anything creative! Her openness to working across industries and job opportunities has allowed her to gain enormous amounts of experience in graphic design, video production, and written content creation. Animals have a special place in her heart as she grew up with cats and now owns her own Alaskan Malamute. She has spent the last couple of years in Vancouver working with different companies within the pet industry and gained valuable knowledge about the ins and outs of the (alternative) pet food industry, supplementation, and various training methods. When she’s not digitally creating content for pet lovers to consume, she’s out eating great food, dancing at drop-in classes, or exploring the beautiful Canadian scenery with her fur-child Miso.